Tuesday, July 25, 2006

2005 Dr. Who First Season Finale: Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways

"I told you it was Daleks."

"I never doubted it."

The Doctor, Rose, and Jack are kidnapped off the TARDIS and stuck in futuristic version of what I later learned are contemporary reality and game shows. Some fans have expressed skepticism that this episode would hold up with people who weren't familiar with those shows. I wasn't, and I still got enough of the jokes to laugh at it. They bust out of their respective TV hells and we find ourselves back on the TV station satelight to meet it's real Masters, the Daleks. Then it's round up the troops and mount a defense, now we know why the London Blitz was brought up earlier.

Jack organizes a defense by some of the remaining humans, which ultimately fails but still buys some valuable time. The Doctor has a bad idea. Rose has two bad ideas. Between them and Jack's forces, the Daleks are defeated but the Doctor is forced to regenerate. A lyrical ending to a beautiful series.

There were many feel-good and teary-eyed moments, but the one that hit me like a sledgehammer didn't involve any of the main characters. It was the fate of the extras who were trapped on the space station with a Dalek invasion coming at them. Some of them went to fight the Daleks, knowing they were going to their deaths, while some of them hid and hoped they would be spared. You know what? They all died at about the same time. But some of them DID something with their deaths, even if it was only buy a few minutes time.

Watching that, all of a sudden I'm a teenager again. I'm different from other people around me, and they're trying to force me to change into someone who isn't me. Violent threats are made against me. I'm terrified. I'm convinced that someday soon someone is going to kill me. Looking back my fear was overblown, but it didn't seem that way at the time.

Then one day I realized that there was one thing "they" could NOT do. While "they" could line me up against a wall and shoot me whenever "they" felt like it, only I could decide if I would be cowering at the foot of that wall or standing on my feet staring back at them when it happened. I owned my death. It was a golden coin even my murderers would not be able to take it away from me. Once I realized that, I realized I owned my life as well. I grew up a lot that day, but that is another story.

This is a theme that echoes throughout this entire season. "The ordinary man is the most important thing in the universe" because at any moment the ordinary man might decide to become a hero or a villain. Everybody has a chance to be a hero, no matter who they are or what they do. Everybody is a hero everytime they help the people around them. "Go on," the Doctor tells a young thief stealing food for her children at one point. "Run along and save the world." And she does. So do servants, writers, reporters, doctors, con men, soldiers, and shop girls. Even a tow truck driver named Rodrigo gets to help save the world although we never see him and he'll never know it. But he helped someone who needed help, and that's what saving the world is all about. The world is saved every day by thousands of "ordinary" people who help each other and do the right thing. Without those people doing what they do each and every day, the world would never make it to sundown.

That's not to put down the "professional" heroes, but I'll get to them in my summary post. Then it's back to talking about schooling.


Patricia Mathews said...

Yes. In one of the Star Trek novelizations, we see a young Sarek realizing "he was going to have a death anyway. Everybody did. He might as well put it to use." So he sets out on his mission of conversing his people to the ways of peace and 'passion's mastery'. I should hope I remember that in the crunch.

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