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Seeing the Forest: How to Trust the Doctor

Seeing the Forest: How to Trust the Doctor

The Trenzalore Dispatch Vol. 1, Issue 1

Author: Some Metry Guy/Thursday, October 9, 2014/Categories: Blog, Episode Review

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If I might, I'd like to make a brief introduction to this blog. 


Some months ago, during a particularly complex and confusing time in the run of the 11th Doctor, I founded a social media discussion group known as "CSI: Trenzalore" in the belief that the Doctor's timeline was extremely non-linear, as to the sequence of episodes, and in the recognition that matters such as the murder of the Doctor at Lake Silencio and the grave of the Doctor at Trenzalore could not be taken lightly and called for quite a bit of investigative work. This is a continuation of that investigation. The discussion group is expressly not a spoiler free zone and neither will this be. The title of this irregular series of musings, "The Trenzalore Dispatch," is, of course, a play on words. This is the first installment.

All Meaning Is Context

I am eager to get to my main points of current consideration (the identities of Missy and the Promised Land) but I feel there are some very important points of discussion by way of background information that must be laid forth because our favorite television show actually represents a sui generis bit of human effort in the history of the world stage. 

While we suspend our disbelief and stretch our imagination to follow these complex and bizarre stories, the BBC, the producers and showrunners, the writers, the directors, the actors, are telling us a tale while all clearly recognize that they are speaking weekly to a global audience in nearly real time. In some ways, that meta level of self-awareness makes it more difficult to actually reach that audience effectively. Each of these participants in the complex process of creating each new episode is a person with a real life who has ideas and opinions and beliefs that will be expressed, more or less effectively in some form or other, to a significant portion of the planet's inhabitants. This is a very long way from providing the evening's home entertainment for Londoners and their children. 

Let me explain here that I think it's dangerous for Team Who to delve too deeply into social issues: the appeal of the science fiction genre for storytellers has historically been its ability to address contemporary themes in a thinly veiled futuristic costume. For example: it has now been extremely well established that the show's creators believe that the relationship of Vastra and Jenny is good and proper and that the audience should accept it in the same fashion. But there have been points in this season where that theme has teetered between sensationalist and pedantic. I'm of the view that if it's no big deal, one shouldn't make a big deal. 

But I digress. I merely wish to point out that the show is clearly interested in addressing contemporary issues to some extent before I remove to more my speculative analysis of the show's actual contents. It may seem obvious to many but it bears stating expressly here. 

At the same time, I also want to state that I'm generally not going to be interested in concluding whether individuals involved with the show hold certain beliefs personally. As a work of collective fiction, all the players are involved in a group project that may or may not accurately reflect their own points of view. Although it is possible that Moffet hates soldiers himself, that seems pretty irrelevant, actually. Some people admire soldiers, some people do not. 

What I will concern myself with is whether the Doctor, as a fictional character, has an aversion that has origins in his own fictional past. At the same time, this fictional character is indeed an amalgamation and synthesis of all the views of the individuals involved with the show in the context of a real world and with a more or less global perspective.

Finally, I want to make a distinction at this early point between reading the real world as a subtext in the storylines presented and delving into speculation about symbolism. The famed Kirk/Uhura on-screen kiss in Star Trek (as a rather direct analogue to the Vastra/Jenny storyline) could have been imputed with all sorts of purported symbolism, but the simple fact is that it was the science fiction story that supported the violation of the actual real-world taboo. That's not symbolic at all. 

Unless an author establishes something as a symbol (or approvingly employs what is already commonly recognized as symbolic), it is hazardous to attempt to draw direct connections between the supposed "meaning" of a potential "symbol" and its characteristics and the features and context of the real world that we all actually inhabit and discuss. The decision of the future of a creature hatching from an egg being left to three female characters may have ample room for discussion about empowered women via empowered female characters, but it is probably too far to suggest that Clara averted the "abortion" of the "symbolic" baby in the egg. I don't expect to go to such places myself and would encourage others to avoid the trap of superimposing their own views. 

What I shall endeavor to do in these pages from time to time is to note that certain matters have truly global and universal import and then look to see if those significations are represented anywhere in the shows themselves. Good literature in any genre should appeal to more or less universal values. Particularly where informed persons may reasonably disagree, our own opinions should not be imagined to be determinative of anything other than themselves. 

Oh, For God's Sake

So now that I've said so very much while saying so very little, I'm concerned that I've lost all my readers who came here wondering about the references in the title of this article. Well, while I'm intending that to be a play on words, as I fully intend to further discuss the topic of the Gamma Forest as well as what it means to trust the Doctor within the context of the show itself, this article, as a preliminary matter, is really a plea to those who find themselves frustrated with their own attempts to puzzle things out, that they should recognize that there are demonstrably years-long story arcs at work in the show and that the people who make the show, who are collectively the reality of "The Doctor," may well have a reasonable plan behind many of the of the things that end up as complaints from even long-term fans.

In other words, if you wish to eventually be able to see the Forest for the trees, trust the Doctor.

Some Metry Guy
The Trenzalore Dispatch


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