Saturday, 16 May 2009

Doctor Who: The Satan Pit (2)

Beast: 'The lost girl. So far away from home. The valiant child, who will die in battle, so very soon.'

When this episode first aired, it was widely rumoured that Billie would be leaving the show at the end of the season, and this was our first possible hint as to the nature of her character's departure. Whatever happened to a nice gold watch and a box of chocolates?

So, who or what was the Beast? Was he the fraudster the Doctor seemed to think, or was he the real deal? Whoever he was, he could clearly read minds, as virtually everything he said seemed to touch a nerve with the crew. He also seemed able to predict the future—how else could he have known about Rose's impending doom? When the Doctor asked the crew 'what makes his truth any better than mine', I found myself thinking: err, he seems to know everything and you seem to know zilch. That's what makes his truth more compelling. The Doctor's strength usually lies in him being ahead of the game, but tonight he was hopelessly on the back foot.

So his fall into the chasm was symbolic of his descent into the unknown. Usually, the Doctor's brimming with self-confidence, but tonight saw him uncharacteristically subdued. He had no plan, nor did he have any knowledge of the Beast on which to base a strategy, hence his unwilling journey into the pit. To learn, even to be proved wrong. Whatever was necessary to defeat one of the most perplexing foes of his career.

And what an ugly creature the Beast turned out to be. The Beast's design (according to Doctor Who Confidential) was based on the artwork of Simon Bisley. Coincidentally, Bisley is one of my favourite 2000AD artists ever—responsible for such zarjaz strips as Sláine (The Horned God) and The ABC Warriors (The Black Hole). His muscular grotesquery was clearly in evidence. I wonder if Bisley got paid for the compliment? Probably not, but a memorable monster nonetheless. Massive too!

And in traditional fashion, as soon as the Doctor left the base, Rose took on the mantle of leader. Her rousing rhetoric was undoubtedly more effective than the Doctor's 'aren't humans brilliant' tosh. It took her no time at all to rally the troops. Would the crew realistically have responded to her leadership so readily? Probably not. Zach may well have been the reluctant captain, but he was far from incompetent. Maybe, after finding himself isolated in control room, he saw Rose as their best chance of survival and decided to roll with it. Whatever the reason, Rose did a pretty decent job of shutting down the Ood and saving the crew. Apart from poor Mr Jefferson—but his character was so two dimensional, I really wasn't affected by his death.

Rose's grief at the Doctor's 'death', however, I did connect with. Even in death she refused to leave him, until Zach took charge and forced her into abandoning the base. What a gripping last ten minutes. Top marks again to Will Thorp for his portrayal of crazy Toby. He went totally mental in that escape rocket. And Rose, again, saved the day by bolt-gunning the rockets window and sending Toby out into space. Hurrah!

And great reunion scene between the Doctor and Rose. The 'stuff of legend' indeed!

Other Thoughts:

—Danny Webb (who played Mr Jefferson), for some reason, reminded me of Bill Nighy—except he wasn't funny.

—The crew represented the Torchwood archive.

—Tonight was the Doctor's first attempt at articulating his feelings for Rose. He made a similar failed attempt in 'Doomsday'. For such a verbose man, he really struggles to say things.

—The Time Lords invented black holes, apparently.

—If the Beast was imprisoned before time, and before the universe was created, how was he imprisoned on Krop Tor? And next to a black hole? Both would have come into existence after the universe's creation, surely?

—If killing the Beast was part of the system failsafe, why wasn't he just dumped into the black hole in the first place?


Doctor: 'No, sorry, I'm fine. Still here.'
Rose: 'You could have said, you stupid...' (radio feedback)
Doctor: 'Whoa! Careful!'

Beast: "The lost girl. So far away from home. The valiant child, who will die in battle, so very soon.'
Rose: 'Doctor. What does that mean?'
Doctor 'Rose, don't listen.'

Doctor: 'That's why I keep travelling, to be proved wrong.'

Doctor: 'If you talk to Rose, just tell her... tell her... oh, she knows.'

Rose: 'I'm not going.'
Zach: 'Rose, there's space for you.'
Rose: 'No, I'm gonna wait for the doctor, just like he'd wait for me.'
Zach: 'I'm sorry, but he's dead.'
Rose: 'You don't know him. 'Cause he's not... I'm telling you he's not. And even if he was, how could I leave him, all on his own, all the way down there?'

Rose: 'Go to Hell!'

Rose: 'It said I was going to die in battle.'
Doctor: 'Then it lied.'

Ida: 'You two, who are you?'
Doctor: 'Oh, the stuff of legend.'

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