Revisiting Eleven

I found a cute online quiz today, which shows you Doctor quotes and has you guess whether it was Ten or Eleven who said it. I got 10 out of 10! It’s actually pretty easy if you know either one of the Doctors well, but even if you don’t, if you pay attention to the way the quote is phrased, you can pretty much tell which Doctor said it. It’s a testament to the skill of the writers and the actors that you can hear the actor’s voice simply based on how the words are put together.

I was disappointed that one of the quotes mentioned fish custard. That’s a dead giveaway.

I’m starting to rewatch Eleven’s episodes, and yesterday, I watched “The Beast Below” – because it was the one after “The Eleventh Hour,” which I watched last week – and “The Lodger” – because I wanted to watch Eleven play football. “The Beast Below” was better than I remembered. The plot was pretty tight, though it seemed really odd to me that Liz 10, who cares so much about her people, would have set up a system in which people who protest would get fed to the beast. Imprisoned, sure, but killed horribly? And getting on the wrong elevator sends a child to the mouth of the beast, only to spit him up and put him into what looks like slave labor? It feels like they put in these horror elements simply because “Doctor Who¬†episodes always have scary elements, so let’s put these in.”

Also, like I discussed the first time I saw this episode, the ending was so heavy-handed. Amy thinks about the similarities between the whale and the Doctor in a montage of everything that happened in the episode, then makes Liz 10 abdicate, and then explains that when you’re the last your kind, you want to save the children, while the camera pans between her, the whale, and the Doctor. You can see on his face that the Doctor realizes what she’s saying. The conflict ends, then there’s a scene afterwards, where the Doctor is looking out over Starship UK, and Amy goes through it¬†again. I probably sound like a broken record when I say this, but it’s better to let the audience think about what just happened and learn from it, rather than cramming it down their throats.

One other thing I didn’t like in this episode was the Doctor telling Amy early on that no matter what happens, no matter what sorrow they see, they don’t interfere. This was important to the plot – if Amy wasn’t told that, she wouldn’t have made the connection that the last-of-his-kind Time Lord who went to help the crying girl was just like the whale – but it isn’t consistent with the rest of his personality. The whole point of the Doctor – all of his incarnations – is that he is compassionate and does interfere. This was why he was different from all of the other Time Lords. And certainly, Eleven never shied away from interfering ever again.

What I did like in this episode was the Doctor telling Amy that she should never decide for him what information he should know. It demonstrated his imperious nature very well. This episode was really all about establishing Amy and the Doctor/companion relationship for the Eleventh Doctor. Each Doctor prefers his own type of relationship with his companions: Ten wanted a friend, a partner in crime; Five was more like a big brother; Three wanted a faithful assistant. Eleven was more like a commander – you’ll go here and do this, and you won’t question me – but Amy tolerated none of that, doing what she needed to do when she felt she was right. While I’m not really fond of Amy, she provided a perfect counterpoint to her Doctor, highlighting his power, intelligence, and confidence while at the same time showing that he wasn’t infallible.

Last note: the space whale had huge teeth. What does that thing normally eat?

“The Lodger” was an excellent episode. By the time you see this episode, you’re used to Amy, so the character of Craig lets you see the Doctor from a new set of eyes, one that doesn’t know him and is firmly entrenched in the everyday life that you live in yourself. Eleven is eccentric – yes, alien – and a whirlwind of energy, and he does not comprehend at all the havoc that he’s wreaking on poor Craig’s life. You spend a lot of the episode feeling so sorry for Craig and wondering how he’s ever going to win the girl. The ending is a bit contrived, though – a machine that destroys itself because Craig doesn’t ever want to leave this house – but it’s not so bad that it ruins the episode.

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