Whovians love the TARDIS because she is sexy and exciting. We know that she doesn’t always take the Doctor where he wants to go, but she always takes him where he needs to go. In The Doctor’s Wife, famed sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman takes a Whovian dream and makes it a reality by giving the TARDIS a voice and a flesh body. This season 6 story begins with a Gallifreyan hypercube communication device summoning the Doctor to a place outside of the Universe. The Doctor, Amy and Rory travel through the time vortex to an alien asteroid that has been summoning and consuming Timelords for an undetermined amount of time. In a twist of plot that involves shutting down the TARDIS mainframe and stealing her soul, the TARDIS consciousness is transferred into the lovely, steampunky Idris (Suranne Jones), who embodies the Doctor’s ultimate companion in this exciting episode.
There are a lot of witty exchanges between the Doctor and Idris/the TARDIS that reveal the unique relationship between our favorite madman and his box. In almost a thousand years, this is the first time they are able to speak to one another. There is arguing, there is posterizing, and finally, the deep bond the Doctor shares with his sexy, blue box becomes obvious as the pair work together against the House, an entity who feeds off Timelord energy and who tortures Amy and Rory by trapping them inside the physical TARDIS and manipulating time and space in some really horrific ways. Ultimately, the TARDIS cannot survive in a human body, Idris the woman dies, the TARDIS energy is sucked back into the matrix and the House is defeated with the Doctor and his companions returning to the time vortex and future adventures.
The themes in this episode revolve around what the power of the TARDIS is capable of, the relationship between the Doctor and his TARDIS and of course, the Timelords of Gallifrey. The House has been killing Timelords for years, summoning them with fake distress signals across space and time. The Doctor, looking for forgiveness, is willing to travel outside of the known universe just to say “I’m so, so sorry.” This episode is all the things I love about Who–it is poignant, dark, funny and audiences are privy to Timelord lore that we didn’t know before. Neil Gaiman creates Timelord history and adds to the mythology of Who with his first ever, much anticipated entrance into the Doctor Who-niverse.
What I enjoy most about this episode is seeing Idris/the TARDIS in action. She is the energy that makes time travel possible for the Doctor and his companions. Idris/the TARDIS is able to gas up a makeshift TARDIS put together from spare parts found in a junkyard full of dilapidated time machines, reveal saved console rooms within the physical TARDIS walls and foretell future conversations. The only water in the forest is the river?? That reveal is still 3 episodes away! As she bounces around after the Doctor, we see that Idris/the TARDIS is just as crazy, smart and sassy as her Doctor and audiences begin to understand why he stole her and she stole him all those years ago. Unfortunately, the banter between the Doctor and his sexy cannot last, because we all know the TARDIS is not meant to dwell in a flesh body (we learned that when Rose looked into the soul of the TARDIS in Bad Wolf). When the body gives out and Idris dies, the TARDIS matrix is once again reunited with her essence and can oust the House from her physical walls. It is a triumphant moment completely overshadowed by the death of the flesh form of the TARDIS and the first time we see Matt Smith’s Doctor get truly emotional.
Although some may say that Smith plays the Doctor strictly as goofy and absurd (in a good way), I think that gaining and then losing the flesh form of Idris/the TARDIS, and in turn, a reminder of the loss of Gallifrey, weighs heavy on the Doctor and he is hardpressed to hide it from his companions. One might even argue that this is a turning point for the Eleventh Doctor, in that he has really only been childish and funny; never getting overtly angry or going all Timelord Victorious on us. The arc of Smith’s Doctor begins to shift, and it is in this, the 6th season, in which we see the Doctor rise so very high and the fall so very hard at Demon’s Run and audiences begin to realize the impact the Doctor has on the Universe. It is compelling story that uses the complications of time travel to foreshadow the Doctor’s emotional journey as he journeys toward his inevitable fall at Trenzalore.
GAAAAH when will it be November 23rd!?!!?
The Doctor’s Wife
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The Collectiva Diva
- 11 Episodes of the Eleventh Doctor: Vincent and the Doctor (acollectivemind.wordpress.com)
- 11 Episodes of the Eleventh Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (acollectivemind.wordpress.com)
- Let’s Talk about Shipping River and 11(Spoilers!) (acollectivemind.wordpress.com)