This week, we traveled with Clara and Twelve through time and space to, you guessed it, England. Imagine that? Mark Gatiss penned this episode that reminds Whovians that we are “all stories in the end” and sometimes the story does not tell the whole truth and sometimes, truth shifts over time. The parallels between Robin Hood (whom the Doctor at first does not believe exists and then believes is a robot) and the Doctor (last of the Timelords, the Oncoming Storm) shine in this episode. Even if the plot was a little campy and we didn’t get to see the curious character “Missy”, the overarching plot points subtly woven into this episode are worth discussing.
While I spent the last year or so really, truly excited for the new Doctor, I’m beginning to feel a bit of a let down with series 8. The writing (MOFFAT, I defended you!) has been lackluster and the plot almost nonexistent. Although the Collectress has encouraged me to rant my frustrations, I’m still giving the new Doctor and the new series a chance, and therefore will save my judgements for at least a few weeks from now. There are a few things that interest me in regards to the over arching storyline, so that’s where we will begin.
Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
The Doctor and the Military
Throughout his 12 regenerations, the Doctor has had a tenuous history with military forces. While he and Brigadeer Lethbridge-Stewart remained friends through numerous regenerations, the Doctor is wary of the armed forces, for obvious reasons. He is an alien with a spaceship that contains the technology and history of, not only the Timelords, but the entire universe across space and time. UNIT, as well as other military forces the Doctor has encountered over the years, continuously attempts to exert power over the Doctor, his property and his friends. As Nine and then Ten, the Doctor is suspicious and somewhat rude to soldiers, working with UNIT only when Martha or Rose asks for his help. When he does help the military, it often turns into a standoff, with his TARDIS confiscated and his life threatened by soldiers with guns. Eleven was a softer Doctor and, while he didn’t volunteer his help, he often worked with the military because of River Song and her connection to the Papal Mainframe. At the end of his life, Eleven may have become more than disillusioned by the idea of the military, because of the tense situation on Trenzalore. Soldiers on both sides had a complete disregard for the innocent lives lost in the town of Christmas, while the innocents are the precise people the Doctor is always trying to save. With both sides, the Daleks and the Papal Mainframe, fighting against the Doctor right before his regeneration into Twelve, his personality seems to have taken a dark turn in terms of how he feels about soldiers.
In “A Good Man Goes to War”, the Doctor meets a soldier who dies protecting Amy and baby Melody, a soldier who joined the army to meet him and with whom he inspired when she was a child. Eleven takes the time to talk with her, he doesn’t immediately judge her for her military ties, instead giving her a chance to prove herself as an individual. For him, this is enough to invite her to run with him once again, but, alas, she dies and her chance is lost. Twelve shows us that he is not as forgiving as he once was. In “Into the Dalek”, he meets a soldier who seems to have a good heart. He saves Journey Blue and even works with her team to heal a “sick” Dalek (Who subsequently turns evil as soon as he is healed, leading the Doctor to articulate that a kind Dalek is a sick Dalek. I thought we already knew this?) but, once the adventure is over, refuses to allow Journey to travel with him, even though she proved herself to be worthy. Twelve believes Journey made the decision as to what kind of person she wanted to be as soon as she joined the military. Meaning, Twelve may not believe in second chances as his former regenerations once did. If this bias against the military remains strong in him, Twelve and Clara may have a problem soon enough, because it seems she’s met herself an army man.
On Saturday, Whovians everywhere (including my own living room) sat in from of the telly to watch Peter Capaldi begin his run as the Doctor on the longest running sci fi show in all of humankind (Chris Hardwick’s words, not mine). The episode after regeneration is always a bit rough, as we are all getting to know this Doctor as not just a renewed version of the Timelord, but also a special incarnation with unique characteristics all his own. It has taken me a few days to mull over what I wanted to do with this series in terms of writing. I don’t particularly want to pen recaps each week, instead I will touch on a few really interesting points and look at the overarching continuity of Doctor Who. Yes, friends, I’m going meta. (Spoilers ahead!)
The Clockwork Droids
Twelve and the Paternoster Gang made a slew of past Doctor references, some of which I got and some of which I missed. Let’s start with the most obvious, the clockwork aliens who use living parts to work themselves and their spaceship. In series 2, the Tenth Doctor, Rose and Mickey Smith met Madame de Pompadour in “The Girl in the Fireplace” and the clockwork droids attempting to harvest her brain to pilot their space ship, The SS Madame de Pompadour. We find out that the ship posing as a restaurant is none other than the Marie Antoinette, the sister ship to the Pompadour, which, although viewers may recognize the connection, the Doctor does not.In “Deep Breath” Twelve cannot remember why the clockwork aliens are so familiar, and leaves the mystery for another day. Amnesia isn’t out of character for a regenerating Doctor. We know that the regeneration process shifts the thinking and interacting skills of the Timelord, and no two Doctors have quite the same personality quirks, including what they choose to remember as important from their previous regeneration. As Twelve might say, the question is not why he doesn’t remember, but who are these clockwork droids and why are they back?
Steven Moffat wrote “The Girl in the Fireplace” in 2006, and we know the writer is aces at long term continuity (may I present you the story of RIVER SONG), so it isn’t surprising that he has an overarching plot point originally addressed eight years ago. Moffat is king of the spiderweb plot, in which he weaves intricate storylines together over a long period of time. Mostly, he picks them back up and blows our minds, and so I am looking forward to seeing how this particular plot point will effect series 8.
It’s done. It’s over. True Blood is no more. My previous rant on the characterization of Sookie has pretty much summed up my feelings on the final season of the vampire soap opera, so here is where the finale has left our beloved citizens of Bon Temps.
Adilyn Bellefleur: Alive. Fairy. Presumably still boinking her step-brother.
Andy Bellefleur: Alive. Engaged to Holly Cleary. Father of one fairy daughter.
Arlene Bellefleur: Alive. Owner of Bellefleur’s (formerly Merlotte’s). In a relationship with Keith the vampire.
Willa Burrell: Alive. Not that anyone cares.
Holly Cleary: Alive. Engaged to Andy Bellefleur.
Maxine Fortenberry: Deceased.
Ginger: Alive. Finally had sex with Eric Northman.
Alcide Herveux: Deceased.
Sam Merlotte: Alive. No longer a resident of Bon Temps.
Sarah Newlin: Alive. Current occupation: vampire sippy cup.
Steve Newlin: Deceased. Currently residing in his ex-wife’s hallucinations.
LaFayette Reynolds: Alive. Dating Jess’s vampy ex.
Lettie Mae Thornton: Alive.
Tara Thornton: Deceased.
Is it cold of me to list statistics for an ensemble cast and not give you the closure that the characters deserve? Probably, but don’t blame me. The list above are the characters who didn’t appear or appeared in short duration in Sunday’s finale episode.
Sorry, secondary characters, you met the True Death before the show did.
So what about those characters who did appear in last night’s episode? Did they get satisfactory endings?
Today, we are going to board a new slash ship of mine–Stucky. This pairing has impressed itself upon my heart and has been gaining momentum since I experienced the wonder that is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Now, I’ve been taught by the dear Admiral herself, the first rule of shipping is DO NOT SINK SOMEONE ELSE’S SHIP (which is why she and I don’t discuss Doctor Who ships or, apparently, Captain America slash). Yes, you may have your opinions and your preferences, but they don’t have to be mine and vice versa. I promise not to write a manifesto about Stucky if you promise not to force your ships into my harbor, so to speak.
That means, if you don’t like it, don’t read it, simple as that.
“Stucky” is a slash ship pairing between Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) and his lifelong companion and friend, Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). While I do not claim to be a Marvel comic book aficionado, I am a Marvel movie fan. My appreciation for the films has caused me to explore the Marvel Universe through cosplay, film and even develop an interest in the comics–although I am wary of attempting to go through 70+ years of comics just to prove myself worthy to talk about Marvel. Still–and trust me I’ve heard it already–I DO recognize that this beautiful ship is NOT canon according to the comics (although, I beg to differ in terms of the films).
It is the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones, which means a bit of heartache, a bit of murder and a whole lot of unresolved tension. Personally, the finale lacked the excitement of even the last episode, but it did successfully set each group of characters on their prospective paths for season 5. This episode, I find myself missing the emotional depth of the books. I mean–whose great idea was it to completely ignore the emergence of Lady Stoneheart? Or to have Arya walking away from the Hound the last we ever see of him? Even the exchange between Tywin and Tyrion could have been a bit more dramatic, but alas, the entire thing lacked luster. If the single most surprising and intense moments of book 3 can be dismissed, well, what else will writers decide is unimportant from the original text? Still, the themes of betrayal, escape and renewal that flow throughout the text remain consistent in the show, as well. In the game of thrones, there are variables and variants that make it nearly impossible to make moral judgements on our players. Whether well loved like Arya Stark or despised like Cersei Lannister, characters continue to push the boundaries set upon them by others and redefine their own nature as choices are made and lines are drawn that cannot be erased. As audiences wait 9 months or so for the season 5 premiere and the answers to all the questions posed in the season 4 finale, we can only speculate on how the show will pack into the next season the actors and places we love from GoT, while remaining true to the scope of George R. R. Martin’s work.
At the Wall, the sparse troops of the Night’s Watch have been thinned out even more by the Free Folks’ attack and Jon Snow decides to parlay with Mance Rayder in order to find agreeable terms for both sides. When he arrives at the camp, Jon is recognized as a leader of the Crows but also as a liar who infiltrated the ranks of the Wildlings under false pretences. When Jon explains that he followed the orders of Quorin Halfhand to learn all he could about the Wildling plans and then return to the Night’s Watch, Mance admits he only wants the Free Folk to find safety from winter on the other side of the Wall. The easy way that Jon and Mance get along is evident in this scene as they share a drink to mourn dead friends lost in the recent battle, sharing a mutual respect that leaders often do. Before any decisions can be made about terms or surrender, hundreds of nameless soldiers ride through the Wildling ranks, attacking with the element of surprise–so much so, even Jon Snow isn’t sure who the army belongs to. Apparently, the funds Stannis Baratheon and Davos procured from the Iron Bank purchased the contracts of enough mercenaries to overthrow the Free Folk army. With Stannis as saviour of the Wall and Castle Black, the Night’s Watchmen take the time to bury and burn their dead and Jon Snow takes Ygritte’s body North of the Wall for a proper burial in the land which she belongs. Stannis recognizes Jon Snow as the son of Ned Stark, who died defending Stannis’ name, and immediately we are reminded that Jon’s parentage, while unimpressive to his Brothers at the Wall, still holds some power in the world outside. Stannis is unsure what to do with Mance Rayder and Jon reminds him that his father would not have tortured and killed the man, but extracted information and kept him prisoner, instead. The future of the Night’s Watch is uncertain, but we know that the Wildlings remain on the wrong side of the Wall and, with White Walkers rising and attacking indiscriminately, it is up to Stannis to decide the fate of the Free Folk before it is too late.
Also in the far North, Bran, Hodor, Jojen and Meera arrive at the godswood of the three-eyed raven, only to be attacked by White Walkers who previously lie dormant under the snow. A strange child comes out of a cave shooting fireballs from her hands to save Bran Stark. She knows his name, and says “he” is waiting to meet the group. Jojen is fatally stabbed by a wight and his sister, Meera, must choose to stay with him, fight and die or leave him. At Jojen’s insistence, Meera goes to leave him, but first slits his throat mercifully so that he will have a quick death. The strange child then incinerates Jojen’s body, so there is nothing left of him to reanimate after death. In the cave, Bran meets the warg who is the three-eyed raven living under the godswood. The mission of “the children”, who claim to have been around before the first men, is unknown, but Bran and his friends seem to be safe, for now and will not have to run any longer.
Arya, on the other hand, is running as far away as she possibly can. After finding out about Aunt Lysa’s death, Arya and the Hound are once again on the move and right at their heels are Brienne and Podrick. When the 4 finally meet up, Brienne and the Hound fight for Arya’s well being as much as for control of the situation. Brienne made an oath to Lady Catelyn but the Hound has been looking after Arya, in his own way, for quite some time. Arya chooses not to go with either of them, and, when Brienne defeats the Hound and goes looking for Arya, the girl hides until the lady knight and her squire are gone. With the Hound mortally wounded, Arya decides to leave him to die instead of killing him and crossing his name off her list. I am a bit bothered that this veers away from the book, as I am to understand that we will not see the Hound wasting away from his infected wounds and mercifully murdered later on. Arya does get on a boat to Braavos, using her coin and whispering the words “Valar Morgulis” to the ship’s captain. She procures a cabin and is on her own once again, stronger, resilient, and independent. We can only hope that season 5 brings for Arya peace and safety–two things she cannot find as Arya Stark in King’s Landing or anywhere on this side of the Narrow Sea.