Monday, March 17, 2014

The God Complex - "I was blogging. Next thing, this."

The God Complex (TV story) - Tardis Data Core, the Doctor Who Wiki

Series 6, Story 11 (Overall Series Story #226)

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Minotaur!
Minotaur who..oo..oooaaahhh?!
I made this part of a double feature with its classic series forebear, "The Horns of Nimon," and found each one enhanced my appreciation of the other. Where the classic series showed us a society victimized by its greed and gullibility (expressed as religiosity), the new series does something rather more personal as it looks at the faith of individuals. "The God Complex" is, as I mentioned in my review of "Nimon" is better television. "Complex" is more successful in creating an atmosphere, executing on its premise, and crafting characters with some depth beyond bearing placards declaring I'm-the-brutal-compulsive-liar, I'm-the-opportunist-megalomaniac, etc. Matt Smith is no Tom Baker, and Karen Gillan is no Lalla Ward, but they're no slouches either -- though Gillan has less to do as Amy Pond/Williams (for an intriguing discussion about the use of names in this episode in particular, and the Moffat era as a whole, check the comments on Sandifer's post about Moffat-era feminism) even though her loss of faith in the Doctor is the crux of this story.

Where the classic series sets up individuals as broad caricatures to make what you might call a political point, the new series eschews the broader societal view to take a closer look at the personal faith of more fully realized characters. The gambler believes in luck, the Muslim has a more traditional religious faith, Amy believes in the Doctor (the fairy tale Raggedy Man of her youth) ... only Rory, it seems, doesn't have a personal superstition and can't be food for the Minotaur. Even the Doctor has a door, Room 11, of course, with someone or something in it. (He says "Who else could it be?" when he opens the door, but we learned in "The Time of the Doctor" that he saw the crack in time, so maybe he was referring to the Time Lords.) So, it would seem the Doctor has some kind of faith but, based on his response to Amy's question about Time Lords pray to and his earlier skirting of the issue in "The Satan Pit," he may not quite know himself what it is.

Since you're reading this on a blog, it probably shouldn't surprise you that I bristled a bit at one of the 'deeper characterizations' here being of a young man with a stammer who was a conspiratorialist blogger and whose greatest fear was of girls. No stereotyping there, eh? Oh well, at least Rory is tacitly acknowledged to be most self-actualized person in the story, so the show's consistent presentation of Rory as the best man in the TARDIS is, at least in part, an endorsement of a superstition-free mindset.

The aesthetic of this story owes more than a little to Kubrick's The Shining, but it's no mere rip-off. Scenes like the one where the Doctor first tries to talk to the Minotaur,where mirrors and water are used to disorient and obscure, work quite well. On the other hand, "that brutal gorilla" we see in Lucy's room I trust was clearly a man in a cheap gorilla suit for a reason; if it was supposed to evoke a more realistic gorillla (not sure how Lucy's book depicted that gorilla, and therefore what shape her fear should take), then it was a terrible failure -- as bad as any dodgy bit of "Nimon".

This was the first good-bye we said to Amy and Rory, knowing full well it wasn't really good-bye, but the way things turned out in Series 7, I almost wish this was their last episode ...



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