How do we define power? I’m going to use Doctor Who as my analogy. Please don’t tune out just because you’re not a Whovian. Let me explain what I mean. I’ve been re-watching Doctor Who over the last couple of months, and I’ve just re-finished season 4. Season 4 is the best season there is, and I’d forgotten how amazing it was. Not only does it have incredible writing, but it has an utterly consuming story arc. The last 4 episodes in particular tell a story that demands to be retold. The writing is brilliant within each episode, but it tells an even bigger story to the humanity within us all. Donna (the Doctor’s companion) believes that she is unimportant, she’s just a ‘nothing’ temp from Chiswick. She finds The Doctor accidentally and knows that she means nothing to society, but she is vital to those around her and doesn’t understand her own worth. It isn’t until she sees life through the eyes of another that she truly experiences the potency of her potential. Only then is she is able to unlock her own possibilities. Donna is a powerful woman, but she is not very useful in her own right. She is powerful, potent and often poisonous. She needs those around her to help her channel her power for good. When she is in the right place with the right people, she is unstoppable and will push through any and all obstacles. We can’t fully realise our potential until we work in conjunction with the right others. We are meant to live in community. No man is an island, or at least no man is good as an island. The Doctor is a genius. He is smarter than anyone in any room, but on his own he becomes a dangerous man. He is no good alone. We are no good without each other to keep us in check. We cannot be everything. That is unsustainable. No man is an island, remember?
Donna becomes an amalgamation of what we could be, the best in all of us. (You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen the finale of S4) No one can be everything. We are meant to work as a team. Community is best. The power required to be all things to all people isn’t something any one of us can sustain alone. The bible talks about this using the analogy of the body. We are all needed and we all perform different tasks, together we function as a whole.
All the characters in Doctor Who are the best of one or a few aspects of humanity.
Captain Jack Harkness does everything within his acknowledged limitations. He knows who he is, loves who is is, is passionate and cares desperately for those around him. He will sacrifice his own safety for the ones he loves, over and over again. (This could be a blog post in itself)
Martha does her best using her intellect and her willingness to work within systems. In the end she lets go of what she wants to look after both herself and to serve the greater good.
Rose does her passionate best within her unending love. She is committed to the end. She knows who she is and goes for it wholeheartedly, putting others ahead of her own needs. She gives her all for those around her, and strives for what she needs without apology.
Mickey serves everyone regardless of how he feels. He gives up everything. He knows what he wants, but he lets it go when he realises it’s right to.
Jackie knows that she has nothing to offer, but despite only caring for herself and her daughter initially, offers her whole self anyway. She knows that she is very limited, but gives it all anyway.
Sarah Jane goes beyond her wildest expectations. She is a nobody (whom society would say is past her prime) who constantly gives her everything to prove that she is vital to all. She is a least likely hero.
Harriet Jones thinks no one knows who she is, despite being one of the most powerful women on the planet. She gives her very life for those she doesn’t know, without wanting recognition. She is the best that we can be. She doesn’t always get it right, but always has the best intentions. Harriet lives to serve. She never thinks she above anyone, and lives that attitude to the very end.
Those who resent the Doctor resign to follow him, because they acknowledge it serves a greatest purpose.
The Doctor is our intellect, our emotions, the best we can be without being driven by the hate and disappointment that inevitably devours us. He can only function well with people alongside him who help draw the best out of him. Others see who he can be and they allow him to become that. He responds to the ones who allow him to love them, as well as society in general who disappoint him. He gives to everyone, even the worst of us, the endless second chances that we don’t deserve. We all need second chances. The Doctor gives himself to Rose when it is not him (this will make little sense if you haven’t seen the show). He knows they will be happy, even though he will be miserable. He looks to the interest of others. His love drives him to suffer more than he can imagine for the sake of his lover. He lets his emotions move him, but doesn’t let them stop him from doing what is right. He doesn’t let his feelings drive him to be selfish when most of us would. This is the best writing of any season and I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise. I had forgotten how amazing it was and I cried desperately throughout the last two episodes. I couldn’t stop. I sort of worry about what my neighbours think of my crying given that we don’t close any windows in this climate… This season connects with the humanity that we all experience. We all want to be the best we can be, but we all relate to the characters who are exhibiting those flaws that we fear the most. Donna is brash and abrasive because she wants to keep people at a distance. She is very protective and very passionate.
Mickey is tough because he doesn’t want others to see his weakness.
Jackie is overly protective because she doesn’t want anyone she loves to ever get hurt.
Rose doesn’t speak up and misses out on what she wants most.
Jack is too controlling because he knows he can’t be hurt and wants to protect those around him.
Martha clings to what she wants, even when she knows it’s not good for her.
Gwen is stubborn and her pride makes me fight with the people she loves.
Ianto looks to others to tell him what to do instead of making decisions for himself.
However, despite all their flaws, people ultimately give themselves to serve each other. We all want to protect those we love, but we can rise above even that to protect humanity as a whole. Who do we want to be? Season 4 has the best ending to any season. I don’t just say this just because I cried like a child for at least an hour (even though I’ve seen it twice before), but because it speaks to the best and worst of us. Everyone can relate to someone. We all want to be the best we can be, and the best media helps us experience that vicariously. These episodes do this. I want to be the best I can be. When Doctor Who is written well (which I admit hasn’t been done very often in season 8) it helps us recognise what we love about the human condition, and it helps us recognise those parts of us that we’d rather leave behind. It is not only entertaining, but it can help us become better people. The Doctor is within all of us, if we would only work together and accentuate our best parts.
Also, I love this comparison between Hermione from ‘Harry Potter’ and Bella from ‘Twilight’. I think Rose fits in the Hermione category.