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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
More on "The End of the World"
I was chatting via IM yesterday with my good friend, Sarah, who pointed out that in my long thoughts on "The End of the World" I really didn't address the ending of the story. Specificially, I didn't address a choice made by the Doctor.

If you're not into Doctor Who, you can cruise on past here. And if you're a fan of the show but haven't seen the new episodes yet, I will warn you I'm going to give away large chunks of the ending.

That said....

In "The End of the World" we meet Cassandra. Cassandra is basically a piece of skin stretched over a frame, the result of having one too many cosmetic surgeries to extend her existence. In order to stay alive, Cassandra must be hydrated on a regular basis by various servants. In the course of the story, we hear Cassandra say she is the last "pure" human being and she makes some off-hand remarks that as humanity explored the universe, they mixed with alien races, something of which she does not approve.

The station on which a large number of delegates have gathered--from a lot of alien races--to watch the final moments of Earth is sabotaged. The Doctor and company discover that it's Cassandra behind this--turns out she's bought stock in the companies owned by the various delegates and will step into quite a position of wealth and power when they're eliminated. She then "beams" off the station, leaving our heroes to their doom. The Doctor is able to stop the station's destruction with the help of one of the tree people, who sacrifices herself to help save everyone else.

Then, the Doctor returns the main conference room where he deduces that Cassandra has hidden a device to allow her to beam out. He finds it and reverses the device, bringing her back but no servants. At this point, the Doctor is upset about what has gone on--so much so that he allows Cassandra to die for lack of moisterization. At this point, the Doctor barely bats an eyebrow about Cassandra meeting her end.

In some ways, this can be seen as pretty much something the Doctor would never do. He never allows for senseless death, if he can help it. It's just not who he is...

Or is it?

I see it as more a progession of the Doctor as a character. Over the later years of classic Doctor Who, we saw the Doctor become more and more prone to manipulation, fits of anger and rage, etc. Indeed, this is the man who tricks the Daleks into destroying their own planet and then is able to convince a Dalek to commit suicide in "Remembrance of the Daleks." Also, the Doctor has never been one about not letting the bad guys get what's coming to them. He doesn't go out of his way to save Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks" when Davros' creations turn on him, killing him.

We also learn in this epiosde that the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords, with Gallifrey having been wiped out in a war.

So, I can take that the Doctor allows Cassandra to die. On one level, he can identify with her as being the last of species. It doesn't excuse, though what Cassandra did.

We've seen him walking the line of a darker morality before--the ends justifying the means. Also, who's to say that the war and its effects haven't somehow killed the innocence of the Doctor's personality. Maybe things are no longer as black and white for him as they once were. He's no longer the hero we once knew. He's darker and edgier. Heck, one of the first things we see about the new Doctor is his blowing up an empty store to destroy an army of Autons. So, it's not a huge stretch to see him allowing Cassandra to die here, based on our first meeting with him. The ends justify the means to the Doctor and there isn't a better way to be found. It should be interesting, as the series progresses, to see what is made of this.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/13/2005 11:28:00 AM | |
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