Doctor Who
Season 3

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 7 USERS: A+
You Are Not Alone

I: Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo

So out of nowhere, Bootstrap Maggie goes, "Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo." Meaning, those buffalo who are buffaloed by buffalo often turn out to buffalo other buffalo, who are also historically buffaloed by their fellow buffalo. What it means is that everybody lies to everybody else -- that there's always another head on the totem pole, below yours. And above. What it means is that "buffalo" is the password to language: verb, object, subject, noun, adjective. To buffalo, I buffalo, you buffalo, we buffalo. And if I'm tricking you, and you're tricking somebody, if we're all the buffalo that buffalo buffalo, we're all in the same trap. The only way out is to rise: to tell the truth. Bliss would call the buffalo a symbol of the Doctor, because Bliss thinks everything is a symbol of the Doctor, and vice versa. Bless Bliss, we used to say. Bless Bliss. But she's right about that, too: he's the key you turn in the lock called everything, the password to the whole world. Verb, object, subject, noun, adjective: the Doctor doctors, I doctor, you doctor, we doctor. He's the buffalo. The last of them.

Season 1 of Doctor Who is the Hero's Quest -- a retelling of that human tendency to reach for experience of the divine, and the human tendency to reach it. Season 2 of Doctor Who is the same story told fourteen ways: the human tendency to fuck it up and forget what we're here for, and the human requirement to fall away from God and enter the real world again. And Season 3 of Doctor Who is a lot of things, but what makes it stand apart is the lack of Rose, and its resistance to substituting Martha for her. Season 1 was Rose's story; Season 2 was the story of all Companions, which is to say all people who have seen or wished for miracles, which is to say, all people. But Season 3 is a story about Doctor himself, and that is I think key to the season as a whole: just because the Companion was designed to be our entry point doesn't mean the Whoniverse is restricted to that lens.

I think maybe we were "trained" to think of the Companion's POV as the most accessible, and thus to become batshit shippers, but the show takes a step sideways in Season 3, and it makes Martha a bit queasy to watch, if you're not prepared to jump away from the Companion thing. I love that the show can concentrate on such radically different aspects of the Doctor's world, because it's vast and beautiful and full of history -- but I think this is also pretty confusing at first, like changing TARDISes midstream. Actually, you could even say Season 1 of Torchwood is not "about" Gwen or Jack, but about the icky relationship between people and technology, people and the edge of superiority, people and the Other. It fails, spectacularly, and I love it -- but it fails not because it's about the wrong stuff or does what it's "about" wrong: it's just that we were trained by Rose to think the New Series were about particular characters.

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Doctor Who




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