By: +David Herron; Date: 2010-04-28 21:32
Tags: Doctor Who
Doctor Who is back with a new season, and it's shaping up to be a kick ass experience. Wow. The Beast Below was the second of Matt Smith's episodes and it was mostly great. I wrote earlier about Doctor Who s05e01 - The Eleventh Hour. For these reviews I'm focusing mostly on a set of clues which they appear to be scattering through the whole season. It would appear they're aiming to some meta-story with snippets dribbled through the whole season.
Being the second story of The Doctor and Amy, they're still getting to know one another, oh and Amy is still in her "nightie". Anyway the Doctor is dangling Amy out the TARDIS door to prove to her that they're in outer space, and they happen to see a space ship fly by. It's not just any space ship, it's a "generation ship" that is holding the entire population of Great Britain. See, back on Earth the Sun went crazy and the people of Earth built large ships to house whole countries and fly off into space in search of new planets to live upon and ruin. Something like that.
A "generation ship" is one built for tremendously long voyages through the stars. If faster-than-light travel is not possible then interstellar journeys will require hundreds of years. This means the ships will have to support multiple generations of people living aboard and the people who set out on the journey won't see the result of the journey, and the people alive at the end of the journey probably won't know why they set out in the first place.
In any case the story here is that the there's a real story to why they're on the voyage but everybody chooses to forget the reason. Literally. They literally have a mind wiping machine so that the people can be told the reason for the trip, and they can press a button which then causes the mind wiping machine to make them forget.
This and a couple other story elements continue the unconscious/shadow elements of the Eleventh Hour. Obviously choosing to forget something is a way to relegate it into the unconscious. Further the "Beast Below" is directly evocative of The Shadow, especially as the Beast in question is precisely what the whole country is purposely forgetting.
Another element of the story is the judgment machines. These are booths in which figures are sitting whose role is to continuously pass judgment on everybody they see.
Another element is specifically choices being made by Amy Pond. At the beginning The Doctor asks "Why will Amy Pond choose?" Later there's a couple scenes where the question is about whether she will choose to get married, or not. Even later there's a scene where it's her choice which saves the day, and like the Eleventh Hour that choice is driven by really seeing what's going on.
A part of healing this thing with the unconscious/shadow is to recognize the stuff that's in shadow, then see how to correct the problem. In this case it involved first recognizing that the Beast Below was being enslaved and tortured. That was as far as the Doctor could go, to reveal and speak the truth about the enslavement and torture of the Beast. But he was unable to see the complete solution, that took Amy and her choice. She saw the true intent of the Beast and was able to choose the path which freed the Beast from its torture.