Doctor Who - The Lodger is more significant than you might think

By: (plus.google.com) +David Herron; Date: 2010-06-15 04:29

Tags: Doctor Who

Just listened to the latest episode of The Doctor Who Podcast where they reviewed The Lodger. They described that episode as being a ho-hum filler which doesn't have much in it in terms of clues for the season-ending grand finale. And indeed it sure looks like a ho-hum filler. It's a normal middle-of-the-season story that has a lot of interesting bits to it, is well told, but is not the ground shaking extravaganza. Which does make its position near the end of the season a little curious because we're nigh on the what appears to be grand extravaganza and surely this episode should be cueing up some of the elements of that story?

Well, it does. Just very subtly. The elements are: a) the engagement ring, b) the nonchalantness with which they ponder going back in time to arrange for some elements, c) the effect The Doctor has on the people around him.

At the very end of the episode we see the Doctor saying, "Amy we have to go back in time to that shop so you can write the address on the back of the card - make sure to use a red pen". While looking for the red pen she finds the engagement ring. That scene also shows a nonchalantness about how they set about this tiny bit of time manipulation hearkening back to a scene in Flesh and Stone where it appears the Doctor may have jumped back into his timeline to be with Amy at a critical moment to comfort her.

Anyway the finding of the engagement ring is a curious little bit. She showed an odd reaction and my thought was "Oh, it's triggering her memory of Rory". (Uh? Rory? Who's that Rory chap anyway? I dont' remember any Rory!) But no, that's not what's happening.

Ponder the timeline of what's about to happen. Planning to go back to shop .. so Amy can write note on card .. if you recall the note was signed "-- love, Amy" with two heart symbols. This means in a couple minutes Amy will be in that shop writing a note, having just found the engagement ring, and she will feel motivated to put two heart symbols next to her name. Why? Because she's fond of the Doctor? Or maybe because she's thinking the Doctor is about to pop the question?

Yup.. that's the deal, Amy, whose memory of Rory has been erased (Uh? Rory? Who's that Rory chap anyway? I dont' remember any Rory!) is now left only with her love of and wanting to get down and dirty with the Doctor. The Doctor who, when she was a little girl, invaded her home and did all sorts of strange things in the middle of the night with this little girl. But.. uh.. Anyway ponder this, she wants the Doctor, finds an engagement ring, puts two and two together, thinking he's about to pop the question, has her heart bursting with love, and expresses it with two heart symbols on the note she's about to write.

The last point is the effect the Doctor has on people. In a prior episode Rory (again, who's that Rory chap? I don't remember any Rory!) was yelling at The Doctor about how the problem with The Doctor is that he makes people want to please him and do extremely risky things. Such as step in front of a Silurian gun. As River Song said, the ultimate purpose of the Companion is to keep The Doctor alive while The Doctor does his stupid but brilliant things. Which is what Rory did just before we forgot who he was.

This hearkens back to the episode where Davros unveiled a dark bit of The Doctor's soul. Namely that while he professes nonviolence and generally doesn't engage directly in violence and generally finds clever ways to undo the greatest plans of the worst enemies the universe has ever seen, it's his Companions who tend to engage in the violence. Hence the Doctor makes the people around him want to do risky things, engage in violence, etc, so that The Doctor's hands can be clean.

In this episode however we see The Doctor plop into the lives of two people who are trying to connect with one another, who aren't quite connecting, and would probably have grown apart frustrated over what could have been. Except, this Doctor chap happened into their lives. And simply by being present and aware and asking a few key questions he got them to take notice of each other and make real plans for what they really want in their lives. That is, The Doctor, just by being The Doctor, somehow brings out the best in people.

And it just so happens that 'The Best' happens to be shown on the Doctor Who Documentary series we're all enjoying as the fighting bits where they vanquish enemies and render the universe safe from the worst of the worst. But what about those times between the exciting bits, the times that the documentary crew is taking a rest?

What does the Doctor inspire people to do and be? Perhaps his intent is always to inspire people to be their best? Not, as Russel T Davies portrayed, to inspire them to being soldiers engaging in wars the Doctor refuses to fight?