Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Twelfth Doctor: Too Freudian for My Taste


THIS ENTRY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. EXPECT PERIODIC IMPROVEMENTS OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

TRIGGER WARNING FOR SAKE OF CAUTION: Freudian references to symbolic incest and castration. Also lightly crude language to emphasize execution of Freudian aspects.

SPOILER WARNING: A lot of broad sweeping emphasis and analysis on first half of season 8 and second half of season 7 of New Who. One reference to episode 9 of season 5, Cold Blood.

When I express my disappointment in the 12th Doctor, people often resort to arguing that Clara is such a huge improvement, they don't care about the portrayal of the Doctor. So I'll start with a disclaimer on Clara (and River):

I like the improvements to the writing of Clara Oswald. Many have it right that she, more than any other companion, has become a much better character after her first season.

Her alternate incarnations act as exceptions to this statement. Rather, seeing her awesome alternates before seeing the original mousy Clara set us up for disappointment, much like experiencing River Song's mostly in reverse narrative. Excepting how the aspects of the Doctor I'm criticizing affect Clara, I don't want her to change.

I love Clara. I wouldn't mind her not having to react to the Doctor's annoying aspects. She still has become much more interesting.

Twelve stated he has no interest in Clara at the end of Deep Breath. I'm not entirely sure. Maybe his interest has something more disturbing to it.

When it comes to Clara, the Twelfth Doctor has too much of an Oedipal Complex and fears symbolic castration. I see it evidenced in Robot of Sherwood then in the episodes after he meets Danny Pink. Some of it presents itself even before he meets Danny, with the foreshadowing statements about not liking soldiers.

The Doctor started showing his Oedipal complex when the Sheriff of Nottingham had Clara, Robin and the Doctor tied up in a dungeon. Robin and the Doctor focused on arguing and insulting each other rather than trying to escape. Put in crude terms, they were measuring their dicks.

The Doctor did it to prove to Clara he was the better man in an immature manner. The Doctor wanted to impress Clara. The scene fails because of the immaturity and, narratively, the audience didn't learn anything new about the Doctor or Robin.

A counter example I can think of is when the Zygons or the queen imprisoned the War Doctor, Ten and Eleven in The Day of the Doctor. They argued and quibbled. The difference in this example: we learned something about each of the Doctors that added to themes of the episode and the series.

And, well, it IS the Doctor. He will bluster and put up a front around himself. It's the doppleganger effect. Often when someone argues with themselves in literature, something will become revealed about themselves.

The Doctor tries to impress himself, but he has expectations of perfection. Can anyone ever meet their own perfectionist standards? It must get even more complicated when the Doctor is someone else, but it's still the Doctor.

In some ways, the Doctor expressed his castration vulnerability whenever he made fun of Clara as she readied herself for a date during the next couple episodes. Did the Doctor protest too much when he tried acting naive about such affectations?

The next direct threat comes from Danny Pink in The Caretaker. Notice the Doctor all but ignored Orson Pink in Listen and Psi in Time Heist. Similar to the Ninth Doctor and the majority of characters in the Universe, the Doctor dismissed them as boring and not worth his time. That reaction works much better. It shows an annoying arrogance, but it's pretty much equal opportunity hubris, well deserved, at that.

But Danny Pink in The Caretaker raises a Oedipal threat. The Doctor finally meets Clara's love interest and, if time doesn't change, her future husband. The Doctor's Oedipal reaction to Danny gets obfuscated by a couple other prejudices: the Doctor disliking soldiers, which an informed audience knew would be used in this way when first notified of it in Into the Dalek, and the incompetence of Danny when he removed the devices in The Caretaker.

If we had an innocent awkward "that's not what I expected" moment from the Doctor, it wouldn't raise too much attention. The whole thing about Twelve thinking that Clara started dating the Eleven look alike? The situation goes into a weird thinking that the Oedipal fantasy had come true, but by a random look alike human emulating Eleven. The situation stands to mention that an individual's looks do not translate into personality and the essence of a person.

DANNY PINK AS SEASON FOIL TO DOCTOR'S OEDIPUS COMPLEX

The Oedipal factors become less apparent but subtextual at the end of The Caretaker and Kill the Moon. At the time of writing this entry, I have not seen Mummy on the Orient Express. I probably won't see it for a couple days. Michi has been out of town for work. Plus I want to post this entry before getting influenced by the newest episode.

The show portrays Danny Pink as a perfect character because he's well rounded. For one thing, he's perfect but in humanizing ways. He's manly (soldier) but vulnerable (sensitive by what people think this makes him). I appreciate that the show makes a point that he did horrible things. At the same time, he also did great humane things for people who couldn't do it themselves. He's attractive but socially awkward.

His reactions at the end of The Caretaker and Kill the Moon will make practically anyone want to date him. I'm a guy, prefer genders not my own, and I would want to date Danny Pink. Danny has become the foil for the Twelfth Doctor by doing the good man things that Doctor can't seem to do.

At the end of The Caretaker, the Doctor doesn't accept Danny. He doesn't think Clara should. The Doctor only kind of accepts Danny because Clara won't take crap from the Doctor when it comes to things she values.

The Doctor, on the other hand, needs her. I forget where to cite it, but in New Who (or at least Moffat's), the Doctor notes that he makes a special connection with the first companion of a regeneration. The Doctor needs Clara like a baby monkey needs a mother monkey, except the Doctor is a grown entity and won't die without affection. That connection won't allow HIM to reject her.

Danny, on the other hand, behaves maturely. He doesn't like the Doctor. He characterizes the Doctor's attitude toward soldiers accurately and says it clearly. Obviously, the Doctor's prejudice goes deeper than that, but the Doctor cops his attitude.

Despite not liking the Doctor, Danny knows that he has no right to go further other than expressing his feelings. Danny respects Clara's independence and integrity as a sentient person.

Danny's disappointment and frustration with Clara doesn't from come his dislike of the Doctor. Tension comes from Clara not telling him about her crazy other life and, essentially, lying by omission. She hid a part of herself from him. When having serious intentions with someone you're dating, how respected do you feel when your significant other doesn't share an important part of who they are with you?

Danny uses it to draw a mature line in their relationship, not as a present cause to end it. We've all probably seen or heard instances that someone would get overwhelmed, scared or whatever by this type of thing. If Danny had ended the budding relationship with Clara then and there, even used the lying by ommission as an excuse, I think most of the audience would have accepted it.

This standing by Clara, who he has only gone on a couple dates with, put the first cherry on top of his well-rounded perfectness. Danny wants to join her in her life and wants to hear about it. Maybe the adventure would get too much for him since he just learned about, but Danny wants her to share with him. He doesn't want to shut her out. If he has an ounce of jealousy or anything negative, he doesn't act like a jack ass about it.

Kill the Moon has become interesting controversy with the abortion subtext, whether intentional or not. In this entry, my discussion revolves around comparisons of the Doctor and Danny Pink. The two of them don't have direct contact in the episode, but their characterizations feed into the Oedipal subtext. In full disclosure, though: the abortion subtext contributes this interpretation.

The Doctor and Danny act similarly to themselves at the end of The Caretaker. The Doctor has put at least one other companion into a siimilar situation as handing over responsibility of choosing whether the baby space dragon lives or dies to Clara, Courtney and Lundvik. The decision is not a fixed point in time, but it will affect the future course of humanity.

He made that argument when he sat Amy down with the Silurians to negotiate on how to share Earth. One big difference between Cold Blood and Kill the Moon: In the latter episode, the Doctor left the scene, abdicating responsibility for the decision. Honestly, I didn't think much of it until the end of the episode when Clara unleashed her anger.

I don't think The Doctor putting this decision on the three woman caused Clara's anger. His leaving caused offense. He didn't provide support for the difficult decision, whatever it might have been. The tough got going, so the Doctor got the hell out of there. By his rules, He didn't have to endure the process, so he left.

Danny, on the other hand, provides emotional support. He even provides good advice on making a rash decision while Clara's emotions ran high. The situation provided an opportunity ripe to taint her opinion of the Doctor. Danny could have easily convinced her to kick the Doctor out of their lives forever.

Instead, Danny relates to her with his own past experience, provides rational advice that she should wait until she has calmed down to make an actual decision. He let's her know that he's available for her when she needs him. Danny didn't cause the situation, but he'll help Clara deal with it on her terms.

This guy should give a course on Good Man 101 (not Nice Guy 101, that myth is for men who think being sensitive means being moody). With the amount of confidence Danny Pink has IN the relationship, I wonder why he got so awkward starting it.

Suffice to say, fans know where the season or Christmas Special will end. Clara and Danny Pink will commit to each other. Why that means Clara would leave the TARDIS rather than Danny joining the crew is beyond me. However it pans out, though, Clara will make the decision for herself, not the Doctor or Danny. Despite the second half of Season 7, Clara has become a strong, independent woman.

I also don't think Danny would let her give up the TARDIS life if that's what she really wanted. He knows that if he did, Clara would always listen for the sound of the TARDIS as the Doctor rides Sexy's brakes.

The Twelfth Doctor also seems to have an arc similar to Martha's. He's not getting crapped on by the writers in so many other ways other than his relating to Clara. He also may have more complicated feelings for Clara than Martha had for Ten. Maybe he does. Maybe stating his lack of romantic interest in Clara at the end of Deep Breath had more to do with him. Maybe he told himself he shouldn't have those types of feelings instead of speaking for Eleven.

Nonetheless, I see the Doctor having some growth to do. Very likely he won't take Martha's approach at the end of her time on the TARDIS by quitting Clara. I don't see him kicking Clara off the TARDIS. I really hope they don't have the Doctor erase her memories, either.

It wouldn't work for the progression of Clara's character, not even to mention the intertextual relationship with fandom. Considering the about face in season 8 for Clara, I have a hard time seeing the BBC going for it. Increasing the Doctor's position in that power dynamic would ruin the stupendous growth Clara has made (and probably make the Doctor even less enjoyable).

Doctor Who has disappointed me before, though.

MAKES SENSE TO THE DOCTOR'S PROGRESSION

I get how the Doctor got here. I do.

Clara has become a presence throughout his life, ever since he was a young child before becoming a Timelord. Three of them (The War Doctor, Ten and Eleven) all expressed their extreme admiration for her at the same time in The Day of the Doctor.

Throw into the mix that Clara has become his mother symbolically not once, but TWICE! The "first" time occured in the Time of the Doctor. Her pleas to the Timelords got him his second round of regenerations. The "second" time, she gave him, as the First Doctor, the speech on fear that gave him courage to become the Doctor.

Maybe Clara has also given him birth in The Snowmen, as a "third" time. It took Clara to yank the Doctor out of his grieving the Ponds. Grief is a process that can feel like unlife. The process ideally ends in a slow re-birth of sorts.

The Eleventh Doctor had an interesting familial relationship with Amy Pond. Their bond had grown so strong that he hallucinated her for comfort in his final moments. It combined into a strange mother-son/brother-sister/father-daughter thing.

Only in grief over the Ponds did Eleven become truly infantile and frustrating to watch. Eleven and Amelia meet early in their lives. The Doctor's maturation and time fast forwarding occur so fast that it provided an interesting cognitive dissonance.

Amy Pond took on much of the psychological baggage of their scewy relationship. We can see why, too. Her parents got sucked into a crack in spacetime. A raggedy man showed up on her doorstep, promised her the Universe then disappeared for almost twenty years. On top of that no one believed her that the Doctor existed.

Clara, however, has become the first companion to have a presence throughout The Doctor's whole life throughout all his regnerations. Again, three Doctors came to admire her at the same time. The Twelfth Doctor has accumulated about 2,000 years of psychological baggage and, for all intents and purposes, has been reincarnated. The Doctor has become a newborn with Clara as his symbolic mother thrice over.

I can appreciate the craft that has gone into the characterization of the Doctor. I tried writing a criticism on River's character development (with that conclusion stated in first couple paragraphs of this entry). I ended up appreciating the overall characterization of the Doctor's alienation in season six but not the execution of it.

A similar experience has occurred for me with the Twelfth Doctor so far. We have an interesting characterization, but the execution could do better. At least it failed spots highlighted above. The execution of this characterization could likely be done better with minor changes here and there.

I haven't come up with any of my own improvements (I have for many instances in season six and seven). With only a few instances that I've had the opportunity to highlight, I don't think it would require too much.

Twelve is cranky. Twelve is mysterious. Twelve is very much alien. Twelve is arrogant and self confident, except when it comes to Clara, his Oedipal Complex and his fear of castration/impotence. Most of his "unpleasant" aspects I can appreciate and accept.

The exceptions I listed, though, just rub me the wrong way. The relationship between him and Clara stunts him. I've loved Clara's growth. Her expansion feels like it chokes the Doctor, making him less of an interesting character. Unlike in season six, I feel that it doesn't add to the story.

I don't foresee much redemption for him until the Christmas Special this year. Hopefully the BBC and the production team will craft a graceful exit for Clara while allowing the Doctor to grow into a well-rounded mysterious spacetime traveler.

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