Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unto My Hearts

Because you were the first. The first face this face saw. And you'll see it unto my hearts.
--Eleven, "Power of Three"

After rewatching "Angels Take Manhattan"--what can I say? I'm a glutton for emotional agony--I decided to pull out my essay draft comparing Ten and Eleven's reactions to losing their first companions. I've made no secret of my distaste for Ten's obsession about Rose in seasons three and four, but now that my Doctor has lost his Ponds, I'm reanalyzing my position. What, specifically, about Ten annoys me so?

I don't think I need to justify my position much. Yes, Rose's relationship with the Doctor is primary romantic while Amy ends up with Rory (I'm sticking with canon here). But both of them were the first companion for the Doctor,  witnessing the aftermath of regeneration. Finally, they both left "alive" but trapped beyond the reach of the TARDIS.  For simplicity's sake, I'll compare Ten's behavior in Smith and Jones  (with a few mentions of season three) to Eleven in The Snowmen, as I have nothing else to analyse Eleven on at the moment. I hope he finds some joy in season seven b, but that's beside the point at the moment.

First of all, Ten's reaction. When Rose slipped from the dimension-closing-thingy, he screamed, but once the breach closed, he just walked along the wall, pressing his ear as if he hoped to hear her voice from the other side.  And with his final farewell--on the beach at Bad Wolf Bay--he absolutely breaks down. Eleven has to say his final goodbye while staring at the Angel,  trying to convince Amy to come back with him--he didn't even say goodbye to Rory. His last words to Rory were "Down to the pub!" And that scream--that horrible, guttural scream when she disappears--oh, my Doctor.

Perhaps I should be comparing The Snowmen to The Runaway Bride, not Smith and Jones. For completeness, I've watched both while writing this episode. The problem with analyzing Runaway Bride is that it occurs literally minutes after Bad Wolf Bay--Ten almost has to shut down his emotions to deal with Donna.

Okay,  slight change of plans.  I will be discussing both episodes.  But any approach is going to end up lopsided slightly, with only one post-Manhattan episode to discuss. It's worth noting that the only reference to Rose in  "Smith and Jones" is  at the very end, when Martha asks if the TARDIS has a crew. He dodges the question, but admits to having a friend named Rose.  On the other hand, in the Runaway Bride,
(Donna finds Rose's shirt)
Donna: I knew it, acting all innocent. I'm not the first, am I? How many women have you abducted? Doctor: That's my friend's. Donna: Where is she, then? Popped out for a space walk? Doctor: She's gone. Donna: Gone where? Doctor: I lost her. Donna: Well, you can hurry up and lose me! How do you mean, lost? 

Doctor: Trust me. Donna: Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you? Doctor Yes, she did. And she is not dead. She is so alive. Now, jump! 

Doctor: I spent Christmas Day just over there, the Powell Estate, with this family. My friend, she had this family. Well, they were. Still, gone now. 
Donna: Your friend, who was she? (....)This friend of yours. Just before she left, did she punch you in the face? Stop bleeping me! 
Donna: That friend of yours. What was her name? Doctor: Her name was Rose. 
Okay, some of that is Donna being...well, Donna, but I haven't watched these episodes for a while, and it's interesting to see how normal Ten is acting. He's chasing down aliens, asking his normal sorts of questions and making a nuisance of himself.  In fact, judging only by Runaway Bride or Smith and Jones, he's coping with the loss of Rose far better than Eleven is with his Ponds.  He's off on adventures--
Maybe that's why he's so mopey later. He didn't have a chance to mourn right away, and all that repression stuff just made it worse. Not that I believe most of Freud's junk, but it can't be healthy when he doesn't ever acknowledge the hurt.
On the other hand, Eleven does have River, but with her "never-let-him-see-the-damage" mantra, I'm not sure if that was helpful or not. I'm not even sure how long she stayed with him.  So, the next time we see him, in the Great Detective prequel, he's not only withdrawn, but retired. He lives on a cloud, alone.  The best summery we get of his decision comes from Madame Vastra:
He suffered losses that hurt him. Now, he prefers isolation to the possibility of pain's return.
She also states that the Doctor's not a hero anymore.
The Doctor is not kind. He stands above this world and doesn't interfere in the affairs of its inhabitants. He is not your salvation nor your protector.
We don't see anything like this from Ten until post-Journey's End. Even then, Ten keeps traveling. He doesn't just park the TARDIS and refuse to act. More than that, Eleven intends to wipe Clara's memory of him--which, quite frankly, shocked me. Considering what happened to Donna, one'd think that he'd  be more wary of tampering with memories. Maybe--likely--in his mind, it was for her own protection. After all, what happens to his friends? They leave. They get left behind. And some...some...die.
Admittedly, Eleven is my Doctor and the Ponds are my companions, so I'm mourning them in a way I didn't for Rose, but it still seems to me that...oh, how do I put this. Eleven is the clown of the NuWho Doctors,  compared to Nine's survivor's guild and Ten's immensely human emotions. And so he doesn't let himself grieve, he doesn't want anyone to know him as anything but the "madman in a box." And Ten is human enough that he can't stop his grief leaking out, but Eleven turns himself into a ice cube--another Eureka! moment--the ice creations in The Snowmen were echoes of his own emotional state.
I'm rambling now. Maybe I should stop and come back after watching all of season three. But I definitely see a difference between Ten's grief and Eleven's. Ten's attitude could be defined in the season four quote.
"I'm always alright," because he just keeps moving on and doesn't let it show. But Eleven can't pass it over that easy, because he has River; no matter how much he wants to forget, they were her parents. Instead, he hides. He's the strangest mixture of old and young, Eleven is--the unalloyed sorrow of a child with the despair of an ancient. And he hides, like a child afraid of a shot, because he can't see how this pain is going to make things any better.


  1. Interesting. Personally, while Eleven dealt with his emotion more realistically (refusing to go out for fear of getting hurt again) I prefer Ten's arc, at least so far in the new series. You compared Rose to the Ponds, and while there are some similarities, there are differences.

    Most of it is that the Ponds were around two and a half seasons with one Doctor, and Rose was around just one for Ten. After Series Six Eleven is no longer "young", whereas Ten was relatively young when Rose left. That helped.

    In that way I felt that it was better to compare the new episode to later parts of Ten's run, especially parts near regeneration.

    It's not just that they lost companions. It's that they reached breaking point. Ten's was during the specials, particularly in Waters of Mars - The End of Time. Eleven's - his first breaking point, maybe - was at The Angels Take Manhattan.

    Note the differences in reaction. They were similar and different at the same time - which makes sense, considering that they're sorta the same person. They both made remarks about the fairness of the Universe; Ten's violent "It's not fair!" and Eleven's "deal" with the "universe". (I find it interesting that the Doctor seems to acknowledge some sort of higher authority, by the way, especially in a secular show.) Both (as you noted) had the physical emotional reaction of a "facepalm" (for lack of a better word). Both hid their emotions (sometimes in different ways).

    However, the ensuing results were quite different. The main difference was how the tragedy affected their morality. Eleven abandoned his, while Ten (in the end) kept it. Eleven hid himself from suffering and he wasn't anyone's "salvation" or "protector". But Ten, while at first he reacted strongly, sacrificed himself for Wilf with those immortal words, "It would be an honor."

    In a way, the world broke Eleven (and his morality) while Ten tried to break the world (to disastrous results in The Waters of Mars, where his "morality", in some ways, drove him to try and be God).

    Still, Eleven's character arc isn't over yet, not by a long shot. Deep down Eleven is still the Doctor. Clara Oswin Oswald had some immortal lines as well: "Words." The Doctor removed himself from the world, but once he got involved he can't help but help. He's still moral.

    He's still the Doctor.

    1. Well, I was also counting Rose's time with Nine--even with the change in dynamic due to regeneration, he's had her for about the same time, season-wise.

  2. True. Still, it was as if he were a different person. In a way, Rose had to relearn who the Doctor was, and vice versa.

    Really, what makes me compare Eleven to Ten's later episodes was that they "broke". After losing Rose, Ten still traveled and did the same things. I don't think it's because they were different "characters" but because Rose's leaving hadn't quite pushed him to breaking point, drastically changing what he did (such as the refusal of a new companion in Planet of the Dead). He was hurt, but not hurt enough.

    I'm hoping that Eleven regains a sense of morality, however. While I understand why the Doctor was a Scrooge in the Snowmen, I don't particularly like it. The trailer for the latter part of Series Seven looks FANTASTIC, though. Here's to hoping that the 50th anniversary is explosive!


    I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award!