I should maybe preface this by pointing out that I don’t actually know what the general consensus on this one is, as I haven’t actually quite scoured through my flist yet to see. But I figured before venturing into the wide world of other people’s opinions, I would first babble on and on about why I happened to think Waters of Mars was, much like Hogwarts, Totally Awesome. Specifically the “Ten shows off that FIRE and ICE and RAGE people are always talking about” part.
Ten totally losing it (as opposed to, um, half-losing it, like in Runaway Bride) is not really something I expected to see… just about ever, really, but once it started I was pretty much like YES YES THIS IS EXACTLY HOW IT SHOULD GO OMG OMG. Say what you will about his plots and his glowing and his love for recurring villains, Russel T Davies knows his characters, and really? Ten has more than enough reason to snap.
One of the things I like most about RTD’s Doctor Who is that we actually get to see characters grieve, and they don’t always grieve in the healthiest, most therapist-approved ways. As much as Ten wants and tries to brush things under the rug, it never works, and that’s always completely clear to the audience.
And I love that. I love that Ten isn’t the indomitable hero character who can sustain emotional blow after emotional blow without staggering from any of them; that sort of character isn’t real or relatable to me, and it’s not really a character I’m interested in watching. I think RTD deserves major props for not taking the easy route and essentially maxing out the Doctor’s angst. There’s not some sort of maximum level of sad that can’t be surpassed. When the Doctor angsts it’s not just the Time War or Rose or Donna – it’s the Time War and Rose and Donna, and Astrid and Jenny and Martha and the Master and Adelaide and the dozens of others we get in that little angst montage in Journey’s End. Everyone has their tipping point, and Waters of Mars did a great job of shoving the Doctor up to and over that precipice.
And the fact that what happens when he teeters over that brink is an actual attempt at the role of vengeful god makes total sense. I can’t tell how long RTD has been intending for this and so I can’t tell how long he’s been consciously setting it up, but either way he’s managed to do so awesomely. We’ve seen the Doctor indifferent to screaming spider babies; we’ve seen him dole out eternal punishment for the Family of Blood and hold a gun to someone’s head. Waaay back in that Children of Need special that was Ten’s introduction, way before Donna and Runaway Bride and Fires of Pompeii, one of Ten’s very first lines is “I can’t stop myself.” By the end of Waters of Mars Ten might further down the primrose path of Crazy than we’ve seen him before, but it’s not in a way we haven’t seen. One of the few moments in Voyage of the Damned that I’ve always found compelling (instead of just “LOL SPACE POSEIDON”) is just after he fails to bring Astrid back properly, when he kicks the teleport and yells “I can do anything!” I think it’s an interesting line beause the audience knows it isn’t true, and he knows that this isn’t true, but you can feel how much he wants it to be. So in Waters of Mars, after a couple more years of the universe hitting his soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer, his reaction is essentially “WELL FUCK YOU TOO, UNIVERSE!” Honestly, I can’t really blame him.
And I think that is some pretty honest, realistic and ballsy writing for a family tv show. I love that RTD doesn’t shy away from something just because it’s a bit messy. And while anything might happen in the December specials and we have no idea what (aside from “drunken giraffe”) Matt Smith’s Doctor will actually be like, at this point I can easily believe that Ten turns into someone who scares armies and opens the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers.
Well that was long. As I said up top, haven't actually read anyone's reaction post yet, so link me!