Sleep No More: The Acceptance of State Sponsored Terrorism

PRESENTER: May the Gods look favourably upon us all. Friends. We live in a time of unparalleled prosperity. A golden age of peace, harmony and industry. But every shift must come to an end. Every working day must stop. Of course, we can take stimulants to make that deadline, to keep us propped up through that important meeting. But always, always, sleep claims us in the end. Until now The Morpheus machine concentrates the whole nocturnal experience into one five-minute burst. Now, you can go a whole month without sleep. 

…..
PRESENTER: All the chemical benefits of rest, but freeing up the nights to continue working, working, working. To get the edge on your competitor. To turn that extra profit.
CLARA: That’s insane. That’s horrible!
CHOPRA: Finally, someone who sees it for what it is.
PRESENTER: Leave the Rip Van Winkles behind and become one of a new generation of Wide-Awakes! The future is here. The future is now. Let yourself slip into the arms of Morpheus! 

Advances in technology often go hand in hand with government oppression and exploitation. No, I am not one of those people that condemns every new technological advance as evil and it is important to note that many technological advances and breakthroughs, especially in medicine, have had a positive impact on numerous people. (Though for those that that market and sell such technology, it is often in their best interest to narrow who can receive it based on income.) Other advances, such as social media, encryption, etc has helped those in authoritarian countries find way to bypass government censorship. Yet at the same time advances in technology has provided governments with the ability to spy and monitor millions of people within their own country, but also outside of it. Most technology, with the exception of military weapons, are morally neutral. What determines whether they are “good” or “bad” is the motivation behind their creation and the consequences of their use.

In Sleep No More, the Morpheus pod has two purposes: the first purpose, which is tied with how it is marketed, is to reduce the need for sleep and enable workers to use their extra hours to gain a completive edge over their co-workers or increase their profits. In this case, capitalism and greed are the motivating force for why many people and companies buy and use it. Of course, the pod is marketed as helping to continue the current, “golden age of peace, harmony and industry,” which in any modern, industrialized country is tied to the god of capitalism. May the gods of free market capitalism look favorably upon us indeed.

The other more sinister motive is tied to patient zero and thee creation of what Clara calls. “the Sandmen.”

RASSMUSSEN: I’ve been working on Morpheus for a very long time, Doctor.  I had to start somewhere. Morpheus’s first client. Patient Zero. The ultimate Wide-Awake. Inside there is a man who hasn’t slept in five years. 
DOCTOR: Or what’s left of him. 

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It becomes clear as the episode progresses that this second, even more sinister motive lies at the heart of the creation of the Morpheus pod. Of course the Morpheus pod, during its use could have achieved some good. I imagine the tired surgeon performing lifesaving surgery, for example. But the episode doesn’t even hint at such noble motives. As the viewer, even before we know that the sandmen are definitively connected to the Morpheus machine, we have a deep understanding that such a machine is wrong and is ripe for exploitation. Any good is vastly overshadowed by the evil the machine fosters. But that’s because this is a new, freakish machine that we can scarcely imagine. For the rescue team and others in the 38th century it is standard practice. Just like their cloning of grunts who are breed to fight, kill, and die.

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The people in the 38th century see such advances as improvements. And it is easy to imagine that most technological advances didn’t occur overnight. The population had years maybe centuries to get used to the idea of growing humans for war or forgoing sleep. Before the cloning of humans, there was probably mass successful cloning of animals. Before forgoing sleep entirely for a month, there were probably smaller advances that enabled people to forgo sleep for a few days. It is this small incremental change in what a society deems normal that can provide governments with the ability to harness to technology for exploitation and destruction. Of course there are good societal changes and uses of technology that should be celebrated, but it is the devious, sinister uses of technology that often go unnoticed.

For instance, the militarization of the American law enforcement has been  steadily increasing while the majority of Americans remained oblivious. Its seeds can be traced to the protests of the 1960s,  it gained traction during the “war on drugs” in the 80s and 90s, and received renewed power after the attacks on 9/11. The protests in Ferguson, in which the police used tanks, pointed assault rifles at protestors, and dressed up as an occupying force which lead the larger American public to wonder, “how the hell did this happen?”

 

 

This happened because the government, state, local, and federal police departments  harnessed fear and the majority’s desire for peace and security in order to convince the population and themselves that these tanks, assault rifles, etc were needed. In the 60s, protests rocked America, with some agencies, such as the FBI and local police department feeling as if a time of lawlessness had arrived. The very foundation of American stability and democracy was at stake or so they said. The FBI used this reasoning to justify their illegal use of the latest technology: advances in wiretapping, and recording, as well as infiltrating and entrapping activists. In the 80s and 90s, it was the war on drugs and the wave of crime that threatened to undermine America. We needed harsh sentences and punishment for those using and dealing drugs. Local law enforcement needed to protect themselves from evil, ruthless, drug dealers (and don’t get me wrong, there are some vicious drug dealers. Look at the cartels in Mexico, whose progress and spread can be traced in part, to the US governments, “war on drugs”). America was facing an evil, ruthless enemy and federal, state, and local police needed the latest military gear to protect themselves.

After 9/11 the separation between law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and the military became even more blurred. The NYPD’s war on terror is known for its attempts at gleaning intelligence from Muslims through surveillance and the use of informants, regardless of whether such actions are legal or not.  And of course the San Bernardino shooting, in which the shooters had thin ties to any official terrorist group, as lead to police departments, union leaders, etc defending increased militarization.  Yet these are the very same people who defend police officer involved shootings as always justified even though over 1,000

Yet these are the very same people who defend police officer involved shootings as always justified even though over 1,000 Americans have been killed by police in 2015 alone. . But the police expect us to fear one set of terrorists, mainly those perpetrated by those who claim to be Muslim, yet we are to ignore state sponsored terrorism in the form of police shootings.

Police militarization didn’t happen overnight. The State worked to ensure that citizens were not fully aware of what was going on in police departments and the state exploited Americans fear of drugs, crime, and terrorism. In a similar way, Rassmussen and patient zero exploited humanity’s greed and desire for more profits. By the 38th century, society had progressed to the point where sleep was viewed as a commodity to be reduced to short five minute spurts once a month and some people were grown for the use of becoming cannon fodder. We find such a thought abhorrent because that hasn’t been our lived experience. Yet many Americans seem to have no problem with American law enforcement turning into an occupying force.

 

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In the Forest of the Night: Seeing the Things in Front of Us.

DOCTOR: You can’t really tell if something’s an addiction till you try and give it up.
CLARA: And you never have.
DOCTOR: Let me know how it goes.

After Kill the Moon Clara is intent on ending her travels with the Doctor. In the beginning of Mummy on the Orient Express, we find that weeks have passed since the previous episode and while Clara still resolves to stop traveling, she no longer declares her hatred for the Doctor. Yet despite her insistence that she cannot continue to live life the way the Doctor does-recklessly and with little consequence for how others are effected and despite her promise to Danny to finally walk out of the TARDIS for good, she finds that she is unable to do so. So she lies to both the Doctor and Danny. Of course the Doctor and Danny eventually find out she has been lying. In this episode, In the Forest of the Night Danny knows that she has not completely cut ties with the Doctor. He knows that she immediately called the Doctor after seeing London taken over by a forest that sprung up overnight, even though he sensibly thought about calling all of the parents to reassure them. And when Danny tells her towards the end of the episode that he saw the stacks of homework that she needs to grade and that the date on them said Friday, she still tries to lie to Danny. Moreover in this episode, we see how she is more concerned about figuring out the puzzle of the forest, than she is about ensuring that the kids are safe. She cares about the kids, but they are an afterthought.

The thing about addictions is that they quickly begin to consume one’s life. Think about the other companions that have traveled with the Doctor. Sarah Jane in, High School Reunion admits how she had a difficult time going back to normal life.  Donna, when she first left the Doctor at the end of the Runway Bride apparently struggled with going back to her boring life. It is only when the Doctor forces her to forget about their adventures does she integrate successfully into the “real” world. Martha, who although chose to leave the Doctor joins Unit. And Rose, after being left on Bad Wolf Bay works with Unit in the parallel universe-not to mention she finds a way to travel between universes to get back to the Doctor. For many of the companions, especially in NuWho traveling with the Doctor means placing one’s life on hold. While Amy and Rory did navigate back and forth between their real life and their time with the Doctor-the Doctor was the one who originally made that decision for them, deciding when and where to pop back into their lives. Clara, right from the beginning of her time with the Doctor, makes it perfectly clear that she will not be giving up her whole life to travel with him. Yet this season balancing her two lives has become increasingly difficult, especially since she has fallen in love with Danny.

The one moment she seems content to give up traveling is when she thinks that she and everyone else is going to be killed.

DOCTOR: I can save you.
CLARA: I don’t want you to.
DOCTOR: What, you don’t want to live?
CLARA: Of course I want to live. I just
DOCTOR: What?
CLARA: Don’t make me say it.
DOCTOR: Say what?
CLARA: I don’t want to be the last of my kind.

it is only when she faces the following decision: would she rather travel with the Doctor or stay behind with Danny and the rest of the human race and face extinction, that at that moment she is able to leave the Doctor behind. It takes a potentially drastic and devastating event to temporally break her “addiction.” However, once it turns out that the world is not going to be destroyed, she immediately forgets about her previous decision. She is unable to stay away from the lure of traveling throughout space and time. When she tries to convince the children and Danny to watch the solar flare, she is disappointed when they refuse. The children want to be with their parents, understandably, they almost died and they want to be with the people that matter the most to them. And Danny, while he encourages Clara to go reminds her about life on earth:

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Well what’s wrong with wanting to travel through space and time? Most of us if given the opportunity would react no differently than Clara. However, while most of will never get the opportunity to travel through space, and I am pretty sure that in our lifetime none of us will travel through time, as humans we always seem to be grasping for something more. When it comes to striving for more equality and justice, we can make great progress towards ending oppression. Yet most of us, individually and as a society get caught up in grasping for things that will make us happy. Seeking happiness or buying things are not necessarily wrong, but they become dangerous when we seek to prove our self-worth or provide meaning to our lives by what we buy and/or consume. We spend so much of our lives wishing for an alternative reality-we wish we weren’t sick, we wish we didn’t have debt, we wish the economy didn’t suck and we tell ourselves that if we only everything were ok then we could be happy. But unfortunately, most of us will rarely have moments where everything goes well. But if we keep focusing on what we don’t have or pining for what we never had, life will pass us by.

Christianity on the surface, is supposed to provide an alternative way of living that serves as a counterpoint to the shallow consumerism that plagues our society. But popular American Christianity tends to be based on shallow theology. Christianity is reduced to getting into heaven and avoiding hell. In some congregations/denominations, each sermon preached is a variation on the whole, “accept Christ as your savior or you will end up in hell” spiel. Rapture theology, despite having weak biblical and historical roots, continues to fascinate an untold number of Christians who seem to almost relish the thought of having most of humanity suffer and be condemned to hell. And while the notion of heaven-whether as a literal place or understood in a more metaphorical sense with the primary focus being on God’s reign of love, justice, and compassion rather than on a physical afterlife, can provide comfort for those who are grieving and suffering and can inspire others to fight for social justice, it can also serve the same purpose as secular materialism. We become so focused on heaven-yearning for our pain to end, for justice and compassion to reign in the future, that we lose sight of what we have now. What if heaven does not exist as a literal place? What if there is no single moment where everything will magically be ok, where hunger will cease to exist and wars will be eradicated? What if progress will continue like it always has, in fits and starts? Does that render our lives in the here and now meaningless?

Of course there is nothing wrong with seeking progress. And I understand the comfort that notions of heaven, whether literal or metaphorical can have, and I am no way suggesting that heaven does not exist. I can’t say for sure whether an afterlife definitively exists or whether there will be a time period where justice and peace will reign (though I continue to strive for that day). But what I’ve been learning is to embrace a theology that finds meaning in everyday life. I want, when pain and depression are threatening to overwhelm me, to be able to find a flicker of hope-not in some future that may never happen, but in what I see around me. I want to be able find God’s presence around me now.

Clara couldn’t muster up the will to give up traveling until she thought that humanity faced death and once the threat was gone she went back to her lust after adventure. In a similar way, how many of us have faced a life changing situation? How many of us have faced the death of a loved one, or come close to dying and vow that we shall learn to appreciate each day only to seem to forget about that promise within a few days, months, or years?

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Forgetting can be beneficial. Forgetting helps us move forward individually and as a society. But forgetting can also cause us to continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, to believe that violence is redemptive, or that we can be happy if only everything went the way we want/need. We constantly need to remind ourselves that there are wonders in front of us. That there is beauty surrounding us even in the midst of all the pain and suffering. Our moments with friends and loved ones, wrapping ourselves up in our TARDIS blanket on a cold night sipping hot chocolate, studying what we love, playing with our animals-all those little things that seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things matter. It’s those little things that hurt the most when for whatever reason we forget them. Like when a loved one dies-it hurts to forget the sound of their voice, or the feel of their hands. For me this episode is a call to remember what we have. Not necessarily a discouragement against seeking-but a reminder that sometimes we don’t have to go very far to find what we long for and need.

Flatline: A Reflection On Identity

Western society’s emphasis on the individual has created an understanding of identity that does not acknowledge the importance of relationships or societal context in shaping who we are. “Be who you are despite what others think/say/do.” “Find the real you!” “Get in touch with your inner self” are messages that bombard us on social media and which form the foundation of the self-help industry. While of course it is vital that we do not become overly dependent on others to define our self-worth the reality is that our identity is formed, at least in part, by those around us. We are molded by our interactions with friends, family, and coworkers. Our search for who we are will be in vein if we refuse to concede the essential role others play in our lives and how we in turn influence others.  However, the danger of acknowledging how we shape other people and vice versa, is that we might not always like what we see reflected back to us. And for those of us who grew up in abusive or neglectful households, it is frightening to think that we might share characteristics with our abusers. There is a comfort in believing that we are autonomous beings who can resist being shaped by others and our societal context, and there is a sense of liberation that comes from believing that our lives don’t really impact others. If we acknowledge that such thoughts are false, we will have to think much more critically about how we treat others both individually and on a national level. Such thinking forces us to recognize that we are deeply interconnected with others-from our best friends to those suffering in west Africa, or the Middle East and as a result we can’t simply shrug our shoulders in disinterest or blindly condemn the actions of murderous thugs without recognizing the role we as individuals and as a nation have played in the various oppressions and injustices occurring on the world stage.

In the episode Flatline, the Doctor sees bits of himself reflected back to him through Clara and as a character whose struggles with self-loathing have been a dominant theme since the return of the show, to see himself through Clara troubles him deeply. Because the Doctor is trapped in a shrinking TARDIS, Clara takes center stage and effectively takes up his role in this episode. Clara even jokes about this towards the beginning of the episode

CLARA: I’m the Doctor.
DOCTOR: Don’t you dare.
CLARA : Doctor Oswald. CLARA: But you can call me Clara.
RISBY: I’m Risby. So er, what are you a doctor of?                                                                         DOCTOR: Of lies.
CLARA: Well, I’m usually quite vague about that. I think I just picked the title because it makes me sound important.

But fairly quickly we begin to see how traveling with the Doctor has made Clara blasé about lying. To be fair, traveling with the Doctor always involves a level of duplicity-telling everyone you meet that you travel through space and time in a time machine that looks like a 1950s police box is a sure way to be ostracized or taken in for a mental health evaluation. But those who travel with the Doctor soon find themselves lying extensively or at the very least withholding information from those they love. In the last few episodes we have seen that Clara is lying both to the Doctor and to Danny Pink. She wants to continue her adventure with the Doctor and also her relationship with Danny Pink and fears having to give up either one, so her solution is to withhold and distort the truth.

DOCTOR: Excellent lying, Doctor Oswald.
CLARA: Yeah? Well, thought it was pretty weak myself.                                                              DOCTOR: I meant to me. You told me that Danny was okay with you being back on board the TARDIS.    

CLARA: Well, he is.                                                                                                                       

DOCTOR: Yeah, because he doesn’t know anything about it.                                                       CLARA: Doctor
DOCTOR: Congratulations. Lying is a vital survival skill.
CLARA: Well, there you go.
DOCTOR: And a terrible habit

Shortly after this conversation Clara asks, “Does it even still count as lying if you’re doing for someone’s own good? Well, like, technically their own good.” But who she is talking about? Is she really trying to protect Danny or the Doctor or is she simply avoiding having what may prove to be difficult conversations about the future?

Later on in the episode, Clara begins to understand why the Doctor acts the way that he does-in ways that seem cold, heartless and manipulative. Of course sometimes it is for his own purposes disguised as altruism, but in other cases his actions are the best way he can conceive of to help others. Clara, realizing that she is in charge of keeping Risby. Fenton, and the other workers alive begins to understand the magnitude of this responsibility. And the Doctor gets a glimpse of how he sounds like to others:

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Clara is reflecting back to him the pragmatism that manages to push aside past tragedies, (such as previous deaths) and focuses on what needs to get done in order to ensure that the most people survive.

DOCTOR: Are you okay?
CLARA: I’m alive.
DOCTOR: And a lot of people died.
FENTON: It’s like a forest fire, though, isn’t it? The objective is to save the great trees, not the brushwood. Am I right?
DOCTOR: It wasn’t a fire, those weren’t trees, those were people.

Clara and the Doctor have of course influenced each other throughout their time together. In fact, the show frequently explores how the Doctor and his companions have shaped each other for better or for worse. In Nuwho, the companion has often been a healing influence on the Doctor, especially in regards to the Time War and during his confused post-regeneration phase. The Doctor has often encouraged companions to see their own strengths, to be open to new and strange adventures, and to think outside of the box. Many would argue that in those cases the influence has been mutually beneficial and positive. On the negative side, traveling with the Doctor does take its toll. Sarah Jane Smith, struggled with how to live a normal life after being left behind, Rory and Amy struggled with balancing their normal life and their life with the Doctor. And of course Clara has not only picked up the Doctor’s penchant for lying, even to those that only want to help her and love her, but she has also begun to lose a part of her humanity. (Although the previews for the season finale has me scratching my head as to who or what Clara is. But for now, I am just going to stick with her being human). The woman who convinced the Doctor there must be a different way to end the Time War, and who shouted at the Doctor in, Kill the Moon for being manipulative and for essentially abandoning her to make a decision that could have had catastrophic consequences, seems to have taken a more carefree attitude towards death, at least in this episode.

DOCTOR: Yes, a lot of people died and maybe the wrong people survived.
CLARA: Yeah, but we saved the world, right?
DOCTOR: We did. You did.
CLARA: Okay, so, on balance
DOCTOR: Balance?
CLARA: Yeah, that’s how you think, isn’t it?
DOCTOR: Largely so other people don’t have to.
CLARA: Yeah, well, I was you today. I was the Doctor. And, apparently, I was quite good at it.

At times we become so blind to our words and actions that we don’t recognize their impact until we see others acting in ways that are reminiscent of how we behave. The Doctor, especially in this season has been unmoved about death. In fact in numerous episodes, (Into the Dalek, Mummy on the Orient Express, etc) he mocks those who want to take the time to mourn. What ultimately matters is that evil has been vanquished and that even though some people died, it could have been worse. The Doctor, at least on a logical level is right. As he told Perkins in Mummy on the Orient Express: “People with guns to their heads, they cannot mourn. We do not have time to mourn.” And while his logic makes sense, there is still something that feels off about such an attitude. He sees death and moves on to the next adventure. But seeing Clara react in a similar way forces him to pause.

CLARA: Admit it. I did well.
(Her phone rings. It is Danny. She picks the “I’m in a meeting” text option to end it.)
DOCTOR: Is that PE?
CLARA: Just say it. Why can’t you just say it? Why can’t you just say I did good?

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In our individualistic society we are so keen to deny how interconnected and reliant we are on one other. Of course I am not suggesting a denial of personal autonomy, but there needs to be a balance and a recognition that how we treat others and how they treat us matters. How we interact with others changes all involved for better or for worse. And this remains true on a larger national scale. How we treat foreign nations impacts how they react to us, and while many want to deny it, we can’t simply condemn other countries for human rights abuses without being aware of how our country has treated others. People are rightfully angry at ISIS for their horrific treatment of their own people and of foreigners, but can we say that our country is really above it all? Have our actions possibly influenced and strengthened terrorist movements? In an interconnected world such questions need to be taken seriously.

In Flatline, the Doctor’s eyes were opened to how he influences his companions. Will that change how he treats Clara or how he acts? Not sure. But watching Clara bought about an even deeper level of self-awareness and a reminder that actions have consequences, but not always the ones we think. As a result it essential that we embrace that truth instead of running away from it. We can use this knowledge to reflect more critically on how our nation’s actions intentionally or not contributes to a cycle of violence.

Mummy on the Orient Express: Wounded in a Forgotten War…

I haven’t forgotten that I promised a follow up post for Kill The Moon, however, I am probably going to return to that post after the season ends, in order to include examples from the whole series.

MRS PITT: Is there some sort of fancy dress thing on this evening?
MAISIE: I don’t think so. Why do you ask?
MRS PITT: Well, that fellow over there, dressed as a mummy monster thing.
MAISIE: Who do you mean? I can’t see him.
MRS PITT: You! You! Throw that man out of my dining car. It’s disgusting.
WAITER: I’m sorry, Madam. Which man?
MRS PITT: Which man?! I’ll have your job. That man, right there, dressed as a monster.
MAISIE: Mama, there isn’t anyone there. Are you feeling okay?
MRS PITT: Don’t you dare lie to me, girl. I won’t be made a fool of. Stop it. Stop it. Stop him at once. Right now.
MAISIE: Mama, there’s no one there

When first watching Mummy on the Orient Express, I posted on my facebook profile that Steven Moffat needed to learn about moral injury. While most people are familiar with PTSD and the staggering effect it can have on service members and veterans, moral injury is less well known in popular discourse. While PTSD is a psychological condition  that affects the parts of the brain that deal with the regulation of fear, moral injury, “is the result of reflection on memories of war or other extreme traumatic conditions. It comes from having transgressed one’s basic moral identity and violated core moral beliefs”-Brock and Lettini.

Yet ignorance does not negate how painful and deadly moral injury can be for those who are suffering from it. Moral injury, like PTSD, is invisible, and as a result it can be easy to be dismissive towards the suffering of those experiencing moral injury. We rely on sight to be able to discern what is real and authentic, and such an attitude applies towards our understanding of injuries. We use our sight to gauge the seriousness of a wound and the perceived discomfort of the person with the injury. Injuries that we can’t see, make us uncomfortable since it can be difficult for us to understand the seriousness of such injuries.For instance if a person is on crutches,  we know  that said person will have trouble time getting to and from class, as a result a friend might offer a ride or offer to carry the person’s books. Yet how does one help those suffering from invisible wounds? Additionally, and perhaps this is an indication of cynicism on my part, physical injuries can help us assess the depth and length of support we offer another person. Is there a chance of healing? How long will the person be injured? Do I really have the time and energy and resources (including emotional) to support another person through their difficult journey? What are the chances that I or someone I love will experience this type of injury? Invisible wounds are harder to predict and control.

In this episode, the Doctor and others on the train are threatened by a mummy that is only visible towards those about to die. When Mrs. Pitt complains about someone in costume her granddaughter and those around her understandably question her sanity and health. She does not realize that the mummy is invisible to everyone else but her. In “real life” my reaction would not be much different than her granddaughter’s. Yet even when she dies, her death is dismissed by the other passengers as a health factor, since she was quite old and frail. The only people that have a hunch that something more sinister might be at hand are the Doctor and Clara since experience has taught them that not much is impossible in the universe.

DOCTOR: Come on, Captain. Where would we all be if we all followed our job descriptions, hmm? Good question. Glad you asked. In your case, you’d be doing something instead of climbing inside a bottle.
QUELL: I have followed the procedure for accidental death to the letter.
DOCTOR: Yes, I’m sure you have. And I’m sure you do just enough of your job to avoid complaints.
QUELL: You don’t know anything about me.
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QUELL: There is no evidence of any attack or other parties
DOCTOR: Yes, let’s just sit around and wait for the evidence while the bodies pile up. Or here’s a crazy thought. We could do something to stop it. Why am I even talking to you?

Quell, wants to pretend that nothing unusual is going on. As the captain of the ship, he is responsible for what happens to the passengers, a responsibility that can be daunting in the face of trouble. As a result, he chooses to ignore any hint of suspicious activity. The Doctor points out that his reaction is somehow traced to his experiences in war. Though the Doctor is not sure of the specifics, he knows that Quell wants to try and put his past experiences behind him by seeking solace in a job that is supposed to be relatively trauma-free. And when evidence that something more troubling may be occurring, Quell immediately seeks to distance himself from it. The Doctor, however, understands that ignoring a problem does not magically solve it.

When service members return from war-there is an expectation-by some family members, friends, and perhaps the individual service member, that things will be able to quickly go back to normal, especially if the service member has no discernible injuries. Popular media loves to show case welcome home stories and they are often framed in a fairy tale fashion: the hero has been gone conquering enemies, and now is home and can live happily ever after with loved ones. Yet as the high incidents of alcoholism and suicide demonstrate, some veterans and service members struggle to move past their experiences of war. Furthermore, even those who seem to outwardly be doing well or who aren’t struggle from alcoholism, depression, anxiety etc may still find transitioning home to prove challenging.

As a society we express shock and horror at learning about the suicide rate (about 22 a day), the divorce rate, or the homelessness rate of veterans, and for a few weeks or months we demand change. But after a while as wars languish or are “ended,” and as other issues come to the media forefront, the experiences of our veterans and service members are forgotten We want them to forget their service in a warzone, except to titillate us with details that glorify war. Or at the very least we expect them to act like Quell- who at least on the surface appears to have moved on. If veterans and service members can’t mentally let go of their time in a war zone, we want them to at least go through the motions of normality.

DOCTOR: Oh, come on, Captain. How many people have to die before you stop looking the other way?

………..

QUELL: It turns out its three. The amount of people that had to die before I stopped looking the other way.

At some point denial no longer becomes feasible. For Quell, the death of another person, forces him to wake up and confront the stark reality of his situation. If he wanted to stop the deaths, he would need to get to the root of the problem.

Likewise, in the case, of our returning service members and veterans we need to stop pretending that war is a glorious game, as depicted in the movies. We can’t claim to support our troops and our veterans and then expect them to keep quiet about their experiences, or be able to simply move on and forget about what they have gone through. If we want to truly support our troops than we will have to go beyond trite clichés and the posting of yellow ribbons and deal with the fact that war can be messy and painful. Those of us who are civilians will never understand what our service members and veterans go through/have gone through, but we can provide a listening ear that does not condemn or judge. We can insist that our nation provide adequate health care and support for those asked to fight on our behalf. We can critically think about how our nation’s obsession with war and violence may be less about security and more about profit and greed.

QUELL: You really think it can sense psychological issues?
DOCTOR: It seems so. Why?
QUELL: When you said I’d lost the stomach for a fight, I wasn’t wounded in battle as such, but. My unit was bombed. I was the sole survivor. Not a scratch on me. But post-traumatic stress. Nightmares. Still can’t sleep without pills.
It is important to note, that unlike PTSD, moral injury is not a psychological diagnosis. There is no checklist that a clinician can consult nor any medication that can be prescribed. And of course one can have both moral injury and PTSD at the same time. I have no doubt that Quell would experience PTSD after being the sole survival of his unit-but he may also suffer from moral injury. The importance of one’s unit is drilled into the service member. Each person in the unit must be able to perform at top capacity in order to ensure the safety of their fellow service members. They share an experience that few understand and in times of danger, boredom, etc they have their unit to turn to as family members and friends are often thousands of miles away. They are supposed to be willing to do whatever it takes to care for their fellow service members. This emphasis on the unity of a unit is a essential part of the moral fabric of the military and the inability to fulfill that commitment can be devastating. One can feel as if he/she has violated a deeply sacred moral code-and the fact that such a violation was unintentional matters little. It is hard to imagine that Quell could have done something to protect his unit from a bombardment-especially if it was a surprise attack. Yet the sense of failure is still acute. How do you make sense of surviving while everyone else died? What could you have done differently?

Moral injury calls into question one whole’s identity. We all have concepts of moral actions, of what is “right” and “wrong” and even in war, at least on paper, there is a clear understanding of what actions are acceptable and what actions are not. And most of us have clear criteria for what makes a person moral or immoral and we would like to think that we would do the right thing in all situations. But the reality of war rarely conforms to our neat little categories of right and wrong. Snap decisions are made, and actions occur that are beyond an individual’s control. Most people would not even think to blame Quell for surviving or accuse him of breaking the code of morality that stresses the bond between service members. Yet, reassurances of, “you couldn’t have done anything” and, “you didn’t do anything wrong” sounds cheap and hallow.

DOCTOR: That doesn’t sound like a scroll. That sounds like a flag! And if that sounds like a flag, if this is a flag, that means that you are a soldier, wounded in a forgotten war thousands of years ago. But they’ve worked on you, haven’t they, son? They’ve filled you full of kit. State of the art phase camouflage, personal teleporter.
PERKINS: Ten seconds.

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The deaths from the mummy do not stop until the Doctor recognizes that the mummy is in fact a soldier from a forgotten war. While the war has ostensibly ended centuries ago, for the soldier the war continued. Additionally, once the Doctor found out the mummy was a soldier in a forgotten war, he treated the mummy with respect and not as a helpless victim nor as a horrible monster. One of the important things to remember about moral injury is that it does not render veterans and service members as victims to be coddled. Such a view is condescending and patronizing especially coming from those of us who have never been deployed to a war zone. Instead learning about moral injury should bring about a sense of shame that as a nation we give lip service to the notion of supporting our troops and veterans, but in reality we quickly forget those we ask to fight on our behalf. And even if we view war or a particular war with disdain, that does not negate our obligation to support our veterans and service members.

It is easy for those of us who have never been to war to tell veterans and service members to just “get over it,” especially if years or decades have passed since the ending of a particular war. We tend to view the departure of boots on the ground as the end of a war and we fail to recognize how invisible wounds make it difficult for those who fought to leave the war beyond. And as long as we as a society continue to turn a blind eye to the continued war that many veterans and service members face, there will be more instances of death, drug and alcohol abuse, and homelessness.

Kill The Moon: A Theological Reflection on God’s Intervention and on Free Will

DOCTOR: I knew that eggs are not bombs. I know they don’t usually destroy their nests. Essentially, what I knew was that you would always make the best choice. I had faith that you would always make the right choice.
CLARA: Honestly, do you have music playing in your head when you say rubbish like that?
DOCTOR: It wasn’t my decision to make. I told you.

CLARA: Do you know what? Shut up! I am so sick of listening to you!
DOCTOR: Well, I didn’t do it for Courtney. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Do you think I’m lying?

God’s omniscience (God as all knowing) and omnipotence (God as all powerful), are some of the key pillars of popular Christian understandings of God. Yet despite God’s unlimited power and knowledge, most Christians affirm some notion of free will. In fact, when asked about suffering and why God does not stop it, the answer frequently given is, “well God does not want to impede on our free will.” On the one hand, that sounds like a sufficient answer. God does not want to turn us into robots forced to do God’s will. On the other hand, when one is in the midst of suffering such an answer seems unfair and pathetic. So a deity, who could avoid suffering, chooses not to in order to give us free will? If another person were to say, refuse to stop a rape or a murder, they would at the very least be disparaged for their lack of action and in some cases face criminal charges. Why does the same disdain not directed towards God. God, who is supposedly the gold standard of morality is given a free pass to simply walk away from devastating situations. God is given such leeway because God’s “ways are bigger than our ways” or “because God values our free will so much.” Quite frankly, I would take an active God who would intervene in say horrible atrocities like the Holocaust then a silent one who claims to respect humanity’s decisions. Some argue, “well if God got involved in those events we would be like automatic robots.” Really? An all knowing, all powerful deity has less common sense than the average parent to recognize that while they need to give their children choices and responsibilities to grow, they have a responsibility to protect their children from harm or at least from hurting others. It’s one thing for a parent to see a child self-destruct and then say, “I can’t control this kid, I need to let him/her make her own choices” but if a parent were to say, “well my kid is planning to rape or murder another person, which is wrong, but hey my child needs to be responsible for his/her decision” they would understandably be condemned for their attitude. But God, who is supposedly the loving parent of seven billion people-gets to sit back while massive amounts of innocent people are being slaughtered, raped, kidnapped, tortured, or are suffering from poverty, infectious diseases, cancer, etc?

In Kill The Moon, the Doctor forces Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik to decide the course of human history. He pops into the TARDIS and pushes them to make a decision-which regardless of what they choose could spell disaster. If they didn’t kill the egg, the creature inside could destroy all humanity, if they kill the egg, they face the very real possibility of killing an innocent life. Now in all fairness, the Doctor claims he does not know what would happen, yet he seems to understand that the egg did not in fact pose any threat to humanity. Of course, the parallels between the Doctor and the Christian God is not perfect. And unlike the God of Christian theology, the Doctor does not in fact know everything. However, in many ways that makes this understanding of God seem even more appalling. God knows that thousands of people will die an agonizing death by Ebola in West Africa, this after experiencing horrific decades of civil war but God chooses not to do anything. When thinking of all the pain and suffering in the world, it seems to be a cop out to absolve God of any responsibility.

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DOCTOR: No, that was me allowing you to make a choice about your own future. That was me respecting you.
CLARA: Oh, my God, really? Was it? Yeah, well, respected is not how I feel.

Nonetheless, even though many hold onto the theology that God let’s bad things happen in order to respect our free will, when painful and horrible things happen in their lives, they will more often than not continue to pray for God’s intervention. It’s as if when it comes to worldwide disasters God will not intervene in order to respect humanity’s free will (or when it comes to disasters that effect other people God will not intervene) yet the hope and prayer is that God will still personally intervene in their specific situation. God might allow thousands to die of Ebola, but save one person from a horrific car accident, God might allow one kid to be beaten to death, yet save another. This presents a picture of a fickle God, choosing to intervene and “respect” humanity’s free will in some cases, but in others deciding to intervene. Why does God decide to intervene in some situations and stand back in others? Why do people praise God for saving their lives but seem indifferent about the deaths of other people?

The Doctor decides to step out of this situation, placing the responsibility for deciding what happens to the egg, on the shoulders of others. When Clara confronts the Doctor, she is understandably angry. Here is someone who has intervened in countless of situations, who initially refused to get back on the TARDIS when Clara asks him to earlier in the episode. He even states that whatever happens in the future is up to us. Meaning he would be involved in the decision making as well. Yet the Doctor chooses this moment to not intervene, and Clara rightly points out he was being condescending. He was essentially saying, “oh well, time for humanity to grow up and make a choice for their future.”

CLARA: I nearly didn’t press that button. I nearly got it wrong. That was you, my friend, making me scared. Making me feel like a bloody idiot.
DOCTOR: Language.
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For Christians, one of the biggest examples of God’s “intervention” or active participation in the events of human history is the incarnation. Now, like the resurrection, there are various ways to understand the incarnation, either literally, metaphorically etc but in its various understandings, God somehow becomes intimately involved in human affairs through Jesus Christ. That story is used as the prime example of God’s love for humanity, yet what happens after the incarnation? God gets involved in the affairs of humanity and then backs away, until deciding to randomly intervene again? God becomes one of us, suffers, dies, resurrects, and then what? Goes back to the heavenly realm beyond the fluffy clouds?

Clara finds the doctor’s answer that it was humanity’s decision to make the right choice inadequate. The Doctor is not a dispassionate observer, he gets involved with humans on a regular basis. Gallifrey, his planet of origin, was never home in the way earth was. He ran away from Gallifrey. And while he travels through time and space, he keeps coming back to earth. A majority of his companions come from earth. She is effectively saying, earth is your responsibility as well.

Doesn’t God have an even bigger responsibility towards earth?

DOCTOR: I was helping.
CLARA: What, by clearing off?
DOCTOR: Yes.
CLARA: Yeah, well, clear off! Go on. You can clear off. Get back in your lonely, your lonely bloody Tardis and you don’t come back.
DOCTOR: Clara. Clara.
CLARA: You go away. Okay? You go a long way away.

For the longest time I held onto this notion of God. An all powerful all knowing God, who sometimes intervenes but more often than not wants to “respect” humanity’s free will. Yet after a while, I could no longer adhere to such an understanding of God. I couldn’t read about children being slaughtered in a senseless war, or dying from starvation or abuse, and nonchalantly say, “well that’s just humanity’s fault not God. We choose to do that to one another. If God intervened God would be turning us into unthinking robots.” But why is it when another human intervenes to stop someone from committing murder, they aren’t accused of impeding on someone else’s free will? If another person has the power to stop someone else from harming others, they are expected to do so. And yet questioning such an understanding of God often results in the argument, “well God is all powerful and all knowing, who are we to question God. We don’t understand God’s ways.” I don’t want to believe in a God, who for whatever reason, can justify not intervening in the suffering of millions of people. I don’t care what noble purposes this God has, for me this God is nothing more than a monster arbitrarily deciding if and when to intervene. Deciding which lives are more valuable than others.

I understood Clara’s anger towards the Doctor. If the Doctor had the knowledge of what was going to happen or at least theories that could have swayed their decision, why would he keep it to himself? Humanity had chosen to kill the egg, Clara had to decide against it. Humanity often makes the wrong choice and it results in massive amounts of death and destruction. Shouldn’t one who has the ability and knowledge to prevent it, do something? Yet unlike, more Orthodox notions of God, the Doctor at least could not be 100% sure of what could happen. In more orthodox understandings of God, God does know everything-God knows what actions human will choose, God knows what the consequences will be, and to be this makes God’s non-intervention or sporadic intervention to be a much more grievous offense than the Doctor’s.

Now if we get rid of this understanding of God what other options are there? Well thankfully smarter people than I have wrestled with this issue for years, and there are a variety of responses. And in another blog post I will briefly examine said alternatives.

The Stories That We Tell: Robot of Sherwood

As children, the stories we enjoy or create often involve heroes who always end up saving the day. These heroes are unabashedly good. Rarely, if ever do these heroes give us any reason to doubt their motivation or their ultimate success. And while these stories tend to be a bit simplistic in notions of good and evil, they also embody a hope in the world and a hope that eventually everything will work out. It speaks of a hope that there are genuinely good people out there fighting against injustice. As we get older we don’t stop telling stories, but they tend to take on a more realistic bent. We recognize that good does not always triumph, that those who are supposed to be heroes are often flawed and can be just as wicked as the “bad” guys. As we mature we see that evil isn’t confined to one or two bad apples, but that all of us are capable of doing wrong and wounding other people. In fact, evil does not always rely on active instances of exploitation and injustice but remaining passive and silent in the face of corruption is often enough to allow evil to succeed. Having a more nuanced view of how the world works isn’t bad and is in fact needed if we are to navigate an increasingly complex world. The problem arises when in addition to discarding the simplistic notions endorsed in our childhood stories, we also lose hope.

In the Robot of Sherwood, the Doctor gives Clara the opportunity to visit any person, time period, or planet. And excitedly, like a little girl, she states that she wants to see Robin Hood.

DOCTOR: Robin Hood.
CLARA: Yeah. I love that story. I’ve always loved it, ever since I was little.
DOCTOR: Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw, who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.
CLARA: Yeah.
DOCTOR: He’s made up. There’s no such thing.
CLARA: Ah, you see?

And of course, part of the reason this episode is funny is because of the Doctor’s insistence that Robin Hood does not exist. (The other reason has to do with the fact that Robin Hood and the Doctor keep trying to outdo and outwit each other…) A few minutes into the episode, the Doctor attempts to prove that Robin Hood and his band of merry men don’t exist by taking blood and hair samples from them. He keeps trying to explain away their existence. They aren’t holograms but maybe they have arrived in a theme park or they are in a mini-scope.  Throughout most of the episode, he remains convinced that Robin Hood could not exist. He explains his reasoning to Clara shortly after she makes her request to meet him:

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Later on in the episode, the Doctor even insists that Robin Hood is a robot created by the sheriff and his mechanical thugs:

SHERIFF: Robin Hood is not one of mine.
DOCTOR: Of course he is. He’s a robot, created by your mechanical mates.
SHERIFF: Why would they do that?
DOCTOR: To pacify the locals, give them false hope. He’s the opiate of the masses.
SHERIFF: Why would we create an enemy to fight us? What sense would that make? That would be a terrible idea.
DOCTOR: Yes! Yes, it would. Wouldn’t it? Yes, that would be a rubbish idea. Why would you do that? But he can’t be. He’s not real. He’s a legend!

The Doctor understands more than anyone that old fashioned heroes don’t exist. When Clara refers to him as a hero, the Doctor quickly dismisses that assertion. He knows himself. He is very aware of all the times he has failed to save people and the times he has led others, perhaps inadvertently, to their deaths. He has every right to be skeptical of Robin Hood. And those of us in the real world, understand how the world works. We know that things don’t always get better, that abuse in its various forms run rampant, that people spend their lives fighting for social justice only to be murdered or to have their life’s work destroyed. In fact, many of us are so aware of the pain and suffering in this world that most of us will do whatever it takes to keep that hope alive in the children that we care for. We want them to hold onto their childhood hope and innocence for as long as possible. But the thing is, as we age, we too have stories that we hold onto into adulthood-stories that tell of our personal failures, stories of abuse, exploitation, etc stories that reduce hope to the confines of a children’s tale.

In this episode the Doctor’s stubborn insistence that Robin Hood does not exist and his dedication to his own personal narrative, which postulated that true heroes do not in fact exist, simply adds to the humor of this episode. In the real world, the stories that we stubbornly hold onto as individuals and as a society can have life and death consequences. The stories we tell ourselves dictate how we act. If we believe that the world is beyond hope or redemption-we will act like it. We will be indifferent to tales of suffering, we will passively accept violence, murder, poverty, injustice etc as simply the way the world works. It seems as if the older we get the more that we view hope and the stories that endorse it as nothing more than fairy-tales.

In society, we value verifiable facts to the point where stories and myths are treated as unimportant and they are denigrated as unscientific and false. In regards to myths, we act like the Doctor and dismiss them as silly. However, theologian Marcus Borg, provides a different viewpoint exhorting the value of myths, specifically religious myths:

…Myths are metaphorical narratives about the relation between this world and the sacred. Myths typically speak about the beginning and the ending of the world, its origin and destiny, in its relation to God. Myths use non literal language; in this sense, they do not narrate facts. But myths are necessary if we are to speak at all about the world’s origin and destiny in God. We have no other language for such matters… myths are true even if they are not literally true.
-Reading the Bible Again for the First Time

The myths/stories we hold onto matter. I for one, do not think that the incarnation and the resurrection are literal facts that can be scientifically and historically proven. I know some people will want to argue with me and will ignore everything I have said thus far and will continue to say. But for me the historical validity of sacred stories does not matter as much as what the story says about God and God’s relationship to the world. I cherish the story of the incarnation, even though it can’t be scientifically and historically “proven” (though some have tried) because  it expresses the reality of a compassionate God who not only stands alongside those who are suffering, but who also suffers with the marginalized and the oppressed. Likewise, in terms of the resurrection, I do not interpret it as a literal and historical event. I do think it points to the larger truth that the systems and powers of this world do not overpower the purposes and justice of God.

The myths and stories do have value. The Doctor does not believe that he is a hero and as a result he cannot believe that Robin Hood exists. And the Doctor is right, old fashioned, perfect heroes do not exist. Robin Hood coincides that much and admits he isn’t a hero. But the stories that we base our lives around, whether or not they are “literally” true can point to a larger reality. The Doctor may not think he is a hero, but he has inspired Clara to open her mind and believe in the impossible. Perhaps in the end what ultimately matters are the stories that inspire us and that we re-tell again and again:

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4. The Snowmen: And The Lonely God

It is said that change is the one constant in Doctor Who. Change is built into the show’s DNA. In every episode there are new dangers to confront, every few years new companions become enthralled with the mad man and his blue box and run away with him. And of course, the Doctor himself undergoes a complete physical change, and while the Doctor is always the “same man,” each new incarnation has his own personality quirks, likes and dislikes, and weaknesses. The core characteristics of the Doctor stay the same, but when a new actor takes the helm the audience is given an opportunity to fall in love with the Doctor all over again.

Change brings with it the opportunity for brand new adventures: new worlds to visit, new monsters to confront, the return of old enemies who continue to surprise the Doctor and us. New Companions bring out a different side of the Doctor.  Just like we are influenced and impacted by those we surround ourselves with; we get to see how the companions change as a result of their time with the Doctor and how the Doctor evolves. But  what many of us don’t like to talk about is the fact that change is rooted in loss. In order for a new book to begin, we need to finish and put the old one down, in order for a new adventure to start, the previous one needs to end.  And with loss, one needs to mourn, and who has lost more than the Doctor?

In this episode, the Doctor is mourning the loss of Amy and Rory, and as a result he has chosen to isolate himself and live up in a box in the clouds, ever watchful, but refusing to interfere. It seems as if he is taking the title, “the lonely god” bestowed on him during his tenth incarnation seriously. Here is someone who has saved worlds, who despite his mistakes and failures is often able to save thousands if not more, and defeat evil. While he rejects the notion that he is a deity figure, he is often viewed as such by those he saves (the family in The Fires of Pompeii, refer to him and Donna as their household gods, and Amy’s admiration for the Doctor is nothing short of hero worship).

Yet the Doctor, in this episode, has forgotten about all his successes. He is grieving the loss of Amy and Rory and possibly reflecting on all the many faces he has lost or failed to save. He has decided that he has enough. He will no longer take on a new companion.

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He will no save the world.

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The Doctor is angry, sulking, and hurting. He has saved the universe time and time again and what has he received in return? Nothing but the loss of companions and would be-companions. In an effort to protect himself (and perhaps by extension others), he has decided to retreat into his box in the clouds. Yet interestingly enough, he could have chosen anywhere in time and space to hide yet he chose to remain on earth. If he did not want to waste his time saving earth (and let’s face it, out of all the planets in the galaxy, earth has demanded most of his time and attention) why not go somewhere else?

Whether the Doctor wants to admit it or not, trying to help others and having compassion towards those who are suffering is an embedded part of who he is. He does not always live up to his ideals and he can be ruthless, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot help but get involved. Clara, after only interacting with him briefly, already knows that.

When meeting with Madam Vastra, Clara is told to only answer using one word because: “Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words.” They then proceed to have a lopsided conversation about the Doctor:

VASTRA: What do you want from him?

CLARA: Help.

VASTRA: Why?

CLARA: Danger.

VASTRA: Why would he help you?

CLARA: Kindness.

VASTRA: The Doctor is not kind.

CLARA: No?

VASTRA: No. The Doctor doesn’t help people. Not anyone, not ever. He stands above this world and doesn’t interfere in the affairs of its inhabitants. He is not your salvation, nor your protector. Do you understand what I am saying to you?

Clara: words

Clara, going back to Madam, Vastra’s original comments, asserts Vastra description of the Doctor is based on lies.  She sees through the Doctor’s hardened facade, even though the Doctor insists on lying to himself.

The Doctor tries to insulate himself from everyone, but Clara, stubbornly refuses to give up. She reaches him in a way that Jenny, Madam Vastra, and Strax are unable too.

Why do I like this episode? I like this episode because, even though I will never be a universe saving, time traveling hero, I can relate to the Doctor’s feelings of loss and sense of hopelessness. I find myself agreeing with him wholeheartedly when he tells Strax that the universe does not care. Why continue fighting evil when it will simply show up in a different form? Why continue trying to make the world a better place in the face of loss, when things might not actually change?

I see that sense of hopelessness in others around me as well, especially as one ages. Bitterness and cynicism begin to take root, and life begins to be defined not by all that one has, but by all that one has lost.  It’s one thing to be a realist: chances are we aren’t going to save the universe multiple times, we aren’t going to be able to rewrite a significant part of history in order to save billions of lives. We, as individuals aren’t going to end all wars or end world poverty. But what do we do? Should we just refuse to engage, isolate ourselves and allow our loneliness to be our defining characteristic? What happens when we turn away from others?

The Doctor, Clara, and the Paternoster Gang, aren’t the only characters in the story. We have also have Simeon, a ruthless pawn of the Great Intelligence. But it is important to remember that he once was a child. A child whose vulnerability and refusal to engage with others ultimately results in him leading a life filled with hatred and destruction.  Now obviously, I’m not suggesting that if we hide away from others that we are opening the doors to possession by the Great Intelligence and that we will then attempt to take over the world with evil snowmen. But what I am saying is that Simeon’s stubborn refusal to turn to others and to live in relationship with others, led to his destruction.

Simeon’s loneliness and the path that his life took, stands in stark contrast to the Doctor, who although he tries to push people away, always seems to attract people who refuse to give up on him. The Doctor is a great heroic figure, but by himself, as “the lonely god,” he isn’t nearly as effective. His companions give him hope and the Doctor allows himself, time after time, to embrace hope.

CLARA: I don’t know why I’m crying.

DOCTOR: I do. Remember this. This right now, remember all of it. Because this is the day. This is the day. This is the day everything begins.

But even when hope is dangled before his eyes then taken away, (Clara, is killed, right after he invites her to travel with him), he still manages to reject despair. Even while she is dying in front of him and before he realizes that this Clara, the governess/barmaid, is Oswin from the asylum of the daleks, he promises her that his days of living on a cloud are over.

STRAX: I’m sorry. There was nothing to be done. She has moments only.

DOCTOR: We saved the world, Clara, you and me. We really, really did.

CLARA: Are you going back to your cloud?

DOCTOR: No more cloud. Not now.

CLARA: Why not?

DOCTOR: It rained.

It rained. Although the Doctor eventually is forced out of his self-imposed loneliness and he once again becomes involved in helping others, it was the tears shed by a family mourning their beloved governess that destroyed the snowmen and defeated the Great intelligence for the time being. It was their tears and love for Clara that saves the world, but the thing is, when you love someone, you have to face losing them. The family recognized that and the Doctor was reminded of that.

11. The Beast Below

10. Amy’s Choice

9. Vincent and the Doctor

8. The Girl Who Waited

7. The God Complex

6. A Town Called Mercy

5. Angels Take Manhattan