Doctor Who: Let’s Kill Hitler (and answer the oldest question in the universe)

Doctor Who returned today with the long-awaited episode “Let’s Kill Hitler.” The show is not only avoiding doing obvious things with such a title, but is also delivering answers to questions it had previously raised, while raising new ones – in other words, it is full speed ahead doing all the things that fans love about Doctor Who. Spoilers await in the remainder of this post, and so if you have not yet seen the episode, and want to watch it spoiler free, then please bookmark this page and come back later.

First, let me start with the features that relate to the intersection of religion and science fiction. One obvious one is the revelation (which had already been leaked in some interviews, but only appeared in the show tonight) that the Silence are not a species, but a religious order. Given that we previously encountered the headless monks as an order apparently dedicated to their hunt for the Doctor, this might not be that surprising. But it suggests that religion is going to feature prominently in coming episodes.

We know that one of those episodes will be called “The God Complex” and in fact the concept of a God complex appeared in today’s episode. The main new characters are a group of time travelers who find war criminals, extract them just before the end of their life, and “give them hell.” As the Doctor puts it, who they think they are is obvious. But this notion of ensuring “justice” by inflicting pain on the wicked rather than by eliminating wickedness provides a great starting point for discussion of the topic whether posthumous punishment of the sort that Judaism and Christianity developed actually achieves justice. The Doctor’s approach works towards the redemption rather than punishment of Melody Pond, offering a different approach which, if not the one that many Christians embrace, is also in keeping with certain core Christian emphases.

We also learn some rules of time travel and being connected with the Doctor in the episode, and rule #1 is arguably the most interesting and discussion-worthy.

One more thing: if you read this far but are trying to avoid major spoilers before watching, then DON’T under any circumstances go to the River Song page on the BBC web site. Even just the picture there gives a lot away.

If you saw the episode, what did you think of it? Which of the components related to the intersection of religion and science did you find most interesting, and which are you most hoping will be explored further in future episodes?

  • Anonymous

    Punishment during life can be retributive for society or for the victims families, but punishment after death? It doesn’t seem worth the effort. I suspect the writer has heard of purgatory and maybe understands it in that way.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    How do you watch this episode in the USA?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Sabio, the options are BBC America and, barring that, all the various other methods that people have of watching TV shows they have missed, such as torrents.

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      I just see “Slide Shows” there.  Am I missing something.  Can’t see how to watch it.  If it is available there, why do I need torrent.  Sorry, little dull in this arena.  Thanx James.

    • Apeacock1

      iTunes has a season pass for $11 (std resolution) or $17 (HD)

  • Angievandemerwe

    The liberal thinks in terms of “redemption”, while the conservative thinks of “justice”. Is liberalism too idealistic, where conservatism is realistic regarding “the Hitler figure”?

    Laws in society set up an order and give people a sense of security about “what they can expect”. If one breaks the law, then society will deliever “justice”, for undermining such “social order”.

    The nation state is defined by its laws, too. Therefore, those who violate these boundaries, violate their right of being ‘equal”.

    Globalists, or the liiberal, would like to hold to  “redemptive view” of mankind. These think that the real world can function “ideally”, as a “unit”, whereas the conservative believes that humans function best, when laws are respected and diplomacy is the means to attain “redemption”, not a “one world government”. These nations, groups and families whereby the indvidual resides, are the ways in which the individual defines themselves.

    So, what is justice, then? What is redemption, then? It depends on how one sees their “world”, the political realm, and the personal….Justice means in our nation, “Equal before the law”. That means that our culture values diversity, individuality, and groups where individuals can freely associate. Justice protect civil liberties and grants opportunities.

  • Angievandemerwe

    So, both the liberal in human rights, and the conservative in diplomacy serve the ‘ends” of “redemption” and “justice”.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Sorry, I meant that you can see it on BBC America in the United States, when they air the episode. If you don’t have BBC America, and the episode is not up on either the BBC or BBC America web site yet, then using a torrent or other such method would probably be the only option.

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      Ah, I see, it is not available on-line.  Only through some cable arrangement.  Right?

  • Just Sayin’

    I see that the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood is attracting much criticism in Britain for its lengthy gay sex scenes:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2030953/Torchwood-Its-supposed-sci-fi-sex-fi-Hundreds-viewers-complain-BBC-pointless-gay-scenes.html

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    James, do you know how to turn off Discus so I don’t follow a thread.  Your threads can get very long and clog up my mailbox.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Wait, I found it.  It says “unsubscribe” above.  Sorry.

  • Evan Hershman

    You can also download the episode from iTunes. $1.99 ($2.99 in high definition) but worth every minute, in my opinion.

  • Pingback: Georg Warnecke

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I neglected the obvious answer, iTunes! Sorry, and thanks to those who pointed that out for Sabio’s benefit!

  • Anna-236
  • sankarpanday

    We know that one of those episodes will be called “The God Complex” and in fact the concept of a God complex appeared in today’s episode. The main new characters are a group of time travelers who find war criminals, extract them just before the end of their life, and “give them hell.” As the Doctor puts it, who they think they are is obvious. But this notion of ensuring “justice” by inflicting pain on the wicked rather than by eliminating wickedness provides a great starting point for discussion of the topic whether posthumous punishment of the sort that Judaism and Christianity developed actually achieves justice More


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