Closing Time for Doctor Who? Silence Will Fall

Today’s episode of Doctor Who, “Closing Time,” brought together everything that we love about the show: the Doctor swinging back and forth between cocky overconfidence and severe self doubt, robot dogs, Cybermen turning up in unexpectedly ordinary places, mysteries about the Doctor’s past and future, and an abundance of humor as the Doctor says and does things in his own entertaingly bumbling yet super-effective way. There was nothing in that last sentence that really gives anything away that wasn’t already seen in the trailer last week. But in what follows, there will indeed be spoilers.

The Doctor, a bit like his “collecting his reward” at the end of the Tennant era, seems to want to just pay visits to people he’s known before and say his goodbyes, this time for good. While it would have been very cool to see him visit some of his earlier companions or even his granddaughter, what we get in his visit to Craig (from the episode “The Lodger”) is so delightfully entertaining that I doubt any fan would pick an imaginary alternative over what we were offered. The Doctor encounters Craig taking care of his baby on his own for the first time when Sophie goes away for a few days. We learn that the Doctor understands baby, and Craig and Sophie’s baby Alfie actually prefers to go by the name “Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All.” The Doctor at one point will “comfort” the baby by pointing out that mortgage payments and various other things including “a nagging sense of spiritual emptiness” still lie in the future, and so it is better to save the tears until then.

Does the Doctor know something about a sense of spiritual emptiness? Craig certainly gets one bit of diagnosis right: “He needs someone. He always needs someone. He just can’t admit it.” (See too this piece about the episode, which makes comparisons between the Doctor and Christ in Gethsemane, as well as a fan’s account of how Doctor Who became his religion).

When Craig notices that the Doctor and alien trouble always seem to appear together, the Doctor says it is coincidence, which defines as “what the universe does for fun” – which is immediately followed by his spotting Amy and Rory there in the store where most of the interesting action in the episode occurs. What Amy has been doing since returning to Earth and her own time – and the slogan that accompanies it – is significant.

We also see the Doctor bringing a companion (or should that be partner?) to the brink of death/assimilation to cybermandomhood, but as ever, love saves the day.

The episode draws to a close with some poignant connections with the first episode in the season, and presumably also with the next one. The Doctor takes some envelopes from Craig’s house, and when he tells Craig that he will be going to America, Craig provides him with a Stetson.

But the very end of the episode has the adult River Song reading the accounts of three children who saw the Doctor on that fateful day, written later as adults. She has just become a Doctor – which I suspect is supposed to connect her with the Doctor. Madame Kovarian shows up with the Silence, who are described as her owners. River Song doesn’t remember her or them, since she was programmed not to, but a few helpers bring in an astronaut suit, and the next shot we see is of River Song in the astronaut suit underwater.

Since we have already been told that there will be a Christmas special, one possibility – that the Doctor really does die, without regenerating, and thus the longest running science fiction show comes to an end – seems to be excluded. And so the key question seems not to be “Will the Doctor survive?” but “How will the Doctor survive?” Will time be rewritten? If, as some of us have suspected, the Doctor who dies is the Flesh Doctor, that would be fitting, since the Doctor would then outsmart the Silence and Kevorian precisely as they outsmarted him twice. But would that not mean that we have been watching the Ganger Doctor for much of this season, just as we did with Amy without realizing it?

The Doctor apparently has questions, and so do we. How many will be answered a week from today? And is the bigger question how the Doctor will cheat death, or will the Doctor and River Song get married?

YouTube Preview Image

  • Pingback: PatheosProgXn

  • Pingback: James F. McGrath

  • Beau Quilter

    Here’s the full quote:

    The Doctor to Craig’s baby -
     
    “Stop crying. You’ve got a lot to look forward to, you know.
    A normal human life on earth. Mortgage repayments. The nine to five. A
    persistent, nagging sense of spiritual emptiness. Save the tears for later,
    boyo.”
    I don’t think it’s the Doctor who has a “nagging sense of spiritual emptiness”. That’s what he sees in a “normal human life on earth”. He says this to a baby, and makes the comment elsewhere that all humans are like babies to him.In the God Complex, the Doctor must dispel Amy’s faith in him, in order to save her. In the same episode, the otherwise intelligent Rita is lost when fear drives her to depend on her core faith in Allah.My take on these Doctor episodes? Humans are babies, who one day must outgrow their dependence on religious faith. We are beginning to sense the truth: that our desire for a spiritual life-beyond-death is simply our childlike response to the fear of our own mortality.

  • Beau Quilter

    Here’s the full quote:

    The Doctor to Craig’s baby -
     
    “Stop crying. You’ve got a lot to look forward to, you know.
    A normal human life on earth. Mortgage repayments. The nine to five. A
    persistent, nagging sense of spiritual emptiness. Save the tears for later,
    boyo.”
    I don’t think it’s the Doctor who has a “nagging sense of spiritual emptiness”. That’s what he sees in a “normal human life on earth”. He says this to a baby, and makes the comment elsewhere that all humans are like babies to him.In the God Complex, the Doctor must dispel Amy’s faith in him, in order to save her. In the same episode, the otherwise intelligent Rita is lost when fear drives her to depend on her core faith in Allah.My take on these Doctor episodes? Humans are babies, who one day must outgrow their dependence on religious faith. We are beginning to sense the truth: that our desire for a spiritual life-beyond-death is simply our childlike response to the fear of our own mortality.

  • Anonymous

    It was an okay episode, but there was no reason for having such a filler episode so late in the season.

    And they’ve somehow managed to make Amy Pond even more annoying than before, as I discuss here:

    7 Deep Thoughts on the latest episode of Doctor Who:
    http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-closing-time.html

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

    @Beau, I did get that the Doctor’s statement was about humans. My musing was about whether the statement at all reflected his own experience as well.

    @TheOncomingHope, I would dispute the characterization of the episode as “filler.” I suspect that not only the last 5 minutes, but also the statement about the Doctor needing someone but not admitting it, and his seeking to stop stepping in to investigate and to save, are all going to be crucial to where the season finale takes us.

  • Beau Quilter

    Absolutely, James! I didn’t mean to contradict you so much as offer a different perspective. 

    After all, how could I be peevish about the interpretation of a television show – even one as creative as Doctor Who.

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

    And I’m not sure that the Doctor has that sort of experience – but given his comment on how he sees humanity, I thought it was an interesting question to ask.

    I assume that your second sentence is sarcastic – either that, or you have yet to discover that there are a lot of people who are peevish about the interpretation of TV shows, to say nothing of other canons. :-)

    • Beau Quilter

      Yes, despite my sarcasm, you are quite right.

      *sigh*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001615250315 Paul Turner

    for me the silence is the most interesting aspect of the modern Dr Who
    How are things I thought I’d explain a little of the underpinnings of the silence, Anyone who sees them immediately forgets about them after looking away, but retains suggestions made to them by the Silence. The Silence is a fictional “religious order or movement” led by an alien race of the same name in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

    This is I thnk analogous to enligtenment, During meditation and I use that word to include any form of altered state be it getting high, on drugs, dreaming or simply being alone, or being in “the zone” we get to experience another reality separated yet connected to the 5 sensory one we are conscious of every day. During these “moments” sometimes it appears as though time slows down or does weird things due to sensory changes or lack of reference points. It has happened to me many times , in an airplane, camping out in the wilderness, meditating to name a few.
    As soon as we stop meditating or whatever we tend to forget what we saw and can’t easily recall it without a lot of effort.
    I remember a friend asked me about how to stay in present time time or the moment and not forget things. I have found that the more I can recall those moments the more I get in to this zone of timelessness, non expectation and non attachment, it goes by many names like in the west “the zone”, “unmanifest destiny” , “centered”, “samedi”. In Zen its called “No mind”, it doesn’t really matter what we label it. We all know what it is without the label. The other thing is: it is unque to every one , we get to experience in our own individual way, which is the reason why there is so much argument about the ultimate reality.

    I have found that all one has to do is just take a timeout a few minutes each day and just listen to the silence. Its hard to start because the mind likes to attach to things and silence scares it so much. After a few attempts you might find it. most meditation , yoga etc. try to trick us into getting to that silence by using various devices like focusing on an image, or one’s breath, chanting The point is not the device , its getting our attention to stop flitting from thing to thing which btw is what it loves to do , and that is not a problem. just observer the mind, not trash our mind for not cooperating. Its okay. the challenge is just to slow it down to the point where we start to get a glimpse of the other reality behind the surface reality which occupies our minds. Once we do that there is this other world that is there to expereince, just not the one we have been lied to about!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X