Doctor Who has a long history of exploring postcolonial realities, for which of course science fiction provides natural opportunities. “The Mutants” is just one of many episodes that fits into this category. But this one is particularly interesting to consider against the backdrop of Doctor Who’s British context and as a product of a British national television channel.
In this story, the Earth had a vast empire which is now waning. The overlords from Earth had steered one of their planetary holdings, Solos, to the brink of disaster and/or independence, as they prepare to leave. There is segregation between overlords and Solonians. The planet was of interest for its natural resources, since Earth is vastly overpopulated as well as polluted – no one lives on the ground there any longer. And so the situation is often posed by overlords in terms of the survival of Earth vs. that of others.
The Doctor is given a message by the time lords which he must deliver to Solos. This turns out to be tablets in a language that the Solonians have forgotten (education in native vs. colonial language is thus brought up). It is described as the “Solonian Book of Genesis,” depicting their seasons which happen due to the planet’s orbit rather than its tilt.
The Solonians had been mutating, and it turns out that this is part of their natural cycle every 2,000 Earth years, as the planet moves through its seasons. But human attempts to make Solos suitable for human habitation had interfered with this process. A Solonian leader named Ky is the first to undergo the mutation cycle as it is is meant to be, and what he becomes is an angelic or god-like entity. This form of life cycle is said to be unique in the universe.
The mystery of the Doctor’s identity is brought to the fore at the end, with the question “Doctor who did you say?”
Have you seen this episode? What do you think of Doctor Who’s exploration of colonial and postcolonial situations?
It turns out that you can watch the episode on DailyMotion:http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xr9grp