It has been too long since I last blogged about a classic Doctor Who episode. In rewatching the Jon Pertwee era, a while back I reached “Frontier in Space,” which actually ends its final part with a cliffhanger, in which the Doctor has been injured and sends a telepathic message to the time lords, leading then into the next episode, “Planet of the Daleks.”
The story focuses on tensions between the empires of Earth and Draconia. There have been attacks by Ogrons which use a sonic weapon to instill fear, which leads those attacked to blame it on those they fear most. Thus humans believe they have been attacked by Draconians, and vice versa. At many points, the story is able to bring cross-cultural misunderstandings, xenophobia, and other aspects of international as well as interplanetary relations into focus.
Some of the statements made about people under the effects of the sonic weapon could be made equally as well about humans blinded by their ideologies and blinkered by their worldviews. For instance, when the Doctor says, “They don’t know that they’re lying. They’re desperately trying to fit us into their version of things.” Or, “They’ve already made up their minds. They will only believe us if we tell them what they want to hear.”
The Doctor offers wisdom worthy of a Jedi master: “Fear breeds hatred. Fear is the greatest enemy of all. Fear leads to war.” And when it is revealed that the Master is trying to get two sides fighting in the interest of his own power, comparisons with Star Wars can once again be made.
While any story involving cross-cultural communication and misunderstanding can be a starting point for discussion of religion, we also see a glimpse of the religion of the Ogrons. They engage in rituals before depictions of a powerful creature which dwells on their home world.
Isn’t it interesting that fear and power tend not only to determine whom or what we fight against, but also whom or what we worship?