“The Zygon Inversion” is an instant classic, one of those episodes that immediately adds itself to my list of all-time favorites -and possibly my absolute favorite episode, just because of the speech the Doctor gives at the end, which you can watch in the video below. Spoilers ahead.
This episode concludes the two-parter which brilliantly introduced a situation reminiscent of modern political tensions and the terrorism that they can give birth to, with their seemingly insoluble problems. Can people actually step away from the brink of mutual annihilation? It takes a decision to forgive, to do what (as the Doctor says) will be necessary after all the bloodshed even as it was even beforehand – sitting down and talking to one another.
I won’t even try to convey the moving speech the Doctor gives – you can watch it in the video below. But I will note that the emphasis on breaking the cycle of violence is one that has come to the fore in religiously-inspired ethics before coming to be embraced more widely. And this episode featured not only what is arguably one of the Doctor’s best speeches of all time, but also what is arguably one of his best quips for those of us interested in the intersection of religion and Doctor Who. He says at one point in the episode, “I’m over 2,000 years old. I’m old enough to be your Messiah.”
The Doctor’s words encapsulate a truth that many observers of revolutions promising a better life have seen. “You’re not superior to people who are cruel to you. You’re just new cruel people.” But it is the Doctor’s repeated question to Osgood and her final response to it that really gets at the heart of the conflict between one’s own group and the “other,” and how to get beyond it. Osgood says she will answer his question about whether she is the human Osgood or the Zygon one day, when her answer doesn’t make a difference.
When the questions “Are you Israeli or Palestinian, are you Serbian Orthodox or Muslim, are you black of white, are you a citizen or an immigrant?” no longer have the significance they once had or currently have, then and only then can one answer such questions freely and honestly. And then and only then can we say that we have reached maturity, the ability to live with others and appreciate difference without feeling in any way threatened by it.
Did you love “The Zygon Inversion” as much as I did, and find the final speech by the Doctor as moving as I did?
If you are not a Whovian, watch the speech below and let me know whether you can appreciate it even without knowing the whole series and story arc that lies behind it.