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Is the Doctor a Good Man?

Connor Johnston doesn’t think he knows who the Doctor is anymore…

is-the-doctor-good-man

“You need to be careful, because you know the Doctor’s wonderful and he’s brilliant, but he’s like fire. Stand too close and people get burned.” – Martha Jones

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen last week’s teaser trailer for Series 8 by now. Among the excitement and electricity of the 15 seconds of heaven; a question was posed: “Clara be my pal… Tell me: Am I a good man?” But what defines a good man? Is it the number of great achievements he has to his name or the way in which he conducts himself during the most mundane of tasks? Is it the masses he inspires through his actions or the modesty in acting without praise or thanks? Is becoming a good man the motivation or the outcome of a person’s actions?

For over 50 years now, we’ve had the opportunity to see snippets of the Doctor’s life and decide for ourselves what kind of moral code the Doctor follows. Today I plan on exploring some of the greatest moments and the darkest hours of the Doctors life and debate the question that’s subconsciously eating away at the back of our minds: Is the Doctor a Good Man?

When he was…

Adding to Van Goth’s Pile of Good things

vincent-and-the-doctor-cry-endDefinitely one of the most heartwarming moments in the show’s history was when the Doctor made the choice to give the troubled Vincent Van Gogh a glimpse into the future, showing him the amazing part of society attributed to him. To show him how much he will come to mean to people. Why does he do it?. Alan Barnes summed up the Doctor’s motivation perfectly in DWM #474 using a quote from “The Elephant Man”: “My life is full because I know I am loved. I have gained myself.” He does it simply to help Vincent gain himself. The Doctor knew that Van Gogh’s unfortunate end couldn’t be rewritten, but nevertheless made it his purest mission to add to his pile of good things.

Creating Second Chances

Doctor-Who-A-Christmas-Carol-Promo-pics-(8)The Doctor’s position when it comes to showing mercy is one of the most changeable parts of his personality. 2 instances however where he gave his enemies second chances to lead a better path in life are found with Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen in “Boom Town” and Kazaran Sardick in “A Christmas Carol”. In both these cases the Doctor returns to the times of the “villain’s” (note the quotation marks) childhood to either guide them or give the opportunity for them to practice a better life, instilling the principles that he exhibits so often through his actions and understanding: that sometimes showing mercy and granting second chances in life is a more efficient than punishment or force.

Saving Gallifrey

day-moment-doctorsRegardless of your position on the controversial return of Gallifrey, one thing that we can all (hopefully) agree on is that the Doctor’s motivation to change his own history was the motivations of a good man. The focus on the loss of blameless lives was a brilliant angle for Moffat to take the anniversary in, with the whole of the special being devoted to showcasing and paying tribute to the greatest sides of the Doctor; through the War Doctor’s admiration for his latter incarnations and the decision to save Gallifrey reflecting and staying true to his ultimate promise:

“Never Cruel or Cowardly… Never give up, never give in.”

Fighting for His Companions

peter-davison-peri-Caves-of-AndrozaniThe Doctor is a man who holds the safety of others with much more importance than the safety of himself. His selflessness is exhibited so many times throughout the history of the show, but the examples that occur during the third, fifth, ninth and eleventh Doctor’s regeneration stories are possibly the most iconic. In both “The Planet of the Spiders” and “The Caves of Androzani” the Doctor essentially sacrifices his life’s to save his companion by both risking his life fighting to save Sarah Jane from the eight legs and dying to protect his friends at UNIT, as well as crash landing a spaceship in hope to find an antidote and rescue Peri. The Ninth Doctor and the Eleventh Doctor also keep their companions as their number one priorities during “The Parting of Ways” and “The Time of the Doctor” thinking only to get Rose and Clara out of harm’s way knowing full well their intentions to stay and fight till the death with him.

His Modesty

“He has saved your lives so many times, and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him. I know him. I love him. And I know what he can do.” – Martha Jones.

One of the greatest thing about the Doctor is his modesty and the fact that no matter how much good he’s done for the universe and how many lives he had saved – he never asked to be thanked. There’s no alternative motivation or expected praise in the Doctor’s actions – he’s just a man who realizes that there is evil in the universe – forces of destruction that need to be stopped and vulnerable races that need to be protected – and takes it upon himself to do just that. His humility can at times fade away (For example during “Midnight”), but he always remains faithful to the noblest of incentives. “There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.”

When he wasn’t….

Murdering Solomon

doctor-who-dinosaurs-on-a-spaceship-promo-pics-(11)Throughout most of Series 7 (Particularly 7A) the darker sides of the Doctor seemed to be touched on more and more, brilliantly foreshadowing the motives of the Great Intelligence in the series finale “The Name of the Doctor”. One of the worse moments for the Doctor during this period was his choice to sabotage Solomon’s ship ensuring that he was killed by the missiles in the ending scenes of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. The actions are almost justifiable due to the fact that Solomon was the perfect example of a terrible man rotten to the core – but they are far from being the actions of a “good man”. Still, the choice to murder Solomon instead of making room for mercy in his heart is one that shocked many of us as well as adding the trader’s name to the long list of those who have contributed to the constantly blood-soaked hands of the Doctor.

Destroying Ace’s Faith

ace-The-Curse-of-the-FenricThe Seventh Doctor’s era was one riddled in dark themes but one moment that revealed his deceitful qualities and explored the repercussions his manipulative schemes had on people more so than any other was when he used Ace at the risk of her emotional stability in “The Curse of the Fenric”. At the crucial climax of the serial, the Doctor is faced with a choice to make: Give in to Sorin’s power, or watch Ace die. His response is one no one could have predicted as he blatantly tells Sorin to kill her and “confesses” that he had been using her the whole time they were together. “Do you think I’d have chosen a social misfit if I hadn’t known? She couldn’t even pass her chemistry exams at school, and yet she manages to create a time storm in her bedroom. I saw your hand in it from the very beginning. She’s an emotional cripple. I wouldn’t waste my time on her, unless I had to use her somehow.” In destroying Ace’s faith in him by making out to have manipulated her he does save their lives and defeat Sorin… but at what cost? Ace is a character that had struggled with self confidence and trust her entire life after having several traumatic experiences during her early years in Perivale. She covered her fears and insecurities with a tough, streetwise exterior; but all that was stripped down and destroyed, exposing and taking advantage of her vulnerabilities while being confronted with the Doctor’s apparent betrayal.

The Fury of the Time Lord

womspacesuitThere are moments throughout the Doctor’s life where his darkest sides come out to play – when the fury of the Time Lord bubbles up to the surface and we are confronted by the overflowing anger of the Doctor. When the Doctor is truly angry his wrath cannot be contained and in turn acts in a way where he seems to everyone else indestructible – mainly due to the fact that his mortality is the last thing on his mind. Some of the scariest moments of the Doctor’s rage taking form are during “A Good Man Goes To War”, “Family of Blood” and “The Waters of Mars” in the ‘Captain Runaway’, ‘Punishing the Family’ and ‘Timelord Victorious’ scenes respectively. In these moments the Doctor is not a good man, but rather a man drunk on power, rage and influence; intimidating and killing his enemies brutally, as well as thinking that the laws of time don’t apply to him. His better judgment is corrupted by his wrath and his mind holds no room for forgiveness and mercy in his actions.

Adopting Strays

god-complex-amelia“You know what’s dangerous about you? It’s not that you make people take risks, it’s that you make them want to impress you. You make it so they don’t want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.” – Rory Williams

One of the darkest ideas in the show’s history was tackled quite powerfully in Series 6’s “The God Complex” and more subtly in Series 5’s “The Vampires of Venice”. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and no one knows it as much as the Doctor. He has watched over and over again his friends, companions and people he has cared the most for suffer and/or die due to travelling with him. While any companion will most probably say that the pros of travelling with the Doctor far outweigh the cons, the Doctor knows more than anyone the eventual price each of his friends will have to pay. Knowing the danger that a life in the TARDIS creates, why would a good man ever voluntarily allow people to put themselves in those dangerous positions? Besides from introducing his companions to the danger, he impresses them and almost makes them want to embrace this danger to impress him in return. The undeniable truth is that the Doctor allows this to happen because of his never-ending loneliness and his constant yearning for companionship. Yes it’s a heartbreaking motivation and yes it’s a sweet one from our point of view, but it’s also incredibly selfish and incredibly questionable from his.

Take a Deep Breath…

The Past

frobisher-torchwood-capaldiI can’t begin to understand how or why Peter Capaldi’s previous ‘Who’ appearances are to be included within his era (or if they will be at all!), but I can’t help to conjure up images from life of John Frobisher when listening to the dialogue of the teaser. Particularly relevant is this quote:

“I’m not saying it was perfect, you know that better than me, but he worked hard. He always worked hard. I don’t think that’s valued enough these days, hard work. And he was a good man. I want you to know that. John Frobisher was a good man…” – Bridget Spears

So the question must be asked: Was John Frobisher a “good man”? The evidence we have against him is astounding: between ordering to have the Torchwood team executed and committing a triple murder suicide on his own family, an image of a horrible man is presented to those who don’t explore his actions in depth. To truly understand John Frobisher we need to understand the situation he was in.

John Frobisher in my mind is very much a victim. A puppet used by the corrupt government as a replaceable pawn in the conflict between Earth and the 456. With the added stress of having the lives and wellbeings of the earth’s children in his hands, John also had to worry for the wellbeing of his own family, and when the time finally came where he realized the lengths and sacrifices the government expected him to make it was at the cost of the people he cared for most. John believed that there was no way to stop the 456 and knew that there was no way to save his children from being offered up as sacrifices. With this in mind we need to truly ask ourselves what was the worse option? Sacrificing his children to and endless amount of conscious death or killing them with as much mercy as quickly as possible? He did wrong things for the extraordinary unfortunate, but right reasons… “And he was a good man.”

The Future

capaldi-series-8-good-man-teaserLooking at as much knowledge that we have at our hands at the moment, it is pretty clear now thanks to suggestions by cast and crew, as well as indications in the most recent teaser trailer, that the Twelfth Doctor will be an incarnation that will showcase his darker side more often than his past incarnations – though we cannot be sure due to the obvious fact that we haven’t actually entered into his era yet. One thing that I am personally certain of if we do in fact go down the path of a darker Doctor is that he won’t become a bad person. He will still indubitably be a man who saves worlds, rescues civilizations and inspires generations or else the entire premise of the show will change! There is a chance however that he may be a bit more ferocious in his actions, but only time will tell.

The Final Verdict

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one. Marcus Aurelius.” – Clara Oswald

And so we reach the conclusion of our article today still wondering if the Doctor is truly a good man or not? We know from “A Good Man Goes to War” that the Doctor doesn’t believe he’s a good man due to his abundance of rules. The Doctor’s choices are what truly define him and in a debate regarding the conscience of the Doctor we can’t forget to mention the decisions he has made that have equal weight for both sides of the argument. In “The Night of the Doctor” we see how a seemingly bad choice is made with the purest of motivations, with the Doctor choosing to become a warrior with no restraint in order to salvage what parts of the universe haven’t been destroyed by the Time War. “The Waters of Mars” shows us how a seemingly good decision can have horrific consequences for Adelaide and her team, and the death toll during “The Time of the Doctor” poses the question asking if the Doctor’s decision to stay and protect the people of Trenzalore was the right one to make, or one that brought them more death and suffering. Many people struggle with the idea that something can be so good and so terrible at the same time – For me, this is the Doctor. He is a flawed man of course, but we must remember a good man is not a perfect man – and that such a perfect man will never exist.

The Doctor does bad things to achieve good results. He uses this fury and presence that is created through his questionable yet victorious actions as a platform to create a reputation for himself and having more influence in the universe to do good – but has been in the past aware of when to tighten the reigns. He is a man that is, as ever, a mystery – not always what he seems at first, and if anything unpredictable in his actions. Where he struggles in controlling the fury of the Time Lord within in his darkest moments, he excels in continuing to exhibit a way of living that we could all learn from in his greatest. A way of forgiveness, courage, modesty and determination. A way of anger, manipulation, fury and secrecy. The way of the good and terrible Doctor.

Step back in time...

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106 comments
jahzara
jahzara

It's two sides to the same coin. His passionate side that is eager to rescue people can sometimes land on the wrong side and that is seen in his anger and wrong decisions. He truly isn't a god, or else his morality wouldn't really be a question. When he's presented with this "Higher than thou" persona, his actions prove to the audience that he is not, in fact, a god. Just an imperfect man like the rest of us. Furthermore, there are always going to be situations where he's faced with having to choose the lesser of the two evils. Not every decision can have a clear cut black or white ending. I don't think The Doctor would be a very believable character if he -always- chose to do the "right" or moral thing. And everyone's morals can and are different. I can see a side to where his choice to kill Solomon was a just thing to do. That's how the idea of capital punishment came about: it can be argued as a just and there for moral thing to do. 



Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I think the doctor has his good days and bad days,  he isnt perfect some people have a talent for bringing out his bad side

ThisIsMoog
ThisIsMoog

I think the Doctor, even in his darker incarnations, always aims to be a good man but, like all of us, makes mistakes only, because of his immense power, when he does, his mistakes are allot larger.


RyanVernon
RyanVernon

A friend once said to me; "If you find yourself at the point of a gun, you better hope that it isn't good man behind it. Because he will just shoot you." I don't know if he was quoting, but I believe it is true..  A man with

Zero_1_Zerum
Zero_1_Zerum

So, stopping evil people, and making sure they can't hurt anyone ever again...is "Bad".



Scaroth
Scaroth

The Doctor like any of us has to make decisions where there is no right decision. The Doctors conscious is at its core very similar to the average human being he just has far more power. One of my favorite things about Doctor Who is trying to imagine and comprehend how the Doctor views and experiences the universe. The loss and death he has seem must have a severe impact on who he is today (I mean how could it not!). I think the Doctor doesn't believe he is a good man, just like many people including myself wouldn't consider themselves purely good people but he tries his best to help him sleep at night. I like to say that I make decisions which make me a good person, I don't try to harm or injure others. But we are flawed, sometimes our egos become too big and we loose track of this deep incentive to make the good decision.


No one including The Doctors is a good person as per say but we have a urge to try. (excluding those people with underlying mental issues) 


midnightking
midnightking

Yes, Ten becomes extremely arrogant in Waters Of Mars, but the writers make it so that he stills winds up saving 2 people and that Ten tells her to just inspire her granddaughter while, which even though you could argue the scene is written to show Ten is in a different state of mind that he normally is it still is a perfectly feasible option. During Eleven's reign, the very idea that altering pasts events to save someone is bad is never mentioned.The Doctor does it in A Christmas Carol and in Journey To The Centre Of the Tardis to save lives. Now you could argue Ten's sin was in his arrogance and in the fact that he went against the rules,but I would argue it is still poorly executed becaus at the time, no good reason was ever given as to why a fixed point was a fixed point.It was just stated that you couldn't change certain events.The arbitrary nature of the concept makes breaking a fixed point fall under designated evil.As many people have said it "you can't do that because PLOT" so calling one out for having the audacity to against it does feel baseless.He called people "little" but he also called human apes,Donna unimportant and it was never a problem ,the show even actively pushed the idea that the Doc was Godlike in a somewhat positive or at least not negative manner.

Elionu
Elionu

It's been very, very clear from the very beginning, that the Doctor is NOT a hero. Heck, he didn't even become protagonist for a long time! He kidnapped his first two companions, committed over 30 counts of genocide or attempted genocide onscreen, manipulated his friends on several occasions for the "bigger picture", interfered countless times in history despite claiming that it cannot and must not be changed, and refused to show mercy upon people who ask for it. 


To someone who's only watched the new series, he or she might get the impression that the Doctor is the hero of the story, but he's not, and he never has been. The Doctor is an alien, with alien motivations and ideologies, who needs human companions to temper him and keep him from going bad, like so many of his race.



Richy Woo
Richy Woo

The Doctor is not the man he wants to be, He is the man we need him to be.

MJJ
MJJ

Although I would quibble with a few comments by the author, all-in-all, I agree with him.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

The Doctor is very complicated person and in his conflicting characteristics he is an  unconventional modern hero, as he is just as likely to do good things and bad things depending on the situation. In that we he could be compared to the oldest known protagonists from antiquity, such as Gilgamesh and the many Greek heros, most of whom would by modern standards not be considered very heroic.

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

Another amazing article Connor: thoughtful, thorough and one of the very best articles I have read here, ever because of its meticulous detail, insight and eloquence.. WOW!

Whogasms
Whogasms

Fantastic article Connor. Very good structure, I like the way you showed the good and bad side. Very important question you answered.

brodgers123
brodgers123

As a negative utilitarian I say no. He has the power to end all the suffering in the universe (even prevent it from ever existing in the first place) and he doesn't.

Liana21
Liana21

We could have a long philosophical debate around what it makes or not good a man. I consider The Doctor a good man, with his bad days, but you can say that of the most of mankind. Look Booth, in Bones, good father, good FBI agent, good husband, or John Watson, in our brother fandom Sherlock, both are the perfect image of the good man, and both have had their bad days and done thing they regret for.

Galactic Yo Yo
Galactic Yo Yo

I've always said that the Doctor is the least interesting when he's a straight-up Good Guy. He's not Space Superman, after all. There's always been a tinge of darkness to the character since day one, even though it ebbs and flows.  

I tend not to think of the Doctor as primarily an embodiment of Goodness as much as an embodiment of Change, for better or worse. He's less a superhero and more of a revolutionary, landing on planets and tearing down any social structure that doesn't fit in with his own personal ideas about morality. We're okay with this because it usually aligns with our own ideas. But sometimes it doesn't. And really, the whole enterprise is wildly irresponsible, seeing as he rarely knows very much about the societies he's visiting and he never sticks around to clean up the mess he's made. ("The Face of Evil" is a great example of how this can backfire magnificently.) And it's all motivated by hubris as much as anything. He's helping people, yes, but he's doing because HE knows best. It's a massively egotistical way to lead your life. 

One thing that I think the new series has been marvelous at is illustrating how the companions ground the Doctor and how he can go a bit over the edge without them. If anyone's the agent of Goodness in Doctor Who, it's the companion. The Doctor can be incredibly compassionate, to be sure, but without a companion to remind him what it's like to be one of those people that he's saving, that compassion can become incredibly abstract and theoretical. He becomes like the politician that tries to help his constituents yet doesn't really know what they want anymore. The companions help keep that compassion alive and immediate. 

Because the Doctor basically IS Change, right down to the way he regenerates every once in a while. And ultimately Change doesn't really play by the rules of Good and Evil. Change doesn't automatically make things better. It just makes things different.



Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I think the doctor is mostly good but sometimes he gets angry at villains and wants to punish them a bit more than he should but I like him like that

Grizzlybread
Grizzlybread

The Doctor is, without a doubt and defenitely a good man. But, the greater your power and knowledge, the greater your mistakes and successes.

Warpstar
Warpstar

I just saw another good example - Remembrance of the Daleks! The same man who refused to kill the Daleks at their very beginning (No 4) is destroying their whole home planet (No 7). What a dark decission...

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

Of course he is a good man as shown in countless episodes, but sometimes the circumstances push him to do the things he does. Other times the villains just plain deserve to feel the fury of the Time Lord, like in Family of Blood and The Runaway Bride. 

Whoworld
Whoworld

The Doctor's struggles with morality are like the same struggles we humans have just not on such a grand scale.  None of us are purely good or completely bad.  The Doctor's character requires both sides to be interesting.  Think how boring he would be (and unrealistic) if he was purely good.  

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

On the whole I agree with you, but there's just one point that I can't help but question: in "A Christmas Carol", am I the only one who has a serious problem with the idea that the Doctor would just jump into someone's past after meeting them and just dick around with ten or so years of their life because he didn't like them as a person?  I mean, I'm not saying Kazaran(?) Sardic was a good guy, but regardless does that not seem like a massive violation to anyone else?  Like a huge abuse of power?  I know that the Doctor was also trying to save everyone on that crashing spaceship too.  I'm not joking when I say that I think straight up coercion would've been a more ethical decision in that case.  It's something that's always bothered me about that episode, and it's actually one of my least favorites.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Veri interesting article indeed! I think the Doctor is a complex person and in many respects he is very human. He's just like us he tries to be a good man but sometimes due to certain facts, events or in response to other people's cruelty he makes the wrong decisions. He doesn't have a thirst for power, domination like most of his enemies, he just wants to see the Universe.When he feels scared and cornered like in The Waters of Mars he may cross the line and lash out. He's a man of tremendous power, so the temptation of using it when he sees that people or thinhs he cares about are hurt is only natural and unnderstandable. Think about how many times we have felt powerless and we wanted very badly to do something about it but we couldn't. The Doctor is very rarely like that, he's got the power to make things better and he tries to do the best he possibly can not to take drastic actions( like murder) against his foes. And that struggle to try to choose the best solution makes him a good man in my opinion.

Bridgebrain
Bridgebrain

@Zero_1_Zerum Unfortunately, that belief has pervaded society, yes. Whether it's due to utopian idealism or intentional influence by those who do not want to be stopped, it's extremely destructive either way.

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

@brodgers123 A negative utilitarian? Please define. I taught philosophy and that "negative" part in utilitarianism kind of escaped me. I think he does NOT have the power to end all the suffering in the Universe because the beings in the Universe doesn't want to stop fighting andf suffering. I think he tries, but as he said once, "The Universe doesn't care."

Galactic Yo Yo
Galactic Yo Yo

Incidentally, this plays into my belief that the only real difference between the Master and the Doctor is that, ever since they both left Gallifrey, the Doctor has traveled with people and the Master has traveled alone. (And that this is the reason that the Master ran out of regenerations way before the Doctor did, because he never had anyone to watch his back.)

Angie Whodini
Angie Whodini

The Racnoss children had done nothing to deserve what they got. Like the Doctor says in Partners in Crime "they're just children. They can't help where they came from." So why does it apply then and not before? And yet it's a sort of trilogy if you consider Day.

But well, that's off topic haha...

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

I think it was the only way to save them. What was the alternative? Blackmail him? Not likely to work. Kill him? No way. What he did wasn't right but it was one of the most harmless altervatives.

midnightking
midnightking

@Bridgebrain @Zero_1_Zerum 

Because "evil people" was a term used to refer to people who disagreed with political/religious belliefs of the time.

The people named above like the Family of Blood are not part of this category.

brodgers123
brodgers123

@Clara Laurinda @brodgers123 Bearing in mind I'm not a professional philosopher here's some of my understanding: Negative utilitarianism prioritizes the minimization of pain over the maximization of pleasure. Unlike other utilitarians we see an asymmetry between pleasure and pain. In most (if not all) cases pleasure or "happiness" is merely the temporary satisfaction of a previous deprivation (e.g. hungry to full, horny to relieved). In other words what we experience as positive states are actually temporary neutral ones. Deprivation (a kind of suffering) is the default state of sentient beings. Therefore life is inherently broken (unsurprising considering its origins) and the most rational and compassionate thing to do would be to work towards its extinction as quickly and painlessly as possible. This kind of philosophical pessimism clearly doesn't appeal to the optimistic Doctor who does all he can to keep life going in the universe, no matter the cost.

brodgers123
brodgers123

@stargazer0118 @brodgers123 He rebooted the universe and therefore all of the suffering in it. He could have just let the universe die peacefully. No one would be around to miss it.

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

@midnightking @TheNightmareChild sees into your soul! It's the fact the Doctor is essentially playing God in this instance.  It doesn't matter how well intentioned he was.  This was a serious abuse of his ability as a time traveler.  And again, it goes against his normal M.O.  The Doctor never normally goes out with the intention of changing the universe.  Just seeing it.  Plus, it raises the question of if the Doctor is willing to do this, why stop there?  Why doesn't he just reshape the history of the whole universe to his liking?  He probably couldn't do it, not really, but do you really think the Doctor wouldn't try if he got it in his head?  This episode tells me, among other things, to not put it past him.

parrot999
parrot999

The forth doctor said that, because for the first time in his life, he could commit genocide simply by touching two wires... It was mirrored in Day of the Doctor with the big red button. The Doctor for the first time had to make a conscious decision to commit genocide, and it terrified him. He likely committed genocide many times before and after, but i think he was always clinging to the thought of "I don't know for sure that they were the last ones...

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

@Amy is Hannibal See, I'm with you, in that I don't have to think the Doctor is right all the time in order to enjoy the show.  But the show also has to acknowledge that what the Doctor is doing is in fact wrong.  And I just don't get that impression from this episode.  As far as I can tell, the episode is on the Doctor's side.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@Amy is Hannibal Why does it apply then and not before?


Because the Adipose children were byproducts of a harmful process, but they themselves were innocent and, much more importantly,  harmless. Furthermore, they were in the process of leaving the planet. They were waving bye-bye as they drifted into the air.  The Racnoss children were born and bred for the very specific purpose of devouring alive everything and everybody on the planet, and their mother had just insisted that they were going to stay and do exactly that after the Doctor offered to find her a planet of her own. 


I've always thought that was a dangerously false comparison - rather like asking why somebody was more willing to kill a nest of active, attacking baby cobras rather than a nest of retreating baby bunny rabbits. It's not even close to the same thing.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

A fair point, although the Doctor does give him a rather threatening warning when Kazran mocks the people on the ship. He tells him, "Whatever happens tonight, remember you brought it on yourself." It's a very un-Doctory thing to say, and I think it reads that way too. Kazran also addresses it later, saying "I would never have known [Abigail] if the Doctor hadn't changed the course of my whole life to suit himself" and "All my life, I've been called heartless. My other life, my real life, the one you rewrote." That first-hand perspective gives us valuable insight, and I think that ultimately, where the episode stands on it is, the Doctor did are very unethical thing for all the right reasons. We know that Kazran was a monster at the beginning of the episode and would have gladly left 403 people to die, and the Doctor tried reasoning with him, but he wouldn't listen. But the Doctor isn't going to just stand there and let Kazran's indifference be the death of hundreds of innocents, is he? He had to do something, even if it meant getting his hands dirty.


TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

@Amy is Hannibal I dunno.  I just feel like something else could've been done.  Of course, if anything else had been done, we might not even have a whole episode to talk about, let alone a Steven Moffat Who-y twist on "A Christmas Carol".  The other thing, too, is that the Doctor seems to have forgotten that he doesn't know what else or who else he's inadvertently changing when he goes and does this.  Or doesn't consider what would happen if young Kazaran died under his care (they had a pretty close shave with that sky shark).  It feels reckless on top of being hugely questionable morally.  And it seems like the Doctor should've learned a thing or two about doing this kind of thing after "The Waters of Mars", or "Genesis of the Daleks" or any other story where the Doctor confronts the prospect of altering history of which he is already a part or already has knowledge of.  Especially since it's heavily suggested that the events of "Genesis of the Daleks" may have planted the seeds of the Last Great Time War.  And at least in "The Waters of Mars", the Doctor took most of an episode fighting his urge to intervene before ultimately giving in.  I don't think the Doctor takes ten minutes to consider the decision in "A Christmas Carol".  The whole episode just feels wrong to me.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

Well with "The Waters of Mars", the issue was that it was a fixed point. The Doctor was risking the universe just to prove that he could. He wasn't saving the Bowie Base One crew for any noble reason, he just wanted to prove that it could be done. Strictly speaking, the Doctor changes history wherever he goes. If he had never interfered, the universe would probably be unrecognizably different and/or non-existent as shown in "The Name of the Doctor". In "A Chistmas Carol", he's just interfering more directly than he would on any other adventure, though he's doing it in a way that crosses some boundaries, but for the right reasons. Also remember that he is a Time Lord and as such, he knows what he can and can't interfere with. In "Cold Blood", he oversaw a negotiation between the humans and the Silurians, attempting to work out a deal that would allow them to share the planet, and he stated that it was possible because that moment was in flux. You're right about the dangers of him going on adventures with Kazran, but that's probably a mundane issue to him now since it also applies to everybody who travels with him (As this article noted). I mean, let's be realistic - for all he knows, young Kazran could trip and fall and break his neck tomorrow, but sometimes the universe is just cruel like that. So the Doctor's resolve was "Well, I can take him on these adventures and do my best to keep him safe, or I can flout the whole thing and let everyone on the ship die."


TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

@Amy is Hannibal I think the difference between his normal travels and what he did in this episode is that he is normally just a traveler, a sit seer.  Or at least that's all he sets out to do, but sometimes shenanigans ensue and he is forced to participate in events more directly than he intended.  Yes, he changes history doing what he does, but everyone changes history in small ways with every decision we make regardless of whether or not we're traveling through time.  So the Doctor is simply making himself a part of history the same way as everybody else, just not necessarily in the right order.  In "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor took things a step further and decided to fundamentally change someone's character by altering their timeline, which is much more deliberately and directly violative than the Doctor is normally wont to do when he isn't having a power drunk episode à la "The Waters of Mars".  And again, my issue is that the episode itself doesn't seem to have a problem with this, or at least as big a problem as it should.  And the lack of hesitation on the Doctor's part, as I pointed out before, bothers me as well.  Again, simple coercion in some fashion could've worked just as well, but he didn't even consider that.