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Doctor Who: The God Complex (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The God Complex originally aired in 2011.

It’s time we saw each other as we really are.

– The Doctor

It really is like the McCoy era all over again, isn’t it? The Impossible Astronaut gave us a scheming and manipulative Doctor. Night Terrors felt like it was drawn from the same cloth as Survival, with the faintest trace of Paradise Towers. Here, we get to revisit the ideas at the heart of The Curse of Fenric. Moffat’s second season has really been about the writer defining his own way of making Doctor Who, following a debut season that followed the same structure as the four years overseen by Russell T. Davies.

Here, Moffat is deconstructing the myth of the Doctor, in a way that draws on and contrasts with Davies’ “the Lonely God”, without going to the excess of “the Time Lord Victorious.” Indeed, with the whole dynamic between the Doctor and Amy drawing on one careless miscalculation the character made, changing a young girl’s life forever, one can’t help but wonder if there was more than a hint of truth in what the Doctor confessed to Amy to break her faith in him. “I took you with me because I was vain,” he tells her, “because I wanted to be adored.”

More than ever, it seems there’s a bit of truth in the Doctor’s admission that, “I’m not a hero.” Russell T. Davies has the Doctor follow a similar trajectory, albeit on a larger scale – episodes like Midnight and The Waters of Mars represented massive failings on the part of the Doctor. Moffat draws on the same sort of idea, but renders the Doctor’s failures much more intimate. It isn’t so much that the Eleventh Doctor fails to save the world or defeat the monster, it’s that he fails the people close to him so frequently and thoroughly.

You can check out any time you like, but you may never leave…

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