Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Doctor Who: 9.1 "The Magician's Apprentice"

With the stories in this year’s season/series of Who being all two-parters, it is hard to evaluate the stories on a week by week basis. However, the latest episode had a hypothetical that was so intriguing, it merits discussion on its own.

(Haven’t most of the episodes of Doctor Who of late been just that though? More a series of hypotheticals and set-pieces and moments, more than complete stories?)

The obvious hypothetical for a time traveling character is: “If you could travel back in time and kill or prevent Hitler from being born, would you? Is that one murder justified by all the lives saved?” Doctor Who has referenced this idea multiple times, and once it even tackled it head-on, in “Genesis of the Daleks.” However, in that episode the Doctor was offered the chance to not just take out a mass-murderer, but a whole race of murderers. He had the chance to destroy his arch-enemies—the Nazi stand-ins of Doctor Who, the Daleks—before they were ever created. More than murder, he had to weigh genocide. Go watch that great story to see how he decided.

In “The Magician’s Apprentice” we open on scenery and action very reminiscent of “Genesis.” As it turns out that is right where we are, on the planet and in the war of that story. This time the Doctor shows up just in passing at the right time to save a boy from certain death. Only, when he hears the boy’s name: Davros, the creator of the Daleks, he walks away. He doesn’t kill Hitler, he just decides not to rescue him.

We don’t yet know how, but Davros escaped anyway and it looks like the Doctor may be a part of the events that led to the creation of the evil he wanted to destroy. That is an intriguing proposition: evil begets evil. You can’t defeat evil by committing more evil. The ends do not justify the means. If your end is to rid the world of evil, how can you consider evil means of action?

It will be interesting to see where Moffat and company take things next week…

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