elisi: (Clara)
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Thoughts on 'The Pilot' and 'Smile', whilst also looking back to Clara.

Looking vs mirroring

DOCTOR: You can't see me, can you? You look at me, and you can't see me. Have you any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone, I'm right here, standing in front of you. Please, just, just see me.
Deep Breath

The Doctor observes Bill:

DOCTOR: Well, most people when don' t understand something, they frown. You smile.

Bill observes Heather:

BILL: Sorry, can I ask? What's that in your eye?
HEATHER: It's just a defect in the iris.
BILL: Looks like a star.

BILL: Okay. Sorry, none of my business, but are you freaking out about something?


She notices both the physical (the ‘defect’ that looks like a star) and the more subtle things (are you freaking out about something?)

And then there is the puddle – the puddle which observes, choosing Heather as its pilot, but also mirrors people’s faces back at them… But not in the way they usually see them, but how other people see them.

Then the puddle absorbs Heather, and she becomes a mirror just like the puddle, reflecting back to Bill what Bill says and does.

It is its only way of communicating, but it is very ineffective as the result is that Bill runs away, until the very end…

Bill-Heather-symmerty

And then:

DOCTOR: Bill, let go! You have to let go! She is not human any more.

Looks human, but isn’t.

Obviously one could level the same accusation at the Doctor – what will Bill become if she travels with him?

Because out there, somewhere in space, is are two women who were once human, in a stolen TARDIS, flying around the universe… Both of them irreversibly changed by their encounter with an alien.

I’ll get back to this.

In Smile, the mirroring is front and centre. The emoji robots are almost literal mirrors, copying – and then reflecting back - the moods of the people around them.

Mood-mirrors, you could say.

Except – much like Heather after she is consumed by the puddle – their understanding is limited.

Once they mirror something that to them seems fatal (grief), they move to eliminate the pain in the only way they can – by quite literally destroying the source.

But it’s also interesting to note that the emoji bots operate by simple observation. A smile is reflected back as a smiley, sadness by one or two tears… They lack the understanding that prompts Bill to ask if Heather is OK, and the Doctor to appreciate Bill’s smile when she can’t understand something. Or Bill’s continual discoveries about the Doctor throughout the episode. She puts together the information on the phone box and relates it to the man she is with, uncovering information.

Teaching the robots to appreciate all the different kinds of emotions might have been interesting, but the option the episode goes for is to treat them as the piece of technology they are – to quite simply reboot them.

And it’s interesting to note how we can see the fact of their independence as a new life form, in the rather silly exchange about rent, which results in little £ signs… And yet, this is the first time we have seen them display an independent reaction. They are no longer mirroring, they are interacting.

Now there are interesting points to be made wrt Clara… Because Clara was a mirror, right from the start, and that was both her strength and her downfall. She mirrored the Doctor back to him to such an extent that they were caught in an eternal feedback-loop, which had to be severed for the good of both of them.

And the Doctor got the ‘reboot’ (/memory wipe) like the emoji bots to allow him to get back on track, and Clara took off on her own to keep seeing the universe like Heather.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that Clara’s narrative and ending very quietly haunts the new series.

Be careful what you wish for.

You may want to leave, but what will be the price you pay?

Although the Doctor seems to have learned a few lessons, which is always good. :)

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