elisi: (Forest)
[personal profile] elisi
This has been SUCH A BUSY WEEKEND. Although in a good way.

For now, the brief thoughts I wrote down on The Empress of Mars.

If you ever wondered if you’d like Classic!Who, this episode is quite a good test – imagine the same overall story, but spread out over six 25 minute episodes. :)

I’m somewhat meta’d out, but I’ll try my best to at least write something.

It was Gatiss episode, so I lowered my expectations, but generally it was fine. Soldiers & Ice Warriers worked well, and I liked the resolution. And the Ice Warriors waking up was visually a beautiful callback to Tomb of the Cybermen.

Quick note, stolen from Promethia: The visual of the afternoon tea was probably the best of the episode. I loved the line about 'morale is almost as low as provisions' While they sit eating cake and scones! And a choice of China or India tea. With an alien butler to do the washing up. GOODNESS, IT'S A WONDER THEY GET ON.

And we have (thankfully) come a long way from S8 and the Doctor’s anti-soldier attitude. Here he acknowledges that ‘thinking like a warrior’ is something which comes naturally to him (and being the Doctor that often means having not to listen to that voice).

I have said before (Layers in Doctor Who) that Doctor Who is in many ways a reflection of Britain, the Doctor very much the scion of Empire. We don’t often see Britain’s Empire on the show, but here it was evident – and we can easily see how their attitudes mirror those of the Doctor’s:

DOCTOR: The simple fact is, you don't belong here. The sooner you get off this planet, the better.
CATCHPOLE: Don't belong? We're British! Mars is part of the empire now.

Empress of Mars
DOCTOR: Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me.
The Shakespeare Code

The Doctor, like an Englishman, assumes his own superiority over others (which can have rather unfortunate consequences as we have so very recently seen…) Walking, talking unconscious privilege.

Of course, the whole thing also ties in which the ongoing dialogue about how much the Doctor does or does not belong to Earth.

However, we can flip that and look at Friday as a Doctor mirror – the last of his kind, serving humans...

BILL: You've told us why you came here. What does he get out of it?
GODSACRE: Nothing.
BILL: Nothing?
GODSACRE: Well, he was hoping to find his people, but it appears that he was asleep on that ship for much longer than he anticipated. Mars is dead. Dead as a coffin nail. Friday is the last of his kind.

Except of course he isn't...

Before I delve into the Empress, a quick look at how the Doctor is also mirrored in Godsacre (all the men are one man):

GODSACRE: That man was not one of us. Please, do not judge mankind by his cruelty or indeed by my cowardice. Spare my friends and my world.

‘Never cruel or cowardly’ <- why that looks very much like the Doctor

But most of all, this was an episode about Missy.

For starters, 'Tomb of an Ice Queen' sure sounds like Missy in the vault.

There might also be something here in the talk about the future of the Ice Warriors that's applicable to Gallifrey. They have slept longer than intended. The war they knew is over. Their waking threatens to ignite violence, and yet they cannot survive on this world anymore without someone's help from outside:

DOCTOR: Shh! Majesty, the world you knew is dead. The atmosphere has all but evaporated. The surface is lifeless. If there are others who sleep here, they cannot survive on Mars without help. You must cooperate if you are to survive.
FRIDAY: He speaks the truth, Majesty. The war, all that we fought for, is less than the dust now.

This is very much the Tenth Doctor and Simm!Master. Except we are of course further on in the show, and the story goes on to let the Ice Queen resurrect her warriors.

'Mars stands alone!'

Gallifrey stands?

Then Twelve threatens the Ice Warriors with shooting the ice cap to trap them under the pole, frozen. Stasis. 'We must live together, or die together.'

The line jumped out at me, as it's almost word-for-word this exchange from the Classic show (and no way was that an accident):

DELGADO!MASTER: You'll be doomed along with me.
THIRD DOCTOR: Exactly! We either escape together, or we die together.

The Claws of Axos

And the idea that the death of Mars was the start of the Ice Warrior golden age is a very nice one. Death and rebirth and all the good things.

'That's twice I've been executed. Whatever happens now is going to be better than I expected.'

Of course that echoes:

MISSY: Oi, I've just been executed. Show a little respect!

Now it helps to keep the post-modern approach in mind. Like this episode is a patchwork of mirrors, rather than straightforward allegory.

Stick with me here: I feel like the Ice Queen, Catchlove, and the Colonel could collectively be a metaphor for what's going on with Missy? Like different parts of herself at war with each other.

I'm thinking, in particular, of how the Master ran away from the Time War.

Godsacre goes on to plead without witness, without reward. (Good is good in the final hour, in the deepest pit without hope. Virtue is only virtue in extremis.)

IRAXXA: Do you now expect your life to be spared?
GODSACRE: No. No, no, no. I expect it to be taken. And I give it willingly.

This of course echoes Missy, but also Simm!Master, blasting Rassilon, not caring for his own safety.

Jumping forward to our very own caught-in-stasis Ice Queen, we are still in a gothic horror situation. Missy is still the Madwoman in the Basement/Attic and Bill has now met her (and is wonderfully, unnervingly calm about it), and Bill goes on to save the world in 'Lie of the Land' with all the hugs and sparkles of Companion Saves The World With Love. <3

Except festering underneath that is this storyline about the Doctor and Missy and the vault and everything that says about the Doctor's control issues. Stasis is never good, stasis is the opposite of life. Life consists of life AND death, you need both. And Clara's arc ended with stasis - or delayed death, rather. It's something the Doctor still needs to accept.

The Vault is bare, with what looks like fossilised tree roots. Underground. (This episode takes place almost completely underground. With added mining!) To briefly quote [personal profile] janie_aire:

In many myths around the world, there's a version of what's called The World Tree, an axis mundi that connects Above and Below, and Past and Future, to the Here and Now, in the Center. It's usually a Tree, like Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, but it could also be a Mountain, like Mount Olympus was to the Greeks. So, the top of the axis mundi reaches the Heavens, while the bottom digs down into the Underworld. From a psychological point of view, the Heavens represent our aspirations, our conscience, our ability to fly high and look at the big picture. The Heavens are where our Gods and Goddesses reside. The Underworld, on the other hand, is the place of the Subconscious, a place for monsters and our deepest desires -- but it's not necessarily "Hell" in the Christian sense, just a place where the "baser" aspects of the Self can find a home.

But now - our Queen is out. Like Iraxxa she's awake and left the box. (Or rather, swapped the box that is the Vault, for the box that is the TARDIS.) What will she go on to be? Can the stasis be broken and become a rebirth? She says she will go back to the the stasis box, but we know it cannot contain her.

'We must live together, or die together.'

I feel this is the key to everything.


(no subject)

Date: 19 June 2017 12:41 pm (UTC)
owlboy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlboy
pls hurry up and watch eaters of light its so good like

(no subject)

Date: 19 June 2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
owlboy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlboy
Happy Birthday!


elisi: (Default)elisi
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