Crimson Eleven Delight Petrichor

Learning life lessons from the Doctor

The Christmas invasion

Trouble’s just the bits in-between. It’s all waiting out there, Jackie, and it’s brand new to me. All those planets, and creatures and horizons. I haven’t seem them yet, not with these eyes. And it is going to be… fantastic!

The Christmas invasion – the first full episode with the Tenth Doctor (although he is absent for most of the episode), and the first Doctor Who Christmas special. I like it a lot! And even though it is mostly just fun – most of the Christmas specials are lighter and funnier episodes – it still touches a few serious subjects. Let’s see what we can find here.


If you don’t like The Christmas invasion, well, I need you to shut up.

Poor Rose

I really feel for Rose in this episode. Yes, last time she acted pretty terrible towards Mickey, and she still does (a bit) in this one, but she also gets her share of problems. First of all, she is still shocked after the Doctor’s regeneration – which is completely understandable. We’ll get to this later, because it touches one of the most important things in this episode. Here I’d like to mention that her self-esteem plummets. “When I’m stuck at home, I’m useless”, she says. And earlier, when she and Mickey were attacked by the Santas, she had this line: “What’s important about us? Well, nothing, except the one thing we’ve got tucked up in bed. The Doctor.” She says that like it’s a given, and I heard resignation in her voice. Despite Nine repeatedly telling Rose how much he appreciates her, and despite him repeatedly teaching her that every person is important, she still seems to think very low of herself. On the other hand, maybe that’s just genuine and commendable humility? As usual, I tend to view situations like this through theological lenses. (Of course, let me kindly remind you that much of what I write here are my personal opinions and thoughts, and I do not claim that they are always right – if you think I’m wrong, you know what to do!) Is it true that every human being is intrinsically important, and that’s why God loves us and cares for us? Or is each of us important because God created us and loves us, and we really are almost nothing without Him? I tend to think the latter, but I don’t think it’s pessimistic – quite the contrary (see Psalm 8:5–6, for example). My personal key to understanding why Rose didn’t seem to be overly happy with the fact that’s the only important thing about her is the Doctor is a few episodes earlier, in Boom town. In that episode, the Doctor quips to Margaret, “Don’t worship me – I’d make a very bad god.” I’ll get to that line a bit later, too – for now let me say this. It is true that on the surface, a single human being seems tiny, brittle and not important at all. You don’t even have to imagine a human against the vastness of the universe – just imagine a human in a crowd of thousands, or against the power of Earth nature – the mountains, the oceans, or things like tornadoes or earthquakes. But what we Catholics believe, every person is created, wanted and loved by God. Other people can be wrong about you, but God is always right, so if He loves you, if He considers you precious – that means that you are precious. If you think your worth stems from other people’s opinions about you, well, now that’s pessimistic – they could be wrong, or they could change these opinions. But if you derive your worth from the God’s opinion about you – well, God is infallible, so if He considers you important and worthy of love, then you are, in fact, important and worthy of love, and He will not change His opinion!


“He’s left me, mom […] when I’m stuck at home, I’m useless.”

No second chances

Apparently, one of the goals of this episode is to establish – at least approximately – who Ten is. We’ll have three series and a bunch of specials to learn more about him, but the foundation is already there in The Christmas invasion. He’s extremely talkative, he has a pretty high opinion of himself, he likes to show off, and one of the definining characteristics about him is his curiosity. All these characteristics are not really very Ten-specific – many incarnations of the Doctor have them, too, including Nine – but it seems to me that Ten goes further than Nine in all those departments. But he himself apparently considers his rather unforgiving nature (“no second chances – I’m that sort of a man”) as his defining trait. He still tries really hard to give every villain he fights a chance of walking off alive, but he can be rather ruthless when said villain does not use their only chance.


“No second chances. I’m that sort of a man.”

Of course, Nine had that, too, at least to some extent. In Rose, he says this about the Nestene Consciousness: “I’m not here to kill it. I’ve got to give it a chance” – but then seems completely unmoved by its death. He basically killed Cassandra (or at least did nothing to help her, despite Rose asking him to do it) without any qualms, though only after he found her guilty and everyone saw she didn’t show a trace of remorse. On the other hand, he was very happy when Blon Fel-Fotch didn’t die, and the ending of The Doctor dances shows how much he likes not killing anyone. It seems to me that Nine was less harsh and more compassionate because of his guilt after the Time War. It’s not like Ten is past that – he’s clearly not, as we will see in the future – but it looks like he’s slowly gravitating towards a more unrelenting persona.

And this is the place where I really need to reconsider his remark from Boom town – “don’t worship me – I’d make a very bad god”. You might remember that he followed it with a rather snarky “You wouldn’t get a day off, for starters”. I have a suspicion that it was meant as a bad-taste joke about Christianity, but it actually shows an important truth. Our God cares about us really much, and the commandment to rest every seven days is one of the examples. We Christians are not allowed by our religion to rest on Sundays – we are required to do so. It’s a known truth about many people that they tend to escape from various issues into work, which is extremely unhealthy. We also tend to neglect our relationships – with God and with other people – spending too much time in the (in)famous first quadrant ot the Eisenhower matrix instead of devoting time and effort to the second one. God knows this and explicitly tells us to spend one day per week on things that are the most important (and which we usually do not consider urgent, though this might be a dangerous illusion). And – to tie all this back to The Christmas invasion and the quote about no second chances – God knows we are fallible, so He gives us second, third and many more chances (and instructs us to do similarly when others hurt us).

Coming back to the characterizaton of Ten – it is hard not to mention that post-regeneration Doctor is acting pretty crazy (which seems to be consistent with Classic Who – I’ve seen a few episodes of that, one of them being Robot – and the trend will continue with future Doctors). The whole scene in the Sycorax spaceship is one continuous display of David Tennant’s phenomenal comic acting. I cannot even tell which moment I like the best – from “you could have someone’s eye out with that”, to “rude and not ginger”, to the Lion King quote, to his completely unexpected “I DON’T KNOW!!!” is stunning.


Murder or self-defence?

Now one of the big questions raised by this episode was whether Harriet Jones’ order to destroy the Sycorax spaceship near the end of the episode was justified. As much as I like her, I have to say no. They didn’t pose any immediate danger. Harriet is correct that they could tell other races about Earth and humanity – but it’s not like other races wouldn’t learn about Earth otherwise. (The Doctor says it plain mere minutes before.) Actually, now that I think of it, not only was Harriet’s order morally wrong, it was also pretty stupid. It would be much wiser to let the Sycorax go and tell other races that they better not mess up with these Earthlings!

Other than that, Harriet Jones was really great in this episode. She is very confident (and rightly so!), she is not afraid of making difficult decisions (which is a trait I respect, even if she is wrong), and frankly, she is quite badass. Her message about the peace with a thinly veiled threat is crystal clear – there will be peace, but not on Sycorax’ terms. And taking into account that it was them who invaded Earth and started with threats (not even thinly veiled!), it’s really hard to blame her! When I read the list of conditions that can morally justify a war (see CCC 2309), it is pretty clear to me that until the Doctor appeared to avert the crisis, the Prime Minister had all the reasons to use the weapon Torchwood had against the Sycorax.


“Alex is my right hand man. I’m not used to having a right hand man. I quite like it, though.” -

Last but not least, Harriet Jones learned her lesson and one of the first things she asks Sally Jacobs was her name. (Interestingly, she doesn’t ask Daniel Llewellyn his name – but at least she offers him coffee, and this time not in order to get something from him.)

Other tidbits

While Mickey is far from my favorite character in the series, I definitely don’t dislike him. And I quite like the fact that he continues his character growth in this episode. Last two times he was a bit whiny, and here he seems to try and win Rose back. Instead of just resigning, he tries to convince her of his loyalty and reliability, and I have to say, he’s not entirely wrong! (Also, he snarks instead of whining, which is actually great).


“Oh, yeah, that’s fascinating, because I love hearing stories about the T.A.R.D.I.S. Oh, go on Rose, tell us another one because I swear I could listen to it all day. T.A.R.D.I.S. this, T.A.R.D.I.S. that.”

Mr Llewellyn seems a great material for a companion (although it’s atypical in his case in that he never actually meets the Doctor). He is smart (it is he who first figures out the blood type connection), and he is brave – he is entirely willing to assume the responsibility even if he can’t really be blamed for inclusion of the blood sample on the Guinevere One probe. (How could he expect the Sycorax’ blood control, after all?) He is also humble and accepts the fact that humanity is less advanced technologically than the Sycorax. As is usual for characters like that, he dies about two thirds into the episode, which is a real pity.

It is perhaps impossible to write about The Christmas invasion and not mention the absolutely hilarious scene when Jackie exclaims “I’m going to get killed by a Christmas tree!”. (Note – again – Mickey’s courage when trying to fight it.)

Interestingly, the Doctor doesn’t wake up when his life is in danger - only when Rose says “help me” does he suddenly sit up and disable the tree. Quite telling…

One of the scenes I like less is when Rose tries to argue with the Sycorax, using her very limited knowledge of alien stuff and making things up. It makes me cringe a lot, but I have to admit that Billie Piper sold it great. And speaking of Rose, I love the small remark she made near the end when the Doctor explained that it’s not real snow which is falling on them – “ok, not so beautiful”. Time and time again, Rose compassion – this time for the Sycorax, who – after all – invaded Earth – shows.

And finally, I find the fact that it was tea that helped the Doctor hilariously British (which I assume was intentional, of course).

Last but not least

As usual, I left what I consider the most important thing for the end. If I were to point out the most important message of The Christmas invasion, it would be about relationships. The main theme of the episode is that Rose notices that the Doctor has changed, and has to deal with that. Of course, in real life people usually change much, much slower, but the problems remain the same: they need to know who they are, and the people around them have to deal with the change.

One of the keys to this episodes is this sentence of Rose: “the thing is I thought I knew him, Mom”. Well, how many wives say that sentence at some point during their marriage? (Husbands also do, I guess, though probably a bit more often to their fathers or friends.) Truth is, we never truly know everything about another person. (Well, we never truly know everything about ourselves even!) The thing is, relationships are pretty risky – when you get close to someone, you can get hurt. And the riskiest of them is probably the marriage. You can walk away from a friend who hurts you, and while ending a friendship is sad, it is (to some extent) normal and sometimes ncessary. Marriage is forever – well, at least for as long as you both shall live – and if things go south, you can’t just say “Enough is enough” and walk away. Even if extreme circumstances, like actual abuse, you may move away from your spouse to protect yourself (or your children, or both) – but you are still married, and while you may need to live separately, you are still bound by your vows. And people do change – sometimes for better, but sometimes for worse.

When you think of it that way, it seems a miracle that people accept that risk and get married! And indeed, a marriage is a miracle, though there are other, more important reasons for that, too;-). I think one of the reasons so many people still get married is that we have this fundamental faith that people are good, and even capable of changing for the better. And this faith is firmly based in reality – even though some people do bad things, and change for worse, many do the opposite. And while marriage is far from easy (and I can say that, with close to two decades of experience!), and I think even the best couples have their bad moments, it is also a beautiful and fascinating adventure. In fact, the Doctor sums it up perfectly when Jackie comments, “I reckon you’re mad, the pair of you. It’s like you go looking for trouble”. To which the Doctor answers, “trouble’s just the bits in-between […] And it is going to be… fantastic!”. Frankly, it is so true – and beautiful – that they should make wedding cards with that quote!


“It is going to be… fantastic!”