Crimson Eleven Delight Petrichor

Learning life lessons from the Doctor

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Welcome to my weblog about Doctor Who, where (almost) every post is devoted to analysing one episode in depth!

PSA: the break I took from this weblog took more than I expected or wanted. I am sorry for that, and I do hope to get back to publishing here more regularly, although I cannot promise much right now.

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New Earth

– So where are we going?
– Further than we've ever gone before.

I really shouldn’t like this episode – yet somehow it works for me. I guess I just really want to like Doctor Who (and who can blame me for this?), and go out of my way to redeem even weaker episodes. So, let me be fair first and briefly state why this episode is not the best one, and then I’m going to look for some good stuff.

Why New Earth is not entirely my cup of tea

There are perhaps two and a half reasons New Earth is far from my favorite episode. If you are a regular reader of this weblog, you will probably guess that making members of a religious order the main villains is a sure way to irritate me. Perhaps surprisingly, I actually don’t have a big problem with that. I have lived long enough and I know enough history to understand that being a nun, a priest, a bishop or even a pope doesn’t automatically make you saint. (That said, treating clergy’s sins as an excuse for one’s own is one of the most stupid things people ever came up with – but this is of course not what New Earth is about.) Well, I am a very religious person myself (even though I’m a layman), and I’m painfully aware that I’m a sinner whose only hope of redemption is God – and the same goes for every other living person. So, evil cat-nuns are sadly not that far from reality as one might think (well, maybe apart from the “cat” part;-)), though watching people who should live up to their ideals doing evil is of course a bit disturbing. (Although Novice Hame is actually quite nice.)


“Who needs arms when we have claws?”

What problems do I have then with New Earth? First of all, Doctor Who is a family show, and watching it with kids is something I appreciate a lot. While I don’t have a problem with one or two innuendos which would fly over children’s heads anyway, the density of almost explicit sexual jokes in this episode makes me cringe. Too much is just too much. (Also, one of these jokes perpetuates certain annoying and even harmful misconception – but I’ll get to that later.)

Another reason New Earth bugs me is that the Doctor is clearly very much enjoying his “god mode”. Nine was much more humble and aware of his shortcomings. It is rather telling that even at his very start, Ten is quite the opposite. . It’s most prominent when he blurts to Novice Hame, “if you want to take it to a higher authority, then there isn’t one. It stops with me.” It is actually a very well-written line, showing the vanity of the Doctor, and the fact that it makes me cringe is a testament to that – but it still does. Another moment when the Doctor’s god-like attitude is very visible is near the end, when he cures the patients. He is (probably intentionally) shown as a priestly figure, and it is interesting to compare him to the cat-nuns. While they are obviously the villains in this story, they do have some justification for their actions (that is not to say that I agree with said justification, of course!), and they – especially Novice Hame – seem to show a true sense of service and humility. The Doctor, on the other hand, is (again) full of pride – “I’m the Doctor, and I cured them!”. He really cares for Rose (obviously), for the “new humans” (which is also very typical of him) and even for Cassandra (which is perhaps a bit less obvious, but true nonetheless), but his conceit is really hard to stand. (One might argue that this line doesn’t show the pride of Ten but his genuine joy, almost like the famous “everybody lives” moment. I can certainly agree that there is a component of joy here, but he didn’t say “Look Cassandra, they are healthy now!” or anything like that – he did emphasize that he was the one who cured them.)

The third issue I have with New Earth is a bit nitpicky, but I’ll mention it anyway. Being a Whovian, I completely understand that expecting any sort of logic or scientific accuracy from Doctor Who is absurd, but the main premise of this episode is really egregious. The idea that you can cure terminally ill people by dousing them with intravenous solutions doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. And there are more questions! Now that the farm of “new humans” is gone, how will the hospital operate? Won’t there be a global pandemic there very soon? (.) But of course, let’s not be too pedantic – after all, this is Doctor Who, not a book by Stanisław Lem.

Good laugh and a few tears

Probably the main strength of New Earth is comedy. This is one of those light-hearted episodes where you don’t really expect too much drama or thriller elements – you just have some silly fun. Granted, there are serious moments here – more about them in a moment – but this is neither Father’s Day nor . As I already mentioned, I’m not really a great fan of the density of sexual jokes in this episode (even if I admit that some of them are actually pretty funny) – but there’s more to it than them. I love the elevator scene (“watch out for the disinfectant!”) – this will certainly make my top ten funniest moments of Series 2. The Doctor’s comment about the lack of the little shop is also something to be appreciated (, !). And of course, the “New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York” scene is, to borrow Nine’s favorite phrase, absolutely fantastic.


“Watch out for the disinfectant!”

On the other hand, there are a few very serious moments scattered throughout New Earth. And maybe just because they are very few and very short, their impact is even greater. The scene where Cassandra experiences the terrible loneliness of one of the infected is probably the most pronounced, but definitely not the only one. I love the Doctor telling the cat-nuns, “and I'm being very, very calm. You want to be aware of that. Very, very calm.” This definitely sends chills down my spine, especially knowing what the Doctor is capable of. We’ll get similar vibes very soon in , much later in and in many other episodes. The moment when a normally hyperactive person starts to act unnaturally composed is something very real, and the threat hidden in Doctor’s voice is really well acted. And of course we have the Face of Boe, who is supposed to tell the Doctor his “great secret” but for some mysterious reason changes his mind. (That reason will be easy to explain after , though.) Having experienced caring for a terminally ill person myself, I may have shed a tear or two when Novice Hame discussed the situation of Face of Boe with the Doctor. It’s a pity that this aspect wasn’t expanded just a bit – it would be a great lesson to teach the younger part of the audience.

Cassandra’s physical needs

Now, let me get more serious myself. I’m normally a very positive person, and if you’ve read even a few articles on this weblog, you are well aware that I try really hard to find good things to say even about the weaker episodes. (!) That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t see their worse aspects. Sometimes I just have to call attention to them, not only because they irritate me, but more because they teach a wrong lesson. (Remember that cringey remark about Marxism in The empty child?)


Chip sees to Cassandra’s physical needs. Basically, he moisturizes her.

Here we have a similar (even if much less visible) situation. One of the attempts at humor by Russell T. Davies (and we all know that he likes jokes aimed at the… less mature part of the audience) was Cassandra’s remark about how “Chip sees to [her] physical needs”, to which Rose dryly responds “I hope that means food”. You may ask, why I don’t like it? There is a very subtle thing going on here. It is fairly obvious what Rose thinks the “physical needs” are, and chances are she is right. And here comes the misconception I mentioned earlier. Contrary to the popular opinion, sex is not just a “physical” thing. It is a very deep experience touching all aspects of humanity – it has its physical component (obviously), but it has also profound psychical and even spiritual aspects. I’m neither a theologian nor a sexologist, so I won’t try and pretend that I know a lot about these topics, but I’m a husband and a father, so I do know at least a bit from my personal experience. These quotes from the Catechism (CCC 2360–2363, but the whole chapter is well worth studying even if you’re not a Catholic, if not to admire the beauty therein, then at least to understand some of our perhaps less popular beliefs) sum it up much better than I could.

Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

Sexuality […] is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.

The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.

The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life.

So, do not try to tell me that sexual desire is a “physical need”. It is much, much richer and more beautiful than that!

Other tidbits

Before I get to my main point about New Earth, let me – as usual – mention in passing several minor things that caught my attention.

I quite like the very first few seconds of the episode when Ten manipulates the T.A.R.D.I.S. However, we then cut to the good-bye scene with Jackie and Mickey, which is full of cringe – especially the moment when Mickey says “I love you” to Rose, and she answers just “bye”. Poor Mickey.


“You’re hard work young!” ()
Young David Tennant driving the T.A.R.D.I.S. – not a sight to forget!

I love the exchange about the name of New New York, the city “so good they named it twice”. (Though I’m not sure New York is really a good place.) Also, Rose hopping and commenting on “different ground beneath [her] feet” is incredibly cute. The nostalgia and the “big revival movement” sound so close and so human to me… I’m a bit nostalgic person myself and I fully understand that – even though I am aware that you can’t really go backwards in time to the “good old days” of your childhood – yet still I like memories and things that remind me of them.

Also, as a mathematician, I cannot not smile at the subtle joke about numbers. See, thirteen episodes ago Nine said that “five billion years in your future […] is the day the Sun expands”. When we say or hear things like that, we obviously understand that “five billions” is a very rough approximation – it could well be off by a thousand (or a million) years. Here, however, it is implied that the world ended exactly in the year 5,000,000,000, since New Earth is set in the year 5,000,000,023, two decades later. Interestingly, all these calculations are off anyway, since technically “five billion years in the future” during the events of The end of the world would be 5,000,002,005. Also, year five billion being called 5.5/Apple/26 in the future means that the future calendar in the Whoniverse is most probably no longer based on the date of birth of Jesus, which is not surprising given RTD’s views. And while we’re at anti-religious sentiments of RTD, substituting the red cross with the green moon seems to be yet another case of that. When I think about it, New Earth seems to be one of the most anti-Christian episodes of Series 2. Funny how its main message – which we’ll get to in a few minutes – is so in line with Catholic teaching and against the popular beliefs of today! I cannot not think of John 11:49-52 and the story of Caiaphas, who wanted to get rid of Jesus, but inadvertently said a prophesy…

The Doctor also mentions that they are in galaxy M87. This is a real one, and Wikipedia told me that it is pretty far from Earth – some 53 million light-years. This means that either humans will have invented FTL travel by the year 5,000,000,023, or they just started much earlier and took their time to get there, or they had some other means of traveling such vast distances. (In fact, all three possibilities may be correct. , and .)

I keep thinking whether the rule that “cuttings from the gardens are not permitted” is a subtle allusion to Jabe’s gift.

I like the short exchange about illnesses, where Rose says, “I thought this far in the future, they’d have cured everything”, to which the Doctor replies, “The human race moves on, but so do the viruses. It’s an ongoing war”. It reminds me of sentiments of “progress”, as if humanity was just marching forward and becoming better and better. Sadly, it does not work this way. (Well, in certain areas it does. When it comes to scientific and engineering knowledge, for example, we basically build upon what we already have, so the sum of that type of knowledge is more or less steadily increasing – even if some of it is lost for various reasons. But unfortunately humanity does not always progress morally. Our own times seem to be a deep regression in quite a few pretty fundamental aspects, for example.) And speaking of progress, there’s yet another moment which seems a jab at conservatists, when Rose has this to say to Cassandra: “You stayed still. You got yourself all pickled and preserved, and what good did it do you?”. Well, my personal stance is that conservatism (and I think I would call myself conservative) is not about trying to avoid any change, but rather about believing that change for change’s sake is not really valuable, and that (as I said a moment ago) not every change in our society is necessarily for the better – and many are definitely for worse. (Also, whenever you want to change something, you should really consider if you aren’t accidentally demolishing a Chesterton fence!)

Much like in Series 1, the “futuristic” look of the hospital says more about 2005 than about the future. And even though the hospital looks (a bit) futuristic, the lift exterior certainly does not. One would think that lift technology a billion(ish) years in the future wouldn’t look exactly the same…

I have to say that I have rather mixed feelings about Frau Clovis. On the one hand, as her name suggests, she couldn’t be more stereotypical German lady, which is funny indeed. On the other hand, jokes utilizing stereotypes like this are a bit risky. (On yet another hand, we live in very strange times, where simply stating your own opinions on general, non-personal matters seems to offend some people, so going to great lengths not to offend anyone is futile anyway, and I don’t think her character is really offensive to Germans – especially that she doesn’t actually do anything bad.)

I absolutely love the fact that the Doctor remembers the Face of Boe, even if that’s not surprising at all. It is even better that Rose seemed to remember Lady Cassandra well enough to recognize her voice on the film! It shows that they are both very attentive to the people around them, and that’s really great. On the other hand, Rose’s rather snarky remark about Chip (calling him “Gollum”) is funny, but not exactly respectful, so there’s that. Even taking that into account, the contrast with Cassandra, who accuses Rose of murder (well, when she says “you murdered me”, she might have meant both of them, Rose and the Doctor, but still) despite the fact that Rose was the one to plead with the Doctor to save her on Platform One.

I have to admit that I quite like Novice Hame, and the scene when she talks with the Doctor about the Face of Boe is particularly good. I can’t help but giggle, though, when she says “I can hear him singing, sometimes, in my mind. Such ancient songs…” – my personal headcanon is that one of those “ancient songs” is a certain “traditional Earth ballad”;-).

New Earth is the first episode when Ten says “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”, which we’ll hear many, many more times during his tenure.

Matron Casp saying (with a hint of amazement), “fascinating, it's actually constructing an argument”, as if that should be one of the moments convincing the audience that the “patients” are actual humans, aged rather poorly now that “constructing an argument” became somewhat cheaper due to the spread of LLMs. This, however, reminds me of a very important truth: humanity does not depend on intelligence. You don’t need to be able to “construct an argument”, speak language, or, say, perform algebraical operations to be considered human and to have rights as a human being. (And apparently it is possible for non-humans to “construct an argument”, although it seems that LLMs are not really “constructing an argument”, they just generate a stream of letters and words which sometimes look reasonable.)

Interestingly, this episode was the first one of New Who which did not take place on or near Earth. From now on, every series will have at least one episode happening in space or on another planet, but Nine and Rose never went further (in space) than to the Earth’s orbit.

The last two things I'd like to mention here are more about the filming process than the episode itself. Firstly, it's not easy to spot it because of the heavy makeup, but Sister Jatt was played by Adjoa Andoh, who will go on to play . And secondly, the "intensive care" scenes were filmed at the Ely Paper Mill in Cardiff, which served as the Nestene base in Rose and will be visible in quite a few more episodes of series 2 and 3. (It would probably be used more if not for the fact that it has been demolished 15 years ago.)

Last but not least - who are new humans?

It is perhaps surprising that they main topic of this rather lighthearted episode is something very, very serious. As with many other episodes of Doctor Who, this one is mainly about life and how we should respect it, even if it’s life in a form we are not fully comfortable with. I don’t know how other people interpret New Earth, but for me, the story of the “flesh” (interestingly, the same term will be used to describe apparently unrelated creatures in and , but that two-parter can be interpreted in a quite similar way) is a very clear metaphor for people conceived using the IVF technique.

First of all, even if they are “artificially grown” (a tiny bit like in the case of IVF, though obviously the analogy breaks here), they are obviously humans – even if some people may not treat them as such. That should go without saying – although the common practice seem to show that it sadly does not. As far as I know, more embryos than necessary are usually conceived during an IVF procedure, which means that several persons start to exist – but are either “destroyed” (in other words, killed) or “frozen indefinitely” (which most likely means they will be killed in the future anyway, probably depending on economic factors). It’s not really different than Matron Casp casually ordering Sister Jatt to incinerate one of the “patients” – of course, in that scene the humanity of him was reinforced by his ability to talk, but from the moral standpoint, the situation is basically the same.

On the other hand, I would not dare to accuse parents of children conceived via IVF of murder – I have a very strong suspicion than very many of them are not fully aware of what is really happening. As Novice Hame puts it, “think of those humans out there, healthy and happy” – and indeed they are, oblivious of the inhumane process that made them happy. On the other hand, what Doctor says in response (“if they live because of this, then life is worthless”), is very, very, very wrong. To keep using the metaphor, neither the lives of children conceived using IVF, nor the lives of their parents are “worthless”, even if a grave evil was committed. Similarly, even if we treat the story of New Earth literally, you can’t say that the lives of inhabitants of New Earth is “worthless” – even if they were aware of what is going on underground. Nobody’s life is “worthless”, and every person has a great value, which does not depend on the morality of whatever they do. According to Isaiah, this is what God says to you and me: “Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4a) – and I think that this is true irrespective of whatever evil anyone could commit. Just one more Bible quotation confirming that is Romans 5:8: “but God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”.

The most charitable way I can think of to interpret the Doctor’s words is that he is intentionally exaggerating to shake Novice Hame up (which is probably not a great idea anyway). The more probable theory is that he usurps God’s authority (again!), which (as I already mentioned a few times) is a common theme in Doctor Who, and especially during the Tenth Doctor’s tenure. This seems to be confirmed by his very next sentence (which I already mentioned earlier): “I’m the Doctor. And if you don’t like it, if you want to take it to a higher authority, then there isn’t one. It stops with me!”, which he says very angrily to the completely justified and sensible question of Novice Hame (“who are you to decide that?”). By the way, Hame herself calls him “the lonely god” in an earlier scene with the Face of Boe, although not directly.

To sum it up, if my interpretation is correct, then neither the Sisterhood’s attitude nor the Doctor’s is the right one. Somehow I have the suspicion that nobody saying the most reasonable thing – that what’s going on in the “intensive care” is unacceptable, but that does not make the humans above ground monsters whose lives are somehow less precious – may be connected with the fact that Rose is absent from most of the episode…


“And don’t patronise me because people have died, and I’m not happy.”
– oh, wait…

Before I finish, let me mention one more scene, very much in line of the “lonely god” interpretation of the Doctor’s character. One can argue (and in fact people do) that when the Doctor cures all the “patients”, he seems to be a Christ-like figure. That is true to some extent, but I don’t like this analogy because it doesn’t really work that well. The reason is simple – Christ actually died for us, and the Doctor risked much less. (Although I can imagine someone arguing that regeneration can be viewed as a distant parallel of resurrection, and I can see that point – but that is another topic which I might expand, well, closer to – pun fully intended;-).

Easter 2024

Happy Easter for you all! Christ has risen from the dead, and we shall rise as well! Rejoice!

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!”