Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
We are of course interested what you thought of Thin Ice (we are of course referring to tonight’s episode of Doctor Who starring Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, rather than the Lost Stories Big Finish audio starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Beth Chalmers a few years ago - not that we have any objection if you want to give us your thoughts on that audio instead). But we’re not just interested in your thoughts on the episode as a whole, we’d like to focus on one particular scene.
The scene in question appears to have ruffled a few feathers (and not the ones being worn on Bill’s head), where the Doctor punches someone in the head after that person was shouting racially abusive comments at Bill. It’s not all that rare for the Doctor to punch someone (Capaldi’s Doctor has already done it before on screen), but normally when the Doctor strikes someone, it’s usually because that person has already been the physical aggressor in some way or they need to be stopped or the Doctor needs to free himself in order to save the lives of others. Which isn’t the case here, as the Doctor is really just striking someone for what they had said - what was said was vile of course, but no-one was in immediate danger or physical harm as a result of the comments. Which doesn’t necessarily make the Doctor’s actions wrong (that depends upon your point of view), but it does make it very unusual. The only other similar example which immediately springs to mind from a previous episode was in the 4th Doctor story The Face of Evil where the Doctor gets revenge on a warrior of the Sevateem who had slapped Leela viciously by flicking a flesh-eating Horda upon the warrior in question, who presumably got eaten alive from it.
Some commentators are complaining that the Doctor’s actions in this scene promote violence as an answer which is against the ethos of the show, while others are quick to point out that the episode reminds us that the Doctor has probably lost count of the number of people/beings/creatures he has killed over the years and thus the ethos of the show is not quite as clear cut as some are making it out to be. It’s a long-time debate in fandom, but one which does not ever seem to be running out of steam.
Before I provide my opinion, what do you think of it? Not just of the scene in question, but of the episode as a whole? Don’t be afraid to give your views - it’s not like by doing so you will be treading on thin ice.
Posted by Luca on Saturday, April 29 at 9:44 pm
Posted by Colleen Hillerup on 04/29 at 11:20 PM
It’s funny, I didn’t even consider that scene being offensive (other than what the villain said). It was out of character for the Doctor to cold cock somebody for sure, but I took it with the view they were making an anti racist statement- even the Doctor will lose it when he hears that crap.
Anyway your blog got me to thinking about how they are exploring a lot of the Doctor ‘s dark side this season (him being a thief, him killing, him being nonchalant as people die). Could this be the set up for the return of the Valeyard (the Doctor’s dark side)? I know that the Valeyard has been referenced at least once in New Who - it would be a big way for Moffat to leave the show
Posted by Craig on 04/30 at 02:53 PM
I suppose seeing The Valeyard is as likely as not (if there ever really was such a person, and at least if they did come between incarnations - there were a lot of lies about in The Matrix). Though wouldn’t he have come after Eleven (who was actually Twelve) if it were the case?
Regarding the scene in question - interesting that the controversial part wasn’t the death of a child, but the Doctor punching the racist responsible for the death.
Posted by Colleen Hillerup on 04/30 at 06:21 PM
Another strong episode with great interaction between the Doctor and Bill. I thought the punch was well set up with the humour of the build up balancing the actual moment. Personally I thought it was great to see a racist bullying abuser floored - but the earlier set up with the death of the child that crystallised Bill’s doubts that in turn had to be settled by the combination of the punch and the speech - left an uncomfortable feeling. However quickly the Doctor can move on I don’t recall him ever valuing his bling more than a child. It jarred because it deliberately created the dissonance to be resolved; but then felt unnatural.
The staging and direction was fabulous and even the realisation of the serpent was better than I expected - much better than my childhood memories of Nessie in the Thames!
My concern really is that Doctor Who is now normal, expected - somewhere it’s lost the wow factor. I think Moffat is a genius but if it is to survive it really needs a reboot and to feel very fresh again. In my mind I compare back to 2005 - it needs to figure out what 2020 needs to look like. Here’s hope Chris Chibnall can do that - but I admire Broadchurch much ,ore than Torchwood. I’m mildly worried - everything has its time and Doctor Who feels well into its second half - however good Capaldi, Mackie the writers and directors are.
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