Dear Steven Moffat: The God Complex

Dear Steven,

I suppose it’s common enough for the programme’s acolytes to see aspects of their own lives in the material; my friend Milton Schicks once told me a story about his now defunct girlfriend, who had such bouffant hair that her silhouette was almost identical to that of a classic Cyberman. Staying with her overnight, he told me, became impossible. She was shy, particularly when it came to sex, but Milton had to insist that the lights stayed on at all times. Naturally she thought he was mocking her, or eliciting some measure of sadistic glee from her discomfort and ultimately the relationship died. Milton’s luck didn’t improve. His next girlfriend looked like a Dalek with the light off, leading to serious concerns that he hadn’t asked the right questions on their first couple of dates.

Toby Whithouse’s God Complex made me think about my own experiences. I recalled my economy room at the Circus Circus, Las Vegas, and the call girl I’d invited there in the early hours of the morning. I thought about how I’d thrown green backs at her and made outrageous and degrading sexual demands, one of which ultilised the glow stick I’d acquired at the Barry Manilow gig the previous night.

I thought about my own God Complex in those uncertain hours; I’d felt so powerful, like my whole body was an erection. My thumping heartbeat drowned out her cries. The Jack Bauer role play, the Emilio Estivez marathon, puppetry of the breasts; when I look back on it now Steven, I feel ashamed. I’m not that man. Still, in a life where I’m frequently disempowered and feel a prolonged sense of listlessness and fear, this was a rare moment of being master of all dominions, a law unto myself. Candice didn’t deserve the awful things that happened to her that night, but I did take her for breakfast by way of an apology. I even settled the bill in full, meaning she only had to leave the tip.

In this episode, the titular complex turned out to be The Doctor’s; a welcome variant on the megalomaniac alien controls a group of space captives premise. Whithouse’s script was deceptively clever, thought I. There was every reason to suppose that it would be a generic tale; a hotel of room 101s with victims to match and a climax in which The Doctor, having tried a few things, would work out how to turn the tables on their captor and save the day. But Whithouse, showing the type of character-centric thinking that we like on this bastard, had a more interesting idea. The snare was fuelled not by fear, as we all supposed, but by faith, and this was a neat little device that allowed an exploration of the theme developed earlier in the series, of The Doctor’s hubris.

Amy had grown to see The Doctor as her saviour and this, we discovered, was just what the alien trap required in order to finish her off. The Timelord, realising that his arrogance was going to cost our beautiful Scottish thistle her life, was forced to admonish his companion of his shortcomings. ‘I took you with me because I was vain,’ he told her, ‘I’m not a hero.’ Well Steven, I thought that was a smashin’ little scene; a much needed corrective to The Doctor’s monolithic confidence, which occasionally robs the character of his third dimension. This showed his human side, the part we can truly believe in, because as Kirk once reminded Spock, everyone’s human, even if you’re not.

If that was a good moment then the episode’s coda was better yet. The Doctor, realising that he’d become a bit of a liability to Amy and Rory, bless ‘em, made the sudden and unexpected decision to end their travels together. He bought them off with a house and a car, explaining to a tearful Pond that he’d rather the happy couple lived a long life of dull domesticity, than a short exciting one in which one of them ended up grieving for the other, or worse, sharing a cemetery plot. ‘He’s saving us’ Amy told Rory, as the newly liberated couple returned to their house to open an Ocado account. I felt sad, Steven, I’d grown to like this pair, even Rory, but my tears dried quickly, safe in the knowledge that they’d be back in a couple of episodes time.

The Doctor’s concern for his companions’ safety was touching but I did wonder why he’d got through so many before deciding to take this kind of action. Still, Amy and Rory were his first married pair. He’d had a greater impact on their lives than most I suppose. He’d groomed Amy as a companion from childhood, he’d given her a lunatic bent that only a guy like Rory would find endearing, he’d been instrumental in the conception of their child, creating the pre-conditions for the baby’s very unique character, and he’d even been a guest at their wedding. In other words, these two were less disposable than most; he’d let them in. Maybe that’s why this departure mattered.

I did wonder why Amy was quite so casual about the fact that her baby was still missing in the time stream but maybe she thought, ‘ah fuck it, I know she’s alright and this way I miss all the nonsense like toilet training, sleepless nights, school fees, puberty and having to explain away Rory’s porn collection.’ This, of course, was why we couldn’t get too sad; we knew this story was not yet done. For one thing Amy and Rory were present at The Doctor’s death, which although firmly in their past, would mean we’d see them again very soon. That episode, we know, features River, after all she’s in the title, so it’s fair to assume that the couple’s baby blues may also be dealt with, meaning we’ll have to travel to the couple’s present. Will you conclude the story, Steven? That’s not really your style is it? Do advance it a bit though, won’t you? We’re not watching this shit for our health.

Looking ahead to next week, and the return of Craig from The Lodger, a character I like and am happy to be used as an occasional companion, I was reminded of the missing two centuries that were discussed in The Impossible Astronaut. Now The Doctor has abandoned A and R, can we assume that this is the beginning of that lost period? It’s interesting that when the Gallifreyian ganglinoid next sees the happy couple he’ll have had several seasons’ worth of adventures. I’m glad we’ll get to see at least one of them, though I wonder if, given the non-linear nature of the series, we’ll get to see a few more in future? Why not make next season a “lost season”; delay The Doctor’s death solution by a year? That’ll piss your critics off, won’t it? In any event, it makes next week an adventure in its own right, rather than pre-climax filler and that, Steven, is a smart move.

I must go. Milton has just e-mailed me. He wants me to come down The Buckshot and Backside, and meet his new girlfriend, Veronica Greene-Deth. Apparently she’s a beauty.

Yours in time and cyberspace,


A bit of previous:

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 16:26  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Very Sylvester McCoy.

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