The war crimes of Doctor Who
Yes, I had issues with the mid-season finale of Doctor Who a few months ago because the show spent half a season building up to a conflict that was resolved too quickly and neatly in just a single episode.
This return to Doctor Who has a similar issue. In a single episode we get to meet Mel, and learn her role in The Doctor’s story, but it happens far too fast, and the bits of flashback into her relationship with Amy and Rory strains credulity.
It’s an insult to the audience to try to insert a character like this. If they wanted to use this mechanism, they should either have thought to insert her in the story sooner, somehow, or they should have waited at least a few episodes to reveal her true purpose.
How cool would that have been? Mel could have been a new companion, helping the team search for Melody for two or three episodes, keeping her secret close, and making the audience guess.
Instead they make her nothing more than a poorly executed plot device.
I did, however, like the newly introduced element of the robot war crimes punisher from the future. I’m guessing that this is not the first time we’re going to see these guys, and we’re going to have to be on the lookout for their ‘ships’ in future episodes. It’s a clever new enemy for The Doctor, more interesting that just seeing the Daleks again or something.
Overall, I think that’s been the strength of this Doctor’s stories: The first few season of the new series have relied very heavily on bringing up the enemies of the first 8 Doctors, and sort of resetting the mythology and their relationship with The Doctor, and I suppose that was appropriate for those seasons, but it’s refreshing to see some clever new aliens and organizations to fight against, although the conspiracy is a bit played, I think.
Unfortunately, the way they function doesn’t always make sense. Perhaps these writers are less used to writing in fuzzy timelines, but each episode so far has had at least one major issue with its timeline or other time-traveling plot-hole.
This time it was the war-crimes punisher’s stated mission and its contradiction to their actions: the commander of the mission claimed that, essentially, they take criminals out of their timelines at the moment they were supposed to have died, and punish them with torture before letting them go on to die as they would have.
Despite this, they were early for Hitler, an easy mistake for the Doctor to make perhaps, but these guys seemed more organized - they should have at least figured it out before getting to Hitler’s office. Later, when the realize that Melody is in the room, they try to torture her instantly, rather than attempting to find the moment she is going to die, and torturing her then.
Also, I have a feeling that we are suddenly going to start seeing more of this early River, probably in chronological order, which doesn’t quite make sense.
Anyway, it’s Doctor Who, so what can we do, stop watching it? Hardly. Doctor Who’s audience is pretty dedicated at this point (myself included). It would take more than a few plot holes to turn them all off, I think.
Also: I think the writers are setting up this Doctor to be the last. I have this sinking feeling that there is no saving the doctor from the Impossible Astronaught. His death is now inevitable, and I think the series will end after the next season.