Wow. Moffat and Whithouse deal up a plateful of drama for our ninth episode of the series, starting with the Doctor delivering fake news so well, even Trump would have approved.
However, hidden in in the nooks and crannies of this confusing crisis, we find the much subtler ongoing drama of Bill and the Doctor negotiating their relationship. In this installment, the Doctor insists, in the most dramatic fashion to date, that Bill is not capable of acting like a grown-up, going so far as to take the credit when she saves the day.
As often happens with parents and care takers, the Doctor is having a difficult time seeing Bill clearly. He’s stuck in his intital perceptions of her. He met her before she had even taken on the responsibility of being a student. While incredibly bright and ambitious, she was also naive in the ways all humans are naive about the Doctor’s universe. But Bill was also naive in the way of barely 20 year-olds, in many ways calling back to Rose and her young, innocent, passionate enthusiasm for life.
And, as the Doctor’s companions are wont to do, Bill has grown and matured during her time with the Doctor. Her naïveté has been replaced with experience and wisdom. The Doctor served as her mentor and teacher in far more important subjects than philosophy and maths. He taught her the power of quick talking, the persistent belief that there is always a way out of a sticky situation, and the power of self-sacrifice. Her lessons from the Doctor come to the fore in this episode as Bill chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the world, despite the Doctor’s protests.
And the entire time, the Doctor can’t see it. Despite the wisdom and realism she demonstrates, he continues to perceive her as naive and reckless. Until she saves the world, that is. In the final scene, Bill asks the Doctor about his relationship with humans, why does he care? His response reveals that he, finally, sees Bill with clear eyes, telling her, “In amongst seven billion, there’s someone like you. That’s why I put up with the rest of them.”
© 2017 Heather M. Berberet, Psy.D. aka Doctor Who: On The Couch. All rights reserved.