A Good Genocide

Filed under:Not Cool,Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on July 28, 2008 @ 7:59 am

Relax, I’m not talking about anything in the real world. I’m talking about Doctor Who … again … and how the idiot moral and political beliefs of its writers are turning the doctor into a more buffoonish figure than I would like to see him be.

**SPOILERS** for the season finale, “Journey’s End,” below.

The Daleks have returned, with their little tin-can outfits and cicada voices screaming “ExTERminate!” They have imprisoned the Doctor, the Tardis with Donna Noble inside, Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones, and Sarah Jane Smith, among others, in a chamber on their ship with Davros, the humanoid creator of the cyber-cross Daleks, and Dalek Caan, the mad prophet of their race. The Companions watch and listen as the Daleks reveal their plan: The Reality Bomb, which, as we see in a test on a selected group of humans, unravels the atoms in its target until they are less than dust. The Daleks are about to use 27 planets they have brought together in time and space as an engine to give the Bomb enough power to unravel all the life and matter in the universe excepting, presumably, themselves.

At the crisis, a second Doctor is created inside the Tardis and without the knowledge of the primary Doctor (don’t ask how, just suspend another big batch of disbelief). He and Donna fabricate a weapon that is going to backfire the results of the reality bomb straight onto the Daleks themselves. This fails initially, but eventually the second Doctor and Donna working together accomplish the goal: The destruction of Davros, the Dalek ship, and all the Daleks in the vicinity, which, we seem to be assured, are all the Daleks there are (although we’ve heard this before). The Doctor, in one of his patented displays of miscalculated supercilious morality, takes Rose Tyler and the second Doctor back to Rose’s parallel dimension and leaves them there with the promise that because the second Doctor is part human, they can be happy in the love the primary Doctor can never allow himself to indulge with Rose. That’s all well and good, if a bit crazily contrived. What is unacceptable is the Doctor’s stated reason for exiling the second Doctor to the alternate dimension: He has committed “genocide” and must therefore be kept out of the way. (Never mind that the show would be untenable with a second doctor running around the same world; just suspend another big old batch of disbelief because we really really want to work this genocide angle in.)

I have said it before and will no doubt say it again if the writers of Doctor Who stay on this same ridiculous political track: When you have set yourself up as the protector of the universe, you owe it to innocents to actually do some, I don’t know, protecting. And if that means calculatedly wiping out an entire species of test-tube robotic-shelled octopi-slugs in order to save innocent humanity or innocent other-worlders, you must do it, or you are nothing worth the high-flown concept that is supposed to be the Doctor. I wish that somebody familiar with everything about the older incarnation of the show would sit down and help me calculate the number of innocent beings–even just the number of humans–who have been electrocuted, incinerated, blown up, or de-atomized over the years through the Doctor’s complete failure to recognize that the destruction of the Daleks is not only justified but desirable. You cannot slap the label of “genocide” onto something and thus automatically impart to it the idea of innocent beings killed merely because of their skin type, religion, or ancestry. The Daleks are not innocent victims, but murderous thugs. At the time of their demise, the Daleks were portrayed as one hundred percent committed to the destruction of the entire universe as they knew it and all life. All life. If we could have, with a futuristic weapon, immediately destroyed every command Nazi and all Germans who helped in the work of rounding up and gassing Jews and other “undesirables,” and by so doing have saved half of those who perished in the Holocaust, would we not have been justified in doing so? And would anybody have called it genocide?

If you want us to feel sorry for Daleks, Russell T. Davies, show us that some are cooperating against their will with their high command. Show us that some have an empathetic feeling. Because after going out of your way to show each and every one of them (except the insane prophet, Caan) as nothing but a speaker for the interminable “ExTERminate!” attached to a big gun, it is a bit much to expect us to sympathize with our hero as he offers at the last minute to save their creator and castigates his double for “genocide.” I have no patience or sympathy for this blanket policy that extends the label of genocide to mass murderers who happen to have species in common as well. By making things so black and white (the Daleks are nothing but programmed killers) and only then wanting to inject shades of gray (apparently the Doctor believes that he will become as bad as they if he wipes them out) you have destroyed both the b/w and the gray. The Doctor is more likely to become as bad as Daleks by continually opening the way for more destruction of innocent life at their hands in his misguided beliefs. Take a trade-off on your wildly uncalibrated conscience, Doctor, and do some protecting of the ones you claim to love.


  1. Does “Doctor Who” share writers with “Battlestar Galactica?” That plot reminds me of the third-season episode “A Measure of Salvation,” where the Colonial fleet has the opportunity to eradicate the Cylons (who, it should be noted killed scores of humans) and does not thanks to the actions of one soft-headed character who argues that such an action would amount to “genocide.” Easily the worst episode of the show’s four and a half seasons.

    Comment by Slublog — July 28, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  2. My friend Anne has reminded me that as time has gone on from this episode, I realized more and more how much I hated the whole “Here’s an extra Doctor! He’s exactly like me except he’ll act like he loves you and you can mack on him! Okay? Nevermind the fact that I’m exiling him here with you because he committed genocide; he’s still good enough for you, Dimensionally Exiled Rose.” Talk about a contrived, manipulative ending.

    Comment by Anwyn — March 10, 2014 @ 6:31 am

Copy link for RSS feed for comments on this post or for TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace