Mon
May 2 2011 6:20pm

How Dangerous You Make People: A Boldly Violent New Side to the Doctor

In the season four finale of Doctor Who, “Journey’s End,” Davros, old enemy and creator of the Daleks, finally calls the Doctor out on something that the Time Lord actually deserves: he tells the Doctor that for a purported pacifist, he is very good at getting people to die for him. More specifically, Davros claims, “You take ordinary people and you fashion them into weapons.”

Then this past Saturday’s episode took everything one step further. “Day of Moon” presented what might be the most chilling example of the Doctor’s seemingly benign weapons, and what was worse, you were likely cheering him on while he created them.

Spoilers below.

The Doctor leads a life full of adventure and whimsy and horror. While traveling with him may be the chance of a lifetime, it is also guaranteed that something will go wrong...most of the time. Add to that, by nature of his character, the Doctor must always be the smartest man in the room, and smart people—whether they mean to or not—are very good at manipulating other people. Often enough, someone wants to help and just as often, it gets them killed. The show has a long history of that where our hero is concerned.

The very first companion to die on the show was Katarina, who mistakenly thought the First Doctor was the god Zeus. She sent herself out an airlock to prevent the Doctor from being blackmailed into saving her, convinced that her death had been foretold and her time had come.

Many more followed a similar example in the years to come, though the show didn’t linger as long on the aftereffects of those deaths as modern television is bound to today.

When the series was revived in 2005, viewers again saw countless companions and allies sacrifice themselves for the Doctor and his good fight each week. While the deaths may have been noble in spirit, it was still staggering to witness; it seemed that the only way to do something worthwhile on Doctor Who (unless you were a series regular) was to Keep Calm and Get Shot By Daleks.

The decision to actually bring this to the Doctor’s attention in season four, to see him react to it, was a wonderfully affecting move on the part of Russell T. Davies. The impact of that blow from Davros landed harder because the Doctor had managed to avoid contemplation of those lost lives until that moment—he had allowed himself to believe that just because he had never fired the weapon, because he had never asked any of those people to lie down across the train tracks, he somehow wasn’t culpable in their fatal trend.

As Rory told him last season:

“It’s not that you make people take risks, it’s that you make them want to impress you. You make it so they don’t want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.”

The Doctor has enlisted the entire human race to help him on more than one occasion, as well. He had Martha travel the world and tell her story to help him defeat the Master at the end of season three. Right after he regenerated in “The Christmas Invasion,” he used six words (and good old fashioned word of mouth) to bring down Prime Minister Harriet Jones. He clearly has no compunction about getting everyone involved when he needs the extra pairs of hands, or voices, as the case may be. But he’s never asked them to be actively murderous.

Then “Day of the Moon” aired.

And the Doctor didn’t make people want to impress him and stand back while they did something selfless and stupidly brave. He didn’t tell a story and ask them to speak on his behalf. This time he took a moment in human history, a point in the past that spoke to our imagination, our courage, our fortitude and limitless ability…and he turned it into a murder weapon. Children and grandparents, presidents and checkout clerks, you and me. He turned every single person on the planet into a killer, and not just now—for generations to come. Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man” is now a call to arms, the beat of a war drum, the moment of dread in the pit of your stomach when you feel like you’ve just forgotten something, but you have no idea what could be wrong.

Did you have one of those moments this morning? What about yesterday? Will that feeling ever be something you can try to ignore from now on?

But it was still brilliant, a beautifully executed solution to deal with a terrifying foe, and we all celebrated because the Doctor had done it again. He had saved the world using ordinary people and his genius frazzled timey-wimey brain.

Looks like Rory and Davros both have a point; dangerous doesn’t even begin to cover it.

That doesn’t mean that it was the wrong thing to do, and we certainly can’t know the repercussions of that decision until more of the season plays out, but it does give us an idea of how far the Doctor is now willing to go in order to protect us. His sense of guilt seems to have been replaced with a new sense of purpose: this wasn’t just a preliminary self-defense class, a can of pepper spray and a wish for good luck—he gave each of us a loaded gun and led us to the target. That’s one overprotective parent and one heck of a moral stance for a pacifist.

I suppose we could always blame River Song’s bad influence if we’re feeling cheeky. Then again, at the rate he’s going, who knows what the Doctor will have to do next time he encounters our here-again gone-again friends....

Click here for more Doctor Who content on Tor.com


Emily Asher-Perrin probably killed some Silents while she was in the middle of writing this piece. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

48 comments
Ursula L
1. Ursula
What is the risk from this move to ordinary humans, people from day-to-day who don't carry guns and don't know how to fight? What happens when you have a post-hypnotic command to kill, but don't know how, or don't have the equpment?

In the past, the Silence left most people alone, to forget them. Now, the Silence wil be attacked. And feel the need (and have the right) to defend themselves.

I'm not a killer. I don't have the weapons to carry out the order the Doctor planed in my brain. What happens to me when I can't help but try?
geekalert
2. geekalert
*cough* I think the plural for Silent is Silence in the show *cough*

So you killed a few Silence. I know, I know, it reads awkard, no?
Ashe Armstrong
3. AsheSaoirse
@Ursula: Subconscious suggestion connected to the reptilian part of your brain. You will find whatever's handy, even if it's just your bare hands. Because, deep down, we all know how to kill.

Honestly, the whole pacifist angle is kinda frazzled. The Doctor is a man who would prefer if he didn't have to fight. Would prefer that someone not try to subjegate other people or kill them all or whatever the case may be. He's the man who sealed off his own planet to keep the Time Lords from destroying everything in their quest to ascend. The man is not a pacifist but he is pro-peace. If his life were ideal, he wouldn't have to deal with people like the Master and Davros or the Cybermen. He could just bounce around the universe, helping in little things where he's needed.

He's not a pacifist. He loves peace. He is decisive. He is brilliant.
E M
4. herewiss13
I saw it more as a global immunization than anything. Don't want to die? Get the hell off of the Earth. (I think he actually explained it to them in those terms...mind you, the ones he warned were subsequently slaughtered...but he did warn them, and they shot first).

This was just another in a long line of extremely violent and quasi-genocidal things the Doctor has done in the past. It's his favorite trick: "Hi! I'm going to set up this extremely clever trapped based on what you think your strengths are and then convince you to pull the trigger of it yourself. And I'll probably warn you ahead of time that it isn't a great idea to do so, at that."
Ursula L
5. Ursula
AsheSaoirse wrote:

@Ursula: Subconscious suggestion connected to the reptilian part of your brain. You will find whatever's handy, even if it's just your bare hands. Because, deep down, we all know how to kill.

Really, I woudn't. I'm not that physically fit. I might go after someone with my bare hands, but I don't even have long fingernails - I wouldn't get very far.

And the silence can make people explode with no visable weapons.

All the Doctor did was set me up to be a target, attacking with no chance of surviving.

There is a reason why nations don't send mobs of unarmed people to fight their battles, and instead have trained and armed military forces.
JOhn Johnson
6. smileyman
I'm so tired of this idea that the Doctor is against violence. He's definitely against using violence as a first resort, but he's never hesitated to use violence against other species and to have other people do it for him too.

If anything the Eleventh Doctor has been the most pacifist of all of the current crop of the revival. He's only destroyed two species. Ten's list of destroyed species numbers in the double digits as do Nine's list and Eight's list.

Maybe this idea of him being so horrifically violent all of sudden comes because of the nature of this particular villain and the idea that as soon as the Silents are killed, the person doing the killing forgets it happened. It makes killers out of all of us without us knowing, and that's something that we'd like to be able to choose to do.

That's a valid criticism of the action, but complaining about the violence and genocide isn't, not in context of the show.
geekalert
7. Bryan Rasmussen
"All the Doctor did was set me up to be a target, attacking with no chance of surviving."

I think you must be doing all right, you've survived so far.
geekalert
8. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
Geekalert @2: It's "Silents," sorry. Most of us saw the Doctor appear on stage at the Wembley part of Live Aid in '85, right after Bowie and right before The Who, and he said, "No matter what Steven Moffat writes, no matter what is on the official BBC web page when the time comes, 'Silents' makes more sense. Remember. You'll understand in a couple decades."

Truth. We saw it.
geekalert
9. [Xmachina]
@AsheSaoirse:

It's not possible to consider the Doctor a pacifist if he merely uses indirect means of killing. The Doctor, at least as depicted in the revived series, is just a hypocritical pacifist: he lets others do the dirty work and this preserves the delusion of his moral superiority.

He carries nothing but a "screwdriver" but has often survived only due to the presence of armed companions. Also, his survival has often depended on his enemies, for reasons that are unclear, simply choosing not to kill him.

The Doctor's pacifism is nothing but a narrative stumbling block because I don't really believe that he's meant to be written as
staggeringly hypocritical; the writers just haven’t been able to conceive of infinite ways of having a pacifistic character challenge and defeat dangerous beings without using violence—if only indirectly.
geekalert
10. Docrailgun
The Doctor isn't a human, even though he looks like one. The TARDIS is not a police box, though it looks like one. They are both artifacts of an ancient and cruel race of conquerors that ruled the universe (though not as monarchs, but they were the masters of it nonetheless) until the Doctor destroyed them.
We cannot expect the Doctor to have human emotions, drives, or morals, because he simply is an alien. Everyone around him WANTS to think that he loves them, that he looking out for them... but how can they know what a being so ancient and wise (but not "good") really feels?
JOhn Johnson
11. smileyman
@9

Thing is, the Doctor has never claimed to be a pacifist. That's something the fans have claimed for him. He's declined the use of guns before, but that's just him wanting to use a different weapon. He was upset in The Hungry Earth with Ambrose because her first reaction was to hurt the Silurians (which is understandable since they had taken her son). In my opinion that was more about first reactions (fear, hatred), than actual decisions.

Plus the Silurians had a previous claim on the planet and were like humans in attitude--i.e. a mixed bad, not a totally evil race.
S Barlow
12. Lizzibabe
The Doctor is a bastard. Now he's even more of a bastard. In telling half a billion humans to kill The Silence whenever they are seen, a lot more of those humans are going to die by the Silence. Just another line that he's crossed. People have always been willign to die for him. now he's asked them to kill for him and themselves. just more blood on his hands.
geekalert
13. Marian
Human history is full of people dying on behalf of pacifists. What else is new?
geekalert
14. Improbable Joe
@Ursula:

It seemed to be established that the Silence had no weapons or means of self-defence. They have always been able to make people forget them, and therefore have no defences against attacks from their victims.
Ursula L
15. Ursula
Joe,

The Silence in the restroom exploded a woman. That's hardly defensless. And they could do this to humans before the humans caught sight of them and the Doctor's trick could take effect.

Making someone forget is relatively harmless. Creepy, but harmless. Most of the time, the Silence could ignore most people, avoiding being seen and making them forget if they do see.

But if humans are a deadly threat to the Silence, certain to attack at the first glimpse, then the Silence will need to be proactive, stopping people before they are seen. Killing people before they have a chance to see.

The Silence still have access to all the technology they've stolen. They're can step back and set off a few nuclear bombs if they want, stopping humans before they can spread through the universe.

The Doctor has made humans into a weak threat against the Silence, likely to attack but to do so in an unprepared and unskilled way. And the Doctor has given the Silence ever incentive to treat humans worse, to kill before they can be seen, and to use every skill they have to manipulate humans into weakness rather than fostering growth so that they can use it.
geekalert
16. Bryan Rasmussen
I agree a human one on one with a member of the Silence will probably die - unless they are armed, however encounters of multiple humans with the silence would succeed.

Most of the Silence are in America it said in the show - why if they've been here for thousands of years? Did they start with the Aztecs?

Anyway there's a lot more handguns in the U.S then other countries so that is also a plus.
geekalert
17. Nebulon
It happened last season, but The Silence blew up the TARDIS, and tried to end the universe. They aren't just hanging out upside down in orphanages. They are actively trying to kill a googolplex of sentient beings, inhabited worlds, and everything in between. I really wish they'd put a line in reminding the audience that they are a threat to all life in the universe.

Only the Daleks have been so ambitious in their genocidal campaigns. Mercy for The Silence is suicide. Faced with such great evil, turning millions of humans into unwitting murderers, or sacrificing a few is totally worth it.
geekalert
18. Jimmy Corkhill
I remember Jon Pertwee gunning down an Ogron in cold blood in Day of the Daleks, though he was kind of violent when he took people out with the Venusian 'akido'.
Ursula L
19. Ursula
It happened last season, but The Silence blew up the TARDIS, and tried to end the universe. They aren't just hanging out upside down in orphanages. They are actively trying to kill a googolplex of sentient beings, inhabited worlds, and everything in between. I really wish they'd put a line in reminding the audience that they are a threat to all life in the universe.

Are they?

In terms of intent, I mean, not effect.

The Silence seem to have some understanding of time travel. Could they have decided to go back in time to try to prevent the Doctor from planting the message in the moon landing video? And then had the explosion of the TARDIS be an unwanted and unexpected side effect?

The same way that the Evil Alliance were trying to stop the Doctor from flying about in a fatally damaged TARDIS and having it blow everything up, but unintendedly separated the Doctor and the TARDIS at a key moment? Causing the universe to blow up as an unexpected side effect of their universe-saving efforts?

"We're trying to destroy all of creation" doesn't make sense as a motive. "We're trying to stop the Doctor from harming us" does make sense as a motive, with an unexpected "oops!" of having the Doctor-stopping efforts doing more harm than good.

The Evil Alliance as a byproduct of the Silence's pattern of manipulation of other species also makes sense, with the Silence using them, not to try to end the world, but to try to stop the Doctor before he unleashes this attempt at genocide on them.

I could see another level to the two-season story arc.

1. The Doctor attempts to use the humans to kill/stop the Silence.

2. The Silence go back in time to try to intercept the Doctor before he can do this, and create and manipulate the Evil Alliance to try to lock the Doctor up and stop him.

3. Something else, at the same time, causes the TARDIS to be damaged and explode, and the Doctor isn't there to stop it, because the Silence are using the Evil Alliance to stop him from using Armstrong's boot.

This is another timey-whimey loop, the Doctor trying to stop the Silence because he knows they're behind the Pandorica conspiracy and the TARDIS exploding, and the Silence creating the Pandorica conspiracy to try and stop the Doctor from planting the genocide-order in humans.
geekalert
20. TomWelps
@Ursula

You seem to forget that at the end of the episode he gave them a choice. They chose to attack and be killed by River.
geekalert
21. Hoops
This is hardly a boldly violent new side. When we first meet 9, he's just finished killing off two entire races, including his own. So what if he doesn't like guns - he's hardly a pacifist. That's a bit like saying - I don't use guns, but I have used nukes before.

Also, it was a Silent who made the suggestion of what humans should do to them (after mocking Canton for fixing his wounds) - The Doctor didn't make him say that.

Lastly I believe the "race" is called "The Silence," while a group of them may be called "Silents" and a single one a "Silent." :p
geekalert
22. Graythebruce
I think Ursula's onto something there: The idea that the Silents were behind the alliance in series 5, in an attempt to stop the Doctor from doing what he does in 1969, and that "something else" sets off the TARDIS.

But maybe the something else is an as-yet-unseen second entity, determined to stop the Silents and their influence by destroying our universe. (This extreme move would only really make sense if the other entity were from another universe, and the Silents in our universe had designs on that other one.)

Great discussion. I will mention, in response to the concerns about "what if I can't fight well," that Amy's response to her subliminal suggestion to tell the Doctor she's pregnant was to wait a bit. She didn't act immediately. A little irrationally, but not immediately. Presumably, you're not a total robot when acting on these suggestions, and can customize your response a bit. So maybe you start *looking* for a weapon, then because you've looked away, forget about the Silent, who slips away before you find one. The only way you'd likely engage a Silent in combat is if you had a weapon in hand the moment you saw one, and if you have a weapon in hand on a regular basis, you're probably a Navy SEAL or something. I hope.
Emily Asher-Perrin
23. EmilyAP
@Hoops - While your point about the Doctor's double genocide is both valid and true, I still maintain that this is a very new side to violence with the Doctor. The Doctor has done many things in the past that are violent--certain incarnations don't have the same qualms about guns as many people have pointed out--but there is a big difference between being violent yourself, making that choice for yourself, and getting an entire race of people to murder without their knowing it. It is manipulative in the extreme and not something that the Doctor has ever asked of the human race before. I think that's pretty interesting.

And while the Doctor did not make that Silent say anything, the Doctor is responsible for everyone in the world seeing that and receiving that subconscious command to kill. What follows as a result rests on his shoulders.

Also, to clear up some thoughts on pacifism: I am not using the term pacifist to indicate any sort of political leaning, which I think some people might have inferred. The Doctor is continuously in favor of peace and typically opposes war as a rule. While there have been exceptions to that, his viewpoint is generally pacifistic.
geekalert
24. Tatterbots
I agree with Hoops. Compare:

A human/a Silent
Some humans/some Silents
The human race/the Silence

And I think the Silence will fall.
geekalert
25. John Seavey
@Ursula: The Doctor didn't just "turn humanity into a weapon" by tricking the Silence into giving them a command to kill them. He showed a Silent telling the human race the absolute, unvarnished truth: It is in humanity's best interests to murder them all, every last one of them, as soon as we see them. The Silence clearly and plainly admitted that they mean nothing but malice against the human species, and that it is foolish for us to treat them with any kind of mercy or compassion. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of them as anything but pure evil.

The fact of the matter is, the Doctor's never been any kind of pacifist. He doesn't carry a screwdriver because Guns Are Evil and Violence Is Bad, he carries one because the things he fights are usually bullet-proof and he needs to build something to kill them with. But he steered fleets of Ice Warriors into the sun, he wiped out the Dalek homeworld, and for all that people remember the Fourth Doctor's "Do I have the right to wipe out the Daleks?" speech, they forget that his answer was ultimately, "Yes." It was a lack of ability, not a lack of determination, that let them live.
geekalert
26. Bryan Rasmussen
"This is hardly a boldly violent new side. When we first meet 9,
he's just finished killing off two entire races, including his own. So
what if he doesn't like guns - he's hardly a pacifist.
"
well for some people 9 is still new.

Anyway, it's almost that he doesn't like guns because guns aren't violent enough, sort of like:

What - guns? Can only kill a few people like that, when I start killing I like to expand, really let myself go you know. Guns just don't do it for me.
geekalert
27. Bryan Rasmussen
"And while the Doctor did not make that Silent say anything, the Doctor
is responsible for everyone in the world seeing that and receiving that
subconscious command to kill. What follows as a result rests on his
shoulders."

On the other hand he allowed a member of the Silence determine the appropriate response.
Are they indivualistic or hive-mind type aliens - if hive-mind that would mean basically all Silence would feel the same way about the issue.

So the Silence said you should kill us all on sight, not you should douse us in cold water to negate our electrical powers and then beat us up and steal our clothes.

So the Doctor allowed the Silent to determine the appropriate response to the Silence. Then he published it.

I guess it would have been funny if the Silent said something like: "Well you could kill us all on sight but what you should really do is throw us all in that thar briar patch"
geekalert
28. Bryan Rasmussen
of course if they are indivualistic aliens then the Silence is somewhat unlucky that the Doctor just happened to capture their Dick Cheney.

However I've got to say they feel more hive-mind than indivualistic to me.
geekalert
29. amyinthetardis
From what I get, the main idea of the Doctor's plan was to kick the Silence/Silents out of the Earth, not make humans kill them all and definitely not causing genocide. By making people aware of the Silents' danger and that they "should kill them all on sight", he created a situation in which it became impossible for the Silents to remain in the planet.

"You just raised an army against yourselves" --> That's exactly what he did. To me it was pretty clear that the Silents weren't all killed by humans, but that they fled the earth as soon as they realized what had happened.

They certainly seemed smart enough to do so.
Ursula L
30. Ursula
Another question about just how bad the Silence are.

We saw one Silence kill one human. That doesn't tell us anything bad about the species that is worse than what humans do to themselves.

They freak out humans by being seen and forgotten.

The Doctor says that they're parasites, using humans to create technology to meet their needs. But how bad is this? The Doctor said that the Silence needed a spacesuit, so they prompted humans to develop the moon program. Is this bad? We went to the moon! If they serve as a catalyst for technological development, that's not parasitic, it's symbiotic, as humans benefit greatly from being encouraged to develop things like spaceflight, and all the technologies that grew from that.
Jack LesCamela
31. Jackanaples
Emily, I think your original essay misses a few points. This was not an instance of the Doctor being more violent toward his enemies. This is purely the Doctor tricking his enemy's own malevolence against itself. You know, his standard M.O. Oh, and for the record, the Silence are a hive mind as is obvious from the dialogue exchanges.

Here's the exchange between Canton and the Silence:

THE SILENCE: You tend to my wounds. You are foolish.

CANTON: Why? What would you do in my place?

THE SILENCE: We have ruled your lives since your lives began. You should kill us all on sight, but you will never remember we were even here. Your will is ours.

CANTON: Well, sorry to disappoint you. But thanks. That's exactly what I needed to hear.
_______________________

There are actually no moral quandries here. Canton shooting one of the Silence and only wounding it was part of the Doctor's plan. So was showing it mercy and giving it medical attention. The situation could've gone any way after depending on what the Silence's response to the question, "What would you do in my place?" was. If the response had been, "Let us go and we will do you no harm" then things would be left at that.

From the exchange we know the Silence will never show mercy --not even to a creature who means them no harm and has even shown them kindness. We also know the Silence is being truthful about this because they expect any human they're talking to not to remember. We still don't know what the Silence's ultimate objective is, but we do know that whatever it is, it's so effing horrible for the human race that by their own admission we should do everything we can to eradicate them.

Here's the exchange at the end of episode when the Doctor has brought his plan to fruition:

THE DOCTOR: Or maybe you could jut listen a minute, because all I really want to do is accept your total surrender and then I'll let you go in peace. Yes, you've been interfering in human history for thousands of years. Yes, people have suffered and died --but what's the point of having two hearts if you can't be a bit forgiving now and then?

THE SILENCE: ......

THE DOCTOR: Oooh. "The Silence." You guys take that bit seriously don't you? Okay, you got me. I'm lying. I'm not really going to let you go that easy. Nice thought, but it's not Christmas. First, you tell me about the girl. Who is she? Why's she so important? What's she for?

THE SILENCE: ......

THE DOCTOR: Guys? Sorry, but you're way out of time. Now, c'mon, a bit of history for you. Aren't you proud, cause you helped? Now, do you know how many people are watching this live on the telly? Half a billion. And that's nothing, because the human race will spread out among the stars and you've just watched them fly. Billions and billions of them, for billions and billions of years; and every single one of them at some point in their lives will look back at this man taking that very first step and they will never ever forget it.

***(On the television, Neil Armstrong says "That's one small step for man-" and the video is cut into with the video of Canton took of the wouded Silent saying, "You should kill us all on sight." This repeats a few times.)***

THE DOCTOR: You've given the order for your own execution, and the whole planet just heard you.

***(On the tv the image cuts back into Neil Armstrong saying, "one giant step for mankind.")***

THE DOCTOR: And one whacking great kick up the backside for the Silence! You just raised an army against yourself, and now for a thousand generations you're going to be ordering them to destroy you every day. How fast can you run, cause today's the day the human race toss you off their planet. They won't even know they're doing it.

THE SILENCE: ......

THE DOCTOR: I think quite possibly the word you're looking for is, "Oops!"
___________________________
So, basically, if the Silence is willing to drop everything, give up their evil plots (whatever they may be) and RUN... they might get away. Which according to them, is even less than they deserve.
geekalert
32. Sphynx
I started watching Dr. Who with the revived Series and I completly
loved it (well for the most of it)...and then came season 5 and the
eleventh Doctor. I don't exactly know where the problem lies, the
actors are fine, even great often enough and from an objective point
of view the storys might not be worse than before. A big part is
propably how much I enjoyed David Tennant and that I didn't want to
see him go.

But besides that, there are some problems i can nail down pretty
well.







One is exactly the aspect described here.

Yes, the other doctors as well had there ambigous characteristics
and questionable moral decisions (the incident with the racnoss
queen, the time lord victorious...the end of...the end of time, where
the tenth doctor contemplates why he and not Wilfred had to die) and
it gave them an dark edge. And I loved that.






But the eleventh doctor...well, with him its not a question of
questionable morals, but the elventh doctor ranges from hypocrite
almost to war criminal. Before you tear me apart, let me elaborate.

In hungry earth/cold blood a woman killed a captured silurian.
This consitutes the murder or at least manslaugther (and even
beforehand torture, considering it was a taser) of an unarmed, tied
up Prisoner of war. What does the doctor have to say about that?
Something along the lines of: You are better than this... The tenth
doctor toppled a government because it committed a war crime against
an alien race. This doctor sadly shakes his head. And what he did in
"Day of the moon" can only be described as invoking
genocide.

Yes, the silence have usurped earth. But ordering everyone one of
them killed, regardless to what extent they were involved is still
genocide. He doesn't even give them an ultimatum, there is no trial.
They are simply to be slaughtered. Our doctor, the war criminal. What
a hero...

The eleventh doctor has passed the point of moral ambiguity and
reach the realm of atrocities.

And beyond that, there is another thing that bugs me (although a
less dire one). The tenth doctor was an uncompromising man of no
second chances. But he did so regardless of species. The eleventh
doctor however seems (at least in those two incidents I mentioned) to
pose mankind above anyone else. And that's just stupid. Why should
he? He had friends among all kinds of species, not only humans. Yes,
he has a certain fondness for earth, but it sometimes borders on
"what measure is a non-human".


I for one did not cheer on the eleventh doctor in his call for
genocide (until then it was one of the best episodes of the eleventh
doctor I had ever seen, but that crossed the line) and I certainly
hope that somebody calls him out on this. But I fear that will not
happen.
geekalert
33. AdamMeyers
Maybe it's just me, being raised on the early doctors, but I hated, hated, HATED David Tennet's whole "I can't use guns" thing. It was hipocritical, it was stupid, it was one of the worst character choices I've ever seen the "cleverest man in the world" make. I loved the first "new" doctor taking a gun and going out to kill the Dalek he found in Utah, and I loved that the new Doctor is finally ready to be a hero and not a political statement about how guns are evil even if electrecutions aren't.

Yes, some may be disturbed by the weaponizing of the human race, but that's the point of the doctor: making the tough decisions when it's the only way. With Doctor ten he could say 'no' to whatever he wanted and the writers would come up with a new solution to let him win without "compromising."

I liked that this doctor could only find one way to stop the Silence, and he used it without fear because it was the only way to save humanity. That's the Doctor's job.
Ursula L
34. Ursula
The situation could've gone any way after depending on what the Silence's response to the question, "What would you do in my place?" was. If the response had been, "Let us go and we will do you no harm" then things would be left at that.

Was this an appropriate way to solve the issue? They took one randomly selected individual from the group that is the Silence, and wounded it, and then let its comments, while in pain and possibly confused, determine the fate of the entire species.

Is the entire species this way, or just a subgroup? Is that individual an apropriate representative of either the species or the group?

I know if someone randomly grabbed me out of a crowd, hurt me, and then recorded my response, I would not want it to be taken as representitive of the human species, because I would not be an example of humanity at its best, or even at its average, at that point. I'd be hurt and frightened and confused. And while I can think of a few people I'd trust to represent me as an individual under those circumstances, I can't think of anyone who would be suitable to repesent all of humanity.
geekalert
35. Amanda@
What the humanity should do? Being prisoners without their own will, unable to create something by themselfs, being manipulated for ages without even know it. What great way to live my life. Yeah, sure, you can kill me if you want Silence. Why should i care? You guys are so kind! Oh, please. I'm not saying that the Doctor was completely right, but the thing is: The Silents had their chance. They had manipulating our lifes for years! We should fight them! We should fight for our freedom! I belive that what the Silence said was a suggestion, not a order. So we still can have our choice.
Jack LesCamela
36. Jackanaples
Ursula, if I recall correctly the Doctor says that the Silence are a super parasite and not parasites, indicating the singular. That's what I remember, but I'll check when I get home.

Whether one or many they are known as the "The Silence" not "The Silents." Even Matt Smith's speech that someone mentioned earlier supports that this was Moffat's view when he wrote it.

Nothing in the episode indicates that they're individuals at all. They seem to have a hive mind, and the reasons to have the conversation in the prison where not even a particle can get in or out at the beginning of the episode are:

1. If even one of the Silence is in the room those present might not be aware of it.

2. If even one of the Silence knows what the Doctor's planning, they all know.

Maybe it's not explicitly stated in the episode but I never once thought that the Silence were anything other the a hive mind. There is nothing at all to indicate that are individuals or possess any individual characteristics or personality at all. That they all look exactly the same reinforces this.
Josiah Rowe
37. Josiah_Rowe
Sphynx, the Doctor's made the genocidal decision before. The Sixth Doctor was willing to eliminate all surviving Vervoids; and in a case quite closely parallel to this one, the Seventh Doctor tricked the Daleks into destroying their own planet. And then there's how he ended the Time War — it's been pretty strongly implied that the Doctor decided that the only way to end the War (and, presumably, save the rest of the universe) was to use the Moment (whatever that was) to destroy all the Time Lords and (he thought) all the Daleks. In that case, it seems he wielded the weapon himself. That's why the Ninth Doctor was so broken and guilt-ridden... but he left most of that guilt behind when he regenerated into the Tenth Doctor.

In fact, I can't think of another nominally heroic character who has committed genocide as often as the Doctor has.
geekalert
38. Sphynx
Like I said, I started with the revived series, therefore I unfortunately don't know that much about the old series (not for lack of trying though).

I however have seen a video-review of Terror of the Vervoids, although admittedly that does not equal having seen it myself. From what was described and shown in the review, it was clear how many vervoids there were and that they all were aggressors. In Days of the moon however, that is not the case. We only see a view of the Silence, while at least the markings indicate that there most be a lot more. But the doctors orders slash out against all of them, regardless to what extent they might have been involved or not. As Ursula pointed out, we don't know anything about them besides that they are the bad guys...oh well, and that they all are supposed to be killed now.

With the daleks...well, as far as I understood it, the Daleks are less a species than bioengineered weapons. After all, that was the big twist in Daleks in Manhattan, that some of them developt individual consciousness beyond the aspect of being organic killer machines in a metal casing. Blowing up their homeplanet might be more akin to destroying an enemies weapons lab than genocide.
Since I don't know the depiction of Daleks before the new series, I might of cause be mistaken.
And in regard of the actions during the time war. Yes, admittedly, his actions caused the (apparent) end of bot Time Lords and Daleks. I'm not sure wheather he tried other methods before and or intended to destroy both species or if it was something that happened as an unintended cause of his actions to stop the war, would have to rewatch several episodes before I can comment on that in length, but I admit that you do have a point there.
But at least in this situation the Doctors reaction was guilt and it was evident that his actions tormented him. The case with the racnoss and the tenth doctor also might go in that general direction, but here he gave the Queen a clear ultimatum, if I recall correctly, and he was called out on it on two occasions (both times by Donna Noble).
With the silence however it seems as if nobody even bothers to think about what his actions mean, he himself even jokes about it.
I don't want to excuse what the others doctors did, but with them it at least seems as if there was some awareness about what they actually did and Day of the Moon seems to completly lack that.
geekalert
39. MisterChuck
Problem is though the Silence is the Enemy, I'm sure they were offered a choice but the Doctor Doesn't remember lol
well have u seen the Episode of Satellite 5? where mankind had all access to information but in reality were slave to an Alien?
The Silence were the same, We excel when they want us too, they control us. We're slaves with out knowing. thats how I saw it
Like he said "We're kicking the Romans out of Rome" just because he Does it doesn't mean HE WANTS to do it.
I Supported the Death of Tyrants even if I don't realize they are indeed tyrants
Jack LesCamela
40. Jackanaples
Okay, I freely admit that maybe I'm missing something. I've watched the episodes three times each and still don't see where all of you are getting this interpretation of what you saw.

Emily, Ursula, Sphynx... can somebody please tell me where there is any indication that the Silence are individuals at all? Here's what I saw:

1. They all look exactly the same.

2. They all sound exactly the same.

3. The Doctor refers to them as "super parasites" not as an alien race. He also mentions that they don't invent or create anything themselves but rather latch on to a "host civilization" (my term, not the Doctor's) to get what they want.

4. The Silence never uses terms like "I" or "Me" only "We" or "Us." This seems to affirm the hive mind nature of them, as does the fact that they are all exactly the same. To speak to one of them is to speak to all of them. That's the nature of parasites. They don't have separate needs and desires; they all want exactly the same thing: to feed off the host until death and then move on to the next host.

5. Keep in mind that we the audience also don't have all the information that the creators of the show or the characters on it have. There's a three month gap between parts one and two. Canton got knocked out in the warehouse (by who?) and Rory DIDN'T get fried by the Silence's bolts of electricity. I think these are elements that will be revisited later and seen for different effect.

Am I missing something? Please tell me.
Ursula L
41. Ursula
The Silence don't all look exactly alike. There are distinct differences in height, and also some differences in how their faces look. It's subtle, in the way that aliens can all look alike to humans, or humans all look alike to aliens, but the differences are there.

We don't really know enough about them to tell if they're telepathically connected.

As for using "we" and "us", they're being asked about their nature, and are asking the question asked. No one bothers to ask about them as individuals. No one makes any serious effort to negotiate with them, or to try and establish some sort of communication.

As for parasites in general having a hive-mind, they don't. In real life you see insects with a hive mentality. Parasites can work as a group, or, like tapeworms, they can be individual. They also don't necessarily kill and move on to the next host, many parasites will stay with a single host for years, taking a little to stay alive but not enough to kill. The Silence seem to have established a long-term relationship with humanity, fostering human technological development and taking what they need while allowing humans plenty to live on.
Jack LesCamela
42. Jackanaples
First off, thanks for correcting me on parasites, etc.

The differences in the Silence are as you say, subtle. Taking that into account, Amy thinks that the Silence she sees in White House restroom is the same one she saw on the lake in Utah in the future. Do you think it's the same Silence and Amy spots him right off... or do you think it's actually a different one?

Next, even when Canton asks the Silence a direct question, "What would you do in my place?" the response he receives is "We have ruled your lives since your lives began. You should kill us all on sight, but you will never remember we were even here. Your will is ours." Spoken as a member of a collective.

I'll grant you that the moment before, the wounded Silence used the word "my" when he told Canton, "You tend to my wounds. You are foolish." I missed that the first time, but I still think it's conversational facility on the Silence's part and no indication of individuality.

When the Doctor defeats the Silence he says to all of them, "You just raised an army against yourself." Surely if they were truly individuals he would have said "yourselves." Give the writer credit enough at least to write about the aliens he created correctly.

The last thing I'll point out is that the Silence are all voiced by the same actor. There is a long history on the show of doing just that for alien races such as the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Ood. Basically the alien races with hive mind mentality that are not meant to be seen as individuals (except of course when they are, as in the first season episode "Dalek.")

The Silence seem to have established a long-term relationship with
humanity, fostering human technological development and taking what they need while allowing humans plenty to live on.

That's your interpretation of what's going on, Ursula. That's baggage that you're bringing to your viewing of the episode. As presented the story makes it very clear that the Silence have enslaved humanity for thousands of years, and that humanity has suffered horribly for it. Period. I've no idea why you'd want to see it in any other way than as it was presented. Perhaps you think that as a slave the Silence would make you a "house human" or that enslavement has perks nobody has fully considered or something.

The Silence were created by Steven Moffat as an attempt to create some of the scariest monsters the show had seen in its long history. They are shown as being irredeemably malicious and meant to be evil villains that it will take the Doctor and his companions a whole season or two to defeat. They're not misunderstood. If they were, they would have been written that way (as was the Siren in the recent episode, or the Silurians last season).

DOCTOR WHO is an adventure series about a hero. Heroes and heroines are only as impressive or as good as the villains they defeat. The more devious and implacable the villain, the more satisfaction the audience gets seeing the Doctor defeat them. DOCTOR WHO isn't rocket science you know, it's a cool show about a hero who knows much, much more than just rocket science.
geekalert
43. Sphynx
Not too jump into another ones discussion but I don't think that this has anything to do with bringing ones baggage into a movie.

Your quote shows that that silence is a member of a collective, but so what? A member of a human group that observed an unknowing alien species and controlled it from behind the curtain, might have used the very same words. After all it wasn't him personally who did all this, it was the group he belonged too (whatever that may be). Unless you say that being a member of some sort of group or organisation makes you part of a hive mind, I don't think that this proves anything besides that the Silence are organised one way or the other.

The thing about the voice actor might be a hint that the creator had a hive being in mind. But at least in the logic of the scene, it doesn't prove anything. Only because we cannot tell individuals apart, doesn't mean there are no individuals.

Would the silence really have completly enslave mankind, I personally think things would have been quite differently for us. For a parasite, the stupidest thing to do would be to kill of its host. If the silence would have completly controlled mankind, than all those petty wars mankind is so famous for would have to be at least to a certain extent their doing or they would at least have to constantly fail in stopping them. With other words they would have destroyed billions of potential hosts, or at least would have allowed them to be destroyed. If they enslaved mankind, they didn't do a very good job about it.

For me it is more likely that the Silence are a parasite, nothing more, nothing less. They steal the developments of other races (and if I'm not mistaken, that all the doctor attributes to them in that regard), perhaps intervening here and their to meet their own agenda. That's not a nice thing to do, and I would be more than happy to get rid of someone like that, but it doesn't make them overlords.

And on the thought about the writers.
Yes, it would be to expected that Steffen Moffat knows what and how the Silence really are. But all we can do is to interpret and analyse what he shows us. And what he shows us is far from being as clear cut as you want to present it (at least in my opinion). You admitted yourself that at one time the Silence speaks in first person. So either the writers made a blunder, or there is some sort of individuality within them.
There is no indication within the episode that would justify calling it an conversational fallacy.
My point is, just because the creators have a clear image of their creature, doesn't mean that that's exactly the picture they bring across. But that's the only thing we can analyse. It doesn't matter that much wheather they are misunderstood victims. But the kind of villain (if there even is any such kind of villain) as which they are presented doesn't justify ordering millions of potential individuals killed. And if the doctor didn't know much more that was shown (and since he apparently didn't know anything about them beforehand I would find that a little bit unlikely), he himself didn't know anything about there culture or biology, no matter how much he knows about rocket science.

Doctor Who is a series about a hero. But if the Silence are individuals (I don't they say are, I simply they that the evidence we are does suffice to dismiss that), he didn't act like a hero and more like the villains he usually fights. Just standing on the right side, doesn't mean you can do whatever you like to the other side.
Jack LesCamela
44. Jackanaples
Sphynx, let me explain something:

You understand that DOCTOR WHO is a tv show yes? That it's completely ficitonal and that all the characters on the show are fictional, excepting of course historical figures like Richard Nixon --who regardless is presented in a fictional context.

The only things we know about the world of the story are in fact are what the show tells us, which happen to be what somebody (in this case Steven Moffat) wrote.

The Silence do not represent any real race or group of people. They're completely made up. Completely invented to be malevolent slavemasters of humanity for thousands of years. That's it. They don't have rich inner lives or dreams of love and togetherness that they wish they could get to someday.

The Doctor made the absolute correct decision in how to stop them. How do we know that? Because that's how it was written. Occasionally, the Doctor has been shown to go too far. We know this because the writer has written into the episode that he has. You know, because the Doctor is in fact fictional and can't do it himself.

If you wish to think that the Doctor didn't think it through enough, that he's a moron or a war criminal or worse based on your own obtuse wrongheaded assumptions; then fine. I of course can't stop you. But it would seem to me that you should have stopped watching the show a lot sooner than this.
geekalert
45. Sphynx
Listen, if you're not able to face criticism without taking it personally than that's not my problem.

Indeed, the only thing we know about this show is what is told to us (which, by the way, I mentioned in my previous post...). If that is ambigiuous, that means its open to interpretation. That's the case here. Moffat tells us some things, but there are others, that are clearly open to discussion.
If the artist wants to show the protagonist as a hero, but have him commit something that is considered unheroically by me, it doesn't mean that I don't get the message, or that I can't not tell fiction apart from reality. It simply means that my opinion on that matter and that of the artist differ. If a character kills another character (fictional of cause), than it would not seem a obtuse assumption to classify this character as a murderer, even if the authors call him a pacifist (and before you throw another tantrum, that was a neutral example)

Although I'm well aware that Doctor Who is a TV Show, that
(at least for me) does not mean I'm willing to gobble down anything,
just because its presented to me under named banner. I love the show and I have a problem with the episode in question. So sue me, for speaking out my mind in a discussion that was inteded for that very purpose. But I can't fail to notice, that if things would be as clear cut as you insist, nobody would have had a reason for giving such a discussion a platform, now would they?
Jack LesCamela
46. Jackanaples
Please tell me what is ambiguous to you about how the show presented the Silence. In my opinion, there is nothing ambiguous about how the Silence are presented. Indeed, the show goes out of its way to depict them as unambiguously EVIL and terrifying at every turn, even to the point of showing one of the them kill a woman in the restroom right in front of Amy's eyes. Presumably because it knows she'll never remember.

Was there a scene missing in the episode I watched? Some bit that showed the poor beleagured Silence just trying to get along in the cold mean universe all alone? Tell me where anything about them and their vileness is left to interpretation.

The Doctor tricked the Silence using their own post hypnotic powers against them. If they want to run, fine. But if they try to stay on Earth and enslave humanity, they're going to die. Which again, is exactly what the Silence think they deserve. Personally, I don't think that opinion comes from low self esteem, but rather scenes and details that are better imagined than shown on a family program.
Jack LesCamela
47. Jackanaples
One more thing: Where does anyone get the idea that the Silence are individuals? How do you watch that two parter and get that impression at all? Are they all wearing different suits that I failed to notice? What did the show present that would lead anyone to the assumption of anything other than they were a hive mind collective?
geekalert
48. Pendard
I think to explore the Doctor's morality, you have to compare it to the morality of the classic series Time Lords. The Time Lords had enormous power but they had decided to watch over all of time and space and to get involved only in the most egregious of circumstances. Even in those egregious circumstances, they wouldn't get their hands dirty -- they would just send the Doctor (usually against his will) to where the problem was happening, knowing that he couldn't resist getting involved.

Now, who is more moral -- the Time Lords, who have the power to do a lot of good but choose to allow evil to happen all over the universe, or the Doctor, who seldom seeks out evil but when he finds it he uses his power to stop it. And, keep in mind, the Doctor always goes out of his way to give his enemies a non-violent way out. It's only once they refuse that he will use the force that he has to use to stop them. The Silents got off easier than the Slitheen -- he blew them up with a cruise missile!

As for getting people killed, I don't think that's fair. What the Doctor does is dangerous, but he doesn't ask anyone to put themselves in harm's way. They choose to take personal risks and sometimes they're killed, but it's they're choice. The Doctor never forces anyone to do anything. They do it because they believe it's the right thing to do. I can think of at least three times ("The Ark in Space," "The Poison Sky," "Forest of the Dead") where the only solution the Doctor can think of is to sacrifice himself. He's willing to do it, but is knocked unconscious or otherwise tricked by a human ally who makes the sacrifice for him. He teaches people, by example, to be noble and take risks for the greater good -- not just for him, but for their own good and the good of their world.

The Doctor has a lot of power, and power is always a terrible thing because you can never NOT be responsible. He can be responsible for occasionally doing terrible things to stop an enemy, or he can be responsible for not using his power to stop an enemy before they do something terrible (the way he was responsible for the destruction of the town in "The Family of Blood"). That's the curse of power -- no matter what happens, you're responsible for it. The Time Lords solve that problem by never interfering in anything and thinking that absolves them of responsibility. The Doctor uses his power -- judiciously and reluctantly -- for what he thinks is right.

There was no way to stop the Silents except to do what he did. They wanted to control the Earth and many other planets in order to bring about the end of the universe. If you ask me, the Doctor let them off pretty easy -- as long as they stay away from human beings, they'll be fine.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment