“I carry them with me.”

First things first:  this post was inspired by this fan video, which is both a thing of beauty and an ocean full of tears, and it’s absolutely imperative you watch it before reading anything I have to say here.

Did you watch it?

Good.

Did you cry?

just kidding I don’t need to know that

I’ve finished the new season of Doctor Who, Season 11 with Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor.  You already know I loved the first episode, and turned out I loved the rest of the season just as much.  Thirteen was an adorable space-cupcake-slash-part-time-mom-friend.  Graham O’Brien TURNED EVERYTHING HE TOUCHED INTO GOLD.  Ryan was full of relatable angst and Yaz was full of sass and spirit.  All was well.

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pls don’t kill my space grandpa okay

I did have one nagging question, however, which grew throughout the season:

This Doctor was so . . . calm.  So cheery.  So wellbalanced.  She actually seemed to be All Right on the Inside; and I think anybody who has even a cursory acquaintance with this dazzlingly gorgeous & perpetually blighted fandom will understand when I say I ain’t used to the Doctor being All Right on the Inside.

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This was . . . genuinely painful to watch.

“How can this be?” I asked myself.

“How can this be the same person who once trapped someone in a mirror until the end of time–not out of necessity, just out of sheer, vindictive anger?”

Then, as I puzzled, I stumbled across this little nugget:

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It’s true, I realized–Thirteen has no connection to the Time War except memory.  Unlike the others, Nine, Ten, and Eleven, she didn’t “do it” (destroy Gallifrey).  Unlike the others, she’s never even experienced feeling responsible, believing she “did it” although she really didn’t.  As the original Tumblr user suggested, that’s gotta be one heck of a weight off her shoulders.

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*hugs them protectively*

So, okay, I thought to myself.  Thirteen is different, because Thirteen has . . . healed, somehow, someway.  But I still didn’t grasp the WHY of it; until I watched the aforementioned fanvid for the five millionth time [it’s a good video you guys], and zeroed in on this beautiful exchange:

“Have you got family?”

“No.  Lost them a long time ago.”

[cue shot of Rose Tyler skipping off through the snow in “End of Time”]

“How’d you cope with that?”

“I carry them with me.  What they would’ve thought, and said, and done . . . make them part of who I am.  So even though they’re gone from the world, they’re never gone from me.”

*Charles Baker Harris’ head explodes*

Can you imagine what Ten would’ve said, what Eleven would’ve said, if some random boy they’d only just met asked how do you cope with your grief?

Short answer, kid:  I don’t.  

Oh, sure . . . I shove folks into the event horizons of collapsing galaxies, I turn them into literal, actual scarecrows for all eternity, I threaten to abandon friends I’ve only juuuuuuuuuuuuust succeeded in making for simple, honest mistakes, I insist there’s no point saving anybody if you can’t save all of ’em, I offload my PTSD memories onto parasitic monsters while screaming at the top of my lungs that nobody will ever understand me, I obsessively count the children I believe I’ve sentenced to death on Gallifrey, or, alternatively, refuse to count them at all . . . but tHAT’S NOT WHAT YOU MEANT BY A COPING MECHANISM, IS IT?

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But Thirteen.  Thirteen is different.

Thirteen has healed enough to put weight on those wounds.  Not just the scar marked “Gallifrey,” but the others, too, every last cut and rend and tear:  Rose.  Donna.  Amy.  Rory.  River.  Clara.  “All that pain and misery and loneliness,” Amy Pond said, “and it only made [you] kind”–yes, kind.  Always trying to be kind.  But never becoming stable.  Until now.

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look at that smile

Because now, Thirteen has the confidence to look Ryan in the eyes and say, yes.  I am coping.  I am okay.  I will be okay–and, kid, you will be, too.  

Ryan Sinclair, remember, has just lost his beloved grandmother, and Graham O’Brien his adored wife.  That first episode of Season 11 dealt a heavy emotional blow, but this time, it wasn’t a blow to the Doctor–it was a blow to her new companions.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the show has ever taken this step before . . . begun a season with a tragedy that harms solely the companions, not the Doctor,  then cast the Doctor as mentor, and guide, on their journey of sorrow.

Previous incarnations of the Doctor just weren’t ready for that responsibility.  But this one IS.  And I think that’s beautiful.  ❤

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Full disclosure:  if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Twelve much in this post, it’s because I haven’t delved into his episodes yet.  From what I have seen, though, I believe Twelve is the real key to all this growth.  The bits & pieces I’ve watched [again, correct me if I’m wrong] point to an arc encompassing a lot of angst, a lot of darkness, but in a “darkest hour is just before dawn” kinda way.  Twelve seems to be consciously healing himself, even as he writhes in mental agony; healing in a way that Ten just wasn’t capable of yet.  And Twelve’s regeneration speech, which I HAVE watched, has gotta be one of the most peaceful on record:  “Doctor, I let you go.”  It’s only fitting that out of that peaceful moment should spring a Doctor who seems–finally–at peace with herself.

Now, some might argue the writers conveniently ‘erased’ the Doctor’s strong negative emotions because she’s a woman now and women aren’t ‘supposed’ to have them . . . but I don’t agree.  If you look into her face when she admits, “I lost them a long time ago,” you’ll see that pain hasn’t been erased.  She still feels those losses.  The difference is, she’s no longer constantly tormented by them.

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Others might argue–and indeed, I HAVE spotted folks arguing/implying–that this change constitutes a betrayal of the Doctor’s fundamental identity.  That she can’t BE the Doctor if she’s not traumatized to the seventh circle of Hell and ready to snap at any moment.  But I emphatically disagree.  The idea that trauma permanently defines a character (any character) is a dangerous lie; no less dangerous on television than in real life.

I can say that, ’cause I’ve been there.

Yes, I’ve been in a place where traumatic memories felt like a box I couldn’t climb out of–largely because it seemed ‘safer’ (ie, more familiar) inside the box than out.  But you know what?  I’m not in that place anymore.  Which is a really good thing.  Neither is the Doctor.  Which is also a good thing.

Just because pain was once the center of your life, doesn’t mean it has to be the center forever.

Just because you were once consumed by hurt or anger doesn’t mean you’re ‘betraying yourself’ if you stop feeling like that.

Just because you were once the victim of something awful doesn’t mean that’s ALL YOU CAN EVER BE.

It’s called recovery, folks, and it’s really freakin’ important we treat it as a victory, not as some unnatural change to resist or be frightened of.

Look at us, Whovians.  Look how far we’ve come.  We’ve moved from,

“I guess, in the end, they break my heart.”

to,

“Even though they’re gone from the world, they’re never gone from me.”

Aren’t you proud of us?  Because I sure am.  I’m proud of us.

Now, if anybody feels I’ve been harsh or judgmental towards Ten and Eleven in this post–please know, that’s never my intention.  I love them both tremendously, and I honor their struggle to keep fighting, keep loving, keep saving people . . . which, not coincidentally, is what brought us to this point in the first place.  You can never heal if you just curl up and die.  They refused to do that, ever, no matter how bad things got.  There’ll always be a special place in the core of my heart for the Dysfunctional Emo Trash Alien Bois™, the dynamic duo who taught me life and love aren’t incompatible with suffering.

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Thirteen, meanwhile, teaches us it’s okay to move on from suffering, once you’re ready.

We need that message just as much.

We need to understand how brave that is.

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Thoughts, everyone?  ❤

 

6 thoughts on ““I carry them with me.”

Add yours

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who cries over really well done video edits! I haven’t seen the New Years day special yet, but I did watch the rest of the 11th season. I have a few quibbles, but I do like 13 and I feel like you explained her reasons for changing brillantly. I do miss having a Doctor with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but I’m fine with a happy optimistic one. I will always love Dysfunctional Emo Trash Alien Bois™ though! Died laughing when I read that.

    Like

    1. Noooooooooooooooooooo, you’re not the only one 😉

      Thank you, my dear! ❤ I totally feel you on that–I do MISS the era where it was "all pain, all the time," cause that feels familiar and even comforting to me; but I also feel like it's really important for me to recognize that it's okay for the Doctor to move on & be happier. Cause I need that reminder that I can move on, too, some days.

      LOL I’m so glad!!! I thought of it in the shower & couldn’t not use it 😉

      Like

  2. Oh man, I love all of this! (And that video kills me everytime I see it, ugh!) ❤

    I think I found Thirteen comforting from the start because, well… She is, in my eyes, everything Twelve was working for. I know you said you haven’t watched him yet, but the way I read his arc, he was looking to find an emotional balance – and, as you put it, a way to cope. Because, yeah. Ten and Eleven really didn’t have those, and I firmly believe Twelve was making an effort to find ones that work. And I really do believe that he figured it out in the end.

    And Thirteen?

    Well, she gets to start out with those mechanisms in place, that strange inner-peace already instilled in her. She doesn’t have to search for a mechanism, she can simply live life to the fullest and do what she does best.

    I also will never get over how well she fulfills Twelve’s last wishes: “Let’s get it right… Never be cruel, never be cowardly… Remember – hate is always foolish… and love, is always wise. Always try, to be nice and never fail to be kind… Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.”

    Like… wow. That is such an embodiment of Thirteen’s spirit. And I don’t think I would have realized it if I hadn’t made a point to rewatch the regeneration scene right before starting Thirteen. I mean… Thirteen is everything Twelve was working toward, and the poeticism of her entire existence KILLS ME.

    Sorry for the long comment BUT YOU GAVE ME EMOTIONS

    Like

    1. Thank you!! ❤

      I LOVE LONG COMMENTS. NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR LONG COMMENTS. xD

      And exactly, yes!!! You summed up everything I was trying to say, so well!! When I re-watched Twelve's regeneration speech in the light of knowing Thirteen's story, it was like . . . dang. “Laugh hard, run fast, be kind”–it’s like he’s trying to ‘speak’ a happier, gentler, more peaceful incarnation of himself into existence. It’s like he’s trying to condense everything he’s learned into that one set of instructions. AND IT WORKS. Holy heck, it works. Just . . . yeah. I have #emotions, too. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Twelve. I think he does the most amount of changing across his seasons of all the modern Doctors — he starts out extremely detached and uncaring and over time learns to be more considerate and “human.” But he still has the same arrogance of those who have come before him. I think you would enjoy his arc. (I did not even “like” him at first, but now it’s hard to choose a favorite from among Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.)

    I’m glad you enjoyed this season, and it meant something wonderful for you. 🙂

    Like

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