Who·ology – S10E01 The Pilot
“Time is a structure relative to ourselves. Time is the space made by our lives, where we stand together forever. Time and relative dimension in space. It means life.” – The Doctor
The Doctor as a professor at a university giving out life advice? It’s just crazy enough to work. And it did! In just the first episode of Season 10 we’ve already gotten a few scares, some genuine mystery to look forward to, a couple lessons to examine for ourselves, and a whole lot more. Season 10 is off to a great start, Whovians, and it’s great to have the Tardis spinning on a weekly basis again.
To start, this was an excellent Doctor Who episode. No, it doesn’t stand out with the greatest of the series or anything like that, but it’s excellent in its own right because it successfully juggled the many things the show must do and did it with patience. Instead of kicking off a character’s arc with, say, a dinosaur in 18th century London for no reason (Twelve, I’m looking at you), our newest companion, Bill Potts, was simply allowed to discover things. We knew what was coming for her, yet it felt fresh and earned. It’s one of the better companion introduction episodes we’ve seen.
In fact, this felt like a good starter episode for someone new to Who. It played a lot like “Rose,” the modern series kickoff with the Ninth Doctor. If you had never seen an episode of Doctor Who, you really could start with The Pilot (see what they did there?) and you’d know everything you needed to for your first trip in the Tardis. Golf claps, Moffatt. Now please don’t screw it up.
This made the transition to a new Tardis crew feel seamless, despite how (purposefully and thankfully) different they are from prior companions. Nardole, it seems, has a robotic body (with his head attached somehow?) and is just the right amount of quirk. Bill Potts isn’t as anti-Whoisms as season trailers made her out to be, and is bound to be a lot of fun. It’s a delightfully oddball grouping. They feel out of place in the best kind of way.
Pardon the easy analogy, but that’s what a real community feels like. On paper, it probably shouldn’t work. But it does. That’s life. Real life, not the made-up kind. And that’s the point of “The Pilot.” Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but it’s still worth it.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” – Matthew 6:25
The Doctor’s quote about time is simplistic, of course, and that’s probably an intentional character choice. But the intent is right. The focus of his lecture is that the individual is far more important than the numbers of the days. It’s why his final declaration to Bill of “what the hell” works. He believes as the Doctor always has, and often to a fault, that life is worth living and exploring despite any consequences. This echoes in one of my favorite Doctor quotes ever, from Eleven- “You know that in 900 years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important?”
Time isn’t important. People are. That sounds like as much like the man from Galilee as the one from Gallifrey.
Life is never fair and death is chasing us like Heather chased Bill. But Jesus made it a point to talk about clothes and it helps me deal with the chase of death. We don’t always get our dream jobs and we have to sit too long a traffic lights and we fail at even our best attempts at things. But it’s okay because we are important. Of all the many great and fascinating things in time and space, even the Doctor would agree that there is nothing more eternally important than that.
Next time on Who-ology:
Any time you see the word “smile” in science fiction it’s probably not good. It looks like Apple has taken over an earth colony and resulted in something very sinister. Not sure there’s an app for that. But I bet the Tardis crew will have a thing or two to learn from humanity’s latest attempt at a “new Garden of Eden.” And of course, so will we.