Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Packed with neutral ingredients

When I used to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons back in the 80's, the moral inclinations of the various characters were mapped across nine different variations. Plain old-fashioned 'good' and'evil' were complemented by the addition of a 'neutral' option, and then to this one could add Moorcockian combinations of  the 'lawful' and the 'chaotic'. Various permutations were thus permitted: If I remember rightly, Paladins, as upholders of romantic chivalry, were always 'Lawful Good', whereas Druids were bound by a code of strict neutrality. I always felt that Magic-Users, as foul practitioners of the perverse dark arts, should be 'Lawful Evil'...(like Darth Vader), and Judge Dredd would be 'Lawful Neutral', whereas Batman is 'Chaotic Good'.... well, anyway, you get my drift....

By this reckoning, the Daleks would be chaotic evil. There is no rhyme or reason to their irrational hatred of all living things. They are proper evil. Even by Terry Eagleton's terms, they are proper evil...and Terry Eagleton offers us such a precise definition of evil that in reality hardly anyone ever ends up actually being evil. They are not, in his terms, merely 'wicked' - for the wicked can be reasoned with. Instead, in their irrational desire to project outwards their Freudian death instinct, their self-loathing, their loathing of the very particular nature of physical things (especially their own bodies), in pursuit of the clean, calm infinity of nothingness, they really are truly evil....

(Even that Dalek a few weeks ago that wanted to destroy all of the other Daleks wasn't really a 'good' Dalek.....It was merely extending their 'exterminate everything' agenda to its logical conclusion.)

This makes the Daleks one of the more straightforward moral entities in the Whoniverse (Though I'm unsure about the element of choice that they bring to the table - sometimes they are portrayed as fulfilling some kind of blind biological imperative, which makes them no more evil than the cats  that bring in mice from our garden).

Anyway...evil is easy.... everyone knows what you have to do to be evil...

Doing the good thing is harder of course.

I'm not sure how well that angle is covered in the Whoniverse. The Time Lords never seem that bothered by do-goodery and most of the time seem to adopt a kind of druidic neutrality. At best, with their fuss about the preservation of the Laws of Time, we could argue for a certain 'Lawful Neutralness'.

The Doctor's desire to do good was always part of the naive, maverick impetuosity that his fellow Time Lords seem to find so irritating at times, but this week he seemed to regress to the kind of detached neutrality that betrays his Gallifreyan origins. Indeed he seemed to have imported straight from Star Trek some kind of Prime Directive Non-Interference code, which really doesn't work here. Indeed it doesn't really work over there either, but applied strictly to Doctor Who, we'd probably have to dump more episodes than the film cupboard skip-fillers of yesteryear ever did.

The Doctor's refusal to help Clara make the decision about blowing up the moon was certainly strange. It's true for example, that back in 'Genesis' Doctor Tom wasn't sure about blowing up the Daleks before they were born, but that doesn't mean that he strolled off to the Tardis and left the decision to Sarah Jane. Anyway in that case I think he really didn't know the answer. On this one, I'm pretty sure that Doctor Capaldi  did know all along the right the right thing to do - which makes him some kind of detached, responsible parenting type.... allowing Clara to make the decision for herself .

This is a Doctor out-sourcing his moral decisions. We already know, because it's been mention forty seven times, that Clara is meant to be his 'conscience' - and here we have a Doctor who has fallen out with his own conscience, divorced his own superego, had his moral compass walk out of the Tardis on him...

So my predictions are: There'll be a finale, with Daleks and moral decision to be made (involving some sort of option for soldier role?)..... with Clara not there

Not sure how the Promised Land bits fit in... (Why did the policeman end up there? I thought it was like some sort of special layer of Dante's Inferno especially for  those  sacrificed by/ for the Doctor... this guy never even met him. Also, it's interesting to note that the whole 'folk sacrificing themselves for the Doctor' seam was heavily mined by Davros the last time we saw him)

Anyway, I've just spent the evening on the internet, using old Dungeons & Dragons rules to discuss Doctor Who, so you'll have to excuse me whilst I just quietly simmer in the acidic juices of my own self-loathing.....



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