There’s always so much I want to talk about in regards to our weekly Who episodes. The problem is that while it’s fun and easy to have post-episode discussions with friends (indeed, it’s often my favorite part of viewing any show, and I almost never watch TV if I don’t have someone to watch it with me) it takes a fair bit of effort to condense those thoughts into a coherent, vaguely philosophically-oriented form for these posts.
“The Christmas Invasion” is another example of why that’s so difficult to do. There are any number of points one could touch on — learning how to cope when a friend lets you down in a time of need, for example, or dealing with a friend who’s undergone dramatic changes in their life (though regeneration is, for the most part, beyond the range of human experience). However, I think I’ll focus on Prime Minister Harriet Jones’s actions at the end of the episode, and the Doctor’s reaction to what he believes was an unforgivable mistake on her part.
After Earth has been held hostage by the Sycorax, a race of hostile aliens who intend to use blood control to enslave humanity, the newly-regenerated Doctor defeats their leader and banishes then under the oft-quoted Articles of the Shadow Proclamation. As the Sycorax depart, PM Jones orders Torchwood to destroy their ship to send a message to other would-be extraterrestrial colonizers that Earth will not tolerate invasion attempts. The Doctor is furious, but Jones stands by her actions — as she points out, it needs to be common knowledge that Earth can and will defend itself in case the Doctor isn’t around, as he was incapacitated for most of this episode and barely managed to save the day this time around.
The Doctor threatens to bring Harriet Jones down “with six words” unless she changes her mind, but the prime minister defends her decision. I’ve never been comfortable with what happens next — the Doctor quietly and deliberately asks Jones’s aide, “Don’t you think she looks tired?” This seems to plant a seed of doubt in those surrounding Jones, and when we see her again at the end of the episode, she’s on TV, defending herself against a proposed vote of no confidence. I know it’s supposed to be a reference to rumors spread about Margaret Thatcher at the end of her term as PM in the real world, but there seem to be unfortunate gender-based implications to the way she was brought down. This was an awfully low blow on the Doctor’s part. As a leader who had accepted responsibility for the fate of the human race, Jones was well within her rights to act as she did, but in doing so, she disagreed fundamentally with the Doctor, which to him meant that he would be justified in taking her down.
This says a lot about the Doctor’s re-arranged personality. Though David Tennant’s Doctor is talkative and charming and manically cheerful, that ruthless streak we first saw in the Ninth Doctor seems to have been brought even closer to the surface. Though this new Doctor is often seen as more “fun” than Eccleston’s prickly Nine, he’s got an arrogant streak that will continue to cause drama as his adventures continue. We’ll certainly have the opportunity to address it again.
…Oh, and one last thing: I told you that tea fixes everything.