The Ultimate Power

The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.
Albert Einstein

In The Christmas Invasion,¬†we get a chance to meet the Tenth Doctor for the first time. Newly regenerated, he is incapacitated for most of the episode–unfortunate timing, as the world is being invaded by the Sycorax. Rose and company try to act in the Doctor’s absence, but after several failed attempts at diplomacy, it becomes apparent that the Doctor is quite needed. If only he would wake up.

When the Doctor finally does join the land of the living (aided, of course, by a healthy dose of vaporized tea), he is quite a different Doctor indeed. In stark contrast to his predecessor’s occasional broodiness, this Doctor is excitable and impulsive. He charms Earth out of its troubles with the Sycorax, nonchalantly challenges the Sycorax supreme overlord to a duel, and, upon besting him, delights in the fact that he has just discovered a tangerine in the pocket of his dressing gown.

While this excitability clearly does give him a strange sort of power and advantage, it has its downside. The Ninth Doctor’s post-traumatic stress sometimes led him to behave in a prejudiced manner toward beings he believes pose a danger to him or Rose. The Tenth Doctor’s impulsive nature leads him to be, at times, dangerously judgmental. After extracting a promise from the Sycorax never to return to Earth, the Doctor believes the matter to be over and done with. But Harriet Jones (Prime Minister), who had been aiding Rose and the Doctor in their diplomacy mission, decides, without consulting the Doctor, to shoot the Sycorax ship out of the sky in order to ensure the Sycorax have no choice but to keep their promise. Understandably, the Doctor is angry–after all, the entire diplomatic truce had been for nothing. But being the Doctor, and therefore having a view of the universe that is beyond the capability of people confined to Earth, he cannot see the incident from Harriet’s point of view. What he saw as a violation of a treaty and the murder of several thousand beings, she saw as a necessary action to take in order to protect her planet. Admittedly, what she did may not have been morally correct–that would depend on whether or not the Sycorax would have upheld their promise. The Doctor, though, was unnecessarily vindictive. With six words, he destroyed Harriet Jones’ entire career and negated any and all good she would have done with her position in the future. This Doctor, unlike the one before, seems to take the mantle of “Earth Protector” upon himself much too seriously, even to the point of setting himself above all others in the decision-making process. One might argue that, in this particular circumstance, he did not wish to see the history of the Time Wars repeated (even in a small way) in the destruction of the Sycorax. I do see his point. They had made a treaty, and had expected to be allowed to retreat peacefully. However, this Doctor’s arrogance in the dictation of others’ fates does not bode well for the future.


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