Doctor Who 121 – The Savages Part 3

Written by Ian Stuart Black
Directed by Christopher Barry

Steven and Dodo are pursued by The City guards as The Doctor has his life essence drained by Jano.

“The strangers are gods!”

Now that the general world-building has been completed, the story moves toward how The Doctor and his friends will tear down civilization.  Honestly, it seems that it won’t be too difficult as the City guards have grown complacent.  They have lived with little to no resistence, so they have grown a bit careless.  Steven is able to get the light gun from one, allowing the savages to take a guard prisoner.  This act of defiance awes the savages.  Steven and Dodo return to the City to find The Doctor.

As indicated by the cliffhanger, The Doctor has been put into the machine and his life essence is being drained.  It is rather interesting that while the life essence is a substance that allows prolonged youth, it also seems to drain away creativity.  Perhaps this is why the savages have no will to resist.  Is resistence linked to creativity, to the ability to think and desire a different way of life?  I suppose this is why some dictators discourage literacy.  But with The Doctor, something more has transferred.  Jano rightly uses caution.  Since The Doctor is a being unlike any they have tried in the machine before, he volunteers to be the first recipient of The Doctor’s essence, just in case something goes wrong.  After the transfer, Jano begins to adopt characteristics and mannerisms of The Doctor.  He even begins to see the lab and the machinery with a critical eye.  The Doctor’s morality has been transferred to Jano.

There seems to be a subtle message at work here.  Yes the whole “progress at the expense of the downtrodden” idea is a bit obvious, but it is the solution that seems more subtle.  By taking on the life essence of The Doctor, Jano is essentially “walking a mile” in The Doctor’s shoes.  He is seeing life with a new set of eyes, filtered through a new perspective.  This is usually one of the best ways to end a type of prejudice, to put a human face on the victim.  To see the life of the victim, to see the hopes, dreams, fears, and worries of the victim.  Despite being an alien, The Doctor’s essence is humanizing Jano.  Based on the performance and the progression of the character, I don’t think Jano is evil in the traditional way of good versus evil.  I think he is just a man who has been brought up under a specific paradigm and has had no reason to challenge the status quo.  So while the use of the machine is evil, the actions on the part of Jano and the scientists in the City aren’t necessarily malicious.  They are just indifferent.  That doesn’t, however, mean that the people in The City, including Jano, are free from blame.  Their indifference and self-centeredness is still oppressing a lesser class, and this is wrong.  I look forward to seeing how this ends.  Okay, yes, I’ve seen it before, but still . . . .

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