Doctor Who story 159 – Survival
On its own merits, “Survival” is an interesting story that continues the trajectory of Ace’s development. We have seen her family history in “The Curse of Fenric,” the history of a traumatic location from her past in “Ghost Light,” and now we come to her hometown of Perivale. Ace has a great dislike of Perivale and an even greater dislike of her mother. In this story Ace develops a bond with Karra, a feline huntress of the Cheetah people. Karra refers to Ace as sister, but in reality there is a mother/daughter vibe here. Karra represents the inner nature, the animal nature. Ace has been growing up over the last few stories, and with Karra she must confront a remaining element of her personality: her violent nature. Ace likes fighting. She likes to blow things up. Kill or be killed; survival of the fittest. But she develops a bond with Karra through a moment of mercy.
The theme of violence over mercy permeates story. It is represented in Ace’s struggle, where the conflict is resolved by refusing to fight; in the destruction of the cursed planet, which becomes unstable and loses integrity as its inhabitants fight, in the Doctor and the Master, the former trying to bring peace while the latter wants to destroy. In this story, the Master is more a force of nature than a moustache-twirling villain. He is antagonism personified; he brings conflict by his nature. The Doctor is spared by refusing to fight. Ace is healed from the Cheetah virus by refusing to fight. And in the end, thinking the Doctor is dead, Ace puts on his hat, taking on his peaceful nature and putting aside her own violent past. The season ends as Ace starts a new journey, her character having been healed of the past.
Or has she? “Survival” is the end. Season 26 has finished and the classic series of Doctor Who is over. What was the next step? Where do we go from here? What was Ace’s next moment? The Doctor’s?
I have debated what to do next. The obvious next step is to continue on to modern Doctor Who via the McGann movie. But that seems too big a leap to me. Modern Doctor Who is a continuation, yes, but its developmental continuity weaves a path through the New Adventures novels. Even here, I’m conflicted, though because the New Adventures, while continuing where the classic series left off, developed in its own way. Ace has been on a journey away from violence. The New Adventures do not continue that journey, from what I understand.
And so I’m thinking about an intermission that looks at what might have been, which takes me to Big Finish and the Seventh Doctor Lost Stories. Apart from Farewell Great Macedon I’ve largely ignored the Lost Stories on this blog. I’ve intended to cover them eventually, but my need to get through the classic series proved too great to justify the tangents. Now, however, I’m curious. These Lost Stories are probably the closest indication of what season 27 would have been like even though they are separated from season 26 by over twenty years. While I’m still eager to do so, I want to see the potential future before moving in to what actually developed.
But before all that, I will take some time to reflect on the journey I have taken thus far. Look for that in the upcoming week.