I have a lot of mixed feelings about this two-part finale; on the one hand, I enjoyed every emotional, sometimes hilarious, more often heart-wrenching moment of it, and the wait until Peter Capaldi’s swan song at Christmas seems horrific. But on the other… I’m glad to see Moffat go. I have loved so many of his excellent episodes (my favorite is “The Girl in the Fireplace”), and I have loved some of his companions (Amy Pond, and now Bill Potts), and I have loved some of his zany ideas (such as this bringing back The Master and having him flirt-banter with Missy/Himself the entire arc).
But… I am a little sick of his poor logic. I am also a lot tired of his massive ego. I feel as if the downward slope of Doctor Who has been primarily one of Moffat chasing after wild ideas, then realizing he has no way to pay them off, and coming up with nonsensical and sometimes convenient “fixes” that are ultimately unsatisfying if you think about them too long. And, he’s running low on ideas, since I kept having Danny Pink, Cyberman flashbacks with Bill. This one did it better, which only begs the question: why do it with Danny? So I will be glad to see a different, perhaps more grounded, writer breathe new life into a series that has been wonderful fun this season but also in some ways, unsatisfying.
I am glad Bill got her space girlfriend at the end, convenient or not, because she did not deserve to “die” like that. But someone whose blog I read had a point: Bill didn’t need this Cyberman plot line at all, it was all for dramatic effect. They pointed out her life of “torture” while she waited for the Doctor and the cruelties of inflicting that on a hero/heroine unnecessarily, since it served no other purpose than emotional torment for her and for the Doctor.
However, I think that was one of the more poignant portions of the episode — certainly the most brutally truthful. Bill sees who she wants to see: herself. She does not want to see herself as changed into something she was not before and never intended to be. This reverse-symbolism fascinates me; since I have embarked a personal belief journey that faith means transformation into a more human (and thus, divine) self, the Cybermen become the anti-thesis of that theory. They are less human.
Cyber-humanity has been this season’s major arc; with numerous episodes touching on humans shifting toward robotic races, which ends inevitably on the Cybermen. But there is also some truth in Bill gazing into the mirror: there, she sees her true self, the truth she does not want to embrace, that she is less human than before. I see transformative faith as becoming “more human,” in the sense that we strive to become more like Christ, who came as a mortal to knock our heads together, to shake up our perceptions, and to “show” us how to live, because we do a rather rubbish job of it on our own. Since nothing is stagnant, embracing this theory means we either become more like Him or less like Him as we age; either we become more forgiving or less so, more generous or less so, etc.
The distinction lies in our choices and our willingness to see our true self — the Cyberman in the mirror. Bill had no choice; she did not ask for this, it was “done” to her. That is part of the “evil” of the Cybermen. As the Doctor points out, they are not content to be as they are, they must change others to be like them. And when I heard that, this awful little bell went off in my head. God clearly likes differences. There are millions of different species on earth, each unique; and variations inside those species (no two snowflakes are the same, no two zebra patterns are the same, etc). Therefore I conclude that God likes individuality; and that any attempt to ‘force’ people to become ‘just like’ another individual or group is in distinct opposition to what God prefers from humanity.
If the Cybermen want to force humanity to abandon its true nature to become Cybermen, then the Cybermen are evil. But what if a political group, a social movement, or God forbid, a Church should want to force humanity to become clones of itself, to abandon free thought, questions, or individual principles; is that also evil?
That is not to say I do not believe in morality, or clear agreement of thought in certain areas for the purpose of central truth; but it is to say that anything which suppresses uniqueness, individuality, or ‘punishes’ others for not adhering to its legalism, is wrong, because Christ does not act upon the principle of force, but invitation. He did not use threats to gain disciples; he said, “Follow me.” Invitation. Paul said if a town did not embrace the disciples beliefs, to shake the dust from your sandals. Why? I have heard some pastors define this as: “They are lost, do not waste your time,” but what if it meant: “Do not use force. Do not BULLY them. Do not push in where you are unwanted, for that is not like Christ”?
The Doctor reveals the theme of invitation throughout his story; he asks companions to come with him. And he has worked toward Missy’s redemption from the start; giving her chances to become “more human” (less psychopathic). To have empathy. Feelings. To not murder people for fun. To stand beside him, on the side of right, in the final hour. The true brilliant tragedy is: she tries to, but her own second self will not permit it. I found a beautiful tragic but also hilarious symmetry in two dying, laughing Masters in the woods. She could not forsake her old nature entirely, but brought it with her into each new incarnation.
And in a strange way, that is what we see in the final scene, when the Doctor proves how tired he is of changing faces, of being “someone else,” of not knowing whose face he will see in the mirror after he regenerates. But, he is never not-himself; elements of his personality change, his appearance changes, but he is always The Doctor. Sometimes, I think the primal fear people have of giving themselves entirely over to transformation is due to fear of loss of self; ourselves, each flaw and strength, are so familiar to us as to be comfortable, and what might Christ do if we surrender entire to His influence? Why, we might not recognize ourselves! Irrationally, we fear He’s cosmic Cyberman who intends to strip us of our individuality, our uniqueness, and ourselves, to make us clones of one another, and we have no choice in the matter!
This is not true. If Christ represents the nature of God, and Christ was never forceful, we know our free will extends to whether or not we open ourselves to transformation. As for not recognizing ourselves if we do: I think we can, and do, and will. I do not know what becomes of us when we die, whether we remember our former self, or whether that memory will carry into eternity when the earth is renewed; but since our divine master wastes nothing, since He delights in uniqueness, and since our mortal lives are about a journey into self-betterment for no other reason than love, I see no reason why we should ever lose ourselves. Rather, perhaps, we will find our true self.