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15 September 2015 @ 08:54 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The God Complex  
The core concept of The God Complex, in which the Doctor must destroy a companion's faith in him, had been done before in The Curse of Fenric but its framing here is very different and, this time around, the differences between the two stories seemed more significant to me than their similarities.

The Doctor, Rory and Amy find themselves trapped in a strange hotel. The rooms contain people's greatest fears, a bizarre and surreal selection ranging across clowns, weeping angels, angry fathers and men in gorilla suits. As each person is confronted by their deepest fear they become susceptible to praise of the minotaur-like being that stalks the maze-like corridors of the hotel and destroys them. The key weakness of the characters, it gradually transpires, is not their fear but their faith. Rory, in particular, is shown an exit, a way out of the hotel. The set up has no use for him since he has no implicit faith in anything. Amy on the other hand has faith in the Doctor and this needs to be broken in order to save her life.

The contrast between the two central scenes in The God Complex and The Curse of Fenric is, I think, that in The Curse of Fenric the Doctor's harsh words to Ace are almost immediately revealed as a ruse and her faith is restored. Essentially a reset button is pressed. Here we are given to understand that the Doctor must genuinely give up that faith and set Amy and Rory free to live separate lives. I think this is intended to be a specific contrast to The Girl who Waited where the Doctor clings onto the Amy who has faith in him.

It is fairly strongly suggested by the writing that the Doctor also has faith in something, and it is hinted that he also has a greatest fear, but neither is made explicit (wikipedia tells me that it is the crack in the universe which seems a little lame to me). Only Rory sees an exit, though.

The other interesting thing I noticed about The God Complex, on rewatching, is the camera work. In many of the sequences we are placed in something like the viewpoint of the characters as they begin to praise the beast and the images cut jarringly between their moments of praise and their moments of rationality. It's not a technique you see used often in Doctor Who which generally prefers the camera to be an impartial (and implicitly reliable) observer.

Do I like this? Like Night Terrors I appreciate what this is trying to do and I think it achieves it pretty well. However, it also feels a bit restrained and melancholy for Doctor Who and I can't see it as a story I would particularly choose to rewatch.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/170154.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on September 15th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
I did like this, and I think I've said that this is my favourite new Who season.

In Fenric the Doctor was implied to have faith in his companions, although this is clearer on the various extended editions than the broadcast version where the incidental music masked his reciting of their names. I always assumed the Doctor's greatest fear was his own dark side cf. Amy's Choice.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 17th, 2015 08:57 am (UTC)
londonkds over at t'other place has suggested it is the War Doctor in the room, which is the same basic idea, but makes a lot of sense to me.
alumfelga: biggest familyalumfelga on September 16th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
For me, the only thing the Eleventh Doctor could have seen in 'his' room was himself. The 'crack in the universe' explanation doesn't make sense - at that point, he doesn't know what the cracks mean, also he says "of course. Who else?".

I'm definately going to watch The Curse of Fenric and compare it with that episode.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 17th, 2015 08:59 am (UTC)
londonkds on DreamWidth has suggested it is the War Doctor in the room, which makes a lot of sense.

The Curse of Fenric is well worth watching (either in its original form or in the extended version). It's arguably the best 7th Doctor story though I, personally, prefer Remembrance of the Daleks.
alumfelga: marthaalumfelga on September 18th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC)
The War Doctor makes sense indeed. I think it's going to be my headcanon.

Is Rememberance od the Daleks the first story when the Daleks fly? ;)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2015 01:12 pm (UTC)
Strictly speaking Revelation of the Daleks is the first where they fly on telly (I think, though I think there were flying daleks in the comics as far back as the 1960s) but its so poorly executed (and is just Davros) that I think most people didn't notice. Remembrance seems to be the one everyone remembers.
alumfelga: biggest familyalumfelga on September 18th, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC)
I see. Thank you for the information!