Doctor Who, series 5.2: “The Beast Below”

**Warning! Here there be spoilers! DO NOT read ahead if you have not watched through Series 5, episode 2 of Doctor Who. If you have, or don’t care, read on, but don’t get mad…**

A horse and a man, above, below,
One has a plan but two must go.
Mile after mile, above, beneath,
One has a smile, one has teeth.
Though the man above might say hello,
Expect no love from the beast below

After the excellent beginning to the series, we have an episode reminiscent of “New New York”–but with England. All of the world has moved out to space, each nation on a ship (Scotland is NOT with England!). However, the ship has no engine power, but is driven, somehow, by the ominous “Beast Below.” Before we get to that, however, we need to address the excellently frightening automaton-authority figures (Smilers) which are placed throughout the ship. We first meet them as a teacher (pictured above) gives his students passing grades for the day (with a happy face), except for Tommy, who is failed for the day (with an angry face) and sent down to the beast below, accompanied by a terrifying poem (Above). Eventually, as we move throughout the ship, Starship UK, we come across more of these creepy carnival-esque automatons who are very much allusions to Big Brother.

The Doctor tells Amy that he can’t interfere, until he sees a crying child. He sums up his character well when he says that a crying child is what will make him do something. Amy them goes off on her own to poke around (demonstrating that she very much can handle herself without the Doctor). She steps inside a voting booth with a TV Screen and two buttons: “Protest” and “Forget.” Every few years, all the secrets of the ship are revealed, and the citizens can choose to protest or forget what they just saw. No one protests. Everyone forgets.

Including Amy.

Now comes Liz 10 (Queen Elizabeth 10!), the reigning monarch of the Starship UK, and she’s suspicious of everything around her, as she’s absolutely sure that her people are lying to her and must roam the ship in disguise, trying to discover the secret of the ship’s lack of propulsion.

The Doctor must make a choice about what to do with that information–who lives, and who dies. This decision is horrible, and his new companion does her job. While the Doctor shows off and does much of the “saving of the day,” but in the end, she must make him consider his choices keep him in check–she does exactly what he needs.

Matt Smith’s Doctor carries on David Tennant’s capacity for wonder in the midst of disgusting, frightening events. We have a combination of the 9th and 10th Doctors with a new twist. I forgot, in the last few times we’ve seen the Doctor, he was companion-less. He went to a very dark place, especially in Waters of Mars, and we’re still seeing remnants of that Doctor–and even Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor. He needs a companion to keep him in check, to anchor him to humanity.

Amy is spunky and strong. She’s independent, though certainly in love with The Doctor. However, it’s the love of a little girl. However, she goes with The Doctor on the eve of her wedding. I’m worried that she’ll leave at the end of the series, because I really like her, and she’s good for the Doctor. Will she grow up, leave him, and get married (maybe to new-Mickey?), or go with the man she’s loved her entire life? She’s obviously torn about the wedding, because she seems to be rationalizing it, and my bet is that, in the years when the Doctor had left her, she decided to settle. At least, that’s what I hope…

Favorite quotes:

“You look human.

No, You look Time Lord. We came first.”


4 thoughts on “Doctor Who, series 5.2: “The Beast Below”

  1. I agree with you Ravereader Doctor Who does need a strong companion to keep him involved with human interest. Amy pond really came in to her own in this episode, digging around, and showing him he had choices. I was not a huge fan of the Smilers, but you can’t love all Villains. Sure can’t wait for Victory of the Daleks. When I was looking Through Who blogs and info I stumbled on to this guy Tim
    and in you like to geek out about Dr. Who you will love this video. MG

  2. I promise that this reply won’t be nearly as long as the previous one;-)

    I think the most telling moment for The Doctor is when Amy asks him why he put the glass of water on the ground and he tells her something to the effect of that he doesn’t know why he does things sometimes because he is thinking so fast.

    In this episode, I still feel that The Doctor is acting in ways that don’t make sense to the audience because he don’t know what kind of Doctor he is. Clearly, Matt Smith is still slightly unsure at this point what kind of Doctor he is. I feel like he is very reactive rather than proactive like David Tennant was as The Doctor.

    As an actor, the moment near the end where Matt Smith starts yelling about “no one that is human can talk to me” and “Amy is going home” didn’t really ring true for me because I didn’t see any build up to that point. I felt like Matt Smith had decided to deliver this line anger and it felt more like a DT impression than a genuine emotion expressed by a new Doctor.

    I also feel like Amy was brave like a petulant child is brave when she decided to break the lock and get trapped by the Smilers. That was not demonstrated strength, I felt it was demonstrated stupidity. However, in the very end when she makes the decision to hit the abdicate button when she realizes that the star whale doesn’t need to be trapped, that was a strong clever moment for her. In fact, I feel like at this point The Doctor and Amy are both on about the same level when it comes to intelligence. I haven’t decided if that is a good or bad thing yet.

    The dialogue was a bit rough again for me this episode. Some of the lines were particularly painful like when Liz10 (a nickname I hated) declares “Basically I rule” after having a bad ass scene made me groan. It was a good scene and I feel like Steven Moffat was going for a “Buffy” moment that didn’t quite get there.

    I of course loved the reveal at the end where the crack was seen on the side of the ship. Brilliant!

    Oh, and just to add a bit of salt to the wound. Steven Moffat used the characters on video screens which we’ve seen before in “Blink”.

    I am still enjoying Doctor Who, but I feel as though it is an entirely different show and I am finding that I need to get completely invested again because right now I don’t feel any emotional connection to anyone.

    My sincerest hope is that Steven Moffat’s writing matures as the season continues as well as The Doctor and Amy growing as characters.

    Thankfully, the Daleks are in the next episode and lord knows I can’t get enough of them:-/


  3. Pingback: Doctor Who, series 6.9: “Night Terrors” by Mark Gatiss « Elementary, My Dear Reader

  4. Pingback: Doctor Who, Series 5.1: “The Eleventh Hour” « Elementary, My Dear Reader

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