‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The Lodger”

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “Vincent and the Doctor”)
I’m not necessarily convinced this season of Doctor Who has all been a dream/nightmare/coma fever of the Doctor’s, as someone accused of me last week, but if I did want to get convinced of that, this episode would go a long way toward helping it.

Because this episode is like a journey through the Doctor’s psyche. The opening imagery of the TARDIS dematerializing before the Doctor’s eyes? Losing the TARDIS like that must surely be a particular nightmare of his. All the everyday domestic stuff that we can assume the Doctor does but we never (or rarely) see him do — preparing food, showering — has a dreamlike quality to it, up to and including his participation in the football match:

He doesn’t know the game, but he’s that good at it? (Peter Davison’s Doctor was apparently a good cricket player, if Tegan’s reaction to his playing is anything to go by, but it seems that he at least knew the game beforehand.) It’s almost like those dreams in which running is exhilarating, even if you’re not a runner. (At least, I have dreams like that.)

And then there are the downright oddities:

= the Doctor communicating psychically with the cat (we’ve never seen him do anything like that before… but this does get him some information that he would already know if the whole scenario were his own invention)

= the Doctor headbutting Craig (we know from past instances of the Doctor communicating psychically — including with the cat right here — that such violence is not necessary)

= the Doctor saying things such as, “They call me the Doctor. Dunno why?” (of course he knows why he’s called the Doctor… unless he’s confused about who he is, which a regeneration crisis could cause)

= the Doctor acting as a matchmaker for Craig and Sophie (since when has he been so clued in to human romantic behavior? or cared?)

And that’s all nothing compared to the overarching problem here of the flat that doesn’t exist on the floor that doesn’t exist at No. 79 Aickman Road. Obviously the Doctor did not plan to be here in Colchester — he thought they were going to the fifth moon of somewhere or other — and of course he would never have expected to get blasted out of the TARDIS and separated from it. So how does he all of a sudden have a communication device that lets him talk to Amy on the TARDIS? That would be an enormously useful gadget to have, but we’ve never seen anything like that before. Where did the Doctor get the bag full of money? Did he sonic an ATM again?

I suppose we could presume — if we were to assume that this is all “real” — that the Doctor was just wandering around trying not to panic when he accidentally stumbled across Amy’s note

directing him toward Aickman Road, which only seems accidental because later they’d pop back and put that note somewhere where he’d see it, and that’s how he discovers the nonexistent flat with the alien tech that is interfering with the TARDIS.

Except… the Doctor doesn’t get any traces of high technology from upstairs with his doodad juryrigged from junk.

Is the reason the flat doesn’t exist because it’s all in the Doctor’s head? Why does he say that what’s in that upstairs flat is “someone’s attempt to build a TARDIS”? I mean, he doesn’t say “time machine” — he says “TARDIS.” Because perhaps it’s a dream version of the Doctor’s attempt to rebuild his own TARDIS? Last week commenter Pat Mustard argued against my “it’s all a dream” theory with this:

“Just a small point against this theory – we know the new Tardis set is the one they’re going to stick with; so if the Doctor’s unconscious & all this is in his head, how does he know what new format/style the Tardis has regenerated itself into?

If — assuming this whole season is occuring in the Doctor’s head in the moments after his regeneration, when the TARDIS, too is still in flux — then the TARDIS could either take its new look from the Doctor’s imagination, or the Doctor could direct the new look, so that the “real” TARDIS ends up looking just like the “dream” one.

Why does this upstairs-almost-TARDIS let Sophie go? Because the Doctor told it to. Why does the upstairs-almost-TARDIS say that the “correct pilot has been found”? Because that’s the Doctor — it’s his TARDIS. Why does the upstairs-almost-TARDIS just disappear even though the Doctor wouldn’t serve as that pilot? Because it never existed in the first place, except as a figment of the Doctor’s imagination.

And here’s where the real “journey through the Doctor’s psyche” stuff comes in. Supposedly, according to the Doctor, the upstairs-almost-TARDIS needs a homebody like Craig — “Mr Sofa,” the Doctor calls him — to disable it. Here’s the Doctor, wandering forever, who can never be a homebody again even if he wanted to, what with Gallifrey destroyed. But maybe the Doctor has another option? Profess a love that’s been suppressed and “kiss the girl” to save everything? Could the Doctor be about to accept what River Song represents and finally get some sort of new lease on life through her?

None of that, of course, would have to mean that Doctor Who turns into a romance next season — I agree that would be boring — and it doesn’t have to be a reset button that’s a cheat, either. It could merely be an opportunity for the Doctor to set off on new adventures without being as haunted by the past as he’s been.

One thing is for certain: the crack in the universe was present at No. 79a Aickman Road the whole time, right behind the fridge:

And when Amy finds her engagement ring in the Doctor’s pocket

the crack opens wide:

I’ve said before that I think Amy may end up being not just a victim of the crack but she may herself be the crack. Now we see that her perception, her memories alter the crack itself.

I could be wrong about all this. I’ll be even more delighted to be surprised to be wrong about this then I would be to be right about it. But so far, it all fits.

Random thoughts on “The Lodger”:

• Great. First I had new reason to worry about cracks in the wall. Now I have to be terrified of water stains on the ceiling:

Thank you, Doctor Who, for feeding me new nightmare fodder.

• I never thought we’d see the Doctor hauling around a shopping cart filled with junk

like some homeless guy hoarding all his treasures…

• Didn’t ET build something like this?

• Craig’s flat is crammed full of interesting stuff. Like a Stay Puft marshmallow man:

And a flyer for a Van Gogh exhibition:

• We haven’t seen the Doctor in the shower since Jon Pertwee in “Spearhead from Space”:

And we never see the Doctor this naked:

No, really, we don’t:

I keep hearing Donna Noble’s horrified “You’re naked!”

• Bathroom humor:

• Really, Doctor? Drinking from the carton?

He might be taking this “ordinary bloke” thing too far. Don’t be a guy. The world is full of guys. Be a man.

• Great quotes:

“Less of a young professional, more of an ancient amateur.” –the Doctor, describing himself

“I’ve got one of those faces: people never stop blurting out their plans when I’m around.” –the Doctor

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit weird?” –Craig
“They never really stop.” –the Doctor

“How long you gonna be in there?” –Craig, to the Doctor, who’s hogging the shower
“Sorry. I like a good soak.” –the Doctor

“Can you hold? I have to eat a biscuit.” –the Doctor on the phone

“Six billion people? Watching you two at work, I’m starting to wonder where they all come from.” –the Doctor, to Craig and Sophie

“Hello, I’m Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.” –the Doctor (which indicates, I think, that he’s not clueless about Earth pop culture)

(next: Episode 12: “The Pandorica Opens”)

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