“You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?”Isaiah 64:5
A look at a few of the spiritual themes in Doctor Who, episode “Boomtown” by Russell T. Davies.
SPOILER ALERT: I will be giving away the end of the episode.
Episode bits pulled from Who Transcripts.
Here’s the story:
The Doctor catches Margaret (aka Blon Fel Fotch), a Slitheen (alien race, don’t ‘cha know) hiding in a human skin, who has twice now tried to destroy the earth. First go around it was to sell off bits of radioactive earth for profit; this time to power a vessel (cosmic surf board, really) to escape earth.
The Doctor decides to take her home – and turn her over to the authorities.
But here’s the twist: Margaret’s homeworld has the death penalty, and Margaret has already been tried and sentenced in absentia. Going home means being punished by death.
Before they can go, the Tardis needs to be powered up, so they have some time to kill.
I should mention a thing or two about the Tardis – the space/time ship that the Doctor travels in. It is powered by something called “the Heart of the Tardis” – a sentient energy within the big blue box.
The Heart of the Tardis is an ephemeral force, a spirit form. She is telepathic, and can guide the Doctor even from a distance. The Doctor travels where he likes, but the Heart will often nudge him (or push him) to specific times and locales.
And the Heart has the gift of tongues – she is the universal translator for all who travel in the Tardis.
Margaret is very impressed by the Tardis.
I almost feel better about being defeated. We never stood a chance. This is the technology of the Gods.
Don't worship me - I'd make a very bad God. You wouldn't get a day off, for starters.
Anywho, the Doctor and company are waiting for the Heart to get refueled, and that leaves some time for Margaret to plead her case with the Doctor.
And she has all kinds of reasons why she feels the Doctor should let her avoid the death penalty.
First she tries a little guilt: if the Doctor takes her in, that makes him a murderer, right? The argument is ignored – another’s transgression doesn’t make Margaret any less guilty.
Then she tries to get the Doctor to pity her – and he does. But having pity on someone doesn’t erase their guilt, nor their debt.
Then she argues that she has changed, that she won’t be trying to destroy the world again. The Doctor counters that change isn’t in her nature. After all,she tries twice to poison the time lord while making these pleas.
Then she provides proof that she can be virtuous. There was a woman that she was going to kill, but she didn’t. See, she did a good thing!
It doesn't mean anything.
I spared her life.
You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim's spared. Because she smiled... because he's got freckles... 'cos they begged... and that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction... you happen to be kind.
In other words, doing some good doesn’t erase doing bad.
Her last attempt for clemency is to argue that she is not responsible for her own behavior. It is just the way she was raised; it was her community, her environment, not her.
Yeah, the Doctor doesn’t buy that either.
There is nothing that Margaret can do or say to be saved.
To be continued…