The Waters of Mars


Dude. This was an episode of tv that made me afraid of water. Way to go Doctor Who, and way to prove, again, that it’s really psychological terror that’s incredibly effective, not fancy ridiculous special effects. (Or um, science. For all the times fission is said, it makes no sense at all.)

So, the Doctor comes to the first human colony on Mars, Bowie Base One. It’s Russian! Take that America! Also, YES, that Bowie!

Or this Bowie? (Hey Bowie, do you have one really funky sequined spacesuit? Or do you have several ch ch changes?)

There’s an annoying robot and the most kickass astronaut you have ever heard of in your entire life, Captain Adelaide Brooke. One thing I looooove about the Doctor is how much he respects women. He works with some seriously awesome ones! And like, he’s clearly impressed with them, but not more impressed than he would be if they were dudes. It’s a case of “I’m not surprised, but I’m impressed.” And Adelaide Brooke is probably the most bad-ass of them all.

So. Horrifying things are happening on the Mars colony! The ice the colonists are using to make water is possessed! And it plans to hop back to earth with the colonists, tempted by all the water on Earth and the jiggly water-sacks that are humans. After coming into contact with even one drop of the creepy Mars Water, the colonists are possessed. They get all weird, their heads drop and they seize and get growly and chorus-y (which I like– water, in many languages, is a plural word.) then massive amounts of water starts pouring out of them, especially their mouths, but really all over, and the skin around their mouths gets all cracked and parched looking and erode-y and it makes me never want to drink water again. Also their teeth turn black and eyes go white, but that’s somehow less creepy than the water. *shiver*

The Doctor points out that water is patient, and it wins just by overwhelming you. Water is forever and it’s fucking EVERYWHERE.

A little moment I liked… the Doctor fixes the light in the garden and Captain Brooke is all “Are you the Doctor or the Janitor?” It reminds me of how, in Joan of Arcadia, God appears as a custodian, and how “custodianship” is a very Semitic concept of both how to be properly religious and how God is. That’s why you have tikun olam (fixing the world) and some of God’s more nit-picky behavior, but it’s also how you get an alternate title for the King of Saudi Arabia as “the custodian of the two Holy Mosques” (at Mecca and Medina).

Anyway, the sad thing about this story, is that the doctor knows that all these colonists have to die, because Adelaide’s granddaughter becomes the first faster than light human space explorer because she’s inspired by her famous dead grandmother. So the doctor isn’t “allowed” to save everyone from the water, even though he can. Even the fucking Dalkes respected this, and didn’t kill her as child in the s4 finale, even though she came face to face with one, it just floated off. When Captain Brooke asks the doctor to save her he tells her: “You wondered all your life why that Dalek spared you, I think it knew: Your death is fixed, in time, forever. And that’s right.”

So the doctor keeps saying he should leave and not leaving, and it’s all so sad and doomed, and this is the stuff I fucking LIVE for in time travel stories, because I’m an emo angst junkie.

So it all gets AWESOME, because the Doctor basically does what’s been coming for a long time, and becomes an irresponsible, emotional, arrogant god. Up until now he’s always respected the time line, and the importance of leaving fixed events fixed. But watching all these lovable colonists die he freaks out and justifies it to himself all “I’m the last of the timelords, the timelord victorious, I can do what I waaaaaant!” Ok, it’s sliiiightly more mature but not really: “There are laws, there are Laws of Time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine. And they will obey me! We’re not just fighting the Flood. We’re fighting Time itself. And I’m gonna win!”

So… almost everyone dies, but the Doctor uses the annoying robot to fetch the TARDIS and saves Yuri, Mia, and Captain Brooke, whisking them back to Earth, where it’s snowing, and Mia freaks the fuck out, as you would if you were instantly transported by a time and space navigating ancient alien.

Adelaide gets really unfair, but in a very human sort of way, grilling the Doctor about whether the future will happen for her granddaughter and all that now that the doctor has fucked with a fixed point in time. (Just as she begged him to, like, five minutes ago.) Anyway, she gets PISSED and tells the Doctor he should have left them. And like, it sort of makes sense, because the Doctor really is supposed to know better, but I guess it just shows that Captain Brook is much more awesome than me, because I would have been wibbling my thanks for getting my bacon saved.

Anyway, I’m going to quote a bit, because this is the heart of the episode, the Doctor’s egomania and Captain Brooke’s awesomeness.

The Doctor: I’ve done this sort of thing before. In small ways. Saved some little people. But never someone as important as you. Oh, I’m good!
Adelaide Brooke: Little People? What, like Mia and Yuri? Who decides they’re so unimportant? You?
The Doctor: For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I’m not. I’m the winner. That’s who I am: The Time Lord Victorious.
Adelaide Brooke: And there’s no one to stop you. [This is some Donna shit right here, way back in the Runaway Bride.]
The Doctor: No.
Adelaide Brooke: This is wrong, Doctor. I don’t care who you are, the Time Lord Victorious is wrong.
The Doctor: That’s for me to decide. Now, you’d better get home. Oh, it’s all locked up, you’ve been away. Still, that’s easy! All yours!
(He sonics the door open, which is super creepy and violate-y. Let a girl think a strange alien can’t just walk into her house whenever he gets the urge, Cheesus. Oh, and the previous dialogue was all in a TOTAL DOUCHEBAG tone of voice.)
Adelaide Brooke: Is there nothing you can’t do?
The Doctor: Not anymore.

So Adelaide goes into her house… and shoots herself! And thus the timeline is restored, granddaughter inspired by death of famous grandma. (Though I have no idea how Yuri and Mia explain their reappearance back on earth, and the future wikipedia the Doctor keeps flashing on doesn’t really say.)

It’s really intense. And the Doctor immediately realizes he’s gone too far, that he should have known better.

Out of all the specials, this was the only one that stood out to me as excellent, despite having a seriously unlikeable Doctor. But it’s a logical story, from everything that’s happened to the doctor so I’m glad it happened. But damn! Heartbreaking! I wish Adelaide Brooke had her own series.

It’s jarring that Dreamland actually follows this story, since that’s all back to fun doctor, and he’s back to moody bitterness for Christmas and New Year’s. Speaking of which… they kind of suck!


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One Response to “The Waters of Mars”

  1. End of Time Part II– Bloated and Ridick, but not Without Charm « Booze. TV. Food. How Do *You* Spend Friday Nights? Says:

    […] the Master and he’s all “Noooooooo” and tells Wilf vaguely about the events of The Waters of Mars. Wilf points out that the Doctor is a real asshole if he lets the Master live at the expense of the […]

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