sab: (dw >> face of the lonely god)
[personal profile] sab
I can't sleep, and that usually leads to fantasizing, in this particular case, about Tennant/John Smith's arm, in his white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and the suspenders. I can get lost in the most absurd things about this man. Yesterday I spent forty five minutes on about four frames from "Utopia", just watching over and over again --

-- the moment where he presses his head against the glass, and his voice pops as he says "Jack." Because that voice pop is Tennant's, he's used it in other roles including both Casanova and DI Carlisle, to great effect because it is a powerful tool in his arsenal and he knows how to use it. Tennant's range as an actor, and the compelling, controlled hold he has over each tool he's mastered, resulting in impeccable timing and some of the most phenomenal facial expressions I've ever, ever seen. Which I mean in both the camp and real interpretations -- the Doctor can make some ridiculous rubber-faced expressions which are both tremendous and hilarious, but I also mean the subtleties of reaction shots, of still shots when he's in the background, a bite of the lip, hands in the pockets, inhale through the nose. Set your jaw. Watching Tennant act is like watching a virtuoso play his instrument. This guy is a MASTER.

But not THE Master, which brings me to, some things about the Tenth Doctor.

1. He is a violent, destructive man with a deep sense of vengeance that leans almost toward bloodlust. When he's vulnerable, he succumbs to his violent instincts, so often bottled up behind all that science and cheerfulness. We believe him when he says he used to have so much mercy. He's left with scarcely any, now. It was bloodlust that drove him to kill the Raknoss and it was vengeance that suggested punishment for the Family of Blood.

2. The Tenth Doctor is almost pathologically selfish, which manifests itself mostly in a slavish obsession with protecting whatever poor wretch needs rescuing, in order to justify the Doctor's existence in a way that allows him to celebrate himself, doing the galactic good! He operates on his terms in his time, and any who might want to be along for the ride had better be very much in love with the man to put up with all of his reckless, indulgent behaviour. So there's something ineffable about the Doctor that makes these women -- us, myself included -- fall so desperately in love with him, knowing full well he's selfish, and violent, and can never love us back.

3. He's vulnerable. Past the glued-on smile there's a Doctor who's in terrible pain, post-Rose's departure. I think it was less about the Doctor being in love with Rose -- though he may well have been -- and more about the Doctor realizing that a human being could have that kind of effect on him. Could make him want the impossible, the normal, human, romantic love. And the of course later he experiences his biggest fear, his biggest vulnerability when his Time Lord ego is stripped away is love. And in comes the dream of the normal life, writ large and made real, and it's this, this dream that the Doctor gives up when he kills John Smith. The dream that a Time Lord is never allowed, and a dream that the Doctor had only just begun to get over fantasizing about with Rose. He's doomed to be alone, and the impact of that sends him into wild fits of rage. It's also why he needs to surround himself with people, people who reassure him, constantly, that he is wonderful, that he's not just the fire that burns in the heart of the sun, waiting, furious, devourer of worlds. That he can coexist with humans. And so Martha is his human credential, constantly and unconsciously feeding the Doctor's desperate hunger for attention, and affection, and absolution.

4. He's a manipulative son of a bitch. He's gorgeous and he knows it, and he plays his charm to perfect result. Because of this, things he can't manipulate terrify him: Jack, a fixed point in time and space. Immortal. Aside from that he just coasts through -- watch any episode -- tossing his grinning mug at nurses and aliens, laying on the charm and then as quickly he's off for the Tardis and muttering about bananas, those humans insignificant and forgotten. He manipulates Martha by changing the subject with a winning smile, by his constant reassurance that everything will be all right when inside, he is absolutely certain that very very soon, everything will all go very very wrong, but that he can't bear to lose Martha's unwavering confidence in him before then. Nurse Redfern, John Smith's lover, resisted the Doctor's charm, when he came back to ask her to come away with him (again, selfish, Martha forgotten, the Doctor singlemindedly certain that as long as he gets everything he wants everything will work out just peachy) and she saw right through his batting eyelashes and cocky hips and said "no."

5. So, in sum, our Tenth Doctor, the arrogant fuck, is a cocky, manipulative bastard to cover the fact that he's vulnerable, because when he is exposed as being vulnerable, he gets vicious, violent, and access to power that terrifies the bejeezus out of him if he were ever to really let it loose. And so he hides, our lonely god, behind his giant smiles and untiring energy, with the mania of a man who knows that if he lets himself stop, even for a second, he might be forced to face his demons, and he might not win that fight.

6. And he is wonderful. Because he's wonderful, because he takes us to magic places, heals the wounded, fixes the broken, solves the impossible, and gets us home for supper. He's wonderful because he's bleeding gorgeous, spry and energetic, funny and clever, lean and strong. And he's wonderful because inside all that he's a lonely boy, doomed to be solo, crippled with power and nothing to do but hope that the rest of his life is, at the very least, an adventure.

Oh I agree

Date: 2007-06-21 01:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He's a wonderfully complex character

Date: 2007-06-21 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is a real pretty summary of a lot of things that make the Doctor so painful to watch, often. I like it very much.

Date: 2007-06-21 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
SO painful. There were portions of "Family of Blood" I actually can't watch because of all that VULNERABILITY and RAGE.

I mean: what does the Doctor do when he's vulnerable with loneliness? When, on top of that, he's confronted by something he doesn't understand? He fills with RAGE and VITRIOL and destroys people.

What happened when John Smith was vulnerable with loneliness? When he was confronted by something he didn't understand? He armed the whole SCHOOL. Rage, vulnerability, loneliness. In every incarnation.

Date: 2007-06-21 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know, this is interesting in context of how he treats Harriet Jones at the end of "The Christmas Invasion." We get the rage + vitriol, but it seems to be less about barking at something he doesn't understand and more at punishing his own behavior (ostensibly destroying the Time Lords and the Daleks) as seen in another person. Or does he just not understand her ideas of defense, or her ideas of not at least trying to do battle with them at first? What about Harriet Jones makes the Doctor the angriest? And if so, why?

My friend [ profile] demonbaby19 wrote recently (in a locked entry, apologies) that after watching "Utopia" it struck her as interesting that the Master was self-sacrificing and brilliant as a human despite the fact that a Time Lord he's totes evil. She wondered what we're supposed to believe/know about the human form of the Time Lord -- do they have an essential self, and if so, is that maybe the part of their personality that tends to reign? Like we know the Doctor is brilliant, but also fearful and with a tendency towards violence. And that's what initially reigns in "Family of Blood." So maybe we are to believe of the Master that they way he will be thwarted is through his...brilliance?

Date: 2007-06-21 04:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That scene with Harriet Jones is one of my favorites of all time. But it's also got to be viewed as pre-Rose leaving, which was a time where the Doctor worked hard at pretending everything was going to work out just fine, and that he'd be able to take care of everyone and everything he loved.

So for humanity, these people he DEFENDS, to take their first contact opportunity and turn it into a war offends the Doctor for exactly that reason -- he HAS to trust and love in humanity, because humanity validates his very existence.

Date: 2007-06-21 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
mmmm, indeed! very well put.

I was watching Terror of the Autons the other day, with John Pertwee, first appearance of the Master and Jo Grant, and when the Doctor objects to having Jo as his assistant, saying he wants a scientist like Liz was, the Brigadier replies, "Nonsense, it's like Liz always said - you don't want an assistant, you want someone to pass your test tubes and tell you how brilliant you are." The thing I love about Martha is that this is the role the Doctor wants her to perform - test tube passing and brilliance-noticing - but it's a role that she constantly refuses and exceeds.

Also, I think the Doctor's aversion to Jack is interesting, not just because he can't manipulate him (which is a great observation, btw) but also because he denies the idea that the Doctor need to be alone: here, finally, is a companion who isn't like Rose, or Sarah Jane, or any of the others (excluding Romana) - here's a companion who won't grow old and die, who can take away his loneliness, and despite the fact that the Doctor abhors his loneliness, Jack is suddenly the thing the Doctor's afraid of. The solution to loneliness is terrifying in itself, perhaps because he's come to rely on it so much (c.f. the way he tries to keep things so light and clean with Martha, early on, before he explains about Rose and the Time War and so forth).

And I think this is also, btw, why the Master is such a perfect, perfect character to bring back at this point in the series - because he literally represents an end to the Doctor's alone-ness (YANA) but he also represents, for the Doctor, something terrifying and dangerous. Being not-alone IS terrifying and dangerous AND desirable and necessary, in the way that the Master, to the Doctor, is desirable and necessary.

man. yay for Tennant, and yay for Ten. So much love!

Date: 2007-06-21 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is great:

Also, I think the Doctor's aversion to Jack is interesting, not just because he can't manipulate him (which is a great observation, btw) but also because he denies the idea that the Doctor need to be alone: here, finally, is a companion who isn't like Rose, or Sarah Jane, or any of the others (excluding Romana) - here's a companion who won't grow old and die, who can take away his loneliness, and despite the fact that the Doctor abhors his loneliness, Jack is suddenly the thing the Doctor's afraid of.

That is spot on, also because Jack poses an alpha-male competitor to the Doctor...another strapping young time traveller who will outlive us all.

AND - I feel like Jack's suggestion that the Doctor's "prejudiced" is totally true -- both for the Doctor having preconceived notions about getting close to a man -- and feeling vulnerable because of that -- and also because it left-handedly points out the Doctor's abject fear of anything he doesn't understand, which are few and are generally relegated to evil in his mind. Like so many sheltered single-minded people of the past, prejudiced against anything that they didn't understand.

Date: 2007-06-21 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're much more eloquent than I am. Here's a transcript of my gtalk with Jalfred yesterday:

Jalfred: I also read a great doctor/jack one where the doctor tells jack to go back to ianto because jack and the doctor have forever.

they really are

me: i might have to post the above
because apparently i am THICK

Jalfred: heh
except for the fact that Jack SCARES THE DOCTOR
the doctor has commitment issues!


Jalfred: well, he is a man.

me: kind of

Jalfred: sort of

Date: 2007-06-21 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No dude, lemme just say, that whole scene. I mean. Starting with the Doctor saying, "when I ran away from you." :: palpitates ::

Commitment issues, fear of happiness, self-loathing...all it takes to keep one cheeky bastard of a Doctor from snogging the hell out of one cheeky bastard of a Captain. Oy.

Date: 2007-06-21 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS, am having problems with finding the correct "Reply" link in my new layout.

Date: 2007-06-21 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Brilliant icon.

We both posted the 'commitment issues' thing at the same time, making it . . . hysterical in a gtalky kinda way.

I almost stopped BREATHING the first time I watched that scene. So excellently well played. Just . . . gah. Jack's existence, as it is now, almost forces the Doctor to confront the things about himself he normally glides around. Jack at least reminds him, just by existing, that there are things he cannot escape about himself and time.

Jack took the long route to catch up to the Doctor! It explains so much of his wry bitterness in Torchwood.

Date: 2007-06-21 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh you're good.


"But all the same, a booster reversal circuit must be, in any time frame, a circuit which reverses the boost."

Can you tell me what's in Tennant's delivery that makes this silly bit of technospeak so hot I must keep rewinding it?

Date: 2007-06-21 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Us, in the same fandom, having the same opinions about the same character?! The universe must be gearing up to implode.

Yes, he will break you like a china doll, that man.

And the booster circuit bit is that extra bit of confidence he gets when he knows he's about to impress someone and he's gearing up for his applause. Followed, often, but the very literal "I'm brilliant!" in case slower audience members were having trouble keeping up with the text.

Also his pseudo-London accent on top of a classically trained Shakespearean Scottish brogue: the same thing that gets me tromping around the house muttering "Doke-tarr Huuu!" which is, of course, Docktah Who in Scottish.

Be mesmerised by my icon a little. That's screw-drive-uh! + jaw pop

Date: 2007-06-21 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Us, in the same fandom, having the same opinions about the same character?!

The end of time and space as we know it, beautiful. I pimped myself the whole show in less than a week, all because I caught twenty-five minutes of Blink in my hotel room the other day. Must be some kind of personal record.

"Doke-tarr Huuu!" which is, of course, Docktah Who in Scottish.

Are you speaking Scottish now? /end Catherine Tate

I'm more than a little bit mesmerized.

Date: 2007-06-21 08:56 pm (UTC)
ext_230: a tiny green frog on a very red leaf (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I love how you describe Tennant's acting talents, because I see it all exactly the same but I would have been unable to lay it down like this. Oh yes, so masterful.

And, and, all of what you write about Ten is true, too, but the interesting thing go me because of it now is also The Master BECAUSE of this dream of normalcy and the burden of his loneliness. If he's not the last of the timelords, is there something there of another kind of dream to be found? some sort of different family and stability - something where The Master's around, not one of the humans which will always forever end up disappearing?

That and Jack, oh yeah, innnnnteresting.

Date: 2007-06-22 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And in being all these things, he's more complicated than Nine, who was very simple to read in some ways: he was in shock and grieving, and he reacted to the last Dalek the way he did because of that anger and grief, and he took such pleasure in the company of Rose and Jack because they made him think about other things. Ten has distance from the war, and with it, more complications, more fucked-up-ness.

you give good meta. :)

Date: 2007-06-22 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Umm...just, lots and lots of word.


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