The following article contains plot spoilers for the recent Doctor Who Season Finale, A Death In Heaven.
I came away from the finale of Peter Capaldi’s first season as The Doctor with a rather large set of mixed emotions. While I loved Capaldi’s performance, Clara’s stint masquerading as The Doctor, every facet of Missy’s performance and the entire ending narrative between our two protagonists as they parted ways, I still came away from the episode unhappy and emotionally drained.
I did not like the way this episode of Doctor Who and it’s preceding first half treated the lives of the current day, real earth, recently deceased within the setting of a pre watershed family program.
To clarify from the start yes, I know Zombies as a concept appear within children’s programming and I do not bat an eye at that. I believe there is a very important set of differences between the average zombie portrayal within media and the way that the dead were here employed as Cybermen. The key differences are the real world present day setting and the specificity used when pinpointing who was being forcibly brought back.
The two part season finale to Doctor Who made me uncomfortable because it is very clear to specify that it is set in present day London on earth. It is very specific in telling audiences that the souls of the cremated suffer and loose their connection to our earth. It very directly tells us that every grave, every crematorium, every morgue and every other place in England where the dead may be is being effected. It goes out of it’s way to say that every recently deceased body in the country where I and my partner live is being held against it’s will, being brought back to life to do unspeakable things. By the end, it acts as if bringing back the non cremated deceased from the dead is not only possible, but not even a big deal. It tells it’s story, but it’s specificity made it impossible for me not to imagine these events were implied to be happening to those I know who have recently deceased.
Once again some clarification, I know the difference between fiction and reality. I know this is not happening to those I love. The difference however is that while usually media keeps a level of distance between our reality and it’s own with depictions of the dead, either by implying a limited area being affected or a fictional setting. In this Doctor Who finale however, they make a point of saying that “every person who has ever lived” is being effected, that includes those close to my life. That hurts. That was much more difficult for me to watch than most examples of zombie fiction.
You may well disagree with me, and that’s okay. The joy of media critique is every interpretation of the subject material is equally valid. However, this is why I struggled with Doctor Who and it’s depictions of life after death.