Conversations Through Space and Time: Evaluating Eleven (Pt 2)
In this segment, we’ll look at some of the more introspective traits of Eleven. What made him tick? And, more specifically, what made him tick differently than Nine or Ten?
(Need a refresher of Part 1? Try Here.)
Laura: I would argue that Eleven’s monologue-ability rivals the other two modern doctors and wins out every time. His speech to all of his enemies when the Pandorica opens is brilliant. (“ANNNNNND THEN!”) His soliloquies to baby Stormageddon and a young sleeping Amy are beautiful and a tinge heartbreaking. Matt Smith knows how to deliver a monologue.
Jennifer: Eleven’s delivery reminds me of Susan (Vanessa’s fast-talking friend) from The Cosby Show. His monologues are most often external internal-monologues and aren’t necessarily directed toward other characters, which is a little different from other Doctors.
Megan: I remember being so upset about losing 10, I worried about continuing. But a friend of mine told me one of his favorite things about 11 was that he was a little angrier, and seemingly better at it. So, I came in looking for that. Oh, I found it. Eleven delivers a monologue with the best, most malicious mischief. He dares the universe to cross him. He’s funny and awkward and consistently whimsical, but you piss him off in a dark alleyway and he quickly reminds you of his ordeal. His angry try me moments are hands down some of my favorites. A few:
Ep. 5.1 The Eleventh Hour
Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically, run.
Ep. 5.4 The Time of the Angels
Ep. 5.12 The Pandorica Opens
(this needs no statement; but see my thoughts on catchphrases, because Come ooooon, then!)
Ep. 6.4 The Doctor’s Wife. **My favorite episode of all time.
House: Fear me. I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.
Eleven: Fear me. I’ve killed all of them.
I could go on. But, basically, he has nailed the angry, raggedy Doctor: worse than everybody’s aunt.
L: Eleven was my first doctor. I realize that doesn’t make any sense, but he’s the only doctor I saw in passing while my husband was watching it that made me remotely want to entertain the idea of watching Doctor Who. I watched him first, then went back to 9. So for me, his defining moment is landing in Amy Pond’s yard. He won me over from day one. He’s the reason I watch this show at all. His charm, his wit, his humor–it all comes across in that first episode. Of course, he gets even better as it goes on, but Eleven had me from the get-go.
J: I have several. 1) In 5.3, The Beast Below, he was willing to kill the alien to save humanity. This crops up in several other episodes where he seems completely willing to sacrifice himself. 2) In one of my favorite and sadly often forgotten episodes, 5.7, he interacts with the Dream Lord. More about this later…
M: I loved series 5. I loved Eleven in a charmed, intrigued but distant way the entire way through that first season with him. But my defining moment comes in my all time favorite episode, the aforementioned The Doctor’s Wife (Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who debut!!). His victory speech to that villain has been a line that settled him in my bones as the Doctor, as well as something that swirls and bangs around in my head like the wild TARDIS itself just as consistent lifeperspective: That’s your problem, House. Size of a planet but on the inside you’re just…so…small.
RELATIONSHIP TO COMPANION(S):
L: Eleven’s relationships with Amy and Rory are characterized by a deep adoration and care for their well-being. Even though there was no romantic relationship with Amy (something I appreciated), Amy holds a special place in his heart(s). He was endeared to her when she was a child, and therefore still feels the need to take care of her and prove himself to her. As a couple and as individuals, Amy and Rory mature greatly over the course of their tenure, and you get the sense that the Doctor actually looks up to them. He admires them. The depth of his relationship with Amy and by extension, Rory, helps shape the Doctor and makes it all the more heartbreaking when they leave.
With Clara, everything is new and different. She knows nothing of his past life and, though she is an adventurer, she is skeptical of him. Unlike any of the other companions (except maybe Donna), she is not impressed by him. She is (was?) a mystery to him. A totally different relationship than with Amy. The Doctor and Clara are still getting to know each other, but I think their relationship will be a fun partnership.
J: He’s always rather evasive, isn’t he? At least with Rory and Amy – I honestly can’t remember much about his interactions with Clara. He’s connecting with them and caring about them, but it seems to be at the cost of being 100% comfortable and himself around them. I didn’t notice this on a first watching. Nine and Ten just seemed more communicative with their companions; they let people into their lives a little more. One thing that annoys me – Eleven lives on the edge of possibility, apparently. If Clara is known as “the impossible girl,” I can’t overlook that first Amy was “mad, impossible Amy Pond.” In Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen says “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” I don’t know if recalling that quote that makes me like all of these impossibilities more, or expect them to pay off less.
- Nice moments with Rory: I feel like Eleven could’ve left Rory at home, but he brought him in for Amy’s sake. The Doctor saw what he did with Rose and Mickey’s relationship – pulling out one member of a pair and taking them on grand adventures before sending them home for a visit. Even outside of the romantic relationship with Rose and the Doctor, there was a different kind of resentment between her and Mickey. Rory and Amy won’t have to go through that. To me, Rory exists as someone who can call the Doctor on his alien-ness (see “Mindset” below). For example, there’s this one scene where Rory is talking to the Doctor about how dangerous he (the Doctor) is: “It’s not that you make people take risks, it’s that you make them want to impress you.” SO GOOD. (Side note: You know who didn’t fall risk to this? Donna Noble. All the points to Donna’s Hogwarts house. I claim her on behalf of Hufflepuff.)
Also in regard to the companions, I love these moments:
- In the episode with the Silence, he refers to his “agents” as the Legs, the Nose and Mrs. Robinson (“Oh, I hate you.”). So good.
- Doctor: “I’m being extremely clever up here and there’s no one standing around looking impressed. What’s the point of having you call?” River (to Amy and Rory): “Shouldn’t we just slap him sometimes?”
- “Space can be very lonely and the greatest adventure is to have someone sharing it with you.” This line made me miss Donna Noble very, very much. I wonder if Eleven misses Donna.
M: I’ll be brief here, as Jen and I have talked at length about the companions themselves in previous posts. But overall, I am convinced that Eleven was given great story lines for companions, and terrible companions in comparison. He stole every drop and dash of spotlight from them every single time in my opinion (much as I came to love the lot of them) (sans Clara, who should’ve been cast as a child).
L: Though Ten does have recurring characters aside from companions, like Captain Jack and Harriet Jones, Eleven has a gang. More than one, actually, if you count the group he actually deems his gang (“It’s new.”). Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax are always there for him, especially when he loses the Ponds. They’re always in the same place in time, so he can always go back to them. They fight for him and protect him, but also provide a sense of steady companionship, which, ironically, companions can’t really sustain. Eleven’s gang always gets a welcome return in my book.
J: This guy isn’t really a member of the gang, yet he’s always a member of the gang, you know what I mean? The Dream Lord. There’s that moment when he’s in his tweed and bowtie and says “I love it when he does that. Tall, dark, hero.” And then he immediately “changes” into spiffier clothes – WHICH ARE ALMOST EXACTLY WHAT ELEVEN WEARS WITH CLARA. Damn, Moffat can be good. Then later in the same episode, Eleven tells the Dream Lord “There’s only one person in the universe that hates me as much as you do.” Break my heart, Matt Smith. Break. My. Heart. Oh, and God bless Craig Owens.
M: Hands down one of the most relatable things Eleven brought to the Doctor was his deep love [need, even?] for everyone getting along and just being together [much like a child], yet feeling awkward trying to actually receive or participate in the togetherness. Remember when he wanted to spend Christmas with the Ponds and found they’d set a place for him every single year? What a great, great moment in respect to having/being a crew/gang. *sigh. Does he HAVE TO GO?!!?
RELATIONSHIP TO VILLAIN(S):
L: My all time favorite villains are the weeping angels. Though they typically send you back in time rather than kill you, they are one of the most (if not THE most) terrifying Who villains. Primarily because I can’t go more than three seconds without blinking. I know they didn’t originate with Eleven, but he has my favorite interactions with them. They are subtle and silent, yet powerful and frightening. You can’t reason with them. You just have to accept their presence and figure out a plan. The urgency they create just by standing there, and the fact that they only move when you aren’t watching–brilliant.The two-part episode in which River, the Doctor and Amy take on the angels with the soldiers (The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone) is one of my favorites.
J: Eleven is the most sympathetic Doctor we’ve seen toward our villains. At times, this Doctor has been a villain (Hyde, Flesh). I like both of these things. Especially in that Flesh episode – as frustrating as his episodes can be, Moffat is really great at societal lessons. (Side note: I don’t know where this comes from, but Matt Smith is SUPERB at playing against himself*. Two are at least just as good as one (and better than him playing against Miss Sexy Mouse).)
M: Perhaps the most endearing quality about Eleven to me is his consistent sight of himself in nearly every [supposed] villain he encounters. It is a weakness of his from the word ‘go,’ (rather, from the speech Amy gives him in Ep 5.2 The Beast Below [Amazing, though, don’t you think? The Star Whale. All that pain and misery… and loneliness… and it just made it kind.]) and somehow everyone manages to play on it. I’m thinking specifically of Ep 7.3, A Town Called Mercy and 7.9 Cold War. But it’s perfect every time to me. It feeds his angry vibe, his whole heroic ‘woe is me’ mindset (I’m getting there), as well as gives him every opportunity to overcome himself, which he does. Is doing. Will do.
L: In “The Day of the Doctor,” Rose (or the interface, rather) calls Ten “the one who regrets” and Eleven “the one who forgets.” I think that’s pretty accurate. Eleven, even more so than Ten, gets caught up in whimsy and childlike expressions. He doesn’t want to talk about what happened that day, and he has a lot of buried anger about it that he’d rather not tap into. It leaks out in places, but I think “the one who forgets”—or the one who chooses to forget—is a fair description.
J: I’ve read SO MUCH about this – Nine being the “revenge one,” Ten being the “regret one,” etc. What is Eleven? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer. While he does seem flippant and easy-going a lot of the time (“I do what I always do. Stay out of trouble. Badly.”), he also has some really angry moments (“You don’t ever get to decide what I need to know!”) I think that (and again, I can only say this about his time with Amy and Rory…sorry for drawing a blank on Clara) his mindset can be summed up in this line, again from The Beast Below – “The impossible choice: humanity or the alien.” You just have to look as far as his friendship with Craig to see that’s what he’s working through his entire run. How human can he be without remembering – or being drawn back into – something that’s superhuman, extra-human, alien?
M: Look. Y’all know I love the Doctor. I do. Thick and thin. Sickness and health. Till Bad Wolf Bay do us part. But he’s growing a bit tragically narcissistic these days, which truthfully is a perfect carryover from Ten’s whole “…the laws of time are mine and they will obey me” complex. The Doctor, as any consistent hero, is always in danger of it; it’s why he’s always told by the people who love him to stop traveling alone. But Eleven’s companions have NOT helped the situation at hand, even though I think their whole strong-feminine-you-don’t-know-everything approach was supposed to come across as putting him back into his place. If you ask me, it didn’t work. And we need a new Donna Noble to come in and actually take care of this. Stat. Read: River Song. Kthanks.
Just for your feels: Megan’s coping playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/megebeam/playlist/0877eGbougj6BzEOwCd6OX.
*I recently got into a very detailed discussion about Eleven with my friend Natalie and she had some interesting and potentially divisive things to say about Matt Smith playing opposite himself. I implore her to comment and hash that out again. Fish fingers and custard for thought.