Daily Archives: August 4, 2008

Ethics and Morality in Doctor Who; Journey’s End

In my review of Journey’s End I mentioned that there were several moral considerations that fans are discussing.  I’ll go into a couple in depth here, and talk about my perspective.  Feel free to weigh in.

1) Was BlueDoctor morally right, or justified in killing off “all” of the Daleks?  And, relatedly, was BrownDoctor right or hypocritical for judging Blue for doing so?  Was Brown unfair to Blue on this point, and hence illogical?

First, I would have to say, from my position, that Blue did not act in a morally correct way.  First of all, he did not take anyone’s life into account when doing so…for example, Dalek Caan explained how he was really helping the situation through Donna…yet, Blue starts destroying everything causing more chaos, and hence, less time to try to save anyone worth saving.

Were there more humans on the Crucible?  It’s very possible.  Of course, there may have been a fast-moving plot point that got by me that mentioned human prisoners all being held somewhere else.

Was there a non-lethal means of containing the Daleks, or stopping them?  Surely between Blue, Brown, and DoctorDonna, they could’ve come up with something.  In short, I understand why Blue did it, and his emotional and mental state at the time, but the ends (ending the Dalek threat in that way) does not always justify the means.

And, yes, I believe BrownDoctor was being hypocritical in his reaction to Blue’s act.  Nine did the same thing, only caused the deaths of others as well.  I get that Ten had changed, but was the level of vehemence toward Blue really necessary?  I do think that it was Brown’s emotions talking, but still.  He loves Rose well enough, and she atomized a whole batch of Daleks as Bad Wolf.  Brown is treating people inconsistently when it comes to his reactions, and forgiveness to “genocide;” hence is reacting illogically.

2) Did BrownDoctor treat Rose and Blue in a morally correct way by leaving them on Bad Wolf Bay without regard for their free will choices?  I don’t think he made an ethical choice on either count.  Here we have Rose, the one whom he loves, and he basically decides her life for her without regard for what she desires.  He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t give options and let her choose, he simply decided what he wants, and carries it out.  Excuse me for the poor analogy, but it is like a man ordering for a woman at a restaurant without consulting her first…

“Yes, she’ll have the steak…”

“But, I don’t…”

“Shhhh, honey, I’m trying to order…no thanks, she won’t have dessert, she’s full…”

The same holds true for his decisions for Blue.  BlueDoctor has The Doctor’s mind, his memories, his emotions, and yet Brown believes that he has the moral high ground; that he is right, and anything Blue might come up with would be wrong.  Again; hypocrisy in action.

IMO, The Doctor actually sets Blue and Rose up to cause more mayhem than if they were to travel with him.  Let’s face it, Rose was working on a way to rip through dimensions to make her way back to the Doctor, there is nothing to stop her from continuing that research.  And who really believes Blue will be content being stuck on Earth against his will?  As one commenter on my review post points out, The Doctor even offered to let the Master travel with him, to keep an eye on him, yet he would not do the same for himself.

I do understand that Brown was trying to work something out where everyone would be moderately happy (except for himself), but that does not give him the right to deny those same people a true choice, and it does not guarantee that happiness.  A choice freely made is a lot more binding than a forced choice.  We can tell, at least from Rose’s reaction that she did not want to stay behind, though part of her does indeed care for Blue.

3) Was it morally right for the Doctor to wipe Donna’s memories when it apparently was against her will?  I say no.  Even if it would have killed her, it was not a “suicide” situation.  She was not knowingly killing herself, she did not cause her own death, circumstance did.  Cancer patients have the right to refuse treatment if they do not believe that the treatment will enhance their life even if it may prolong it.

I also maintain that one of the Doctor’s “sins” was one of omission rather than commission.  He did not try to convince her, just as he did not really try to convince Rose and Blue.  He did not try to calm her down, either verbally, or by joining their two minds.  She was left crying and begging “no,” as he wiped her memory.  There was no, “I’ll try to figure out how to restore you,” or “I’ll look in on you every time I come back,” nothing.  He decided for her that her mental death was worth saving her from physical death, not only that, but a mental death in the face of terrified refusal.

I do realize this gives the character of Donna another chance to show up later, and I agree with that choice (and think it will happen) ; however, as I pointed out above, to me, it damages the Doctor’s character because it was indeed against another’s will.  I think that he could have calmed her, and convinced her to agree, especially when their minds met.  I do hope that this plot point, this occurrence, is mentioned again on the show, with the emotional repercussions of the Doctor’s decision coming out.

This is one episode that does raise a lot of debate, which can be fun, as long as we remember that it is, in the end, just a show…though a very good one.

1 Comment

Filed under Doctor Who, Of Interest, Reviews, Uncategorized