It has come to my attention that the powers that be have scheduled an official live watch / tweet of World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls with live-tweets from Steven Moffat, Rachel Tallalay, Pearl Mackie, and Matt Lucas and all I can say is
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Undoubtedly y’all have access to the same internet that I do, and so you MUST be aware of the situation here in the states. If you are not, somehow, here’s the Wikipedia article, do the work yourself. Black people are grieving, and protests have been raging on for days. Considering this, it is INSANE to me that someone would recommend a watch along of these episodes when one has a very graphic depiction of a BLACK companion with a gaping hole in her chest and the other depicts that same BLACK companion being approached with fear and suspicion and being told that she can’t be emotional because her JUSTIFIED anger and hurt make her dangerous.
Y’all got me fucked up!
I’ve been completely tuned out of social media, for many reasons, not the least of which is the onslaught of bad news and even worse takes. Feel-good television and video games have been my escape, and I’ve been careful not to watch anything that would feel too current, too relevant, and hit too close to home. Doctor Who is one of those shows I can put on to drown out the noise when the outside world gets too loud and starts to hurt. But it is a show that deals with hard topics and can sometimes be an ugly reflection of our real-world issues. Or at the very least, it can expose real-world biases, in how characters are treated, in how fandom reacts to that.
As a Black fan, watching World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls is never enjoyable. There are moments in both, that taken out of the context of the episodes, are cool or fun, and would probably be worth revisiting. But because they exist alongside Bill’s pain, and sometimes depend on the exploitation if that pain to “work,” they don’t stand up. Those episodes do a lot for Twelve, and a lot for Missy and the Master, but they do nothing for Bill. On top of what they don’t do for the character, what they do do is bad on every level.
An alien shoots Bill square in the torso, leaving a (graphic) gaping hole. People (not companions, note) die on Doctor Who all the time, but a choice was made to show us Bill’s mangled body. We don’t see any other modern companions die, and their deaths are so ambiguous any of them could feasibly return to the show without much explanation. And before you, “well actually” me about Bill being dead… This is semantics.
We don’t see other (white) characters being butchered on-screen. Clara had a spiritual Raven pass through her, painlessly as far as I can tell. Amy and Rory lived long and happy lives and died of old age, again, painlessly. Martha, Donna, and Rose are coolin’. Bill is the only companion we see get shot and wounded. AND that’s not even the worst part.
Bill’s “saved” by who knows who, and after being “healed,” is put to work as a janitor. Fam. When all is revealed, we discover she is a Cyberman. She is the second Moffat-Era character, and second Black character to be turned into a Cyberman. ???? (That’s 2 for 2 for those counting.) And, even worse than the CyberBlack before her, she has to save everyone else with the same emotions and humanity that was literally denied her. Her emotions were dangerous until they could be used. This is too on the nose and it’s not surprising, but still upsetting, that the writers are oblivious.
Fuck those episodes!
Those episode are not fun under the best of circumstances and are actively harmful in the current social/cultural context. Black people in the real world are met with fear and suspicion for daring to exist in their own skin. That same fear and suspicion is used to justify their deaths, even when they’ve done no wrong and pose no threat. Black people are told that our anger is too dangerous, that we have to suck it up, or take it, so we don’t scare anyone, so we don’t harm anyone, without regard to what we’ve endured and what we’re constantly battling. Bill, a Black, queer woman, literally becomes and embodiment of that trauma. And what’s worse, the show doesn’t realize it. Ugh.
But, because allies do exist (shout out to @inquiringjoy for organizing), and are apart of this fandom, there is an alternative:
I could say more but I’m trying not to get my pressure up… I hope you’ll be watching and tweeting along with us. Black people, take care of yourselves, and each other, and reach out if you need to. You’re loved and valued and your life matters!