By Lee Travis
Who's Companion? Thin Ice (Episode 3, Series 10)
Thin Ice briefly puts The Doctor and Bill's relationship in a precarious place before swiftly resolving the plot this week. As the duo emerges from the TARDIS in 1814 London, Bill learns more about the mysterious blue police box she is traveling within these adventures. Once again, Bill is a great wide-eyed character to introduce long-running series plot points through and she handles her new discoveries quite well. Again, Bill is a wonderful companion that doesn’t let The Doctor get too pushy.
Thin Ice is equally about the tools at The Doctor's disposable as the adventure this week. The Doctor reveals that the TARDIS is a beast you must reason with rather than operate. As the history of the TARDIS is slowly unfolding, it only raises more questions about this time traveling machine. Is it even a machine or some kind of living creature? The way The Doctor talks about his traveling home more like an old friend than just a ship. Bill also learns about the famed sonic screwdriver, which seems like some techno-wizardry, to be honest. I still find the sonic screwdriver as a get out of trouble device that can do anything.
But to the core of the episode, Bill’s relationship with The Doctor is tested when she witnesses a death. Bill, being human and only living a short life compared to that of The Doctor, begins to question the morality of the Time Lord she is traveling with. In Bill's view, the extremely long lifespan has left The Doctor cold to the innocents dying around him. He quickly rebukes her statements by mentioning that Bill was just surrounded by a garden full of dead humans and didn’t have this same reaction. Her rebuttal is that she did not witness those deaths.
The Doctor is very cavalier about the loss of life and even fails recall the number of people he witnessed die or killed himself. Bill's line of questioning raises a very interesting quandary for this ancient alien. Does the death and destruction around The Doctor scare him anymore, or does the idea of failing motivate him to save people, planets, time and space? In Smile, The Doctor truly seemed to care when it came to saving the remaining humans, but not concerned about the destruction of earth. Have the years of time and space travel also warped his motivations for helping the galaxy?
Alas, these introspective questions seemed to be dropped by the midpoint of the episode for stopping the alien fish monster and righting some social injustice for starving orphans. I hope that these deeper themes will be touched on again before the Twelfth Doctor is regenerated at the end of the series.
But tell me, has Doctor Who dealt with any of these issues before? And if so, which episode best shows The Doctor caring about humanity? Leave a comment below and let me know on Twitter @lostthenumbers.