setsuled: (Doctor Chess)

A little historical perspective isn't too painful, is it? To-day's new episode of Doctor Who, "Eaters of Light", did something I wished the show did more often--it incorporated aspects of history into its plot and argument in a way that also potentially educates the viewer. This was part of the original series concept, after all, back in 1963, and I never thought it was such a bad idea. Although the writer for to-day's episode, Rona Munro, just barely qualifies as a classic series writer--she wrote Survival, the 1989 final serial of the classic series--"Eaters of Light" definitely felt like old Who in ways I really liked.

Spoilers after the screenshot

The season long theme of colonising and people oppressed based on race or nationality takes a form surprisingly resonant with to-day's politics in this new episode. Here we have racially diverse, sexually liberated Romans invading the lands of the all white, rural Picts, and the two of groups need to set aside their differences to confront a threat to the entire universe. Whether it was intended or not, one could see this as reflecting the politics of relatively affluent liberals versus poor conservatives--Londoners versus people outside the city who voted for Brexit, in other words, or in the U.S., educated liberals versus ignorant and out of work Trump voters. And the realisation that all these people need to work together if we want any hope of addressing the threat of climate change. As a being that eats light--something that foils enlightenment--the episode's monster could be seen as a manifestation of a compulsion to avoid empathy. This really does feel like a natural evolution of the political themes in the Seventh Doctor era.

There's even something very Seventh Doctor-ish in the off-hand way Twelve (Peter Capaldi) explains the crows who can talk. Though maybe Peter Capaldi is more appropriate for this story because he's a Scotsman with Italian ancestry. Well, either one would have worked. I love Capaldi's performance this season, his understated grace is a long way from the stupid peevishness in "Robot of Sherwood".

I love how Munro used the TARDIS translation circuits to say something about what the Doctor does. In all the analysis of the Doctor as a character that's endemic to the new series, it's not until now we have this very simple thing--the ability for the TARDIS to automatically translate language facilitates communication. Suddenly the Romans and the Picts can talk to each other on the same footing. It seems a small thing, but it's essential to the Doctor's characteristic strategy of assuming anyone can be met as a fellow sentient being.

I could quibble that Bill (Pearl Mackie) ought to've known the basics of Roman culture if she was so well read on the Ninth Legion. But her discovering the different perspective on sexuality among the Romans is a nice way for younger viewers to be introduced to the idea that such perspectives have a very long history. And I'm not sure why the Doctor's argument about his greater lifespan is invalidated because the humans got brave. But it's still a pretty sweet idea, Romans and Picts united forever and a ghostly music forever being heard from the hill.

A Comey Day

Jun. 8th, 2017 06:23 pm
setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Despite he and Trump having had a "thing", James Comey didn't do Trump any favours to-day. What was the "thing" Comey quotes Trump as alluding to in one of their now infamous private conversations? Comey speculated in his testimony to-day, at the insistence of John McCain, about the "thing": "I concluded at the time, in his memory, he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner and was preparing himself to say I offered loyalty to you, you promise loyalty to me. All of a sudden, I think his memory did not happen and he pulled up short." I guess this is different from a trial where a lawyer would stand up and say, "Objection--speculative!" Speculation is fair game, it seems. It's weird how often Comey was asked to speculate, anyway.

Now, if I were to speculate about "the thing", I'd say it was Comey's announcement about investigating Clinton's e-mails shortly before election night. At the time, that was widely seen as a show of Comey's loyalty to Trump and, wouldn't you know, Clinton's e-mails were made an important part of the committee testimony to-day by Republicans who continually, awkwardly tried to steer back to the issue. Most strikingly McCain, who was so incoherent as to seem physically unwell, insisted there was a double standard simply because Comey had concluded one investigation while another was ongoing.

Of course, now it doesn't seem likely Comey was being a Trump loyalist when he made the critical announcement about the investigation of Clinton's e-mails. But everyone at the time figured he was--certainly everyone on TV. We know Trump mainly keeps himself informed on everything through cable news, much to the consternation of his National Security Advisers. So the "thing", I believe, is this narrative that Trump bought into.

For those of us who don't want the country controlled by a dimwitted creep, Comey having previously seemed to be on Trump's side may be a blessing in disguise, and I think Republicans recognise that and that's why they're trying so hard to re-write history now. Because, with these two investigations, Comey really and truly does look impartial. You can see this is what Republicans are desperately afraid of and that's why they put out the hastily assembled, bizarrely campaign-like attack ads on Comey which seem to say little more than that Comey is politically biased. And has always been biased. Well, fortunately this isn't 1984 and you can't make people forget the narrative from six months ago with a hokey piece of propaganda. At least I hope not.

The Republican loyalty to Trump is really strange at this point. There's something more to it than partisanship. With all the Republicans who came out publicly against him before the election and what, one would think, is the more attractive prospect of a Pence presidency--and the political capital to be gained from pursuing criminal charges against Trump and thereby seeming bipartisan--you'd think all the Republicans on the committee wouldn't be so lock-step. Particularly McCain who's been insulted by Trump and who has expressed words against the orange man. It makes the incoherence of his questions this morning all the more intriguing. I feel like McCain is being blackmailed somehow, if it isn't a medical issue.

Without a proper president right now, it occurred to me that the U.S. feels sort of headless. Then I thought, like The Headless Horseman--and Trump's the pumpkin.


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