At some distant time, unimaginably alien to us, our ancient universe will die. Dead planets will swing around cold suns, circling through darkened constellations that themselves will wheel through galaxies dark and cold as black ice - each one streaming away in all directions from the rumor of light and heat, into the vast and endless Stygian dark.
And I'll still be plugging away at this damned meme.
Day 19 - The scene that made you cry the most
One of the things that made me love New Who with a ferocity that still surprises me is its ability to make me cry.
That, with some very rare exceptions, was not the case when I watched Old Who. I loved that iteration of the show for different reasons, and the times it engaged my emotions were noteworthy in part for their rarity as well as for their quality.
The new show, both as reimagined by RTD and as it has continued under Moffatt, seems to be built, in part at least, on the understanding that there is far more capacity for understanding joy and tragedy, sorrow and victory, in the stories of a madman in a dimensionally transcendent box, than viewers, writers or producers previously understood, or were willing to countenance.
Not all the efforts are successful, and sometimes the success in engaging our emotions can be bought exceedingly cheaply. I've cried at New Who episodes as a result of blatant manipulation and I've cried at beautifully written stories honestly told and acted. In the end, even the blatant manipulation stands some kind of twisted quality test because it is still an attempt to bring the Whoniverse to life, and to let us hear the beating dual hearts of the show.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the episodes, and the scenes in them, that made me cry.
Vincent and the Doctor - I've watched this at least four or five times, and I still cry, both at the scene where the Krafayis dies, and the scene where Vincent hears Dr. Black talk about his art. I cry for different reasons. The first time I cried when the Krafayis* died, I thought I was merely falling prey to cheaply manipulative plotting. On subsequent watches, I've decided there's more to it. I'm crying because the death of something lonely, in pain, frightened and confused is never totally manipulative. I'm also crying because this death has exposed both the Doctor's specific mistake about one individual ("I know evil when I see it, and that's it.") and - more tragic and intriguing - suggests that perhaps he and the universe were at least partly wrong about Krafayis in general. (Krafayans? Krafayii? Krafayites? Oh, bother.) And we feel the Doctor's despair and self-disgust at having made such a mistake. On the other hand, I believe I'm crying for joy when Vincent hears Dr. Black enthuse so eloquently (if floridly) about Van Gogh's work. It's a strange and lovely kind of pain, and more notable because crying for joy is such a rare bitterly-sweet pleasure.
*Krafayan for Giant Space Chicken, or Giant Space Chicken-parrot. Linguists are divided.
Gridlock - There's a lot to snicker at in "Gridlock," but only on an intellectual level. On the emotional plane, what this story says about the holiness of fellowship, and the reality of how we all help each other through life by telling stories that may only be true because they ought to be, is almost mythic in the power it has for me. It also speaks to my understanding of being an outsider, and finding outsiders with whom I am no longer an outsider - fandom. The scene where everyone on the Motorway stops to sing the ancient old hymns of salvation, and the scene when the the Face of Boe, who brought them from one form of salvation to another, at the cost of his own life ... salvation and the holiness of humanity in any form ... yup. Tearing up again.
Father's Day - A casual observer might call this scene blatant manipulation, too. It isn't; not for me, at least. "Father's Day" is the story of a man who thought he was small, and learned he wasn't, and a girl who did something wrong for all the right reasons, and had her heart filled and broken at the same time as a result. When Rose's Dad realizes who she is; when, only a short time later, he asks her who he is, and wins her tear-filled answer, then goes out to die ... I think of it, and I start to well up. "Who am I, love?" A Big Damn Hero, that's who.
Parting of the Ways - Perhaps I am in a minority here when I say that the scene that makes me cry the most in this episode, above all its other tremendously affecting and powerful scenes, is Jack's final moments before the Daleks. When he throws away the gun and opens his arms for death - even as he sneers at them, and in doing so dismisses their power over him - he has become the hero he didn't believe he could be. When I cry here, it's partly out of sorrow and partly out of overwhelming pride in the spirit of the man. And from a writer's standpoint, I love the fact that the power of the scene is amplified by the almost non-existent dialogue: "Exterminate." "I kinda figured that." Another Big Damn Hero.
The Satan Pit - This two-part episode (with The Impossible Planet) was one of the best episodes in the second season, and possibly my favorite, because it made me care about every character on the station; it was a story that rose above cheap red-shirting, and for that, I love it despite Tennant's McShoutypants scene at the last. And the scene in which the saturnine security chief Mr. Jefferson gives his life, saying his low-key goodbyes to Captain Cross Flane, gets me every time. This oddly sensitive man, who quotes poetry for the dead as the body of Scooti floats above him, was very real to me, as was his sacrifice. And even as I'm composing myself after John Maynard Jefferson dies, the waterworks start again in the split second that I see the Ood cling to each other as they die, frightened and confused.
Waters of Mars - I've written a lot about this episode, but I'm still struck by the emotional power and technical elegance of the scene where the Bowie Base team fights fruitlessly to save themselves as the Doctor watches, just before his breaking heart warps his judgment.
And finally - This is not a scene from the show. It's writing about the show (a recap of "Doomsday") and every time I read this final segment from "Hold the Line With Me" by Jacob Clifton, over at Television Without Pity, I cry, starting with the very first sentence and going from there, because he understands Doctor Who the way I understand it: Blue Boxes, grace, love and all that comes after. "Once there was a boy, loom-born and Academy-taught, who went out into the world with a magical machine, and had adventures."