(speech from Doctor Who S09E08 – The Zygon Inversion)
The Doctor: You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you. You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who’ll end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they’re prepared to forgive. Why don’t you break the cycle?
Bonnie: Why should we?
The Doctor: What is it that you actually want?
The Doctor: Ah. And when this war is over, when – when you have the homeland free from humans, what do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? Have you given it any consideration? Because you’re very close to getting what you want. What’s it going to be like? Paint me a picture. Are you going to live in houses? Do you want people to go to work? What’ll be holidays? Oh! Will there be music? Do you think people will be allowed to play violins? Who will make the violins? Well? Oh, You don’t actually know, do you? Because, just like every other tantruming child in history, Bonnie, you don’t actually know what you want. So, let me ask you a question about this brave new world of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one?
Bonnie: We’ll win.
Doctor: Oh, will you? Well maybe – maybe you will win. But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keepts turning. So, come on. Break the cycle.
Bonnie: Then why are you still talking?
The Doctor: Because I’m trying to get you to see. And I’m almost there.
Bonnie: Do you know what I see, Doctor? A box. A box with everything I need. A 50% chance.
Kate: For us, too.
[The Doctor sighs.]
The Doctor: And we’re off! Fingers on buzzers! Are you feeling lucky? Are you ready to play the game? Who’s going to be quickest? Who’s going to be the luckiest?
Kate: This is not a game!
The Doctor: No, it’s not a game, sweetheart, and I mean that most sincerely.
Bonnie: Why are you doing this?
Kate: Yes, I’d like to know that too. You set this up – why?
The Doctor: Because it’s not a game, Kate. This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die. You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they’re always going to have to do from the very beginning – sit down and talk! Listen to me, listen. I just – I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.
Bonnie: I will not change my mind.
The Doctor: Then you will die stupid. Alternatively, you could step away from that box. You could walk right out of that door, and you could stand your revolution down.
Bonnie: No, I’m not stopping this, Doctor. I started it. I will not stop it. You think they’ll let me go after what I’ve done?
The Doctor: You’re all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? “Look at me, I’m unforgivable.” Well here’s the unforeseeable, I forgive you. After all you’ve done. I forgive you.
Bonnie: You don’t understand. You will never understand.
The Doctor: I don’t understand? Are you kidding? Me? Of course I understand. I mean, do you call this a war, this funny little thing? This is not a war. I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine, and when I close my eyes… I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight… Til it burns your hand. And you say this – no one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will ever have to feel this pain. Not on my watch.
I’ve been wanting to post that speech since the episode aired in the hopes that someone, anyone, even a single person would read it and it would make an impact. I still hope that, but I will post for myself regardless.
This speech was everything: insightful, powerful, relevant – and if it wasn’t relevant enough already, consider this: it aired six days before the attacks on Paris. I mean. If I was even slightly unsure before about my position on war and peace, revenge and forgiveness, this episode of Doctor Who solidified it for me.
The same thing happened to me in regards to the Syrian refugee crisis. Doctor Who dictated my morality. I remember Steve and I were driving to East Texas in the middle of the night one Saturday in October and we were discussing the matter. Specifically, we were discussing the idea that people who wish harm upon us might be using the refugee crisis to sneak their way into America only to exact some amount of violence on us later. I told him I had seen/heard people say that and I realized… I didn’t care. Because what would The Doctor do? If he was faced with the choice to save 100,000 people, with the risk that 10 of them might be evil, what would he do? He would fucking save them, that’s what. Because it’s the right thing to do – without exception.
I know. It’s Doctor Who. It seems funny to those who don’t watch. But isn’t this the best thing that a piece of art – television, movies, books, all of it – can be to someone? Isn’t that the point? To make us think? To make us change our hearts and minds? It’s beautiful.
I have more to say on these subjects, but I will let the lovely influence of Doctor Who stand alone. To be continued.