So, I was watching the excellent Jessica Jones on Netflix. Beyond admiring the writing, production, and acting talents of Krysten Ritter and a certain David Tennant, I got to thinking — is there a dark side to Doctor Who? If you haven’t seen Jessica Jones, and have access, I recommend it highly (and also Dirk Gently with the wonderful Samuel Barnett, but I digress).
What is this dark side of which I write? Let’s discover…
The Kilgrave effect
It isn’t much of a spoiler to say Jessica Jones is a Marvel spin-off in which some characters have super-normal abilities. Kilgrave’s is a total mental domination he can deliver with almost no effort at all. It’s chilling and David Tennant is utterly compelling in this evil role (and he uses his British accent, of course). As a Doctor Who fan/ reviewer/ writer I can’t watch something like this without some small part of my (small) brain wondering what this tells us about Doctor Who itself. First off, we all know Time Lords have varying degrees of telepathic power, though the Doctor’s isn’t huge. Other Time Lords do more with their psychic portfolio: the Master / Missy is known for mind-control, there’s the Sonomancer for those who have heard The Doom Coalition, and Salyavin in Shada mind-control is taken to extremes. It’s a fact. Time Lords have mental powers of domination. But does the Doctor?
Well I think he does, even if they are not directed consciously. Take the sacrifice of the nameless hostess in Midnight and the numerous martyrs in Voyage of the Damned, or even Rose in Rose. The Doctor brings out the best in his companions, but also (and sometimes quickly) gets them willing to take risks and ‘do the right thing’ even if they die and he doesn’t. It’s been commented on in show, but the psychic link not stressed. I think it’s time this facet of Time Lord power was made more apparent, and I will be keeping my eyes open in future episodes.