Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Doctor Evil

I used to subscribe to a horror RPG mailing list. Someone there thought had what I thought was a great idea. He took Rassilon from Doctor Who mythology, first and greatest of the Time Lords and posited that he was really Nyaralthotep. His plan involved the Matrix,  the living computer to which the memories of Time Lords are uploaded upon their death.  When it reached a critical mass of memories, it would become self-aware, whereupon Nyarlathotep would drive it insane and thereby create Azathoth.

This actually doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the post, except in the very broadest sense of Time Lords as villains, but I thought it was too neat not to share.

I've been ruminating on this since my post last week.

I think the Doctor would make a great villain. Not a counterpart to the Doctor, like the Master, not some parallel universe evil Doctor, not somebody pretending to be the Doctor, but the Doctor himself, doing what he always does.

Look what he did to Harriet Jones.  Aliens had attacked Earth and mind-controlled its inhabitants. The Doctor had run them off, but as they were leaving, Harriet Jones ordered their ship destroyed. This, I'm reasonably certain, is a reference to Margaret Thatcher's sinking of the Argentinian warship Belgrano during the Falklands War.  The account I've heard of the incident is that the warship wasn't retreating, but returning to port only because conditions wouldn't permit an attack on that particular day. And I'm as liberal as they come, but it's hard to fault her that.

Anyway, Number 10 puts on his best Barty Crouch face and with his teeth a gnashing, destroys this woman with six words.

Doctor, why you ackin' so cray-cray?

The Doctor: Don't challenge me, Harriet Jones! 'Cause I'm a completely new man! I could bring down your government with a single word!
Harriet Jones: You're the most remarkable man I've ever met. But I don't think you're quite capable of that.
The Doctor: No, you're right. Not a single word; just six.
Harriet Jones: I don't think so.
The Doctor: Six words.
Harriet Jones: Stop it!

The Tenth Doctor had become the kind of menace the Fourth Doctor used to stop. Not incidentally, the premature departure of Harriet Jones ended Britain's Golden Age and left a power vacuum that allowed the Master to rise to power, conquer the earth and kill billions of people.

The thing that makes him a great villain is that he felt he was completely justified in the act. It reminds me of a passage I like from a story I love, The Last Defender of Camelot.

"He is mad, Launcelot. Many of us felt a great relief at his passing. If the realm had not been sundered finally by strife it would probably have been broken by his hand, anyway."

"That I find difficult to believe. He was always a strange man—for who can fully understand a sorcerer?— and in his later years he did seem at least partly daft. But he never struck me as evil."

"Nor was he. His was the most dangerous morality of all. He was a misguided idealist. In a more primitive time and place and with a willing tool like Arthur, he was able to create a legend. Today, in an age of monstrous weapons, with the right leader as his catspaw, he could unleash something totally devastating. He would see a wrong and force his man to try righting it. He would do it in the name of the same high ideal he always served, but he would not appreciate the results until it was too late. How could he—even if he were sane?"

I think that quote particularly apt, as the Doctor was Merlin/mistaken for Merlin in Battlefield.

In Marvel comics, Galactus is this cosmic force, the last survivor of the universe before this one, ravaged by a hunger so ravenous that he must consume entire planets to survive. A coalition was formed by the  last survivors of civilizations, mostly those who were off-planet when their homeworlds were destroyed. I think that this would be a great group of protagonists for a story featuring an evil Doctor.

He shows up on a world and defends it from an alien menace. But someone has the temerity to stand up to him and ask why they should shackle themselves to this alien who has appointed himself their protector instead of rising to defend themselves. Or maybe they just have the poor taste to be insufficiently deferential. Either way, with his vast and cool and unsympathetic mind, he sees the shatterpoints in their civilization,  and just gives them a little tap. He doesn't stay to watch the destruction, but instead moves on to the next world.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next...

But there are survivors, those strong enough or lucky enough to live through Ragnarok.  And they band together to stop him, pitting their puny human brains and frail human bodies against the godlike Time Lord who judged their worlds and found them lacking.

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