In the sixth episode of the third series of Doctor Who, the Doctor tries to leave Martha behind at her home, but is intrigued by a man on the news claiming that he’ll soon change what it means to be human. They meet a man named Richard Lazarus, who has discovered the secret to aging. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
You know, I thought this episode was pretty spectacular…until the last ten minutes. Have you ever watched a movie or an episode of a show and felt that it ended way too many times? I think that, while it can certainly be trite, sometimes a movie is fun when it ends and you return to your comfort zone and everything is peachy and unicorns and dolphins doing flips and teddy bear rainbow hugs and then BAM FUCK YOU. YOU WERE WRONG oh god why did i let my defenses down. (For a great example of this, in season six of The X-Files, “Field Trip” is one doozy of a narrative trick. SO FUN.)
Yeah, that didn’t happen here. The episode “ended,” you suspected something else was wrong, and then everything becomes WHAT IS THIS THAT MAKES NO SENSE.
It had been coming a couple episodes back, but I was still a bit shocked that this episode opened with the Doctor taking Martha back to her home. The whole situation between he two of them now feels so complicated and frustrating. Martha is dearly hoping to have some reciprocation of how she feels about the Doctor, but we all know that isn’t happening any time soon. I’m still unsure what the Doctor’s motives are at the beginning of “The Lazarus Experiment,” and now I’m wondering if maybe he shouldn’t have rushed right into getting a new companion so soon after he lost Rose. It’s unfair to Martha, I think, to constantly act the way he does around her.
Still, the Doctor couldn’t resist a good mystery, and when Martha and him watch a broadcast from Dr. Richard Lazarus, announcing that he will soon change what it means to be human, he has to return for at least one more adventure, right?
The Lazarus reference wasn’t lost on me and I assumed that age and life would be at the center of Dr. Lazarus’s presentation. I also appreciated that we got some more time with Martha’s family FFFFFFFFFFFFFF REGGIE YATES FFFFFFFFFF ok, I’ll stop.
Anyway, the Doctor gets to meet Martha’s family at Dr. Lazarus’s event and is given a healthy dose of suspicion from everyone involved, especially when Martha’s sister, Tish, wonders how he even got inside the event. (Francine, Martha’s mother, is also concerned, but we’ll get to that later.)
Lazarus upstages everything by stepping into some sort of device, a capsule of sorts, that fills with an unnamed energy and begins to spin faster and faster. Luckily, the Doctor SAVES THE DAY by pulling the power cable on the capsule before it overloads, which makes me laugh because the answer was literally that simple. Go figure. It had a power cable!
Then, Lazarus steps out of the capsule and IS SUDDENLY MUCH, MUCH YOUNGER. My first thought was that he’d actually gone back in time somehow, but that was kind of silly on second thought. The idea that writer Stephen Greenhorn actually comes up with is far more interesting: Lazarus actually manipulated his DNA to make him younger, altering himself at a much deeper level.
I don’t think the science in this episode is all that dependable, as the writers often twists the rules for dramatic effect, but this is one episode where I actually didn’t care. After getting a DNA sample of Lazarus from Martha’s hand after Lazarus kissed it (THERE’S TOTALLY DNA IN SALIVA!!!), the Doctor confirms a disturbing thought: by altering his DNA, Lazarus made it highly unstable. And how does he keep it stable?
BY SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF PEOPLE AND LEAVING BEHIND THEIR DESICCATED CORPSES.
Fuck man, that is creepy as hell. Well…I suppose it was more creepy without knowing what Lazarus’s unstable DNA was shifting into. STILL. Bravo to the crew that designed those corpses. That’s some nightmare-fuel shit right there.
The scene on the roof with Tish is weird, isn’t it? We saw earlier that Lazarus tried to hit on her and suddenly, he becomes younger and she is enamored with him? THAT IS STRANGE. But then she gets mad at Martha for calling him a monster but OOOPS HE REALLY IS ONE. Man, that has got to suck a whole lot, especially since Tish should have the right to choose the man she wants. Except Martha was right because he was literally a monster.
As they escape the scorpion mutation thing and try to warn the guests at the party of their impending doom, I figured, “Oh, hey, everyone will escape unscathed and la la la, the Doctor will save the day NO, FUCK YOU, said Stephen Greenhorn. I AM GOING TO HAVE LAZARUS SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF A RANDOM GUEST RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. Holy shit, that rarely happens! Why am I such a fan of things happening out in the open for everyone to see? I suppose a lot of science fiction caters to the Special Snowflake trope, that only one person is special enough to recognize and witness that super special phenomenon. I love when the inverse happens: no one is special and everyone is forced to witness it. (I think that’s half the fun of Cloverfield, FYI.)
The idea that dormant DNA essentially becomes unhinged is a fascinating one, especially since we all have it and nothing has ever come of it. (Yet.) Again, the science is probably awful, but it fits. It works within the confines of the show and I’m willing to dispel my own disbelief because I like the story.
And then…..what. See, Lazarus dies here, right around the half hour mark, maybe closer to thirty-five minutes. The whole story is pretty great: scientist tries to alter the very meaning of humanity, doesn’t account for variables, fucks everything up. A standard sci-fi, comic-book-esque story. I dig it. I enjoyed it a lot.
But then Lazarus is not really dead and then he’s in a church and then the Doctor puts Martha and Tish at risk and then HOW ARE THERE SO MANY DEVICES ON THIS SHOW THAT HAVE SLOTS FOR THE SONIC SCREWDRIVER? NO. I’m sorry, I cannot possibly believe that slot on the church organ was real. WHY WOULD THAT BE THERE.
You know what’s even more confusing? How the Doctor increased the sound on the organ to disrupt Lazarus and cause him to fall to his death, but the noise did absolutely nothing to the other three living creatures in the building aside from a bit of pain. No. No, that does not work that way. NO.. ::rolls up newspaper, swats writers::
I am hesitant to be excited about the Doctor offering the role of companion to Martha in a more long-term role because I don’t understand his motivation. Did this episode help him realize how much he appreciates her? We’ll see.
More importantly, I think this episode finally hinted at something much larger. As the TARDIS disappears with the Doctor and Martha on board, Martha’s phone rings. It’s Francine, her mother, warning her that she knows who the Doctor really is. How does she know this? Mr. Saxon told her.
Which brings up an interesting question: Who the fuck is Mr. Saxon?
- Reggie yates FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
- “I know the age thing’s a bit freaky but it worked for Catherine Zeta-Jones.” I LOVE YOU, TISH.
- “Always the mothers! Every time!”
- “Oh, look! They’ve got nibbles! I love nibbles!”
- “It doesn’t work like that. Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.” AN ETERNAL TRUTH, AS SPOKEN BY THE DOCTOR.
- “Why don’t you come out and face me?” “Have you looked in the mirror lately? Why would I want to face that, hmm?”
- oh god Spinal Tap reference FUCK YES
- reggie yates UUNNNNNNNFFFFFF