Warnings: Mild spoiler for S4 Doctor Who, possible thematic spoilers S6E1. Contains themes that are probably blasphemous to a bunch of people, but that’s their problem. These get me through the day.
I know several people who hated the 10th Doctor’s last words: “I don’t want to go.”
I can’t say I blame them. It seems totally out of character for this amazing, mad, bonkers, amazing alien who gallavants around time and space in a big blue box.
But that’s what makes it powerful.
The Doctor – especially through David Tennant’s time as the 10th Doctor – can get almost glib about the risks he’s asking others to take. Even if he takes the risks along with them, he goes on. He can regenerate, after all. I mean, he’s The Doctor. He’s so much more than any of us, after all. So much more… everything. None of us could possibly be like him, no matter how much he protests otherwise.
But we get a glimpse that this alien, this madman with a box, is more like us than he lets on. He’s not sure. He is scared. He doesn’t want it all to end – but still does what he has to do. The last words of the 10th Doctor are the same words of nearly any of us at the end.
And that’s where The Doctor becomes more than a superhuman being, becomes more than a force of nature.
Several branches of Christianity1 hold that Yeshua ben Yosef – Jesus the Christ – was not just a superhuman being in a human suit. That he was not just God living as a human – but that Yeshua was fully human and fully divine. And nowhere is this more clear than with “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani”.
You can find elaborate explanations of this phrase. I find this one particularly laughable.
Because it is the cry of a human uncertain of his fate.
It is the doubt that comes in the night, the second-guessing. It is every time you feel like a fraud, every time you’re not sure if you can succeed. It’s the moment when you are secretly sure that it’s all going to hell and it’s you’re fault.
It’s the cry of someone losing their faith.
And that, my friends, is far more inspirational than any other bullshit we can say about parables, good sons, gulfs between heaven and hell2.
Because it’s easy to believe, to have faith in God, in the goodness of the Universe, the Tao, or even yourself when everything’s going well.
It’s when it’s all gone to shit that it’s hard.
Knowing that your role models – no matter how fictional – have struggled with the same problems is what gets you through those times. Because if a make-believe madman with a box can face not only the hard decisions but his own doubt, well dammit, so can I.
1 I know Roman Catholicism holds this belief, but am unsure which others do.
2 And whether or not that gulf is the black hole at the center of the galaxy, you crazy, crazy man.