by William Hohmeister
Here be spoilers.
The myth of the devil supports the character of the Doctor in Doctor Who. Pride, determination, and ability drive both characters. The myth of infallibility condemns both.
The Satan of Paradise Lost loses everything in the beginning of his story. He triumphs later by corrupting humanity. He has a series of further victories by setting Sin and Death loose on the world, and encouraging humans to evil. God guarantees these victories. But even after Satan corrupts humans he laments his own low state. What little he gains is offset by his personal grudge over what he lost. Failure defines him, despite his previous high state.
The Doctor’s victories come before his Fall, and like Satan’s “victories” they come with loss:
In “The Parting of the Ways” the Doctor (Nine) admits he is a coward. Rose Tyler saves him, but he is forced to regenerate into Ten, who accomplishes the rest of this list.
In “Doomsday” the Doctor destroys both the Daleks and the Cybermen, but loses Rose Tyler.
In “Last of the Time Lords” the Doctor saves the earth, but loses Martha Jones (whom he feels he failed) and the Master, the only other living Time Lord.
In “Journey’s End” The Doctor and Donna Noble save the earth. Donna does not die, but the Doctor wipes out all of her memories of him. She returns to a life she disliked, unaware of how important she was.
In “The Waters of Mars” the Doctor defies the laws of time and saves people predestined to die. One person claims the Doctor should not have the power of life and death and kills herself.
The Doctor defeats terrible enemies and saves lives. He also loses most of the people important to him. But the Doctor feels the losses more strongly than the victories. This leads to his Fall, as he becomes convinced that with enough determination and intelligence he can overcome any problem, even fate.
The myth of his own infallibility supports most of Nine’s career. He makes good on his promises. He really does seem undefeatable – until the Daleks. Just as the devil seems capable of taking on heaven.
I’ll look at the rebellion next time. If you’re watching along with me, I encourage you to look at “The Parting of the Ways” (which I mistakenly labeled “Bad Wolf” in a previous article) and “The Waters of Mars” as they’ll play a large role. And if you want a summary of the Doctor’s motives, “The Travelling Man” by Chameleon Circuit is great.