Opinion no image

Published on March 12th, 2005 | by Brian A Terranova

King of Hearts

I have to admit that when I read the article where Christopher Eccleston stated that the Doctor “has two hearts and both of them can be broken” I was a bit confused.

Don’t get me wrong I am not arguing with him, in fact I completely agree, but to say this as if it was some sort new revelation just didn’t seem right to me.

Looking back on the Doctor’s past we have seen many such heartaches and although we have only seen one that directly linked itself to a love interest, the rest should not be dismissed as anything but a broken heart.

We will now be travelling back through time to explore many of these sad moments in, if nothing else, an attempt to show that Mr. Eccleston’s interest in portraying a more emotional Doctor in the new series is in fact what he should be doing, just as the Doctor has always been.

One of the first moments that come to mind was Susan’s departure from the series. We see that although the Doctor had the strength to let go, he did so with great pain to himself. Susan was his world in the beginning, she was his granddaughter, and although the true nature of their familial relationship was never explored in the series, we have no reason to believe her to be anything but his real kin.

His broken heart can even be felt carrying over into the next story until he feels the need to take Vikki under his wing and have back a bit of that family relation that he has just recently lost.

Moving on to his next incarnation would be the heart-felt goodbye between the 2nd Doctor, Zoe and his long time companion Jamie. In this scene – which demonstrates how sad the Doctor is that his days of haphazardly travelling the universe are now over – it shows us that he is torn apart by losing his best friends. A situation that the Doctor would find himself in many more times in the future.

As emotional as the last two examples might have been we truly get a dose of the teary eye when Jo Grant has to tell the 3rd Doctor that she has decide it is time to move on with her life. She has found the man she wants to marry and the Doctor looks as if it’s taking all his might to keep himself standing on his own two feet when he hears the news.

Although he puts a brave front on the goodbye, he is once again crushed by the situation and drives off into the sunset alone.

As Christian Cawley demonstrated in his “Touring Company” piece Sarah Jane Smith was in fact the 4th Doctor’s best friend. So it should come as no surprise that he can barely even look at her when he tells her she must leave his company, as she can not go where he is headed.

As much of a tear jerker as Jo’s departure was, Sarah’s is all that much more effective as she does not want to leave, nor does the Doctor want her to go. A forced separation, one that is out of your own hands to control, is always the hardest thing to have to live with.

When it comes to the 5th incarnation of the Doctor his emotional stress was a bit more complicated. Not only did he have to deal with his friends wanting to move on with their lives, he had to deal with the death of a friend knowing full well that he had the power to change history if only he could allow himself to break the rules of time.

No matter what your opinion of Adric, we are meant to believe that he and the rest of the TARDIS team were good friends and that his death was a great impact on all of their lives. The Doctor certainly carried this loss on his hearts throughout the rest of his 5th life, and beyond.

He had his fair share of companions leaving him, but never before did he have a situation like Tegan’s exit from the show.

When Tegan entered the Doctor’s life she already had the death of her aunt on her mind, and adding to that the death of Adric, as well as the stress of meeting new friends throughout time only to see them killed before her very eyes. Tegan was an emotional wreck.

The strain on her soul was equally carried by the Doctor, and when she left him he not only felt the loss of a friend, yet again, he felt as if it was all his fault and knew that nothing in the universe could fix the pain that they both shared.

While we have not truly seen the 6th Doctor ever part company with a companion, we did see him possibly have to deal with the loss of another companion’s life. When the truth was revealed that Peri was not dead you could see the weight physically removed from the Doctor’s chest.

The 6th Doctor would not stay that lucky, however, as he had to deal with the death of his old friend and fellow Time Lord, Azmael.

During his 7th Life we see that he feels hurt and lost when Mel suddenly decides it time to leave. He deliberately acts as if it’s ok and tries to rush her out of the TARDIS before she can say her peace. As they have their final hug goodbye it is easy to see that the Doctor is tired of having his hearts crushed and so he tries not to have to deal with the situation.

While all of the above examples of a broken heart exist in the shows history none have had the time to linger or explore the long-term effect of the heartache. The Doctor was always thrown into a new adventure immediately, never allowing him time to grieve, which could be why most people never noticed his emotional side.

As time marched on we saw the 8th Doctor actually explore a relationship in every sense of the word. He has found an equal in Dr. Grace Holloway and in a very “boy talking to his first crush” sort of way, he offers to show her the universe.

In one of the biggest twists for a companion we actually see that Grace would much rather stay rooted to the Earth that she grew up on and asks the Doctor to stay with her. Instantly, in a return to the “boy talking to his first crush” moment, he feels the “boy loses his first crush” feeling and once again has to leave with his hearts in his hands.

All of that was just on our TV screens.

Taking a close look at the further adventures of the 8th Doctor in the Big Finish plays, we see a totally new relationship between the Doctor and his latest companion Charley.

You would have to be blind not to notice that the Doctor has a new best friend, but you may have been surprised to see that the Doctor and Charley are in love.

While they never develop a relationship, the two did express their love for each other, as well as having to deal with the fact that they could not be together. Life in the TARDIS must be very hard for the two as they have these feelings for each other and are not able to act on them. Yet they still manage to carryout their duties as best friends.

So there we have it, a look back in time at our favorite Time Lords saddest moments. Not the most up lifting piece, but nonetheless it gets the point across.

Christopher Eccleston may feel that he is exploring a side of the Doctor that was never shown, but to all those in the know he is really just continuing on where the others left off.

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About the Author

Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.




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