'Doctor Who' react: Have mercy

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Image Credit: BBC

In last week’s episode of Doctor Who, the comment section engaged in a lively debate about the Doctor’s actions in the episode. One commenter’s biggest complaint? “…The Doctor has become an executioner, when before he was a pacifist.” Many of you rushed to the Doctor’s defense and while I’m not yet qualified to  speak authoritatively on the matter (this is where I give my weekly disclaimer that I’m new to Who) the debate stayed in my mind all week.

So it was extremely cool that this very subject seemed to be the focal point of Saturday’s episode.

In “A Town Called Mercy,” the Doctor, Amy and Rory found themselves in a slightly anachronistic western town that, as it turns out, was protecting alien doctor Kahler-Jex from a mysterious cowboy assassin. Local lawman Isaac, played by Ben Browder (Farscape, Stargate SG-1), was the main person charged with protecting Jex — in fact, much of the town wanted to hand him over so they could end their three-week-long stand-off with the gunslinger. But Isaac claimed that Jex had been an asset to the town, helping save lives and even providing them with electricity and water. (Rory, re: electric streetlamp: “It’s only a few years out.” Doctor: “That’s what you said when you left your phone charger in Henry VIII en suite.”) According to Isaac, Jex’s good qualities outweighed his murky past, and he intended to protect him.

What exactly was that past? The Doctor found out when he broke into Jex’s old ship and learned that Jex and a group of doctors had experimented on people, creating cyborgs to help end a war. (How creepy was it when Jex referred to himself as a “father”? Ick.) But after the war’s end, their creations turned on them, killing everyone involved in the inhumane actions. Jex was the last of the doctors standing.

After learning the truth — and after Jex took Amy hostage — the Doctor was ready to hand him over to the assassin. And he got very close to doing so. Amy was the one who knocked some sense into him during a very emotional and excellent scene. “This is not how we roll, and you know it. What’s happening to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?” she asked him. The Doctor admitted that he was tired of people like Jex, and that the evil man had “to answer for his crimes.” “Today, I honor the victims first…all the people who died because of my mercy,” the Doctor screamed at Amy. She wouldn’t hear it. “We can’t be like him. We have to be better than him,” she said.

His face softened at that statement. And the only response he could muster was: “Amelia Pond.” (Swoon.)

That did it. He decided to protect Jex, but I don’t blame him for having that moment of weakness — nor for the questionable actions that have led to this outburst of sorts. As Isaac said as he was dying from a gunshot: Good men sometimes forget that they are good.

Jex realized this as well, and, in the end, decided to destroy himself instead of putting the town at risk. (They had all decided to band together to protect him in a very risky way.)  “He behaved with honor in the end,” said the cyborg gunslinger, before declaring his intention to self-destruct as well. “I have no role to play in peace,” he said. But the Doctor countered, “…except maybe to protect it.”

Fabulous episode! Tell me what you thought after you check out these other great quotes/moments:
+ Doctor: “I see ‘Keep Out’ signs as suggestions more than actual orders. Like ‘Dry clean only.'” (Me too!!)
+ The Doctor thinking the bar was standing for him out of respect. “No need to stand. You see that? Manners!”
+ I’m enjoying the repeated mentions of the Doctor’s Christmas List.
+ Amy to the Doctor: “Why would he want to kill you? Unless he’s met you.”
+ The fact that the team had been aiming for Mexico but ended up in Mercy. (Doctor: “That’s when happens when people get toast crumbs on the console!”)
+ The boy horse named Susan. (Doctor to the Rev.: “I speak horse. He’s called Susan, and he wants you to respect his life choices.”)
+ Doctor to the horse: “Oi. Don’t swear!”
+ Rory’s face when the reverend referred to him as “fella.”
+ One more time: “Protect Jex. Protect my town. You’re both good men. You just forget it sometimes.”

Related:
‘Doctor Who’ react: How do you start a triceratops?
‘Doctor Who’ premiere breaks BBC America ratings record

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