starlit TARDIS

Sticky post: Introduction and Fic Index

Welcome to my humble corner of the internet!   Here there be geeking out about Doctor Who, Sherlock, biology, books, and whatever else has caught my eye at the moment.

If you're here looking for fannish things (fic, recs, meta, general squee or ranting, etc.), those are mostly posted publicly.  Posts about my personal life are pretty much always friendslocked.  You can feel free to add me or unfriend at will.  A comment introducing yourself would be a nice gesture, but don't feel obligated if you're shy.  I may or may not add you back depending on how I'm feeling that day on the social vs. crotchety scale and whether we have interests in common.  It's not a personal judgment.

I am also on Tumblr.

Occasionally, I write fanfic. You can check out my author pages on AO3 or A Teaspoon and an Open Mind (for Doctor Who fic).  Here's the complete list, organized by fandom, then series, then chronologically (oldest to most recent).

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listening wall Eleven

The return of the lyrics meme

Hello LJ! Let's do a lyrics guessing meme I've done in the past.

1. Open up your music player. Hit shuffle.
2. Record the first few lines of the first 25 songs that come up. Skip instrumentals, but don't skip the embarrassing ones.
3. Make hapless LJ/DW denizens guess the song names and artists. Google is cheating. For musical songs, the name of the musical is acceptable in place of the artist.
4. Cross out the songs that have been guessed.
5. Pass it along.

Note that if the first few lines of the song include the song's title, I may choose to censor those particular words if I think it's too obvious with the title left in, or I may leave it if the title isn't too distinctive a phrase. I also skipped a few songs that were especially obscure.

So shuffle came up with some that are pretty well-known and recognizable, but also a few that are tricky enough that I couldn't guess them from my own music library, so the difficulty varies vastly. Comment with your guesses!

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peggy carter profile

Fanworks that have been making me happy lately

Hello LJ!  I have a few recs for you.

First, a STUNNING MCU fanvid (spoilers for all MCU films, including Captain America: Civil War and the trailer for Doctor Strange):

Holy shit, y'all.  99% of professional trailers and music videos wish they had half this vid's editing rhythm and sense of motion.  I'd never heard the song before, but it's really great. I found this vid this morning and have already watched it 3-4 times.  Go watch, and if you have a youtube account leave a comment for the vidders.  (I can't find this posted on any place better for commenting than youtube.)

Second, a fic rec:

this is not by surgicalstainless.  MCU, Steve/Peggy/Bucky, with appearances by the extended Avengers team.  Peggy Carter from 1946 time travels to 2015.  This fic is like a checklist of things that I love:  female friendship (including some of my fave Avenger ladies not yet in the MCU like Carol Danvers and Kate Bishop), humor, Peggy Carter being awesome (but also being allowed to have moments of weakness), Avengers team bonding through means such as game night and breakfast dance parties, and plenty of mutual pining that eventually resolves a potential love triangle into an OT3.  You'd think with the time travel premise the story would have to have a bittersweet resolution, but there's even a happy ending because parallel universes.

Third, a rec of more recs!

The Rec Center is a weekly email newsletter that delivers fandom recs to you.  Every week there's a guest reccer to suggest some fic for that week's fandom as well as the newsletter editors' list of recs of meta, news articles, fan art, fandom discussions, and other general interest stuff.  I've found lots of interesting stuff through this.  Follow the link to the page where you can look through the archive and/or subscribe.

So what have y'all been enjoying lately?
bucky barnes

Initial Captain America: Civil War reaction post

Friday night I did a rewatch of the first two Captain America movies.  When Bucky fell off the train into the chasm, I made a distressed noise that caused my cat Noodles to get up from where she was dozing on a different chair and come snuggle beside me on the couch.  Thank you, Noodles. <3  I needed that comfort in a time of emotions.

Saturday night I went to see Captain America:  Civil War.  Tragically, Noodles could not accompany me to help me deal with all my feels.

[Spoiler-filled thoughts under the cut]-Overall, I loved it!  There are a number of caveats I’ll get to, but overall I think it was a strong movie,  about as strong as it could be given the fundamentally annoying “make the heroes punch each other” premise.

-I would watch an entire movie of Steve, Sam, and Bucky roadtripping in a VW bug. I would watch a TRILOGY about that.

-It was fun to watch the movie with an excited opening weekend crowd, including my friend L. who is kinda hilariously reactive to things she’s watching.  The most amusing moment of reaction happened when Steve and Sharon kissed.
CROWD:  general reactive murmurs, many sounding surprised or negative, but a few “awwws”.
SOME GUY:  *wolf whistle*
FRIEND L:  What the whaaat??!?  (After the movie, she said she found it really weird that Steve seemed to be having a thing with the niece of the woman he used to be involved with.  Very valid point.)
ME:  Well that was random. (By “random” I meant “obvious attempt to shoehorn in a heteronormative romantic moment to obscure the fact that this movie reads much more naturally as a love story between Steve and Bucky.”)
BUCKY AND SAM:  Quick, we have to make faces like amused, pleased, straight wingmen to cover up our jealousy.

-I HAVE SO MANY BUCKY BARNES FEELS RIGHT NOW.  (This is typical for days ending in -y, but especially true at the moment.)  Pardon me while I wordvomit, or feel free to skip to the next bullet point.  Poor sad trashpanda was just trying to lay low and deal with his shit in peace, having recovered his sense of self all on his own, then some asshole decides to frame him and Steve found him but they had no time to have a proper conversation (and certainly not reunion sex, dammit) before a lot of cops showed up and they had to have a foot chase in the car traffic and then he got arrested and strapped to a fucking chair, which must have been brutal given how many awful things he’s experienced strapped to a chair, and then said asshole REACTIVATES HIS PROGRAMMING AND FUCKS UP HIS HEAD AGAIN and made him kill more people, but Steve still believed in him and showed this by getting into a tug of war with a helicopter, and Bucky totally could have shot Steve but even through the programming he didn’t do that and instead just crashed the helicopter.  And then Steve pulled him out of a river after an aircraft crash because they are always saving each other and apparently going unconscious plus seeing Steve got him back in his head.  And then he had to fight some superheroes because he always helps Steve out in his fights and also they thought they needed to keep the asshole from taking over the world, but it turned out asshole just wanted the superheroes to fight more and decided to provoke that by using stuff that HYDRA brainwashed Bucky into doing and there was a lot of fighting that could have been avoided if Tony would have calmed down for ten minutes and considered the meaning of BRAINWASHING and then Bucky’s arm got ripped off and it’s clear that that thing was linked to his pain receptors, ack! And then everyone was finally so punched into a pulp that they calmed the fuck down at last but Bucky was so worried about his inability to control his own head that he had himself put back into cryofreeze, goddamn it.  But it’s a long way between Siberia and Wakanda, so hopefully Steve and Bucky managed to get some sexytimes in at some point.

-Steve is still very much a tiny stubborn lonely kid inside, and it hurts my heart.  I just want him to be happy, dammit.  It’s clear that he would give up pretty much anything and everything for Bucky.

-I really loved the opening Avengers mission where it’s clear that they’ve been working together and training Wanda in espionage and superhero team skills.  The followup conversation between Wanda and Steve where they discuss how to deal with having made mistakes that led to people dying was also great.

-Sam!  I enjoyed watching the badass new moves he had like using the wings as a shield. I love the further deepening of his friendship with Steve (he went with Steve to Peggy’s funeral, awww) and how he is thoroughly part of the team.  Wish he’d had a bit more of a plotline of his own, oh well. I am highly amused at the way they gave Sam a drone as a nod to comics!Falcon’s actual falcon Redwing.

-Natasha is trying so hard to do the right thing for the world while also doing right by her friends.  She gets a lot of shit from people for being morally grey but I think she’s actually a deeply moral person, she just is willing to do more dubious things in support of the larger picture.  I adored the scene where she came to the end of Peggy’s funeral and gave Steve a hug.  (This movie needed so many more hugs for Steve, and everyone else too.)  I wish the movie had more of her, but then again, that’s my complaint with every Marvel movie.  If they ever make a Black Widow film my complaint will be the ten minutes she’s not onscreen.

-Super excited to see Black Panther!  His look and fighting style were a joy to behold.  Even in this crowded movie he got a plotline of his own. It was a pretty simplistic “Grief=>Vengeance Quest=>Really Stubborn About That Vengeance=>Finally Laying Down the Need for Vengeance” storyline, but he handled it with grace and charisma.  I look forward to the Black Panther movie and getting to know him more.

-I don’t care if Vision was “worthy” to lift Mjolnir in AoU, because in this movie he was definitely the Creepy Boyfriend towards Wanda.  He walks through walls to intrude on Wanda’s conversation in her room.  He prevents her from leaving the house.  Dude, just because you’re a mystical android or whatever doesn’t make this stuff okay. Wanda, meanwhile, is maturing into a thoughtful young BAMF; she's great.

-The scene at the end with Rhodey and Tony (and the most excellent Stan Lee cameo) was lovely.  I suspect Rhodey will be calling literally everyone he knows to tell them about Tony Stank.  I do wish the movie had made a bit more focus on his friendship with Tony before the accident.  He got grievously injured to further the (white) main characters’ plotlines, and didn’t even get much character development to make up for it. :(  I hope this isn’t the end of his appearances in the MCU.

-The things I disliked most were mostly the things I already disliked going into the movie, namely the general premise that all the heroes are fighting each other and that the movie shoehorns in Ant-Man and Spider-Man instead of focusing on the already large cast of existing Avengers.  Black Panther is a cast addition that made sense, but those two were only there to pad out the fight scenes and have some one-liners.  The scenes with the Arthropod Dudes were lots of fun, but they were tangents that I felt weakened the movie as a whole.

-It felt really contrived to me how the movie had all the characters willfully refuse to calm down, listen, or compromise so it could get all of the superheroes fighting.  I dislike this whole Civil War premise and hope that future movies go back to building a team instead to fight actual evil.

-Hot Young Aunt May?  Whyyyyyyyyyyy?  I am weirded out.

-I am a super bummed that Tony and Pepper have broken up and that she wasn’t in this movie.  It explains some of Tony’s less than stellar decisions and poorer than usual emotional stability in this film, but I wish it hadn’t happened and I hope it is undone AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Like, I want a random scene in Doctor Strange where someone is looking at the celebrity news and sees that Tony Stark and Pepper Potts have gotten back together.  That is the urgency of this situation.

-Seriously, why did Tony decide that a battle with other superheroes where various governments were just itching to arrest the lot of them was the right time to bring in the teenage kid crimefighter he’s been eying?  Pepper would never have let this happen.

-“Spider-Man WIll Return” said the end of the credits.  Of course Spider-Man will fucking return.  More Spider-Man movies are only slightly less certain than death and taxes.  I really like the character, but the number of movies he has (especially compared to all the heroes who aren't white dudes) is ridiculous.

-Personal headcanon that Clint and Natasha started fighting each other in the big brawl because they were each trying to keep the other away from the more enhanced fighters who might hurt them worse.

-When Nick Fury gets back from wherever he is, he is going to be SO PISSED OFF.

-Can the Captain America scenes in the next Avengers movies just be Steve receiving hugs and having barbecues with his friends and petting animals and generally being happy?  And the same for Bucky?  Plus lots of them tenderly making out?  No?  Well, thank heavens for fanfiction.
black widow

Avengers Academy: Dancing and Hot-tubbing Heroically

Hello y'all!

I added a whole bunch of new friends and then abruptly vanished from LJ for a month and a half for no good reason.  Sorry about that.  I hope you are all well.  I haven't yet tried to catch up on reading my flist, but hopefully I'll get to that soon.  In the mean time, rather than writing an entry about what's actually been going on in my life, I want to tell you about something frivilous that's been making me happy.

Marvel's Avenger Academy is a delightful Avengers high school AU (or possibly college AU...the exact ages are never specified, and they do spend a lot of time in a club with a bar, though it's possible they're just drinking soda) in the form of a mobile game.  I'm not at all a gamer, but the fun dialog, intriguing storyline, cute animation, and wonderful fannish ridiculousness of Avengers Academy have reeled me in.  The basic idea is that you send your young heroes on quests, some of which are actually related to training to be a superhero (e.g. firing repulsors at the blasting range, practicing flying), while others are related to school (studying) or having fun ( much dancing).  Some of the things I love about this game:

-Natasha is my favorite with her deadpan attitude, vaguely goth look, suspicion of authority, and focus on getting things done.  She often feels like she's surrounded by idiots, but it's clear that she really has a big soft spot for her classmates.  I am intensely amused that when you send her on the "look for clues" action, she has this body language like an 8 year-old pretending to be a detective, all exaggerated peering around on tip-toe.

-Kamala Khan is a very close second though.  I finally managed to recruit her this weekend, and everything about her is great from her using her stretchy superpowers to take super selfies to her intense squee about getting to hang out with her heroes.  Although I think the best part may be when Nick Fury and Hank Pym (mysteriously still adult) were discussing recruiting her and this happened:
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-The storyline involves the school being surrounded by something called Time Fog, which is full of ruined buildings and occasionally eerie stuff like a cracked Iron Man face plate from a suit that Tony has only designed, not actually built.  It's clear that Fury and Hank Pym, the adults in charge of the school, are hiding something.  Characters have mentioned a sense of deja vu, like another version of themselves has been here before and experienced something terrible.  I am intrigued by the implication that this isn't just an ordinary AU where they're all teens for no reason.  I want to know more.

In summary, if you like the Marvel Avengers characters and enjoy having a fairly low-key game on your smartphone or tablet, I highly recommend Avengers Academy.  Is anyone else out there playing? 
rose smiles

Fannish things and friending memes

First, for anyone seeking more active LJ folks to know, there's another friending meme making the rounds:

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There are former LJers who would like to return, but their friends lists have been deserted.
Let's all welcome them back with open arms and show them that LJ is very much alive!

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Second, here's a fannish meme via ladymercury_10. Comment with a letter or a couple of letters and I'll answer:

A - Ships that you currently like a lot. Friendships, pairings, threesomes, etc. are allowed.
B - A pairing—platonic, romantic or sexual—that you initially didn’t consider, but someone changed your mind.
C - A ship you have never liked and probably never will.
D - A pairing you wish you liked but just can’t.
E - Have you added anything cracky/hilarious to your fandom? If so, what?
F - What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a fandom?
G - Have you ever had an OTP? If so, do you remember your first one? Who was in it?
H - What is your favorite source text for fandom stuff (e.g., TV shows, movies, books, anime, Western animation, etc.)?
I - Has Tumblr caused you to stop liking any fandoms, if so, which and why?
J - Name a fandom you didn’t think about until you saw it all over Tumblr.
K - What character has your favorite development arc/the best development arc?
L - Say something genuinely nice about a character who isn’t one of your faves.
M - Name a character that you’d like to have for a friend.
N - Name three things you wish you saw more of in your main fandom (or a fandom of choice).
O - Choose a song at random. Which ship or character does it remind you of?
P - Invent a random AU for any fandom.
Q - A fandom you’ve abandoned and why.
R - Which friendship/platonic relationship is your favorite in fandom?
S - Show us an example of your personal headcanon.
T - Do you have any hard and fast headcanons that you will die defending?
U - Three favorite characters from three different fandoms, and why they’re your favorites.
V - Which character do you relate to most?
W - A trope which you are virtually certain to hate in any fandom.
X - A trope which you are almost certain to love in any fandom.
Y - What are your secondhand fandoms (i.e., fandoms you aren’t in personally but are tangentially familiar with because your friends/people on your dash are in them)?
Z - Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go! (Prompts optional but encouraged.)
holmes profile echo

Sherlock Special, Where It's Sometimes 1895

OMG, I forgot how intense it feels to get New Sherlock after a hiatus.  It's hard to even sort out what my reaction to the content of the show is because the whole time I'm watching it there's a part of my brain excitedly repeating "IT'S BACK!  NEW EPISODE!  IT'S BACK!  NEW EPISODE!", which gets distracting.  Here are my thoughts as best I can get them down, in no particular order:

[The Abominable Spoilers]-When Dr. Hooper came onscreen, I squeed out loud at such a volume and high pitch that it scared the cat.  Molly in drag!!!  She's running the morgue, being addressed as doctor, and bossing around Anderson!  I am so glad I wasn't spoiled about how Molly figured in to the Victorian setting.  That was a moment of joy (and sexy) I was not expecting.  I'm not entirely sure I buy Holmes never picking up that Dr. Hooper is a woman in disguise.  I wonder if he noticed it upon first meeting her, decided that she was very competent in her job and thus there was no reason to expose her or let their professional relationship get weird, and so he just deleted the information.

-Mary was such an excellent BAMF in this episode!  It's like they wrote most of her scenes JUST FOR ME.  Victorian!Mary worked as a secret agent for Mycroft on behalf on England.  Mycroft calls her Watson, because Holmes brothers work best with a Watson around.  Modern!Mary snarking about MI-5's lack of security was marvelous.  I loved how obvious it was that Sherlock really likes Mary.  He recognized her under the mourning disguise before John did, and when he and Watson showed up as her backup in tracking down the cult he said something like "For you, Mary? Any time."  I don't remember the exact line, just the degree of happiness it caused in me.  And if the Victorian setting is a mind palace exercise/drug-induced dream of modern!Sherlock, then we can surmise that he sees her as working unequivocally on behalf of good, albeit in a secretive way. Take that, anti-Mary folks who have doubted whether Sherlock's willingness to forgive Mary in HLV was genuine.  Also, how cute is it that Holmes refers to her impish sense of humor?  Very cute.

-Mrs. Hudson's literary criticism by pointed silence was delightful meta.  Mrs. Hudson in general was excellent. Also, her conversation with Mary gave this ep a Bechdel test pass.  (The secret society scene had a ton of women, but I think they mostly just talked to Holmes and Watson.)

-I lied about there being no particular order to my thoughts.  I am talking about the female characters first, because they are clearly my priorities.

-Speaking of ladies, I was less fond of the resolution of the case (in one level of the Inception-esque trip that was the latter part of this episode) with the secret society of women.  It felt like Moffat way too pointedly trying to address the criticism of his writing of women but being super obnoxious about it.  All these women may be on the right side of history, but they're also a murderous, melodramatic cult of Furies that takes some of its trappings from the KKK.  Geez, Moff, tell us how you really feel.  *eyeroll*  As I said in my earlier bullet points, the treatment of the individual recurring female characters was great, but the conspiracy of women was not my favorite.

-Perhaps my least favorite thing was the fat-phobia in how the show treated Victorian!Mycroft.  I get that Mycroft is fat in ACD's stories.  They could have stayed close to canon by simply putting Gatiss in a fat suit without making such a big deal about him being gross and close to death and constantly eating.  Or they could have had the slender Mycroft we're used to but throw in some line about how Mycroft insisted that John disguise his appearance in the write-ups of the cases so nobody would give him the obnoxious attention they gave Sherlock.  The way they chose was just obnoxious.

-I had been hoping for a frame story in the present to give meaning to the sudden shift to Victorian times.  Apparently I should be careful what I wish for.  I will have to watch the episode again before I fully make up my mind about it, but my initial reaction is that it was too much drug-addled dream-within-a-dream stuff.  I am okay with ambiguity about whether the Victorian or 21st century Holmes is the "real" one, but I ended the episode confused about what happened in both time frames, especially the present. Did Sherlock end up deciding that Moriarty was definitely dead or is there still ambiguity? Are we supposed to accept the secret society of avenging women as the real explanation for the historical case Sherlock was pondering, or is that just a product of his penchant for meladrama?

-And where did Sherlock get drugs to take before the plane to exile anyway?  I thought he'd been in prison since shooting Magnussen.   I did enjoy the Holmes brother feels about Mycroft taking care of junkie Sherlock.

-I did like all the meta commentary and focus on Watson as storyteller.  Also, apparently when Sherlock is upset on the plane he read John's blog about them meeting.  Right in the feels!

-Andrew Scott is soooo fantastically creepy as Moriarty.  On the one hand I shudder every time he appears on screen, but on the other hand I really enjoyed seeing the Victorian versions of him and Sherlock having their confrontations.

-I really loved the scene where Victorian!Holmes was manipulating the floating newspapers articles as a mind palace exercise.  It was visually beautiful and a nice analogue to the more computer-esque mind palace visuals in Hound.

-That conversation where Watson talked to Holmes about how he ought to marry was so sad.  Watson, you fool, he doesn't want to marry a woman, or even The Woman.  He wants to marry you and Mary.  Failing that just you, or just his work.

Overall I will have to watch again to reach a final verdict on whether the plot towards the end was merely unecessarily hard to follow (but pretty good if you get it) or a Total Mess That Thinks It's Clever But Isn't.  Other than that, however, I enjoyed this episode a great deal.
starlit TARDIS

Catching up on Doctor Who

I have a lot of thoughts about Doctor Who, y'all.  I'd let myself fall very behind this season, but I watched Sleep No More and Face the Raven a few nights ago, then Heaven Sent, Hell Bent, and The Husbands of River Song all in a Christmas binge with my family.  Here are some very general spoiler-free thoughts outside a cut first, then episode-specific thoughts.  These are largely without reading anyone else's reactions, since I couldn't read them at the time without spoilers and I no longer remember which of y'all have been posting about Doctor Who.

Overall, I think this season has been tremendously good, easily the best since series 5 and perhaps the best since Moffat took over as showrunner.  Not every episode has been perfect, but there have been more really strong ones than weakish ones and none at all I want to bury in a hole and never dig up.  I've enjoyed the format of having almost entirely two-parters.  It allowed deeper development of supporting characters, more worldbuilding, and richer stories.  Peter Capaldi is outstanding as the Doctor, and I feel like the writers have a much better handle on his Doctor this series than last.  Clara is still probably my least favorite main New Who companion in terms of who I identify with or want to travel beside, but I think her character arc in S9 was fascinating, and I think Jenna Coleman is wonderful in the role.

[Sleep No More]Sleep No More
Disappointing.  I really like that they tried something different with the found footage concept, and the atmosphere was effectively creepy.  However the monsters were SO nonsensical (carnivorous sleep dust monsters?? really???) and not terribly well executed, and the plot just didn't make a ton of sense.  I did like that most all of the guest cast were POC, but sadly the script didn't give the actors enough character development to work with.  There were some interesting worldbuilding elements, but those bits of interest and the cool episode title (from Macbeth) just felt wasted on the weak and weird (in a bad way) plot. I often like Mark Gatiss as a Doctor Who writer, but this was one of the weaker points in the season.

[Face the Raven]Face the Raven
The Doctor and Clara investigate a murder in Diagon Alley For Aliens and run into Arya Stark Ashildr Lady Me; things don't go as planned.  I wish that Sleep No More hadn't existed so this could have been a two-parter.  I love stories of hidden magic cities within a real city, especially when that city is London (see Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, the aforementioned Diagon Alley, Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift books, and more), and I thought this one was neat but needed a little bit more both about how it works and character development for its residents.  We had two recurring guest characters, Lady Me and Rigsy, though it took me most of the episode to place where we'd seen Rigsy before (Flatline, which was a great episode but quite a while ago).  Lady Me, meanwhile, seems to have bitten off a bit more than she can chew in trying to keep this powderkeg of an alien community at peace with each other and the surrounding humans, having some sort of contract with the raven spirit thing, and then having made a deal to entrap the Doctor with the mysterious powers whose identity we learn next episode.  I really like that she's allowed to be morally ambiguous.  She has more concern for others than she did when we saw her as a highwayman, but that doesn't mean she follows the ethical code we mortals or the Doctor might wish she had, and she certainly doesn't align herself with the characters we viewers are used to rooting for.  She's an antagonist for sure, but not a villain like the Master.

But I'm avoiding the most significant parts of the episode.  Clara died, two episodes before I expected her exit.  It was surprising and upsetting.  It wasn't even a death saving the world, but an attempt to save one person that turned out to be a mistake based on acting without full information.  It could have felt pointless and anger-inducing.  However, Clara's risktaking all season, her cleverness, and occasional sneakiness made this death feel like a natural possibility based on her character, and her courage in the face of doom and her insistence on reminding the Doctor to be his best self and avoid revenge made her death feel worthy of a long-serving companion.  Then the Doctor got kidnapped by teleport, and basically everything is awful.

I would like to point out that Lady Me edited the memories of humans using retcon, a drug developed by Torchwood.  This suggests that she followed the Doctor's suggestion to look up Captain Jack Harkness.  What happened when the two immortals met?  Is there fanfic???? 

[Heaven Sent]Heaven Sent

This episode was really damn good.  It works because Peter Capaldi is such a strong actor that his performance can carry the show alone. The episode is a carefully crafted puzzle-box (literally) that pulled me in to the Doctor's dread, confusion, frustration, and anger.  (I haven't generally been a fan of Moffat as DW showrunner, but when he's in good form he can be one hell of a good scriptwriter, and this was a top notch script.)  The monster wasn't all that scary in itself, but Capaldi's reactions were enough to make me willing to accept it as a threat.  I'd guessed from the moment we saw the injured hand operating the teleport at the start that the hand likely belonged to the Doctor, but I'd assumed he was caught in a time loop and would get out through some clever timey-wimeyness.  The revelation of what was really going on shocked and horrified me, as it was intended to, and I never would have predicted until the montage of deep time passing that the Doctor would literally punch his way out of a problem.

It was a small moment, but the one thing I strongly disliked about this episode was the Doctor confessing that he ran away from Gallifrey because he was scared.  That is fundamentally different from the way I see the Doctor and the previously established canon, and it's not a change I like.  I believe the Doctor is genuinely scared of dying, but I think his deepest motivation for leaving Gallifrey and becoming what he is, underneath all the sadness of what he's lost over the centuries, more central to his hearts than his fear of death, deeper even than the desire to help others, is restlessness at routine expectations and joy in exploring the unknown.  The TARDIS stole him because she wanted to see the universe, and he stole her for the same reason.  To suggest otherwise makes the whole show darker and smaller.  So that was a frustrating moment, but everything else was darkly excellent.

[Hell Bent]Hell Bent

I have profoundly mixed feelings about this episode.  There were parts that made me transcendentally happy and parts that made me want to grumble or even shout.

I didn't much like the earlier parts of the episode focusing on Time Lord politics, their reactions to having the Doctor back, or their prophecies about the Hybrid.  I've written before that I thought undoing the Time War's destruction of Gallifrey was a bad storytelling decision, and one of the many reasons for that opinion is that the Time Lords on Gallifrey just aren't that interesting IMHO.  Sadly, this episode supported my point.  I don't care about the Doctor angrily eating soup outside that stupid recurring barn.  I don't understand how the Time Lords are hiding out near the end of time but also apparently were communicating with 21st century earth in order to entrap the Doctor (wouldn't TARDIS-ing back and forth alert the Doctor and whoever else they're avoiding to Gallifrey's location?), but I don't really care to try to figure it out.  The whole scene in the cloisters did not come across as mysterious or dangerous.  One part I did like about the sojourn on Gallifrey was that we had a Time Lord regenerating onscreen change gender and race.   Nice to have something else to wave in the face of those who think the Doctor should always be a white dude.

The plot between Clara and the Doctor, on the other hand, was fascinating.  Given the fact that they'd killed Clara off with two episodes to go, I wasn't entirely surprised that the show found an excuse to bring her back onscreen. The Doctor strays very close to Time Lord Victorious territory in his refusal to accept Clara's death, and as worrisome as that always is to see I think it was very believable for how he would respond.  I found all the Time Lord's nonsense about a Hybrid prophecy to be pretty annoying, though I did enjoy some of the argument between the Doctor and Lady Me about who was meant by it.  (I simultaneously laughed and shouted at the screen when I realized they were going to throw the "Doctor is half human" notion, among the most mocked parts of the highly mockable TV movie, into the mix.)  I'm not clear from just one watching whether we got a final answer about whether they Hybrid is Lady Me, the Doctor, or the combination of the Doctor and Clara, but whatever.  I was pleased to unexpectedly run into Lady Me at the end of time, though I am somewhat dubious of the ability of someone who can be killed by sufficient injury to actually survive all those billions of years on the slow path.  Also, were the Toclafane hanging around outside her lair there at the end of time?

I was SO ANGRY when it looked like we were going to have a repeat of Donna's Unconsenting Memory Wipe exit from the TARDIS.  From a Watsonian perspective, I don't think the Doctor has ever done anything that made me angrier than stealing Donna's memories while she begged him not to. From a Doylist perspective, I am semi-okay with RTD's decision to write that because it was part of a larger arc of the Doctor going too far in imposing his will, an arc that was paid off in The Waters of Mars, but we didn't need to go all the way down that road again.  This time, I was overjoyed that Clara put into words why that stealing of agency, even to save her life, was a problem.  Man, sometimes Moffat's tendency to undo (literally or symbolically) the things he didn't like about RTD's era really rubs me the wrong way (see previously link about why Gallifrey should have stayed gone), but this one time it pleased me so much.  Also, this feels like for once the Moff actually paid attention to some of the things that people have criticized about his past writing of women and did better.  I am pleasantly shocked.  But why can't they go and FIX THE ACTUAL DONNA NOBLE instead of merely redoing that situation with someone different and a different outcome?  :`(

I don't really understand why the Doctor forgetting Clara does anything to heal the damage to time caused by her walking around when she should be dead (does it? or is she just gradually splintering the time stream by refusing to go face the raven yet?), and the diner frame story annoyed me a little bit because the Doctor seeking after a person whose personal details he can't remember puts Clara back a little bit in Impossible Girl quest object territory.  However, while he might be viewing her as a quest, she is clearly allowed to have her own agenda.  Undead Clara and Immortal Arya Ashildr Lady Me flying off for their own adventures in a TARDIS they only sort of know how to pilot is the stuff of fanfic, and it's GLORIOUS!  I do worry that they are a Team TARDIS of highly questionable judgment in addition to the aforementioned possibility that Clara might be destroying time itself with her existence, but I am okay with that moral ambiguity.   Also, Moffat has an ongoing tendency to pull back from the most serious consequences by not letting death stick; I think it's a bad writing habit, and I do find it frustrating that the show undid Clara's death.  But her final exit from the show was just so pleasing to me that I can only muster up a  limited amount of annoyance.

Maybe they can track down Donna based on the Doctor's reference to having had to wipe a friend's memory before, figure out a way to restore her memory (surely Me has been around long enough to know some telepaths who can help), and travel with her on their TARDIS.  Yes, that could work nicely.

[Husbands of River Song]Husbands of River Song

Partway through this episode my dad asked me how I was feeling about it.  I told him that it was a tale full of sound and silliness, signifying nothing.  I did think it improved near the end, from River's rant about how the Doctor didn't come for her onwards.  The scene at the restaurant was well done.  However, while I felt that this episode handled River a fair amount better than the majority of her stories, my feelings for her overall character arc remain somewhere between indifference and actual annoyance, and the plot with the head-stealing cyborg thing was just a lot of nonsense, and not even especially entertaining nonsense.  I did enjoy the Doctor's irritation at River's inability to recognize him.  I didn't hate this episode, but it gets a yawn and slight eyeroll.

I've just realized that if we're getting a new companion next series and there hasn't been casting news yet, it's going to be a LONG time until more Doctor Who.  That hiatus will weigh on me, since I'm feeling more engaged with the show than I have in years. 
doomsday wall rose


I was going to try to get more done this afternoon, but I've spent more time than expected on the computer, looking at the news from Paris.  My heart aches for the victims of this atrocity.  The scale of the attacks is truly awful.  My heart aches also for those affected by the bombings in Lebanon earlier in the day, where over 40 people were killed by the so-called Islamic State.

Events like this bring out the best in people as well as the worst.  Parisians on twitter created a hashtag to offer to open up their homes to strangers who needed a place to get inside.  The hospitals issued a call for blood donations, and as morning arrives in Paris people are queing up to donate and crashing the blood donation service's website with the sheer numbers who are trying to find out how to best give of themselves.  I'm sure as more survivors' stories are told we will hear many tales of people risking or giving their lives to protect others.

But on the flip side, incidents like this have the potential to bring out cruelty in the responses, as if the evil of the attacks wasn't already enough.  If policy-makers restrict rights excessively in pursuit of unachievable security and if people take out their anger at the extremists on peaceful Muslims, then the terrorists win.  Terrorists want fear.  They want to ignite a holy war.  We can vanquish them only by keeping our society open and free and by living our lives in a spirit of love, peace, and multiculturalism.

I've been to Paris once, back in 2006.  I was visiting a college friend who was attending theatre school there.  In many ways Paris was exactly what I'd hoped and expected to see.  Art, museums, and historical monuments were everywhere.  People carried bags of baguettes through the street.  A mime juggled on the subway.  My friend took me to parties with her friends, an international mix of Bohemian artist-types.  (One of them looked uncannily like Johnny Depp; when he greeted me with a double cheek kiss I was rather glad that my inability to speak French gave an excuse for making a garbled response, because I was dazzled enough that I don't think I could have managed full sentences in English right then.)  One day we had to reroute ourselves around a protest march of some sort.  It was beautiful and sophisticated and lively and all that a city should be.  There were only two things that really surprised me about Paris:  (1) here in the US, Parisians have a reputation for being super rude, but this was not my experience at all.  People in Paris (including strangers on the street, not just friends of my friend) were no ruder to me than people in any other large city.  Given how little I spoke of the language most were remarkably patient and welcoming.  (2) I knew that Paris was a multicultural city these days, but I was still a bit surprised by just how much of a rainbow of humanity lives there.  It looked at least as diverse as New York.  I liked it.

I hope that despite the death and horror the people of Paris can hold on to their kindness and multiculturalism.  I hold in light the people of Paris and all those whose lives were touched by this tragedy. I pray that the carnage stops here.