I wrote, before, on the season finale of Doctor Who this year, "The Wedding of River Song." Spoilers will be present in this post.
In the post, I expressed a little bit of disappointment. Not much. I still loved it. It was still deeply moving. But it wasn't quite the earth-shattering brilliance I was expecting. It leaned a little bit too heavily on loopholes for my taste.
Well, I've watched it several more times since then, and I have to say, I am increasingly impressed.
The ending, I admit, still feels just slightly cheap. It was more a vehicle to keep the Doctor alive to continue having a show than it was a deeply sensible and brilliant wrap-up. But this plotline, which his hypothetical death justified, was extraordinary, deeply moving, and as brilliant as I was hoping the actual death would be.
Seasons 5 and 6 progressively deconstructed the idea of the Doctor as a hero. It showed the risks he poses to the people who travel with him. It showed the damage he can do, dropping into people's lives and shaking them to the core. It showed the way the universe might rally against him, the way he makes worlds fear him, the way he might terrorize the universe.
Moffat showed the Doctor losing faith in himself, coming to believe that he should die.
Then, in a life-affirming culmination, at the climax of the last episode of season 6, River Song, the woman who loves the Doctor more than anyone in the universe, shows him a distress signal, begging the universe for help. To save the Doctor.
And from every corner in the universe, voices cried out. "Yes, of course. We'll help."
As River said, "I can't let you die without knowing you are loved. By so many, and so much. And by no one more than me."
I know it's just a story. I know that the way Moffat tells it doesn't prove any deeper truths about the universe. But what he showed us was a world, a universe, where passion and excitement and optimism and love can genuinely triumph. He showed us the criticisms to the argument, spread across two series, and he shot them down.
I like to believe that we live in that sort of world. A world where living life with passion and excitement, and loving and helping and fighting for the people we meet, whenever the opportunity to do so presents itself, and at the same time fighting for ourselves, isn't a path to self-destruction.
Ultimately, no one living can work out the moral calculus to figure out the best possible way to make life beautiful and exciting for as many people as possible. Until someone works it out, I'm going to take the side of earnest, passionate, and unironic trying.
I'm glad to see that Moffat and the Doctor are on that side, too.