Doctor Who Vincent and the Doctor
It’s been said that the best episodes of a TV show are the ones that stray from the typical formula. “Vincent and the Doctor” follows this line of reasoning, in that this was a very differently structured episode from others of the season. For one thing, the “monster” was not the main focus. That’s where the Winston Churchill episode faltered a bit, for me, with all the attention going to the Daleks. In these famous-people episodes, the fun is seeing the Doctor bounce off history’s greatest players.
Vincent Van Gogh is someone with whom I am not well acquainted. However, either by virtue of the actor or the writer, I came to like him very much. As most famous people do on this show, Van Gogh is depicted as someone who sees beyond what normal people see. Oftentimes this doesn’t go much farther than being able to see past the Psychic Paper, but there is almost always the idea that they see “more.”
I think what makes this episode so haunting is that you know Van Gogh’s fate going in. Despite all the good moments and the happy state they leave the painter in, I was pretty much expecting what we got. The tragedy you see coming a mile away is almost always more impacting than the sudden and unexpected, and it stays with you longer.
The idea of a blind monster who is also invisible was an interesting choice for an episode about an artist, where seeing is so important. This almost felt like one of Steven Moffat’s monsters, like the Angels or the Vashta Nerada, were part of the terror is that you can’t see them coming.
I’ve been surprised with the shear number of references to past Doctors in this season. Not only the slideshow in the first episode, but the library card that the Doctor flashed to the girl vampires. Now we get another shot of the first Doctor. I wonder if there is some point beyond simply tightening the connection between the different series.
I enjoyed the relationships between the characters immensely in this episode. While I always liked Rory, he didn’t really fit in well with the others. But here, you get a real sense that Vincent is a kindred spirit with the Doctor and Amy. The three of them holding hands under the stars was very strong, and I almost hoped that they would just keep Van Gogh with them.
In the end, I’m glad Vincent’s fate was not regulated by being a fixed point in time, or some other such mumbo jumbo. It somehow strengthens the inevitability by it not being strictly inevitable. And it makes it all the sadder, and more real.