Cowardice is Virtue; How The Doctor Saved the World through Cowardice

Note: There are spoilers here if you haven’t seen Season 1 of Doctor Who (2005)

Let’s set the stage.

The Doctor (I find him amazing) is at a crossroads. The sinister Daleks (an ingenious race of genetically engineered aliens designed to take orders and exterminate all life) were not destroyed in the previous war that killed The Doctor’s race. They have been secretly harvesting humans and have returned in full force, ready to claim the Earth as it’s own paradise. They will exterminate all humans and then move on to conquer the rest of universe. All of The Doctor’s defensive forces have been eliminated and he sent his trusted friend Rose back to her own time, against her will, as a promise to keep her safe.

There is still hope! While his friends have defended (and sacrificed themselves for) The Doctor, he has been converting the space station in which they are trapped into a huge “delta wave” generator. This wave produces enough power to wipe out the entire race of Daleks in one single pulse. There’s only one problem. There hasn’t been enough time to focus the direction of the delta wave, so it has become more of a pulse or bubble. It will effectively wipe out the Daleks, the space station, and the entire planet Earth, which they are orbiting.

It is in this moment that The Doctor becomes surrounded by Daleks; even the Dalek Emperor has come to gloat in his triumph. The conversation begins:

The Doctor: You really want to think about this. Because if I activate the signal, every living creature dies.
Dalek Emperor: I am immortal.
The Doctor: D’you want to put that to the test?
Dalek Emperor: I want to see you become like me. Hail the Doctor! The great exterminator!
The Doctor: I’ll do it!
Dalek Emperor: Then prove yourself, Doctor. What are you? Coward or killer?

At this moment, I myself am stymied. What would I do in this situation? The Daleks have proven themselves to be a true threat. They will not alter their course and it is quite literally The Doctor alone who can stop this threat. He lost his entire race last time in the process; the war was that difficult. We know The Doctor is selfless, so it doesn’t matter to him if nobody else is there to witness how he saved things, it must be done. In light of all of life in space and time, this one planet of human beings here and now seems like a small cost. Surely it is drastic, but it must be done.

With his hands on the trigger, and a moment of hard thought and struggle, The Doctor makes his reply:

Coward. Any day.

I’ll admit I wasn’t quite expecting this decision. Earth, humanity, and even himself were all doomed to death and whatever horrible abominations the Daleks would  perform, yet he chose “cowardice” and let the Earth live, even for just a few moments longer. Placing myself in The Doctor’s shoes, this seemed foolish to me, in light of the greater good of space and time that would be spared.

And yet, that’s really just letting the ends justify the means. Even if it spelled certain doom, I wasn’t the one ending the lives of billions. I was not playing God, and I was not corrupting my soul in the extermination of so many souls. There are some things beyond the scope of my responsibility, or at least beyond the range in which I am capable of handling.

In that point I think The Doctor knew that virtue (and maybe even God) wins.

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Which walls do you prefer?

This past week or two I’ve had the fun of playing with my new Google Nexus 7 tablet. I can now read all of my books and news feeds without having to either remain in bed or drag my laptop to the deck. What impressed me even more was how simple the setup process was, and the environment that was established for me. I’m a pretty heavy Google user already, so I went ahead and linked up my Google account when I placed my order. When my tablet arrived, I started it up, verified my account, and instantly all of my apps, e-mail, music, and books were synchronized to my device. There was a handy widget on the home screen directing me to what I have, and where I could go to get more (that is, the Google Play Store). All of this gave me a few moments of pause and reminded me that as much as we say we hate them, we still love walled gardens. Continue reading Which walls do you prefer?

Farewell to LOST


That was the first thought that came to my mind after the finale of LOST. There was a lot of emotion, triumph, a few more questions answered, and ultimately, closure. Yes, I even had tears in my eyes during the last 10 minutes or so of the finale. While I can’t throw myself into the ultra-fan “Lostie” category, I did spend an entire evening attempting to crack the code on the Dharma Initiative website that went up during season two. So I might be close. There are lots of posts out there doing deep analysis on the finale. For those unfamiliar with LOST (yes there are those out there) you may wonder if it is worth putting the entire series in your Neflix/Hulu queue. I say “YES!” and here’s why.

All in all, LOST was excellent because:

1. The storyline was gripping through the entire series. I often spent the days after an episode trying to piece things together. The show was bold enough to include time travel and “alternate realities.” In most series, time travel indicates a poor taste in writing, or an attempt to reset a bad season by wiping it away. With an already complex storyline, LOST managed to pull off time travel in a very convincing manner.

2. The story focuses on the characters: past, present, and “sideways.” No matter how linear a plot or story can be, a person is far more enriching.  All of the characters, no matter how pleasant or otherwise on the island, had a back story that showed the influences or struggles of the character while on the island. All of the characters had a chance to better themselves, and I was always watching to see why, when, and how they came to this realization.

3. This was clearly a “thinking-man’s” show.  It raised questions of theology, philosophy, destiny vs. free will, religion vs. science, and more. I didn’t realize how much was packed in until I started reading the episode summaries by Jeff “Doc” Jensen at Even if only half of the references found in these summaries are valid, it shows the creators and writers were intent on creating a complex and serious story. (Hint: Take a peek at the book “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” that Desmond is reading on the plane at the start of Season 6 and see what similarities you can find.)

4. There are still questions.  At first this aggravated me. I was appreciative of the long developing story and the continued twists, but I wanted more. I wanted an ultimate solution / mechanic / algorithm that explained all the minutiae of everything. Even as you stared into the “heart of the island” during the finale you still were presented with just an object. No sage or matrix architect to explain things to you. As the final season continued, you could see this kind of angst in the characters as well. Ultimately, it became apparent that you can’t know everything, in this life or the next.

Plenty of TV shows will allow you to see the last few episodes, or maybe the last season, and provide you with a minimally enriching experience. LOST is a show that needs to be seen and pondered in its entirety. Not all of the answers to life come quickly, and sometimes we must go through trials in order to find the proper answers.  LOST is a show that illustrates this profoundly well. I’m happy to discuss details of the series in the comment section, but LOST needs to be appreciated for its ability to tell a story that combines both science and myth into a well defined package.

Note: Spoilers may be discussed in the comment section.