Monday, June 21, 2010

Pandora's Box & Doctor Who

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers of the latest Doctor Who episode. If you've been watching Doctor Who on BBCA - then you have not seen the latest Doctor Who episode. BBCA is a few weeks behind the UK. So you've been forewarned.

The myth of Pandora's Box has never made sense to me. Oh, I get the part where curiosity killed the cat. Pandora is told never to open the box (or rather jar), curiousity gets the better of her, and she opens the box. Classic human mistake. What I don't get is that, according to the myth, every evil thing came out of the box, but Pandora closed it just in time to capture hope inside. This has always left me with a few questions.
  1. Why was hope inside the box with all these nasty things? It's not like the box was full of lots of nasty things and lots of good things. No, it was filled with lots of nasty things and hope. That doesn't make any sense.
  2. So opening the box released nasty things into the world - I get that. So why close hope in? Doesn't that mean hope has not been released into the world? Doesn't that mean we don't have hope? Hope is still trapped inside of the box! That means we're all hopeless, right?
Apparently, I'm not the only ones with the second question - though my high school Latin teacher kind of brushed my questions aside. Research into the matter will see that translators also argue about the same question.

However, it's all been cleared up for me, by the latest episode of Doctor Who. The episode does not take us back in time to meet an actual Pandora with a jar, but centers around a box called the "Pandoricum" which the Doctor believes is a myth. According to the myth, the box contains the greatest evil in the Universe - something that destroyed every planet and race it came across and there was no way to stop it.

Then at the end of the episode it is revealed that the box is empty. All of the Doctor's great foes show up and shove him in the box. The Doctor has been their greatest evil - their greatest foe - and according to the story line of this season, an explosion caused by the TARDIS has created cracks in time and will destroy the universe. By imprisoning the Doctor, they're hoping to prevent that.

What they don't realize is that it is too late. The TARDIS is already exploding. The Doctor is their only hope to stop it, but they put him in the box.

Now, this doesn't completely line up with the myth of Pandora's box - since opening the box didn't release all those evils. However, it does give us a picture of how the evils and hope are like the same person. Hope is put in the box by all the evils of the universe who think the Doctor is the greatest evil in the Universe.

Does this answer all the questions of Pandora's box? No. Does it make complete sense with the myth? No. But I love stuff like this - because it shows that the writers are thinking - which is what makes Doctor Who such a great show. The writers are intelligent. (Wish I could say the same for some of the writers of American television. *sigh*)

It's an episode that left my thinking and left me wanting more. (Is Amy dead? Will robot Rory survive to become real Rory? Will the TARDIS blow up? Who will free the Doctor? My money is on Rory for the last question.)

And this sort of stuff is exactly why I love Doctor Who. It's really a great show. If you don't watch it - you should.

Now I just have to wait a week to see the season finale. Ahhh!

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