“His name is the Doctor. All the name he needs, everything you need to know about him. And if you love him, and you should, help him. Help him.”
– Clara Oswald, Doctor Who
Christmas special, “The Time of the Doctor”
As many Doctor quotes as there are, there are just as many companion quotes, also witty, or poignant, or pointed. I was severely tempted to quote Amelia Pond with this one, but then I found this one, and it just seemed to encapsulate the very soul of what it means to be the Doctor’s companion.
The Doctor is basically a figure of mythical, epic, cosmic proportions. He travels at will through the whole of time and space, saving lives, ending menaces, stopping countless atrocities, standing against nefarious figures of legend and undoing entire armies with his wits, his will, and a screwdriver. He is the monsters’ nightmare.
There are also countless mysteries about him, mysteries which magnificent powers in the universe have bent their will to unraveling. Even his real name is a secret.
Yet, the Doctor is defined by a very human characteristic: charity. He genuinely cares about others. That’s why he named himself “the Doctor,” because he wants to help people. So he protects them, and sees justice done, and helps them stand up after they’ve been beaten down. He is, as one of his enemies put it, “The man who makes people better.” All of this, he does it without hope of reward or recognition. That’s not just noble, it’s amazing, the purest and greatest of virtues.
That is what defines both the Doctor and his companions: the ease with which they love others. Even more, they earn that love in return, even if they don’t really ask for it. How natural is it to help someone you love?
When Clara says the above quote, she is bearing witness to what may be the Doctor’s last hour. She is kneeling before a crack in the universe that carries her words to the Time Lords of Gallifrey. They have been listening in as the Doctor has fought to secure safe passage for his people to return to the universe, and now only they can save him. But she has to convince them why, and she doesn’t point to any grand reasons. She speaks simply and clearly, and begs them to help a man who is worthy of their help. Just as every companion of the Doctor has done: helped him because he is worth it.
They should love this man who has done so much for them. They should help him.
One doesn’t need to know everything about a man to know him. One doesn’t even need to know him to love him. And once you love him, helping him is the most natural thing in the world.
And that’s not a bad way to start a new year, is it? 😉