Thoughts on: The Pilot

I think I owe Steven Moffat an apology. This time last year I was grouching over his choice of new companion. Another young modern female companion cast from the Amy/Clara mould who, let’s face it, at this point wasn’t going to out-Amy Amy or out-Clara Clara — as I complained. To be fair, Bill’s first appearance in that shoddily-written teaser involving her and the Doctor hiding from a Dalek hardly endeared her to me. Bill’s treating the Dalek as a joke (“Fat, though!”) and the whole situation as whimsy made me despair for the series ahead afflicted by this annoying, gobby, glib, woman-child with her extraordinary hair and clothes.

It looked like minimal thought had gone into creating Bill, as though Moffat had just rearranged his favourite companion tropes — outgoing, perky, feisty, witty, flirty — into a slightly different configuration and went ahead and found a new actress to play to that tired script. And, to be honest, that is in a way what Moffat has done with Bill. Bill embodies many of the same character attributes as Amy and Clara (and River), and she can be seen as yet another new iteration of the same character formula Moffat has trotted out three times before this.

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But I underestimated Moffat. Sure, Bill is similar in many significant ways to the two (or three, if River counts as a companion) companions who’ve come before her. But I was struck in this, her introductory episode, by how much better she was written than her predecessors. Far from minimal thought having gone into Bill, it feels like a lot more thought and care has gone into creating and writing Bill than ever went into Amy or Clara before their first jaunts in the Tardis. This is palpable from how much more relatable Bill immediately felt than arguably Amy or Clara ever felt. Amy was a fairytale and Clara was an engima. Before they were characters they were concepts. Don’t get me wrong, I adored both Amy and Clara, but I don’t think either felt completely like real people.

Bill, on the other hand, just from this introductory episode feels more real than Amy or Clara ever felt. We’ve been given a tour through her life: her foster home, her job at the university canteen and what she does for fun (attend lectures on quantum physics apparently). We’ve seen how her experiences have affected her and shaped who she is. And the intimacy with which Bill’s character is written adds a level of nuance and detail to her character that I think was lacking in Amy and Clara. By the time Amy and Clara exited the show respectively there was still a degree to which they remained enigmas to the audience — like celebrity royalty, there was an extent to which they were simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar to us. There’s none of that with Bill, with whom the contrast is striking. We feel we’ve got to know Bill intimately right away. We feel familiar with Bill, like there’s little more we feel we need to know about her.

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And we like her. She’s a likable and endearing character. I wasn’t right in thinking I’d be bored or irritated by Bill, even if she is a reiteration of the Amy/Clara/River model. That’s substantially due to the writing, because I imagine I would be bored by Bill if she weren’t written as well as she is. Bill is distinguished from Amy and Clara in one respect worth noting though (other than her sexuality), and that’s that she’s probably the first genuinely normal companion in Doctor Who since Donna — that is, since Russell T Davies’ era. Unless I’m tragically premature in making this observation about Bill, she does appear to be the first of Moffat’s companions who isn’t at the eye of an elaborate narrative arc. No Girl Who Waited, no Impossible Girl. And frankly, that’s bloody refreshing. Unlike, it seems, most fans, I found the Impossible Girl arc intriguing and interesting, but it’s nice to return to a companion who’s just normal. Just Bill. Even her name is refreshingly simple and unfrilly.

I’ve just spent five paragraphs talking about the new companion and haven’t even spared a word for anything else in this episode yet. That’s because, by far and away, the new companion was the most important thing in this episode. The plot, let’s face it, was pretty lacklustre. For a writer who usually insists on making everything far more complicated than it needs to be, Moffat has turned in a fairly threadbare and unremarkable story. As a story concept, strange women emerging from mobile ponds sounds like something that belongs in Class or Torchwood’s early series, or maybe Doctor Who’s sillier early days under RTD, than as the opener to Moffat’s swansong series. But that’s not really the point of this story. This story has one objective and one objective only: introducing Bill and setting her up as the Doctor’s new companion. The star-eyed girl in her locomotive puddle was a pantomime threat deployed as the impetus for bringing the Doctor and Bill together. As an aspect of the story, it wasn’t important. It played a secondary role.

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And it served its purpose. As far as companion introductions go, Bill probably received a better character debut than any companion since Rose. Maybe even better. As an introductory episode, I think I’d give it a more middling ranking — The Eleventh Hour is still the superior introductory episode in my book. Because I do think a case can be made that, while The Pilot‘s plot served its purpose in the story, it still could have been, well, less predictable and pedestrian. Less Series 1 Sarah Jane Adventures. The visual realisation of Heather as the phantasmic eponymous “pilot” was appropriately freaky, but the revelation of what the creature was and the way its threat was resolved was something of a lazy anticlimax. Still, it all provided for some very fun whizzing around in the Tardis as the Doctor attempted to outrun the creature (and I’m delighted that Australia got a look in).

On that note, just as the whirlwind whiz around time and space in the Tardis was supposed to be Bill’s first exciting voyage with the Doctor, the impetus for her boarding the Tardis as the Doctor’s companion, this episode was obviously supposed to be scripted as a soft reboot to the show. That was certainly how it was being touted by the likes of Moffat and Capaldi, a new “jumping-on point” for new viewers of the show à la The Eleventh Hour. Certainly, everything old was made new again in this episode. Old fans will have smirked knowing smirks as familiar tropes of the show were hashed out again for new viewers, albeit with subtle variation for the old fans: the “bigger on the inside” scene, “Doctor Who What?” and the companion’s traditional vomit of questions about the Doctor and the Tardis (“Why are the initials in English?”). Even as a veteran fan, though, the moment Bill turned around and saw the inside of the Tardis, wide-eyed and stunned, and the Doctor said those words, “Time and Relative Dimension in Space — TARDIS for short”, I got chills. This show never stops being magical.

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As effective and accessible this episode was as a reboot to the franchise and a jumping-on point for new viewers though, it was also deft in setting up what looks like it’s going to be the arc of this series. There’s a big, menacing-looking vault in a cellar under Bill’s university, and the Doctor doesn’t want anybody to know about it. He’s apparently set himself up as a professor at the university and has been there for as many as 70 years keeping watch over that vault. It’s a credit to Moffat’s writing that the most curious aspect of this episode — why the Doctor has been earthbound, lecturing at a university for upwards of 70 years — almost passed unnoticed. Attention wasn’t drawn to it. It was written as though it didn’t even need explanation, and as a result the audience just accepted it without asking for an explanation. It was understated and clever and not overt and heavy-handed like last series’ Hybrid arc setup (as intriguing as I found that, too). The subtle and inconspicuous way the arc was set up allows narrative space and time for the Doctor to go gallivanting around the universe with Bill at his leisure before he inevitably needs to return to the vault, and in that respect it was well deployed.

Apart from the introduction of Bill, what I really liked about this episode is that it represents such an optimistic and exciting beginning to this series of Doctor Who. Everything is fresh, everything is new, and we have a bushy-tailed new companion chewing at the bit to get into the Tardis and see the universe, and a Doctor apparently excited by the prospect of taking her to see it with him. I think I’d like to have seen some more caution and trepidation on the Doctor’s part of drafting Bill into the Tardis, more acknowledgement by him that the last time he did this he got his companion killed (technically) — the episode rather skirted over that — but I suppose when you’re trying to reboot the show anew again for a new audience, that audience might find it confusing if the show referenced too significantly events of previous series. But the result, the conclusion to this episode was always going to be the right one: Bill breathlessly hops aboard the Tardis and she and the Doctor take off into the universe, a whole series of exciting adventures ahead of them. This episode made me excited for the series ahead, and for that reason it was successful.

Rating: 8/10.

Typing Doctor Who: Victorian Clara

ESTPs:

Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.

So yesterday I was watching The Snowmen, the 2012 Christmas special which featured Jenna Coleman’s second appearance in Doctor Who, as the Victorian incarnation of Clara. And it struck me as I was watching it that there are some subtle differences in the way Clara’s various incarnations are written. The ones we’ve seen—the original Clara, Victorian Clara, and Oswin—all fit broadly into the same mould, but they’re not the same. For example, the original Clara (Clara Prime?) from 21st Century Britain, was written as a technological illiterate (much like me), but the first of Clara’s incarnations we saw, Oswin (or Dalek Clara), in Asylum of the Daleks, was a technological genius. Victorian Clara, too, was noticeably different from Clara Prime and Oswin, yet sharing much in common in terms of personality.

This should be expected—when Clara entered the Doctor’s time stream on Trenzalore, she birthed thousands of versions of herself throughout the Doctor’s timeline, living thousands of distinct lives in thousands of different places. Personality is partly a result of genetics (nature), but also substantially determined by environment (nurture). How could the various versions of Clara not differ in certain ways? No doubt there are versions of Clara of every personality type running around the Doctor’s timeline, and none, since the MBTI describes human personality, and we know at least one version of Clara was an alien: the Gallifreyan Clara who persuaded the First Doctor to choose his Type 40 Tardis.

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With all that said, I think Victorian Clara is an ESTP. That’s a subtle difference from Clara Prime, whom I typed as an ESFP, and I stick to that typing. (I’ll also tentatively type Oswin as an ENTP, a rather more considerable distinction). Along with the description I linked to above, a good brief description of ESTPs is:

ESTPs are outgoing, straight-shooting types. Enthusiastic and excitable, ESTPs are “doers” who live in the world of action. Blunt, straight-forward risk-takers, they are willing to plunge right into things and get their hands dirty. They live in the here-and-now, and place little importance on introspection or theory. The look at the facts of a situation, quickly decide what should be done, execute the action, and move on to the next thing.

Some celebrity and fictional ESTPs you might know are: Miley Cyrus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Donald Trump, Madonna, Jaime Lannister (Game of Thrones), Bart Simpson (The Simpsons), Oliver Queen (Arrow), Dean Winchester (Supernatural). And of course, Captain Jack Harkness.

Let’s start with what Victorian Clara and Clara Prime have in common. They’re both perky, flirtatious and outgoing. They’re both daring and have a thirst for action and danger. They’re both cleverer than they let on. Everything Steven Moffat seems to like in a female companion, in other words. But I think they clearly differ in one fundamental respect: Clara Prime is more gentle, more touchy-feely, and Victorian Clara is more hard-nosed and logical. Clara Prime’s emotions are more frequently on show—not in the sense that she’s emotional or irrational (she can be very rational and tough-minded when she wants to), but in that she more readily feels about things, she processes things through her emotional filter, and since she’s an extrovert (an ExFP), her feelings are much more clearly on show (something I’ve learned about ExFP types from knowing quite a few of them).

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Compare Victorian Clara. Victorian Clara’s emotions don’t leak out of her the way Clara Prime’s do. She has feelings, sure—there are a couple of times in the episode when Victorian Clara becomes emotional—but she typically approaches things coolly and logically. She’s an adept problem-solver: the way she figured out what the Doctor’s plan was (to take the Ice Lady up to the cloud) was a masterclass in using quick deductive logic in a crisis situation. See, too, how she responds to happening upon the snow and the Doctor: she wants to understand the snow, and understand the Doctor. She interrogates a random stranger about the snowman rather than dismissing it as something inconsequential, or as her memory playing tricks on her or something. The curious Doctor piques her interest and she follows him all the way to his Tardis in the clouds. She wants to know, to understand. That’s very typical of the Introverted Thinking (Ti) that characterises TP types—the desire to understand and to make logical sense of things. Curiosity.

What I’ve been talking about is what fundamentally distinguishes Victorian Clara, the ESTP, from Clara Prime, the ESFP. Expressed in MBTI terms, it’s the distinction between each type’s primary judgment process: ESTPs use Introverted Thinking (Ti) to make judgments, and ESFPs use Introverted Feeling (Fi). But both share Extraverted Sensing (Se) as their dominant perceptive (information-gathering) process. Se is being attuned to the sensory details of things around you, in the moment. It’s being aware of sensations, colours, tastes, people, activity, beauty around you, and wanting to interact with it all. It’s also taking action in the moment. The example I gave above of Victorian Clara deducing the Doctor’s plan also illustrates this, her ability to react and take action and think coolly in the moment. Crisis and danger don’t fluster her, she thrives on it. That says ESTP all over. Victorian Clara’s Se is also illustrated when she decides on the spot to pursue the Doctor after basically being told to bug off, and in the way she spontaneously kisses the Doctor. The latter, overt (and spontaneous) displays of sexuality, is very Se, and very ESxP. Amy, an ENFP, spontaneously kissed the Doctor too, once, but one thing I noticed about Victorian Clara was how much more physical a person she was than Amy, which indicates to me SP rather than NP.

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One last thing I noted about Victorian Clara is her deftness, as a governess, in caring for Francesca and Digby, Captain Latimer’s children. I think this is illustrative of another point of distinction between Victorian Clara and Clara Prime, between ESTP and ESFP. Although she’s a Thinker, Victorian Clara’s nurturing abilities come from her tertiary Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which is being attuned to the feelings and values of others and being skilled in dealing with others’ feelings. As an extravert, and a well-rounded person in general, Victorian Clara can slip fairly easily into using Fe in her role as a governess, a carer of children, when she needs to. In contrast, FP types like Clara Prime use Introverted Feeling, which, in contrast to the outward, interpersonal focus of Fe, is attuned to the person’s own intrapersonal feelings and values. Victorian Clara’s emotional expression is somewhat affected, because it’s focussed upon others, while Clara Prime’s expression comes off as more authentic and sincere, because it’s focussed upon herself. See my post on Clara (Prime) for more on the way Clara uses Fi.

Typing Doctor Who: Amy Pond

(What is this? Read my introduction to my Typing Doctor Who series).

Well, I’ve been re-watching Doctor Who in recent weeks, and I felt the familiar sensation of affection as I reached Series 5 and 6 and got to watch my favourite fictional characters again: Eleven and the Ponds. Amy is my all-time favourite companion, and Eleven is my favourite Doctor. I already typed Eleven (as an ENTP) here, but, with Eleven and Amy fresh in my mind from my rewatching of Series 5 and 6, I couldn’t resist thinking about the type of Eleven’s iconic partner in crime shenanigans too.

Amy, by my reckoning, is an ENFP. In short, ENFPs are excitable and spontaneous free spirits. Like their thinking cousins, the ENTPs, they are energised by the exploration of possibilities and ideas. They are restless and enthusiastic, driven primarily by a need for novelty and exploration. In this way—their overt openness to possibilities and novelty—they’re similar to their sensing cousins the ESFPs (such as Clara and Rose), but, as an intuitive type, ENFPs tend to be more cerebral and intellectually-oriented than ESFPs. Beneath their extroverted enthusiastic, excitable, spontaneous exterior, ENFPs harbour a depth of feeling and passion which, in combination with the intuition and imagination they display to the world, makes them a highly idealistic, compassionate and creative type. They’re adept at inspiring and motivating others, and fluent at navigating social and emotional dynamics. They’re some of the most fun people to be around, and, once you get talking to them, make for absorbing conversationalists. Some fictional and celebrity ENFPs you might know are Robin Williams, Phil Dunphy (Modern Family), Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Willy Wonka, Andy Dwyer (Parks and Recreation).

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If you come to see that Amy is an ENFP, you can understand why the Doctor-companion duo of Eleven and Amy worked so well. They’re both ENxP types who lead with Extraverted Intuition: they are both extroverts energised by the perception of possibilities, the craving for novelty, the flightiness and the lust for exploration. They both have an imaginative turn of mind which manifested in the fairytale, romantic, somewhat fanciful and surreal dynamic of their Doctor-companion relationship (of which the high point was Series 5)—a dynamic which might have ascended into pure fancy and fairytale totally divorced from the reality of Amy’s (and the Doctor’s) life if not for the grounding, sensible influence of Rory, an ISFJ.

You see the tension between Amy’s respective relationships with the Doctor and with Rory in Amy’s Choice: with Rory, the down-to-earth, comfort- and stability-seeking ISFJ, Amy has a contented married life in a quaint English rural village; it’s a life Rory adores but Amy, although she seems to appreciate it (she has inferior Si after all), finds herself feeling restless and bored. Contrast with her life with the Doctor: an unreal and fantastical life of adventure, excitement and danger aboard the Tardis. It’s sort of clear which Amy prefers: her affection for the life in Leadworth is associated with her investment in her relationship with Rory, but it’s obvious she finds more appealing the life in the Tardis:

RORY: I want the other life. You know, where we’re happy and settled and about to have a baby.
AMY: But don’t you wonder, if that life is real, then why would we give up all this? Why would anyone?

AMY: We’re in a time machine. It can be the night before our wedding for as long as we want.
RORY: We have to grow up eventually.
AMY: Says who?

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Consider, too, the way Amy as a child imagined a whole world around her “imaginary friend”, the “Raggedy Doctor”, after a brief encounter with the Doctor one night. She made toys and created stories and let her imagination run wild with the possibilities associated with the strange, raggedy man with his box who invaded her garden one night when she was a child. She imagined an idealised Doctor in her stories and fantasies, the Doctor taking on a whimsical, fairytale quality in her imagination, and imagined that he was one day going to return and whisk her away in his time machine (in spite of, maybe because of, the insistence of almost everyone that the Doctor wasn’t real). All of this—the whimsical imagination, the idealisation, the projection of emotion into fantasy—is so xNFP, and so very much like an xNFP child.

As an FP type, Amy uses Introverted Feeling—she makes judgments based on her subjective valuation of things: good, bad, right, wrong. In this way she’s similar to Clara and Rose, both ESFPs (whom I’ve previously typed), but different from her husband Rory, an FJ type who makes judgments based on considerations of group values and harmony and the feelings and needs of others. In The Almost People she spurned and acted frostily towards the (apparently) flesh Doctor because she recoiled at the idea that her emotional attachment and feelings for the Doctor could or should be transferred to manufactured clones of the Doctor. In The Girl Who Waited the elder Amy initially refused to help herself, because she and the last 36 years of her life would cease to exist, but relented when she understood that it would be cruel to Rory to deprive him of the chance to grow old with the love of his life. Amy is a passionate woman—not overtly so (FP types typically aren’t), her passion and feeling is internal, but there’s no doubt it’s there.

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To end with a note about ENFPs, they’re a magnetic personality who inspire and captivate others with their energy, spontaneity, excitement, ingenuity and charming lack of inhibition. They’re some of my favourite people in the world—my best friend in high school was an ENFP, and I’ve also, er, found myself inexplicably attracted to people and characters of this personality type (he says blushingly). Maybe that’s why I took such an immediate and deep liking to Amy Pond, who will forever remain my all-time favourite companion, and one of my favourite fictional characters. Amy is undoubtedly a fantastic ambassador for this type, and ENFPs should be proud to count her among their number.

Typing Doctor Who: Rose Tyler

Rose Tyler ESFP

(N.B. If you’re confused about the odd MBTI terminology throughout this piece (“Extraverted Sensing”, “Fi”, etc.) this link explains it pretty clearly and succinctly. I’ve tried to make these posts as readable and comprehensible to those uninitiated with MBTI as I possibly can, but some use of theoretical terms and concepts is unavoidable. There’s no need to be intimidated, though, the concepts are actually really easy to understand, and the link above explains it all well.)

The first companion of the revived series of Doctor Who, the most beloved and arguably New Who’s archetypal companion is, to my mind, a classic ESFP. In my post on Clara Oswald (another ESFP), I characterised ESFPs as the adventurous, fun-loving thrill-seekers of the world. ESFPs are ruled by their need for sensory stimulation, which they seek out in the world of experiences, people and things. Unlike introverts and even many extroverted types, ESFPs are typically not drained by constant social interaction and activity—as SPs it’s what they thrive on, and much of an ESFP’s life is an unending search for novelty and stimulation. They’re always doing things, seeing things, experiencing things, having fun. ESFPs are the people who make life fun for everyone else. They also have a deeper, passionate side, and they feel very deeply and have a strong sense of who they are and how things should be. They’re very fluent with people, very warm, and sympathise with others easily.

Rose fits this characterisation quite well, I think. She decided to travel with the Doctor because she felt unsatisfied with her mundane, boring ordinary life and the mundane, boring trappings of that life: her job, her home life, her boyfriend, her future. Against this unsatisfying reality, she found irresistible the idea of leaving it all behind, relinquishing all her responsibilities and attachments, to travel in time and space with the Doctor, a free and unbound spirit. Nor can she keep away from it. Unlike some later companions, the Doctor isn’t her hobby, it’s her life, and a life of travel and adventure is just what every ESFP dreams of. It’s clear that Rose can’t stand the idea of leaving the Tardis behind and going back to her old, mundane life. She was thoroughly depressed when Nine sent her back home in The Parting of the Ways about having to return to her ordinary life of sleep, work and chips; and she couldn’t comprehend how others—Mickey and especially her mother, Jackie—neither wanted to join her in the Tardis nor felt happy for her travelling with the Doctor.

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The above is basically a description of the way Rose’s Extraverted Sensing (Se) manifests, the dominant cognitive function of ESFPs. But more specifically, we see Rose’s Se in the way she likes to immerse herself in the new places she visits. Compare the way she reacted to visiting Satellite Five to the way Adam (probably an IxTP) did: Rose immediately took to interacting with her new, strange surroundings, buying a strange alien drink to share with Adam, while Adam felt overwhelmed by it all and needed to go clear his head and take it all in. See, too, how Rose loves to try on new pretty clothes to fit in with her surroundings: her pretty Victorian dress in The Unquiet Dead, her cute 1950s garb in The Idiot Lantern. She has a great dress sense in general, and, like Clara, her outfits are always distinctive and stylish. Rose also has a keen eye for a pretty face—although she’s theoretically tied down to a relationship with Mickey, she can’t help flirting and showing interest in every pretty boy who crosses her path: Adam, Captain Jack, and even the Doctor himself; and she doesn’t seem to feel very committed to Mickey. That’s a trait I’ve noticed in the ESFPs I’ve known, a manifestation of their dominant Se: they just can’t resist pretty things.

ESFPs also have auxiliary Introverted Feeling (Fi), which makes them deeply, internally sensitive about things. They have feelings, man. They have clear ideas about what’s good and bad, right and wrong, and a strong sense of who they are, or who they want to be. Rose’s Fi is illustrated perfectly by her famous, character-defining outburst at Jackie and Mickey in The Parting of the Ways when the Doctor sent her back in time to protect her from the Daleks. She was overcome by emotion because one of her strongly-held principles was being violated by her having to sit safely at home while her friends fought for their lives in the far future. You could practically feel the Fi spilling out of her. There are other instances of this in other episodes: the way she sympathised with the Dalek in Dalek in defiance of the Doctor, and the way she stood up for Gwyneth against the Doctor and the Gelth in The Unquiet Dead.

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But I also see Rose’s Fi manifested in the way she treats Mickey. For example, in Boom Town, she returns to her own time and sees Mickey again, and expects Mickey to return to her side at her beck and call like a loyal lapdog, and even feels indignity and confusion when Mickey tells her he’s seeing someone else. She’s snarky and mean to Mickey about it before Mickey expresses how Rose made him feel betrayed and belittled, which snaps Rose into realising, finally, how badly she’s treated him and how she’s made him feel. Rose was totally oblivious to the way her lifestyle and her choices make Mickey feel, because she’s led by what feels right for her, not necessarily taking account of the needs and feelings of others. The same goes for the way Rose treats her mother Jackie, who worries deeply about her, although Rose is dismissive of the anxiety her lifestyle causes her mother, and rarely checks back in with Jackie to reassure her that she’s alive and safe.

Rose’s character arc in Series 2 was characterised by the under-the-surface romance between Rose and the Tenth Doctor. Rose grew to become deeply in love with the Doctor, and she came to see her future, the rest of her life, to be spent with the Doctor, as illustrated by the dialogue in the opening to Army of Ghosts (“How long are you going to stay with me?” “Forever.”) What I think is happening in MBTI terms here is that Rose’s auxiliary Introverted Feeling (Fi) and inferior Introverted Intuition (Ni) are working together. Rose has fallen hopelessly, romantically in love with the Doctor, and her Fi has idealised a life and a future with him. Her Fi has created a picture of what she wants her life to look like—a life with the Doctor. Her Ni has gone ahead and told her that the Doctor is her future, but her inferior Ni is weak and unreliable, and it doesn’t raise the warning signs that should tell her that this vision is never going to work out, and that holding to it will end in tears. She becomes upset and angry when the Doctor suggests that she can’t stay with him forever, or that she’s not necessarily special to him, as in School Reunion.

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So that’s Rose. She’s not a character without her flaws and weaknesses, and no personality type is without its flaws and weaknesses, but she’s undoubtedly one of the best ESFP characters in television. Rose sort of set the template for modern Doctor Who companions, and as such the default archetype for a companion is an ESFP—Clara and arguably Donna were also ESFPs, and Bill looks like she’s going to fit into that general mould (although, from what we’ve seen, Bill looks like she might be an ENxP). Nevertheless, I like writing about ESFPs because they’re some of my favourite people. I’ve had the privilege of knowing some fabulous ESFPs in my time, and I think they make for great people, friends and characters.

New companion: first impressions

…And it’s Pearl Mackie! She plays Bill, who seems to have an ’80s vibe going on with that wicked style (and hair) of hers. We’ve had a brief glimpse of Bill and Twelve working together in a short trailer the BBC released introducing the new companion, allowing us to form our first impressions of Pearl Mackie as Bill.

I have to admit, I didn’t take to Bill immediately. My initial reaction when I saw the trailer was: “annoying”. Maybe it was just the poorly-written dialogue, but Bill comes off as someone who will prove to annoy me over her time on the show. That she doesn’t take the threat of the Daleks seriously, but rather makes glib jokes when her life is in danger doesn’t bode well on that front, to be honest. Nor was I very inspired by the chemistry between Bill and Twelve. Perhaps it’s still just strange and uncomfortable seeing Twelve with someone other than Clara, but this partnership feels a bit jarring.

Moreover, she comes across to me as another iteration of the standard Moffat strong-female-companion archetype, i.e. she’s a bubbly, feisty, perky, self-confident, quick-witted young woman who’s unrealistically fearless in the face of danger, just like Amy, Clara and River. I love Amy, Clara and River for those qualities, but the trope has run its course, and to make Bill another iteration of this archetype is going to feel repetitive and unsatisfying: Bill is simply not going to out-Amy Amy or out-Clara Clara, because she’s not Amy or Clara and she’s going to look inadequate in comparison if she tries (talking about Bill here, or rather Moffat-writing-Bill, not Pearl, who, I’ve no doubt, will do her valiant best with the hand she’s dealt).

I’m hoping there’s more to this character than it seems so far. I’d be more prepared to accept another standard Moffat-style companion if she were to undergo some significant and meaningful character development over her time with the Doctor that clearly distinguishes her character and makes her into someone unique and interesting and more relatable. I’m not going to be happy if the character we saw in the trailer is the character Bill will remain for the rest of her time on the show.

I guess I’d just like to see something different. A companion who represents a stark change from what’s come before. An introverted companion, for once, an intellectual, an actual realistic, relatable person, or someone with loads of space for genuine, positive character development. Moffat has a type, and it’s getting old. From what we’ve seen, Bill is just more of the same.

All that said, though, I don’t want it to seem like I’m not going to give Bill a chance. Of course I’m going to give her a chance, and of course I want to go into Series 10 as open-minded as possible about the new companion. I don’t want to make rash judgments from a two-minute trailer (he says, after making rash judgments from a two minute trailer…), and I’d prepared (albeit sceptical, based on Moffat’s record), to have my first impressions of Bill proven wrong. It occurs to me just now that I thought precisely the same things about Clara when she became the new companion in 2013, and, although it took me a while, I ended up loving Clara. So it may well be that I’m proven wrong once again.

New companion: some last minute speculations

shoos

In less than 12 hours from the time I’m writing this, we will know the identity of Doctor Who’s next companion. Unfortunately I’ll be asleep when it’s all happening because the announcement is being made at 3 or 4 am my time, so I and my fellow Antipodeans will be getting the news hours after everyone else. Oh well, such is life when you live on the other side of the world from the UK.

There have been many names thrown around in speculation about who will play the next companion, but no favourite has really emerged. The only things we know are that it’s (probably) a female—since Peter Capaldi expressed his preference for a female companion, and, honestly, is Doctor Who really going to go with two male leads? Also, based on the picture apparently of the next companion’s shoes tweeted by Doctor Who’s Twitter account, it’s probably a young woman, perhaps even a teenager… I mean, I’m not 100% familiar with female fashion trends, but do any girls over the age of 21 wear shoes like that? Oh, and we also know that it’s not going to be a returning character, as Moffat has confirmed.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a bit of last minute speculation about the identity of the next companion: some of which are names often tipped for the role, others are my own picks.

Rakhee Thakrar

Rakhee Thakhar

There have been rumours that Rakhee Thakrar, former EastEnders star, was “in talks” with the Doctor Who producers about becoming the next companion. If they’re true, it would mean Rakhee will become Doctor Who’s first companion of Asian background. Somehow I don’t think they’re true, though, since, if the shoes really are those of the new companion, Rakhee seems a bit old to be wearing them.

Sophie Hopkins

Sophie Hopkins

Could we see the new companion in the Doctor Who spinoff Class before we see them in Doctor Who? It’s a definite possibility, and the candidate could be the actress I think is likely going to be the protagonist of Class, Sophie Hopkins. The main character of Class is an alien refugee taken by some mysterious figure (let’s face it, it’s the Doctor) to Earth who tries to adapt to life as an Earth teenager. Class could easily be a sequel or a prequel to the companion’s adventures with the Doctor. Many exciting possibilities here.

Eleanor Tomlinson

Eleanor Tomlinson

High on my personal wish-list is Eleanor Tomlinson, co-star of the romantic period drama Poldark. She also played Jas in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and also a red-skinned alien in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. I think she’s a fine actress whom I’d love to see in the role, although somehow I think her hair colour might work against her after two ginger female companions in recent times.

Holly Earl

Holly Earl

Remember that face? Holly Earl played young Lily Arwell in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, Doctor Who’s 2011 Christmas special. Holly has returned as Lily Arwell in the Big Finish series The Churchill Years alongside Ian McNeice.  She’s also played roles in Benidorm and Casualty. If Holly is chosen as the next companion, she would probably be playing a new character, not Lily Arwell, since we know the next companion is not a returning character.

Pearl Mackie

Pearl Mackie

Radio Times are putting their money on Pearl Mackie as the next companion. I don’t know much about her, and she seems relatively unknown (she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page), but she’s been in the BBC medical drama Doctors, and is currently involved in a National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Pearl has apparently become the odds-on favourite among betters for some reason, which is very intriguing indeed.

Georgina Campbell

Georgina Campbell

Another favourite among betters, Georgina Campbell was the star of the acclaimed BBC drama Murdered by My Boyfriend.

Oona Chaplin

Oona Chaplin

Game of Thrones actress Oona Chaplin has buckets of talent and would be a fantastic choice for the next companion, in my opinion. But she’s probably one of the less likely candidates.

Charlotte Ritchie

Charlotte Ritchie

I’ve seen Charlotte Ritchie’s name mentioned in more than one place, and I can see why. She plays Barbara in Call the Midwife and also played major roles in Fresh Meat and Siblings. The only thing I could see potentially working against Charlotte is her age (as with many of the actresses I’ve mentioned), as I really think the producers are going for someone quite young this time.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

The idea that Emma Watson might be playing the next companion has gained a surprising amount of currency. Don’t get me wrong, it would be so freaking awesome, but it’s not going to happen. A fan can dream, though.

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. Maybe when/if Sansa dies.

Typing Doctor Who: Sarah Jane Smith

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INTPs:

Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.

I have some special expertise in this subject matter, because the INTP personality type is actually my own type. I spoke about the Eleventh Doctor, an ENTP, last time, and INTPs are the dorky, introverted cousins of ENTPs. As the description above indicates, INTPs are a highly analytical and intellectually creative personality type, ruled as they are by their urge to understand and make sense of things according to their own personal logical framework. INTPs live more in their own heads than in the physical world, as they are relentlessly contemplating ideas and generating new ideas in their heads. This also makes them, stereotypically, both quite absentminded and lazy: they prefer thinking about exciting possibilities rather than actually putting them into action. INTPs are also highly independent, both intellectually and socially, and typically crave social interaction to a lesser degree than most people.

I’ve tentatively typed one of Doctor Who’s most all-time beloved companions, Sarah Jane Smith, as an INTP (although an N.B. to this is that I’m basing my evaluation predominantly on Sarah Jane’s character in The Sarah Jane Adventures and the modern Doctor Who series, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen the classic Sarah Jane serials). I’ll admit I wouldn’t have picked Sarah Jane as an INTP at first, especially when I compare her to myself and other INTPs, but, after thinking about it, it’s the conclusion I’ve (tentatively) come to.

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I’ve often seen Sarah Jane typed as an INFJ, so it’s worth beginning by detailing why I opted for INTP over INFJ. I’m definitely inclined to see Sarah Jane as a Thinking type rather than a Feeling type. While Sarah Jane, no doubt taking the Doctor as her example, holds strongly to a set of personal values which inform her worldview and guide her actions, having strong personal values is not of itself an indicator of Feeling. In any case, I’m almost certain Sarah Jane does not have high Extraverted Feeling (Fe): she isn’t highly attuned to the feelings and values of others, at least not as her first, natural instinct, nor does she particularly care what others think of her or seek the affirmation and recognition of others, as a high Fe-user would. She spent literally decades of her life in self-imposed solitude and reclusion after she and the Doctor separated, and, until she became embroiled with Maria, Luke and Clyde, seemed perfectly content with that life. That indicates strongly that she’s not an FJ type.

Rather, my impression of Sarah Jane is that she’s in fact very logical and analytical, as her dominant mode of operation. She tends to be highly rational when making decisions, and doesn’t make decisions before carefully considering all the available data. Despite being constantly engrossed in the alien and the extra-terrestrial, she brings a healthy dose of scepticism towards her work, often expressing scepticism when her young charges imagine fantastical situations involving malevolent alien intervention from things that, she insists, could easily be much more mundane. That said, she’s capable of perceiving and entertaining seemingly fanciful possibilities which her intuition presents to her, which she sets to investigating through the resources available to her and her own reason. She’s also highly inquisitive, being, after all, a journalist by vocation: she’s interested in seeking the truth, and has something of a subversive mindset in relation to powerful institutions such as governments and large corporations, treating the official platitudes of such organisations with scepticism and contempt, as in Invasion of the Bane with respect to the Bubble Shock corporation, interested, as she is, in finding the truth. This, to me, is all very indicative of the NTP type personality with Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Intuition.

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More generally, what suggests Sarah Jane is an INTP to me is her lifestyle. She’s a highly independent woman, spurning the idea of working for UNIT or Torchwood. This is a very INTP thing: INTPs don’t deal well with authority and institutional hierarchy, nor do they like compromising their principles or their discretion as working for an organisation would require them to do. Sarah Jane eschews very attractive opportunities to work for UNIT and Torchwood in order to preserve her independence and autonomy. Moreover, her lifestyle in general is a very independent, and, until she became involved with Maria, Luke and Clyde (and Rani), a reclusive one—she was something of a bohemian, totally absorbed in her work. INTPs—I would suggest unhealthy INTPs—can be this way, throwing themselves wholly into some passion, whether intellectual or vocational, without feeling the need for things like love and meaningful human connection.

I anticipate that many objections to my typing of Sarah Jane as an INTP would be founded in a misunderstanding of the INTP personality. For example, that Sarah Jane spent so much of her life after parting ways with the Doctor pining after him and the life she led with him might be raised as an example of a very un-INTP thing Sarah Jane did: it seems an unusually sentimental thing for a super logical, rational INTP to do. I think such an objection would suffer from the very common fallacy of misconceiving INTPs as logical robots without emotions. INTPs feel emotions; we experience sentiment; and we can be as sentimental and intensely emotional as any other type, it’s just that we’re not comfortable trusting those feelings as part of our cognitive processes. Sarah Jane’s pining after the Doctor actually strikes me as a pretty clear manifestation of tertiary Introverted Sensing (Si): I can confirm from experience that INTPs are prone to cynically comparing the present with a happier time in the past, and find it hard to let go of memories and people (sometimes to the point of being loath to be open to new opportunities and possibilities in the present) when they’re seized by this kind of nostalgic, wistful cynicism.