Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. How Do You Melt a Forest?

This episode happens to be another example of sentient environment being threatened by the universe’s expanding needs for fuel. It’s Christmas and the Doctor has taken it upon himself to cheer up a 1940s wartime family. As a special present for Christmas day (literally wrapped in a box and tied with a bow), the Doctor intends to take the family to Androzani, where there are naturally occurring Christmas trees (ornaments and all!). However, the family gets a bit too curious about the giant present in their living room and the little boy opens it early. The Doctor, big sister, Lily, and mother Madge, all follow Cyril into Androzani one by one. The Doctor realizes that there is definitely something that is upsetting the trees, and Madge runs into three miners during her search for her children. The miners tell her that the forest is about to be harvested for fuel and that the surface of the planet has been evacuated for the incoming acid rain.

Madge: “I’m looking for my children.”

Miner 1: “There’s nobody else in this forest. There can’t be.”

Miner 2: “Well, she found a way in, maybe her kids did too.”

Miner 3: “Then God help them.”

Madge: “Why do you say that?”

Madge: “Why did you say God help my children?”

Miner 3: “This forest is about to be harvested.”

Madge: “Harvested?”

Miner 3: “Androzani trees: greatest fuel source ever. The entire area is being melted down for battery fluid.”

Madge: “Melted down? How do you melt a forest?”

Miner 3: “Acid rain. The satellites are in position. Anyone still out there in five minutes is going to burn.”

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Lily find Cyril in a mysterious house in the middle of the forest. The house contains animate wooden figures of a king and a queen. They also discover that the souls of the forest are evacuating the trees and surrounding the house. Madge is able to reach Lily, Cyril and the Doctor just in time. Upon Madge’s arrival the house reveals itself to be a space/timeship that requires a mother to pilot it. Madge absorbs all of the souls of the forest and pilots the ship to earth where the souls are able to disperse among the trees.

Sadly, the trees do not actually fight back in this episode but the episode does still contain several aspects of an energy narrative. First, a weaker force is subjugated by a stronger force because they have a energy resource, namely the trees are destroyed by the miners. Second, there is a life for energy exchange. The trees are sentient beings and they have to die for the miners to receive their energy. Third, the miners are unable or unwilling to shut down the acid rain process to save Madge and her children. Thus, they once again justify the exchange of life for energy.

Energy narrative characteristics found in this episode: life= energy, environmental degradation, nature fights back, corporate ruthlessness, nomadic existence.


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