|🤣😠🥵 don’t 🤬 🛠 that way|
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📅 April 22nd, 2017. 🎵🔝 Ed Sheeran’s “🔺 of You,” while ⤵️ in the charts are Julia Michaels, Kendrick Lamar, Clean Bandit, and Harry Styles. 🗞 Theresa May calls a snap 🗳 to try to secure a clear parliamentary majority for Brexit, which is going to go a bit 😬 for her, but that’s another entry. Mike Pence visits 🇰🇷 and goes to the border with 🇰🇵 and glare at it in a 🤔 attempt at ⚛️🚀 disarmament. And Bill O’Reilly is fired from 🦊 News due to his persistent tendency to engage in 🍆 assault.
📺, 😁. Frank Cottrel Boyce’s previous effort, In the 🌳🌳 of the 🌃 (or 🐅 for short), was a curiously mixed affair, combining 😍 ambition with deeply 🥴 execution. With 😁, however, he dials both back, going for a classic 🛸 setup instead of the quasi-🧙🏻♂️ approach of 🐅 and then playing it more or less straight. 😁 has essentially 2️⃣ purposes: giving 👩🏾🦱 her first proper adventure and exploring its own 🛸💡. The former means that the latter have to largely 🖍 in the lines, offering an easily recognizable set of tropes as a 🖼 against which the audience can clearly distinguish 👩🏾🦱. This is largely 😥, because 😁 has some 🤩💡, but, not unlike 🐅, precious little follow through.
Where it is 😎, however, is in terms of 👩🏾🦱. The dynamic between her and the 👨⚕️ is instantaneous and compelling. We’ve never really gotten to see Capaldi’s 👩⚕️ in “just having fun” mode. (The start of 🤖of Sherwood is about the only exception.) Part of it is that Matt Smith got these equivalent episodes for 👩🏻, but most 👨⚕️ still have adventures late in a companion’s run that they get into while larking around. Consider the 👩⚕️ and 👩🏻🦰 in The 👧 Who Waited, for instance. Or the 👨⚕️ and 👩🏼 at the top of ❤️and 👹. But Capaldi’s 👩⚕️ and 👩🏻 did not have a relationship in which the 👨⚕️ could easily switch into fun mode, simply because to do so would undermine all of 👩🏻’s carefully crafted obsessions. But the 👩⚕️ in 😁 is fundamentally different, literally sneaking off like a truant 👦 skipping 🏫 to have this adventure behind 👨🏻🦲 back. 👩🏾🦱 is both the cause and beneficiary of this, not only offering the 👨⚕️ a reason to go explore an 👽🌍 but getting to have a story that is, for surprisingly long stretches of its runtime, basically a 👐. As a result, we just plain see more of 👩🏾🦱 in her first adventure on an 👽🌏 than we did of 👩🏻 in The 💍 of Akhaten or 👩🏼🦰 in The 👹⤵️.
This is especially useful because it’s rapidly becoming clear that one of 👩🏾🦱’s primary character traits is a boundless 🤔. Where 👩🏻 was defined largely in terms of her desire to help, or perhaps more accurately fix people, 👩🏾🦱, while certainly not without compassion (note that she gets both the discovery of the 👵🏽⚰️ and the 👦🏽), is interested in figuring things out and 🖌 conclusions, which is of course exactly what the 👩⚕️ was first drawn to about her back in The 👩🚀.
So as a character piece for introducing 👩🏾🦱, 😁 is basically fine. It’s not extraordinary and 😮 episode, but these early character pieces rarely are. It’s later in their 🌈, when we know companions well, that we get stories like 🚗⬅️ or ➖ whose genius is rooted almost purely in their character work. 😁 belongs to a class of stories that, when it comes to the companions, have a job to do and generally do it. What makes them 😍 or 🤮 is their 💡.
Unfortunately, when it comes to 💡, 😁 is, if not 🤮, at least 😬. Let’s start with the 😎😶🤪🤖, or more broadly with the basic idea of 😚😶🤔. The idea of 😪😠🙃 being the sole part of human 💬 to survive into the future is 😆, but also really 😎. 👩🏻🎤 remember a year or so ago when Alex made a post about the 📦 that constrain our 🧠, noting that while it’s easy to 💭 coming up with new words, it’s neary impossible to 💭 new parts of 💬. 👩🏻🎤 had a cool idea about words one could add to a sentence that would convey a mood or color, which could either reinforce parts of the sentence or add contrast, but the more honest answer is simply to 👉 out that we have recently invented an entirely new part of 💬, namely 😡😋🤕.
Consider: 😨😛🥴 can not only be used as straightforward text replacement as 👩🏻🎤 have been doing throughout this post, but for a variety of purposes that do not 🗺 easily onto traditional 💬 roles. For instance, 🤔 the sentence “Looking forward to dinner tonight 🥩🥔🥗😋,” which is perfectly ordinary thing to 📲 someone you’re going to 🍽 with, and where the 😉🤠🤥 communicate the information “we’ll be having 🥩, some sort of 🥔, and a 🥗, and my opinion of this is 👍” in such a way as to render all of that linking text implicit. Furthermore, that linking text is only implicit because of the preceding 💬. “🥩🥔🥗😋” on its own may communicate a desire for the aforementioned 🥩🥔🥗, but the relationship among the terms is considerably more 🤔. We might also note the various ways in which text replacement might work. 👩🏻🎤 haven’t had cause to mention the story, but referring to it as 🔪the🌕 is obviously different than referring to it as 🌕🕷🥚💥🐉. Both equally clearly refer to the story, but their means of representing it are very different, with the 😵😗🤫 in the former serving as literal word-for-word substitutes, while the 😰☺️🧐 in the latter describe the episode’s contents. (See also The 😄💂♀️ vs 😄🍬💀🐩 or, of course, The 🕸🌎 vs 🥼🐜🚨🦋🐛🐝🏅🦑🍯🎥.)
Even more 🤔, and getting towards 👩🏻🎤 idea of words that add shade or tone to a 💬, is the use of 🤯😁🤤 in a way that amounts to a commentary on one’s mood. For instance, “looking forward to dinner tonight 💃✨💃✨💃✨” implies a degree of elegance and glamour that is markedly different from “looking forward to dinner tonight 💖💖💖” and its promise of romance. More succinctly, we might 🤔 the difference between “Fantastic 😍” and “Fantastic 😡,” in which the 🤐😇🤪 provide a grammatical equivalence to tone of voice in conveying sincerity versus sarcasm.
All of which is to say that 🧐😨😝 are an actually complex phenomenon of 💬, and the 💡 of them as an actual telos of 📝💬 is a really interesting 🛸💡 that could be given serious thought. Which makes the 👨⚕️💬 describing the 🌎 as “the utopia of vacuous teens” deeply 🤬. It’s like the episode is 😱 of its own best idea, and more to the point, 😱 of teenagers and, let’s be honest given the gendered connotations of 😌😲😖, specifically of 👩. 💩.
More to the point, though, the basic idea of 🧐🤥🥰🤖 is treated as primarily good for a joke. And while there certainly are some good 😆, most obviously the 👀 gag of the 👩⚕️ emoji badge featuring absolutely titanic eyebrows, the jokes are mostly lame and tame. Surprising nobody given the episode’s 😡 towards 😮😜🥺 and teenagers, there’s really no effort made to actually engage with the linguistic depth of 😉🤢😟. The 😩🙄😇🤖 effectively use 🥴😠🤯 as a sort of mood 💍, displaying a narrow band of smiley-based 🥶🤓😠 alongside a couple of things like 🗝 and 🔫 that are still used essentially to depict moods. Significant plot points, such as the accumulating 💧 to mark the 😍😧🤪🤖 progress towards trying to kill you, are at best hazily rooted in the actual material practice of 🥳🤒🙂—although distinct 😢 and 😭🤮🥰🥺 exist, 😭 is on almost all 📱 defined not by the fact that it has two 💧 but by the fact that the 💧 are a full-on 🌊. (Indeed, on at least one 📱😢 had two 💧 at the time this episode was made.) The 💡 that 😗😶😅 depict increasing levels of 😢 through added quantities of 💧 just isn’t a thing. Nor, of course is the face with 💀 for 👀 and a 😬 expression. Indeed, the 😍😮🥰🤖 entire practice of displaying one 🤕🤣😕 in the 👀 while using the 👄 to show actual emotion is, again, not actually how 🤒😉🙃 work. And there’s literally none of the higher level 🥺😊🤗 use whereby 😶😉😣 are used not as a mood 💍 but as an entire vocabulary of other concepts. 👩🏻🎤 don’t expect the 🇬🇧📺 to use things like 🍑 or 🍆 in a 👨👨👧👦 show, but from 😁 you wouldn’t 💭 that 🧐🤧😜 have things like 🦄, 🏵, or 🚡.
More ornately 🤢 is the implicit ideology of all of this. The plot, after all, is that the Vardies and the 😇😧😢🤖 so egregiously misunderstood 😥 as an emotion that they attempted to cure it, and, when they failed, opted for ☠️. Which serves to link 😨😁😧 with a kind of intensely facile understanding of emotion itself—a kind of pathetically “get off my 🏡🌱” sentiment about how 🧒👧 these days need to look up from their 📱 and get some real 👭. It’d be 🤢 on its own merits, but in a story where 😚😡😬 are a central idea it constitutes an 👺 reactionary tendency that is in its own way as nasty as 📦🤖💀 (aka 💥).
The reactionary tendency becomes even more pronounced in the resolution, which freely combines 🤨 plot logic, 😬 imperialist ideology, and outright 🤦♀️ narrative satisfaction. In it, the destruction of a 😌😨🥵🤖 reveals that, despite having been established to be mere 💻 interfaces for the actual 🤖, the 🐝-like swarm of Vardies, the 🥰😳😚🤖 are a self-aware species that are thus deserving of autonomy. There are several problems here. First, it is more or less impossible to reconcile with the ↩️ plot. The 👨⚕️ immediately launches into a full explanation of the ✨🐟 thing he’d been 💬 on about all episode, but this makes no sense given that it’s supposed to be a 💡 he’s just had.
Secondly, however, there’s something very 🤔 about how it’s expressed. The 👩⚕️ unhelpfully explains that “The Vardy are identifying as under attack, which means they identify as a species. They are self-aware. They, they’re alive!” But identifying as under ⚔️in no way translates to a concept of specieshood or to self-awareness, as a 🔒🚨 can readily demonstrate. And that’s before we get to the 🤔 use of “identify,” a term that’s far too often used to delegitimize gender identity by 🎯 it as a thing that is constructed by an active process inside the 🧠 instead of as an actual property of a person. c.f. “my gender is ⚔️🚁.” This is presumably not Boyce’s intention, since 👨⚕️ sides with the 🤖 and validates their specieshood, but the distancing whereby they “identify” as a species instead of you know, *being* one is 😬.
But all of this frankly pales before the decision to have 👩⚕️ describe the 🤖 as the new indigenous species of the planet. As with the idea of 😷🥳🤩 as a discrete form of 💬, this is a fascinating idea—a team of 🚀 colonists send 🤖 out ahead of them to prepare the 🌎, and the 🤖 subsequently become an indigenous species who view the 🚀 as colonists in the 🇬🇧 Empire sense instead of the 🚀 utopian one. But much like 😇🤥😟, 😄 is unwilling to 💭 this in an interesting “develop a 💡” way, instead reducing it to a cheap joke in which the 👨⚕️ suggests the 🤖 charge rent and their eyes light up with 💷. Not only is this 😴 inducingly unimaginative, the idea that indigenous populations love colonists because they can make 💷 off of them is at best the sort of thing you’d expect from the ✒️ of the 🏝 of 😲 opening ceremony for the 2012 🇬🇧 Olympics, and at worst just outright 🤬 racist.
There is a 📚 of 💭 oft 💬 by people like Jack that modern 👩⚕️❓ does not explore 💡 anymore, and is the poorer for it. 👩🏻🎤 remain 🤷♀️ about this as a value judgment, but there are fewer 🔍 more decisive for this case than 😄. There are countless 👨⚕️❓ stories for which 👩🏻🎤 have had to excavate 👻 versions that could have been but aren’t. But 😄 is unusual in that its more 💡 version is not 👻 the 📺 version, but actively 🚫 by it. 👩⚕️❓ has often failed to be interesting. Rarely, however, has it so aggressively disavowed being interesting, dismissing its best ideas as the province of vacuous teenagers and 💷 grubbing foreigners. 😄 does what is required of it, further establishing 👩🏾🦱 and being a reasonably 🥳 forty-five minutes of 📺. But it’s not only 😴 in doing more, it’s 😡.
It is not hard to see how to 🛠 this. All that it requires is that these 💡 not be ✍🏻️ by a 👨🏻🦳 who mistakes his 👀 for normativity. A version of 😄 written by 🧑🏻, 🧔🏿, 👩🏽🦰, or 🧕🏼 would be vastly more interesting than this because any of those ✍🏾️ would plausibly come at the 💡 with a sense of them as worth exploring instead of as merely 😎💩 to throw in the trailer. This isn’t even a point about the political virtues of 👨🏻🦱👩🏾👴🏾👱🏽♀️. It’s just a point about the fact that for 🛸, new 👁 add depth that actually and materially improves the stories. It’s not time for a non-👨🏻🦳📺🏃♂️ because of the political implications thereof. It’s because a show like 👨⚕️❓ that thrives on an ethos of doing something new every week legitimately needs new 💬 to do it with. Without them, you get things like 😄. There are worse things than 😄. But there’s wildly, wildly better ones too. As we’ll see next week.