“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” wrote Jane Austen at the beginning of ‘Pride and Prejudice’; so we might well ask, “How much more, a single Time Lord in possession of two hearts?”
C.S.Lewis, writing about ‘second meanings’ in the Psalms says, “As we know, almost anything can be read into any book if you are determined enough.” He says, “…..some of the allegories thus imposed on my own books have been so ingenious and interesting that I often wish I had thought of them myself.” In light of which I admit, ‘mea culpa’, even, ‘mea maxima culpa’ (or I would not be writing this in the first place).
On that basis I was more than happy to go in search of a parable from this episode, written by Neil Gaiman (who also wrote ‘Coraline’ and ‘Stardust’) and soon discovered enough of a ‘mystical’ nature to agitate the surface of my recently stagnant imagination.
On the matter of ‘Idris’ and her origins, ‘Google’ says that the name is Welsh, usually a boy’s name, meaning ‘ardent, impulsive Lord’, so something for Freud to muse over there; and the writer, Gaiman, blogged that she arrived on the (sentient) asteroid called ‘House’ because she came through the ‘Rift’. He also said that she was in a Victorian party dress ‘because she had been to a Victorian party’. (I see why people either love or hate Doctor Who.)
All interesting but where is the parable?
Could it be to do with the fact that the Doctor needed to leave the known universe to find his other half when she had been there under his nose, even big blue gift-boxed, all the time? Well there is that verse in Proverbs (31:10) ‘A wife of noble character who can find?’ which suggests a reason but I wouldn’t be silly enough to expound on that here.
Still mysteriously, yet more seriously, there is Paul’s discussion about husbands and wives and what we learn from them about Christ and the Church. ‘This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.’ (Ephesians 5:32) he says, having just written this; ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.’ (5:25-27). I wasn’t only drawn to this reference because I wanted to include that picture of a ‘radiant’ Idris; honest!
But isn’t the title of this episode just a bit misleading anyway, even if the Doctor may wish otherwise? Amy senses this; when he introduces Idris saying, ‘she’s a woman; she’s a woman and the TARDIS’, Amy looks him in the eye and asks, ‘Did you wish, really hard?’
Though there is enough in the action to suggest that the ‘normal’ dynamics of an old married couple are at work between them.
- Idris nags him; IDRIS: There’s a sign on my front door. You have been walking past it for 700 years. What does it say? DOCTOR: Pull to open. IDRIS: Yes, and what do you do? DOCTOR: I push! IDRIS: Every single time. 700 years.
- Idris contradicts him; DOCTOR ….I just want to say, you know, you have never been very reliable. IDRIS: And you have? DOCTOR: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go. IDRIS: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.
- And Idris calls him a child; IDRIS: You’re like a nine-year-old trying to rebuild a motorbike in his bedroom. And you never read the instructions.
So, is Idris really the Doctor’s wife? No, she is ‘the matrix, the soul of the TARDIS’ and as she says to him, ‘You know I’m not constructed that way. I exist across all space and time, and you talk and run around and bring home strays.’
And as she told Rory, ‘The only water in the forest is the river. You’ll need to know that some day.”