Truth Or Consequences Or Peace? Doctor Who Looks At War As A Microcosm
War—what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, argues the Doctor in “The Zygon Inversion,” insisting that when it comes to the threat of total annihilation of one species by another, “Daddy knows best.” Especially when said “daddy” is a veteran of the Time War.
“I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know,” says the Doctor during a lengthy and impassioned speech directed at the leaders of human and Zygon factions edging towards the brink of war. “I did worse things than you can imagine.” His efforts to keep the peace between 20 million earth-dwelling Zygons and their 7 billion human hosts have boiled down (once again, as we eventually learn) to a scale model of war: one human, one Zygon, and two boxes, each of which is equipped with ‘Truth’ or ‘Consequences’ buttons—the capabilities to assure total victory or utter defeat. All that’s required is an aggressor who’s willing to roll the dice.
And for an uncomfortably long time, it looks like Zygon Clara (“Zygella” to the Doctor, “Bonnie” to everyone else) is just the battle-hungry rebel to do it. As she faces off against a still alive Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (we told you she wasn’t really dead), the Doctor pleads with her to see the absolute futility of a war against the human race:
“Do you know what thinking is?” he asks. “It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.”
“I won’t change my mind,” Zygella replies.
“Then you’ll die stupid,” declares the Doctor. Of course, she doesn’t—as fate and luck would have it, the rebel commander chose Clara Oswald as her human avatar and there’s just enough Clara remaining to influence Zygella’s thinking.
As both sides stand down, backing away from the pair of Osgood Boxes that turn out to be completely inoperative anyway, it’s revealed that this is the 15th time that the human/Zygon peace treaty has come under threat. The Doctor wipes Kate’s memory each time, but this time, he doesn’t do the same to Zygella. Instead, she’s left with the memory that she’s been forgiven—something she didn’t think was possible.
Through the whole ordeal, Osgood backs up the Doctor, acting as a both a symbol of the peace treaty and key figure in its maintenance, though her sister is no longer at her side. When her work is done, she’s offered a spot on the TARDIS but chooses not to abandon her post on Earth (a good thing, since the chances of a 16th treaty breach seem pretty likely). Happily, she won’t have to face that inevitability alone: Zygella takes up the mantle of Osgood Number 2, making the sisterly Zygon/human partnership whole once again.
“I’m a very big fan,” the Doctor tells the Osgoods as he departs with Clara. Yep, so are we.