Thursday, May 2, 2013

Doctor Who-The Fires Of Pompeii

                     The doctor and Donna arrive in what they believe is ancient Rome but,upon Donna's observation they realize they are standing in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvious-only a day before it is set to erupt and destroy the town. Before they can act they discover the TARDIS has disappeared. It was sold to a man named Lucius Caecilius Lucundus and his family by the Sibylline sisterhood,who through the apparent psychic ability of Caecilius's daughter Evelina is part of a local prophecy regarding the new wonders coming to the local auger Lucius Petrus Dextrus,after which the doctor breaks in to find that Petrus has transformed stones into a series of rudimentary circuits to form a primitive energy converter. He,Donna and Caecilius's family are than accosted by a gigantic fire breathing creature when Donna is taken away by members of the sisterhood,who determine she is to be sacrificed to maintain their visions.

                 The doctor shows up to save her,at which time he asks to hold audience with the sisterhood's high priestess. He is not only confronted by the fact that she and her subjects are slowly turning to stone,the same as Petrus apparently is but that they are inhabited by the energy of a race called the Pyrovile,who fell to Earth as disintegrated stone and have been using the locals ritualistic practices to inhabit their bodies through the volcanic ash they have been consuming. Their plan is to colonize the Earth by encasing it in volcanic eruptions. They doctor can shut down the energy converter,however it reveals that this will be the cause of the volcano that destroys Pompeii and that he was in fact the cause of this fixed historical event. After Pompeii is overwelmed in volcanic ash,a crestfallen Donna begs the doctor to save at least one of them,and he returns in time to save Caecilius and his family from certain death before departing with Donna.

                This is a wonderfully moving story and one of the tenth doctor's triumphant moments. Donna,ever human as she is of course, is unwilling to simply allow the people of Pompeii to die before her eyes even if history dictates it must be. Of course the doctor is faced with the hardest choice of all: sacrifice all Earth to the Pyrovile or destroy Pompeii and all it's people to save it. Its the same "needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few" conundrum he faced,as Donna pointed out,in saving his own world from destruction-which he was unable to do.The visuals of the ancient Roman city,especially the intensely frightening scene of Pompeii being overwhelmed by volcanic ash, are some of the most dramatic visual dynamics ever to be included in Doctor Who. Of course this is also the first appearance of Karen Gillan, who would go on to portray the 11th doctors companion Amy Pond, as an unnamed member of the Sibylline sisterhood as well.
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