The Regeneration was Fake News

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 8, “The Lie of the Land”:
The monks have gone all 1984 on planet Earth, and the Doctor is helping them. It’s up to Bill to save the world, with help from Nardole and, possibly, the mysterious vault’s occupant.

This episode was fun. It seemed like the sort of thing Moffat would end a season with, but there are a few more to go. Makes you wonder how big his real finale is going to be. The performances were excellent, too. Peter Capaldi is probably the best lead the show has ever had, and it’ll be sad to see him go. His Doctor continues to be brilliant; he had a great speech about the flaws of humanity.
On the other hand, parts of the plot didn’t make a ton of sense. The biggest thing is the monks themselves. They use Fake News to keep people from complaining, but the only thing they have to complain about is Fake News. We’re told the monks have removed free will, but we don’t see any examples of that. We don’t see the monks using the resources of this planet they went to so much trouble to conquer or doing anything “evil” except spreading propaganda.
The big solution in the end didn’t really make sense, either. Bill was capable of producing a memory strong enough to block out all of the monks’ false history, something the Doctor couldn’t even do. And the transmitter didn’t burn out her brain, even though it knocked the Doctor unconscious. Earlier she was willing to shoot the Doctor, proving she wasn’t in blind awe of him anymore, and now she was willing to sacrifice herself out of platonic love for him. That would have been a fitting end to her arc, but instead she survives without a scratch or any explanation.
The Doctor doesn’t seem concerned that Bill keeps doing such extreme things out of well-intentioned loyalty to him. Despite all the logical problems, I’m excited to see where this dynamic goes. I’m also excited to learn more about the vault’s occupant being in therapy to become a better person. I love that concept so much.
If there’s a moral here, it’s something about lies coming wrapped in pretty packages. A bit on the nose considering recent events in America, but oh well.
6/10 radio headphone thingies of Truth.

Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

What Kind of Gods are They? Part 2

In Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” the new gods – brought into existence by people’s worship of things like the Internet and TV – want to eliminate or absorb the old gods – the ones that followed the immigrants to this country, like Anansi, Wednesday, and Mad Sweeney, the world’s only unlucky leprechaun. Shadow Moon, an aimless agnostic, is stuck in the middle of it all. The book and the show are adult up the wazoo, but the assertions about faith and metaphysics are good food for thought if you keep the names they’re using in the context of the fiction.

In Pantheon University (one of the literary web series I mentioned last week), the Olympians and some other characters from Greek mythology are mortal college kids. Panth U is a party school dominated by Zeus and Poseidon’s fraternity, Aphrodite’s sex business, and Apollo’s gossip on YouTube. Athena gives wise advice. Hephaestus is a nerd building an artificial intelligence called Pandora. Dionysus is trying to write a musical while drunk. It’s a lot of fun.
I’ve already talked about The Wicked + the Divine, Ragnarok, Percy Jackson, Lucifer, and Supernatural. Isaac’s talked about mythos in general. These are fandoms revolving around concepts that we in the real world know to be fiction, whether we believe the Really Big Truths or not. So why do we like these stories so much?
I have one explanation. They create the idea that gods are people, too. No mortal can resist if they fall in love, but they also have nasty breakups. They rule a domain, but that inevitably comes with quirks and habits and guilty pleasures. They throw tantrums, but they also get punched, and they even bleed. And they have the most profound perspectives on humanity and the world. Making a deity a character rather than an abstract entity is an opportunity for some incredible writing.
Here in the real world, the real God isn’t an abstract entity either. He’s a person. He’s a character in every person’s story. His only “character development” is us getting to know him, and he definitely wants us to do that. Using fictional examples that we know to be fictional isn’t a horrible way to practice getting to know the non-fictional version.
(I had this post written a few days ago, and then Isaac wrote about comic book mythology. So this just became a series. Stay tuned.)

Injustice: what kind of gods are they?

One of my first forays into the fighting game genre—after Super Smash Bros. Brawl—was a game from the last console generation. That game was Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game based around the DC Superheroes, made by the company behind Mortal Kombat.

And, honestly, it was one of the last games I expected to get a sequel.

The basic premise of the first game is what you would expect for a fighting game: everything’s okay in the happy-go-lucky DC Multiverse, until someone does something that gets everyone fighting each other.

In the case of the first one, Superman went off the rails and turned the Justice League (and, to my excitement, members of the Teen Titans) against each other.

The sequel continues the story in that universe, by pulling in more members of the DC Universe. Supergirl, Robin, Scarecrow, Blue Beetle… Gorilla Grodd… Swamp Thing…?

*Sigh* There’s always a weird character choice in every fighting game. I mean, this is the company who put Harley Quinn in a game subtitled “Gods Among Us.”

Which brings me to my main point. When the title of the game uses “god” in the title, it raises a few eyebrows. Especially mine—or those of a younger me. “Gods” (big-G or small-g) hardly ever come up in video games. What’s their reasoning behind their word choice?

So, I looked into it. One of the common views on comics is that they are this generation’s mythology. The Greeks had their mythology; the Norse had their mythology; the Romans just stole from the Greeks. Comic books are the “American mythology.”

Partially because of this mentality, the DC superheroes are seen as the equivalents of the Greek Olympians. Strong, powerful, mighty, looking out for humanity, and only somewhat flawed. They are “gods” in the sense that Zeus or Odin are gods. False gods, doomed to fall, but still powerful in their own way.

So, how does this play into the Injustice series? Short version: DC isn’t committing blasphemy. They’re just comparing their characters to classical mythology. [Sarcasm voice] Which isn’t conceited at all.

That’s all I have for this week. I’ll try to do another review next week, but we’ll see.

Oh, and for those wondering, I mained Aquaman in the first one. I could also do Green Arrow or Wonder Woman, but Aquaman was my go-to.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Someone Should Open a Restaurant

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”:
The mysterious monks from the previous episode have reached Earth, but they’re in no rush to conquer it. They think the world is about to end – the Doomsday Clock is three minutes to midnight – and the human race is going to hand over their planet in exchange for keeping it safe. The Doctor needs to save it himself before some well-meaning humans give in. But he’s still blind.

Yeah, I’ve decided it’s not much of a spoiler anymore. The Doctor’s been blind for 2½ episodes, but they continue to find new and interesting ways to show how it’s problematic for him. Nardole is his seeing-eye cyborg, so he continues to be useful. And Bill continues to be impressed as she learns new things about the Doctor.
This is only part two of a three-part story, but the plot is going pretty well so far. I’ll admit, I was a little disenchanted with the Matrix last week. That big reveal probably could have come part of the way into this episode, except simulations are an integral part of the mysterious monk plot. They don’t just simulate the Earth’s past to figure out how to conquer it; they also know the future.
Also: no references to the mystery vault! That’s refreshing.
For the monks’ plan to work, “power must consent. Consent must be pure. Fear is not consent. Strategy is not consent. Love is consent.” This seems familiar.
God gave people free will because loving him without any other option wouldn’t be real love. He doesn’t want us to choose him out of fear of what he might do to us or because we think he’ll give us what we want. He wants us to obey his commands out of love. Love is consent. And unlike the monks, he is open about what our life will be like if we love him. He offers us salvation, but not at the expense of the will to choose. He wants to take dominion of our lives, but not in a direct, tyrannical way. He will love us back. The monks see us as corpses, but God sees us as his wayward children.
It’s unfortunate that UNIT didn’t show up, but then again, all the important soldiers died.

8.5/10 world-ending broken reading glasses/hangovers.

What do you think of this story so far? Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog

A New Take on BookTube

Does classic literature count as a fandom? I like to think it does; I certainly nerd out about it. More specifically, I nerd out about literary web series.
The thing about the classics is they’re character-driven rather than plot-driven. We’re expected to make deep, empathic connections with realistic characters as they go about their realistic lives and, usually, fall in love in the end.
“Regular updates on the lives of random strangers” (aka vlogging) is very much character-driven. Hank Green and friends were the first to figure out that this format was perfect for re-telling classic stories, especially for modern audiences who don’t read much.
I noticed a trend among most of these web series: LGBTQ+ characters. Many of the classics are about strong female heroines, and the ones that aren’t can be gender-bent. Girl power! And it’s a small step from that to LGBTQWXYZ+ power. Haven’t I been over this before?
Trying hard not to rant. On to the thing that inspired me to write about this.
The professionals inspired many, many not-professional-but-still-brilliant literary web series around the world. I recently discovered and binge-watched The Attic, a Little Women adaptation. It’s set at a Christian college, the characters are unashamedly Christian, and Jo even shares a couple insights about faith. It makes the characters seem even more genuine, which is always a plus in these things. Also, no LGBTQWXYZ+ to be seen.
Jane Eyre talks about religion in one episode of “the Autobiography of Jane Eyre,” but most of these web series don’t talk about it. In “From Mansfield with Love,” Ed Bertram is a teacher instead of a minister. In series like “the Further Adventures of Cupid and Eros” and “Pantheon University,” metaphysics are kind of ignored for good reason. “Or So the Story Goes” has a ghost-demon who kills kids so their ghosts can play with him forever and “Frankenstein, MD” treats Victoria Frankenstein’s work as a medical breakthrough but not particularly bothersome for the religious community.
There’s at least one master list going around. For Christians, I would recommend starting with The Attic, for the reasons I mentioned. For nerds and geeks, I highly recommend the Cate Morland Chronicles. The heroine of Northanger Abbey is effortlessly converted to a super-nerd fangirl, and the series is just as much about fandom culture as the Austen love story.

Do you have a favorite classic you don’t see on this list? Tell us about it. Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog

How the Media Portrays Hell

Before I begin, I would like to give some quick thanks to “elliot5445,” for commenting on my last article, correcting my poor research. I’ll try to do better research in the future.

Last week, I touched on how the Bible says Hell is, more for clarification before I go into this post.

Hell is surprisingly common in media, from my understanding. The thing is, this is because a lot of fictional universes have what I call a “Come-and-go Hell.” This version of Hell is what I hope it sounds like: people are free to come and go as they please, as long as they are still alive. And even if they are dead, they have the chance to go back.

Doom, at least the four games in the franchise, was the first example of this to come to mind, wherein the hero repeatedly enters Hell, shotgun in hand, to fill demons with piping hot lead.

Another one that comes to mind is Looney Toons, but my memory of the specific cartoon is fuzzy. It was a bit more kid-friendly than Doom, from what I recall. I think it had Yosemite Sam die and go to Hell, but is sent back with the deal that if he kills Bugs Bunny, he can stay alive. He goes back two or three times before giving up and staying in Hell as a demon.

Note: as a demon. This raises even more theological issues.

Another depiction of Hell that came to mind is Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his Divine Comedy. I picked it up when I was younger, out of curiosity. I was originally going to categorize this as a depiction of a “Come-and-go Hell,” except there is no implication that Dante goes back to Earth in the end. He goes to Hell, then to Purgatory, then to Heaven/Paradise, and…it stops.

Still, it is no less accurate to the Biblical portrayal of Hell than Doom or Looney Toons.

You see, the thing about Hell, the actual place, is that there are few clues as to what it will look like. The only thing that I could find out for sure is that there will be fire, and it’s built to torture demons.

Therein lies another discrepancy in adaptations: a lot of versions of Hell that I’ve found actually have Hell run by the demons, as though it’s their kingdom. Again, Doom is an example. Another one is in the DC Universe, with their Hell being governed by Trigon. Fans of Teen Titans are probably familiar with that name.

 

In fact, to be honest, almost every example of Hell in media that I have found has this. Hell is where “the bad people go.” Not where the demons go.

Normally, this is where I would give an example of an accurate adaptation of Hell that I have found. Except, I don’t have one.

Well, this is awkward.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

The Test of Shadows, or “Near Death”

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”:
The Vatican has a secret book in an unknown language. Everyone who translates it and reads it commits suicide. The Vatican has two options: make sure no one ever reads the book again…or ask the Doctor to read it. One of those options makes for a better story.

First of all, turns out other people really liked the last episode, “Oxygen.” I sometimes like episodes that other fans don’t like, but the opposite doesn’t happen to me often. No accounting for taste, and all that. Oh well.
This week, the Doctor is still hiding his secret from last episode. He’s even hiding it from Bill, because as soon as he tells her he’ll have to actually deal with it. But he still wants her to come along with him, even on this particular adventure, because she’s his companion. As I said before, I love companion dynamics.
What doesn’t make sense is why he would bring the Pope and the cardinals along to pick Bill up, just so they could hop out of the TARDIS to surprise her and her date.
Oh yeah, her date. I’m calling it: Bill is going to come out to her foster mom at a very inconvenient moment, like when their lives are in danger. And her mom is going to be totally fine with it, because at least she’s not dating boys. And the fans of LGBTQWXYZ+ will rejoice, and the Christians will have no choice but to grin and bear it. So it is written, so it shall be.
On the bright side, Nardole finally has a purpose! Whether it’s helping the Doctor keep his secret out of friendly loyalty or being “secretly a badass,” I actually like him now. While the Doctor was indisposed, Nardole played the Doctor’s role as only Matt Lucas could. He even stopped complaining about…oh! Almost forgot to mention the vault.
We finally know who’s in there, mainly because this episode didn’t have 40-something minutes of plot so they had to add flashbacks. Not that the flashbacks had much to do with the main plot.

7/10 Latin words that make things sound cooler than they really are.

What did you think of this episode? Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog