VII: The Lazarus Experiment
There's continuity here with "Evolution," in that we're interested once more in changing "what it means to be human," and vice versa, which has really been a theme throughout the season. What's human and what's alien, or divine, or simply not human, or simply inhuman. And of course, Professor Lazarus's hacked DNA is unstable, and causes him to devour those around him, because everything has its time, and his attempts to reverse time are as profane as the existence of immortals, or the Doctor's own inability to let go of the past, or the actions of Saxon, Yana, and the Master. The Doctor wears his dinner jacket from the Age of Steel, Peter's World, to another party where humans are becoming more, and less. Lazarus becomes younger, his voice higher, his needs simpler, like some creature, from Gallifrey folklore, that moves from Event Omega to Utopia, dancing to the drums of war: it's a dead end. Stupid faith: they form prayers to broken stone. Lazarus, and anyone who seeks Utopia by walking backwards, is just a cul-de-sac, continually devouring itself, turned inward, not dead but nothing like alive. "Shape without form, shade without colour,/ Paralysed force, gesture without motion..." There are two kinds of endings: the kind that sing, and the kind that whimper.
And this is the song they sing: "Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost/ Violent souls, but only/ As the hollow men... Between the idea/ And the reality/ Between the motion/ And the act/ Falls the Shadow." Lazarus mentions "splitting the atom" -- as though you can divide anyone into two selves, two bodies, one good and one bad, one Doctor and one Master. As though when we look in a mirror, no matter how dark or how warped, we're seeing somebody else. As though one heart beating could stop another. Between the person you'd like to be, and the worst that you're capable of, falls the shadow. Or is it just a very large vase? Depends on your perspective.
In forty-two minutes, the whole season plays out, word and thought and deed. Visually it's a lot like "The Satan Pit," and could have had the same effect: a revisiting of the warning the Doctor keeps getting this season, that his human heart is the more important, for being the weaker of the two. The Doctor and Martha are cut off from the TARDIS by incredible heat; reference is made to the song "Here Comes the Sun," but the song they sing is older and more terrible: "Burn With Me." What happens to a Doctor who's forgotten how to doctor -- how to heal? What happens when his power grows too strong, when one heart outbeats the other, and there's nobody around to stop him? The whole world burns. There's a secret in the center of the sun, and it looks a lot like the monster at the center of the Earth, and they both tell the same story: sometimes the people you love hurt you, either by disappearing or by not loving you back correctly. The Saxon woman who controls Francine, Martha's mother, is credited at different times as "Sinister Woman" and "Miss Dexter." Put them together and you're clapping, or praying, or fighting. Or is she just a very large vase, too?