The Moffat Doctor Who, Peter Pan, and Growing Up


With one episode left in the current season of Doctor Who, and such great episodes out as The Girl Who Waited and the God Complex, I wanted to reflect on one of my favorite themes in Stephen Moffat’s Doctor Who – the theme of growing up.

My first experience with growing up was Peter Pan (no, it wasn’t; it was Winnie The Pooh but I don’t want to tell that story now). I loved Peter Pan, and hated the ending. Peter comes back, but Wendy’s all grown up, and they can no longer understand each other. Their friendship has faded and broken. Only by abducting Wendy’s children can Peter find happiness again.

Stephen Moffat deals with a similar plot narrative. The Doctor is excitable, impulsive, dismissive of adults – all traits of Peter Pan. He takes Amy away to a wonderful world where she can travel through time and space and have many adventures. And, in the end, after going through death and cracks in space-time and the destruction of a whole universe together, they part. Amy grows up, and the Doctor leaves her. Presumably, in the future, the Doctor meets a new companion and the cycle repeats.

The current state of this plot thread, as depicted at the end of the God Complex, is no less bittersweet than Peter Pan’s. However, I think Moffat handles this resolution much better than James Barrie. The transition of Amy into adulthood is not painted as a bad thing, in contrast, it is a tough but ultimately rewarding journey, the scariest adventure of them all, in the Doctor’s own words. Amy’s feelings of adoration for and excitement about the Doctor slowly morph into her feelings for Rory, who turns out to be as dedicated, adventurous, and strong as a fictional hero – but also her nurse husband, her partner who shares with her in the good and the bad of life. Amy’s daughter does not continue the cycle of abduction, adventure, abandonement; she is infused with the TARDIS, which makes her more Time Lord (Time Lady?) than human being, and she has her own dark and passionate history with the Doctor, independent of the companion cycle.

In the end, the scene where the Doctor drops Amy and Rory off at their new townhouse (with Rory’s Favorite Car parked up front), is still deeply bittersweet, filled with a sense of loss and profound change. At the same time, however, I feel a sense of positive transformation whenever I watch it. I do not feel like emotional closure has been achieved between the Doctor and Amy, I think they still care for each other deeply. At the same time, however, I feel like they’ve both changed for the better, and that their bond will, likewise, change but not break, space and time be damned.


2 Responses to “The Moffat Doctor Who, Peter Pan, and Growing Up”

  1. Melanie Lee Says:

    I saw my first Doctor Who episode about two months ago–
    “A Christmas Carol” drew me in–although I first heard about this show decades ago. I’m hooked. I especially like the Eleventh Doctor/Amy Pond relationship. Doctor Who also reminded me of Peter Pan: a magical, mystical male takes a human girl to another world of fantastical adventure. You also see traces of this ordinary-girl-meets-extraordinary world in The Wizard of Oz, The Nutcracker, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–all these little girl travelers created by male authors, perhaps taking their inner “little girls” on a magical mystery tour. J.K. Rowling reverses this somewhat with her Harry Potter stories, except that Harry isn’t ordinary and he comes from that magical world that he revisits and eventually joins.

  2. Melanie Lee Says:

    BTW, thanks for writing this!

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