A Solemn Watcher

Thomas Lawrence frowns intently at pop culture.
Recent Tweets @Meserach

No money.

Glad I’m not the only one who thought back to this scene at the end of Deep Breath.

My immediate thought at the time was to read this as a class distinction. Rose goes for chips, Clara for coffee. That’s a somewhat unfortunate reading which I doubt was particularly intended, but emerges naturally from the differences between the preoccupations of Moffat and RTD; Moffat’s simply never been particularly exercised about class. In some ways this is a shame: Doctor Who is often at its best when it engages with the material reality of human lives, but Moffat’s interests have always tended towards explorations of fairytale and narrative itself. Doctor Who is also very good at this, but ideally we’d merge the two approaches.

And there are hints of this to be had in Deep Breath, perhaps most notably in the flashback sequence of Clara’s teaching, the point of which being that she’s learnt good strategies for enduring interrogation and torture from chavs, which is a deliciously barbed political point if you think about it.

(via theclevertimelord)

* I’d heard some early grumbling from people who watched the leak that this wasn’t very good. Don’t understand that, because I thought this was rather marvellous.

* Yes, the plot was somewhat slender, but it actually made sense and resolved sensibly, and in any case wasn’t the point of the episode. The point was clearly all the lengthy scenes of Clara interacting with and about the Doctor.

* That said I enjoyed all the callbacks to Girl in the Fireplace, and the clockwork droids were excellently creepy, especially in the Clara interrogation scene.

* They weren’t lying about the longer scenes, were they? Compared to the drastic pace of many Moffat scripts, this certainly felt luxuriant.

* Capaldi’s what we’re all here for, though, and he’s brilliant, of course. Did we ever doubt that he would be? A top drawer performance throughout, I’ll have to watch it again to really break it down, but I was solidly pleased.

* The woman in the shop and the Guardian of the Nethersphere (same person?) looks set to be our arc mystery for the season. The obvious guess is River, but then that’s the obvious guess for any mysterious unnamed woman. Certainly she’s claiming to be in love with the Doctor, but who isn’t?

The Morrigan!

I’m so glad she’s not dead. All three of her.

Quite how I didn’t see there being three whole aspects to the Morrigan I don’t know, but of course it had to be this way. We have Badb, Anann (Gentle Annie) and what I’m therefore presuming is Macha, daughter of Ernmas.

Between them we cover three flavours of goth; Badb’s angry, punk-inflected goth, Macha’s more romantic goth (digging the whole neck ruff), and then a more perky goth with Anann (shades of the Endless’ Delirium in her). Interesting what’s retained through each (cheek stud piercings, right arm crow tats) and what changes sharply (hair, eye makeup). All glorious design work, of course.

Much as the apparent division here seems to be Badb=nasty&vengeful, Macha=cooler,dispassionate and Anann= empathetic, I wouldn’t be taken in by Anann. All the Morrigan is a goddess of war and death, and the whole “Gentle Annie” thing is more about tiptoeing around death goddess ego then it is a reflection on her actual outlook.

So first up, we’re all agreed that these are the god-to-icon matchups now, right?

I’d had my doubts previously that Tara was really going to be a god as opposed to some sort of pretender, but it seems now from issue #3 and Lucifer’s comments on each that the gods themselves are recognising Tara as one of them (even if they don’t like her much). So while it still feels like there’s some kind of swerve coming with Tara’s divine identity, I’ll accept her pro tem. And the constant snide remarks about her theatricality make sense of the masks, although it’s still a mystery as to /which/ mythological Tara that makes any sense for.

Minerva’s 12? Hahaha. And female, that’s confirmed now, so we’re presently at six ladies (Amaterasu, Lucifer, Sakhmet, Minerva, the Morrigan, Tara) to four men (Inanna, Baal, Woden, Baphomet). I think word of god  is it’s a 7/5 split, so we have one of each gender still to manifest (barring one or more genderfluid gods, anyway).

Asker meserach Asks:
Any desire to sneak some comment on Tom Baker's appearance in Day of the Doctor into the Graham Williams volume?
meserach meserach Said:

philsandifer:

Not really. I mean, there’s not a ton to say, is there? I feel like that’s a scene that doesn’t really keep a lot in reserve, conceptually. What you see is what you get.

I dunno, I mean on the one hand you’re right, in that its a scene that just talks almost directly to the audience and is so unabashedly sentimental and such, but on the other hand I almost feel like the excess of feelings bound up within it demands exposition. In a way the whole of Doctor Who, or at least a significant chunk of it from the whole of Tom Baker’s tenure, the Five Doctors, the cancellation years and the entire new series are an extended lead up to the emotional pay-off in that scene. In so many ways Day of the Doctor is about the healing of textual wounds within Doctor Who, and it’s just so lovely that it manages to heal the “Tom Baker never appeared in any of the reunion stories” one as it goes.

I just have a lot of feelings about this one scene okay

abigailbrady:

Pretty much every part of Wicked + Divine #2 is set in a real location.  One of them is the Romantics Room at the National Portrait Gallery. Kieron even wrote the scene there, although I’m not sure how, as there were no seats in the room when I visited on Thursday.  I took this sneaky photo after I’d taken notes in case I got thrown out, me having had run ins with the NPG before.

I was looking for clues.  alwaysalreadyangry pointed out that the Shelley and Byron pictures in WicDiv #2 were based on the real ones.  But they are different.  The portrait of Mary Shelley in the NPG does not have a ponytail, winged ears, or ravens; and the one of Byron does not have him dressed all in red with a goatee.

We know Byron is Satan from Cass saying that Luci is the latest incarnation of “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know" (this quote is one of about five facts I know about Byron and has been burned into my brain since a teacher described me as such at school).  We can infer that Mary Shelley is Woden, who is Odin’s English analogue (the ravens being equivalent to Hugin and Munin).  That leaves Percy Shelley, on the right, looking rather similar to the original, which is quite goffic.  Is he the Morrigan?  (I’d originally thought Mary was the Morrigan, because there is really None More Goth than writing Frankenstein, is there?  But Woden makes more sense.)

Since I was there I had a look at the rest of the sequence.  The other portraits, less prominently featured, are Humphry Davy (in the next room), Francis Chantrey, Princess Charlotte on the first page of the sequence; J. M. W. Turner (and a corner of William Blake) on the second; and on the last we have John Clare, Robert Bakewell and Edward Jenner in the first panel and William Wordsworth, Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Paine.  None of these seem different in the same way as Shelley and Byron.  A couple are completely different colours, but that might just be Matt not having reference.  It is possible to overanalyse these things.  (It is possible I reached that point some time ago.)

You can find online versions of all these portraits at the NPG website, or go in and visit.  The standing exhibits are free, although they solicit donations.

(via kierongillen)

philsandifer:

abigailbrady:

So, I’ve seen some theories that the gods are rotating clockwise and then when they get to 12 they fall off.   Certainly the Owl and Ram end up clockwise in the 2010s from where they were in the 1920s.

However, this theory asserts that Susanoo is at the top.  And then Luci manifests at 1 o’clock in the 2010s.  That presumably means that Luci was Byron’s replacement.  HOWEVER, we from issue #2 we know that Byron was Lucifer in the 1830s.  Maybe Luci fell off just for one cycle, or maybe it’s more complicated?

I would guess more complicated. I’m pretty confident that Baal is the ram, which would make sense with the idea of recurrence - Baal’s a black man in both the Jazz Age and the present day. Owl is surely Minerva, who we know exists, and I’m guessing is the older one of the four in the Jazz Age.

But that leaves the sun at the bottom for the Jazz Age. And everything about the young girl, with her enthusiastic “three!” and her heavy makeup makes me pretty sure that’s Amaterasu.

See, I dunno. 

This image credited to “eatmystardustloser”

So this image matches up the 1920s symbols, the 2010s symbols, and the seating positions of the 1920s gods in their scene in issue #1. It seems too much of a coincidence for the 1920s pantheon to be seated at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions and for that also to be their symbols, and given that Susanoo’s symbol is obvious (he even has it on his cufflinks) that strongly suggests that the 1920’s blonde has the owl symbol, the brunette the sun, and the finger steepling guy is the ram.

THen furthermore we;ve got the interesting correspondence of Susanoo’s position and Amaterasu’s: they’re both Shinto gods, and they both occupy the 12’o’clock slot. Given that Kieron’s said in interviews that he’s gone for broadly one deity per mythological pantheon, it feels a lot like we get one Shinto god per recurrence, and it just so happens that this time we get Amaterasu and last time it was Susanoo.

This also means that if anyone’s Minerva it’s actually the blonde in the heavy makeup. But she doesn’t feel much like a Minerva (admittedly this is basing a characterization on one line and two facial expressions)

Arguing against this is that Ananke in issue #2 has clearly met Lucifer specifically before, so it can’t be all new gods in every recurrence. I’ve been chatting to someone named jynx about all this (much of the above theorising based on their work) and they reckon that 1920s owl is actually Lilith (also associated with owls) and hence that the 3’o’clock slot is Lilith/Baphomet (i.e Abrahamic demons). Of course on paper Lucifer feel like an Abrahamic demon too, unless that slot is Abrahamic angels…

The rotation concept is interesting but only holds for the owls and rams; if we assume that the transition from Susanoo at 12’o’clock to Lucifer at the new 1’o’clock is the “ticking over” transition, then the acid test would be if a sun-like symbol ends up between the Morrigan and Inanna.

miklausnotes:

This’ll probably be a LONG LIST of all things glorious about the new issue. Sorry not sorry!

• The parallel descents of Lucifer and Laura: we see Ms. Rigby proclaimed by the thousand eyes and voices of Ananke, reborn as the Fallen Angel. Feathers were such a nice touch I could cry. Laura’s…

See, re: whether we’ll see a 2010s Susanoo - I’d been dead settled on the theory that there’s only one God or Goddess per each ethnicity’s pantheon, mostly because we’ve had word of God (ahah) to that effect, eg. here:

CA: Tell me about the mythology. It sounds like you’re drawing on a mix of sources, from Christian to Celtic to Egyptian. 

KG:That’s been a good chunk of work – going through all the mythologies to see who fits the cast. At the same time, I was going through the pop-star archetypes, picking them. Sometimes I got a god I liked and worked out which pop-stars they would be like. Baal would be a good example of that. Sometimes I got a pop-star archetype and worked out what god suited them best. Having a character heavily informed by Prince and those who love Prince would be an example of that, which had me moving through about twelve gods before finally settling on one at once. Sometimes I got them both at once. Lucifer would be a good example of that. She’s very much cocaine-abuse megalomaniac ’70s Bowie.

When I started pulling together the cast, there was a time when I thought the whole cast would be women. I got to seven characters, and there was a bloke in there. I was thinking perhaps I’d end up doing that… at which point I got one that inspired me. It’s a 7/5 split, in terms of gender. In terms of the pantheons, the further I got into my research, I realized I was basically doing a god per pantheon, and should lean into that. In the end, certain areas have more representation – I’ve treated different periods of Greek religion as different pantheons.

As a result I’ve been assuming (e.g. here) that getting Susanoo in the 1920s and Amaterasu in the 2010s means that each recurrence we get one god from each mythological background: so the Shinto “slot” is taken up in 1920s by Susanoo but then in the 2010s by Amaterasu.

Then again, Ananke says to Lucifer that she’s missed her, implying she’s seen Lucifer specifically before. But that could mean any of:

  • Lucifer’s in every recurrence, but the other gods may or may not be
  • The 12 gods are the same every recurrence (which means we get Susanoo and Amaterasu, so two Shinto gods)
  • Ananke simply remembers Lucifer from the last recurrence Lucifer was in, even if that was back in the 1100s or whatever.

Still so much we don’t know for sure! The only thing that’s definitely clear is if the same gods do recur every recurrence, their positions on the diagram do shift (since Susanoo’s 1920s slot is taken by Amaterasu this time out)

jynx:

meserach:

EXTREME SPOILER ALERT FOR THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #2:

I updated my diagram based on the information we gleam from issue 2 (which blew me away, especially with Luci’s Magical God transformation sequence).

image

First of all the biggie: wow, Baphomet is terrifying. We’re a little heavy on hell gods this generation, don’t you think? It’s a shame about the Morrigan since I really like her character design. RIP.

Some of my speculation is denied: the black god of #4 is Baal, and in retrospect, I was a little too focused on the Canaanite Ba’al (associated with heifers) and didn’t look closely enough at the Carthaginian Ba’al-hamon. He’s often depicted with Ram’s horns, and if it’s Carthage, that explains the Greco-Roman influences in his tattoos. I’ve adjusted the diagram accordingly.

On the other hand, my speculation that the winged helmet is Odin is confirmed, in a way: instead of the Norse god, though, it’s the germanic Woden, though. The winged helmet thing is still a bit of a recent invention, but it makes more sense if it’s Woden rather than Odin— Woden and Hermes/Mercury (the original winged helmet god) were closely associated/conflated, and Woden was consequently associated with the headgear. Either way: he sounds gross: “cheerily racist army of ethnic mono-cultured valkyrie fuck buddies”? Ew.

There’s just one slot left, and one God mentioned left: Tara. I still haven’t added her to the diagram, because I still think there’s something tricky going on here. Even if there are a million gods among many cultures named Tara, I can’t find one that would be appropriate for the masks. Tara is typically a feminine name, and, like most goddesses, all the Taras I’ve found stick to the usual life/sky/abundance/etc. domains. Since masks play with identity/falsehood/duality/drama, my new theory is that Tara may not be “Tara”, but rather a trickster god(dess) under an assumed name. Dionysus is still a good choice, since he’s a known shapeshifter and is more explicitly associated with these masks than any other.

One final note: with the revelation of Baphomet, my 1-1 pantheon theory still sort of holds. Susanoo’s place was taken by Amaterasu, and Baphomet takes the place of the blonde goddess of the previous generation, who I speculate to be Lilith. There aren’t very many other gods associated with owls, and Athena/Minerva’s clearly out.

Hi Jynx, whoever you are, you continue to have the best speculation about #wicdiv god identity on Tumblr.

Issue #2 then! Gosh.

I wonder if Morrigan is actually dead? I mean, yes, decapitated. But her symbol didn;t seem to change„ and it doesn’t feel like she was dead all along (it seems like a fresh decapitation, what with all the blood). Of course, in an amusing piece of design trickery the symbol for “this god is dead” is usually a skull, but Morrigan’s symbol appears to have been a skull anyway, so. Anyway, it would seem apropos for the Morrigan to be able to cheat death somehow. Plus, all that design work just to be dead straight away? I mean, flashbacks and so on, sure…

Love Baal, of course. Pleased that Kieron’s finally gone ahead and just started writing Kanye West after channeling him for so long to write male Marvel heroes (mostly Namor).

If the masks ARE Tara (and I’m still leaning toward Tara being a false God purely because of Laura’s distaste for them), then it’s interesting Tara’s associated with the West End (and therefore theatre, and hence the masks).

Oh stahp. You’re making me blush.

Good call on the Morrigan not necessarily being dead— I was so shocked by the turn of events that I hadn’t considered that her symbol hadn’t changed a la the Jazz Age dead gods.

W.R.T. Tara: Laura seems unusually angry about her this issue, enough for me to have a new wildly speculative theory on that: I think Tara and her used to be friends, or otherwise have a personal relationship. It would explain her anger, explain her comments about friends in the National Portrait Gallery scene, (as well as her knowing how Tara “doesn’t see anyone”) and explain how obsessed Laura is with the gods. Of course, Laura could just be an extremely devoted fangirl who despises false idols.

Your connection between the West End and the masks is also insightful. I can’t wait until the next issue.

Oh hey, on your 1-1 pantheon theory, what else can we derive from that? So we’d have 1920s : 2010s pairings as follows, going round clockwise and just looking at those alive in the 1920s scene:

  • Susanoo (lightning bolts) : Amaterasu (sun)
  • UNKNOWN (stylised owl) blonde in heavy makeup : Baphomet (goat head, crossed swords)
  • UNKNOWN (stylised sun) brunette w/ headband, necklace : Morrigan (skull with crow eye-makeup)
  • UNKNOWN (stylised ram?) sharp dressed, steepled fingers : UNKNOWN/Tara? (the masks)


So if we’re assuming based on Susanoo : Amaterasu that these pairings are drawn from the same culture’s mythology, then what can we derive?

The pairings seem to be Shinto, Pagan/Demonology?, Celtic/Irish and… well we really can’t tell for that last pair as we know so little.

Several things come to mind. One, your guess of Lilith for the 1920s owl is astute. Two, the 1920s brunette is a Celtic sun god/dess (Bel? Brighid? Lugh?). Third, I wonder that if the hypothesised Baphomet/Lilith pantheon is drawn from “demons”, then perhaps Lucifer is actually being treated as an angel here, and the 1920s person in that slot was Michael or Gabriel or something?

Finally, I just noticed that the skull next to Susanoo (on his right, anti-clockwise from him) has a whole chunk taken out of it, whereas the other skulls placeholding for dead gods seem intact. I suspect this has meaning.


Oh yeah: this line from #1 has been bugging me too, and might also be the plainest clue to the Tara thing. So Luci’s accusing Cassandra of being “another hypocritical parasite” by using that name, Cassandra - a mythological name - so Luci’s saying that others have taken god names in vain, as it were. As Tara may or may not have done…