Dr Who, 7th series, episode 2 – The Rings of Akhetan
Is there anyone interested in Dr Who as well as’ Lord of the Rings’? The second episode in the latest series is called ‘The Rings of Akhetan’! The Rings bring to mind the One Ring which Frodo agreed to destroy in the volcanic fire of Mount Doom with the help of the Fellowship as well as the others which include the nine rings of the dread Nine Black Riders – Sauron’s servants – and the seven rings that once belonged to the dwarves. It probably does not include the three beautiful Elven Rings that were hidden.
In the Dr Who episode the Rings of the solar system of Akhetan are bands that surround the large sun, rather like the rings of Jupiter. A God sleeps within this fiery star whom the people of that star system believe is their creator. He turns out to be an evil parasitic God who feeds of the Song and lives of the living people. It is his time to awaken and when he does he fills the sun with the features of a face that are black and empty. Compare that with the fiery Eye of Sauron, at the centre of which was a black, empty, bottomless pit.
There is also a particularly Elven theme as a ‘leaf, song and stars’ feature prominently. The doctor’s new assistant, Clara, takes with her on the adventure the diary of her life and page 1 is the wondrous leaf that brought her parents together. And here is another curious thing. You can spell ‘Arwen’ out of the letters in Clara’s full name – Clara Olwen Oswald. Arwen was the Elven princess who fell in love with Aragorn/Strider.
And another curious thing, a young girl called The Queen of Years comes in to the story. Every thousand years the people in that Star System come together and it falls to this young girl to sing the Eternal Song that will feed the god as she knows all of the history and songs of these peoples through time. That girl’s name is Merry Galel and Galel sounds remarkably like Galadriel and the Elves were renowned for being ‘merry’ and, since they were immortal, they had pretty long memories! Merry is also golden haired like Galadriel, whereas Clara is dark-haired like Arwen.
The evil god is like Sauron and other evil creatures in ‘Lord of the Rings’ in other ways too. Since they have denied life, they hate and envy the light, yet they have an insatiable appetite to consume that life. Sauron wanted to rule the world and have everything under his dominion and when he had destroyed all life on the planet what then? The doctor offers this parasitic god all his memories and life experiences which he lists and are simply mind-boggling, yet this god is still hungry at the end. (You will be glad to hear that the doctor survives this experience!). Forward steps Clara and offers the God her leaf. Her father had always told her it was the most important leaf in history because it had to grow at that particular time, in that particular way so it could be blown from the tree at the precise moment it would fly in Clara’s father’s face which made him step into the path of an oncoming car and he is rescued by Clara’s mum who is a complete stranger. Clara tells the god that because her mother died young (like Arwen’s mother leaving Middle Earth prematurely) the leaf contains an unfulfilled future and therefore infinity. The God greedily starts feeding off the energy of the leaf and explodes! And the doctor remarks that even he cannot digest infinity. It is about the micro/macro, and the universe held in a grain of sand. By voicing this truth it became real.
Interestingly, both Clara’s mum and Clara swear by exclaiming “Oh my stars” and Galadriel and Arwen were known as the Morning and Evening Stars and ,of course, the Elves are renowned for their love of the stars.
A ring comes into the story too. Payment for a taxi on this particular planet is paid for with objects that hold memories and the doctor has nothing on his person of value apart from his wizard’s staff/magic screwdriver. He turns to Clara who takes off her mother’s ring and gives that. And in that moment we are right in the story of the Lord of the Rings as Clara, like Frodo, has to give up her ‘precious’ ring! At the end of the adventure, when the doctor drops Clara off home safely from the Tardis, he gives Clara back her ring which has been returned from the people with gratitude. So things coming full circle, the adventure completed.