And alone. Again. In the middle of the other diners, yes, but alone. The scuttlebutt is, Sci-Fi Doctor doesn’t play well with others, lately. Sci-Fi Doctor looks pensive. Sci-Fi Doctor has been posted to the arse-yet-galactically-critical-important-end of nowhere without sufficient support staff nor vacation time, and so is cultivating a heroic isolationism to ward off pity.
Sci-Fi Doctor is of course the Uber-Doctor. Specialist in everything from plasma burns to telepathic plagues that aid exposition with meaningful flashbacks and unearthed desires. Sci-Fi Doctor is actually a dermatologist by training and preference, not that anyone ever asks. Sci-Fi Doctor wishes they would. There’s never enough natural light in these places and with all the stress and recycled air and frequent core meltdowns Sci-Fi Doctor worries in more ways than one about saving their skins.
Sci-Fi Doctor eats on a break, for once. For a physician, Sci-Fi Doctor sits in on a surprising amount of tactical senior meetings. First Contacts. Treaty negotiations. Rescue mission planning. Things like that. Sci-Fi Doctor suspects it’s an ethics thing. Like having a priest in the room. Sci-Fi Doctor’s unquestioned Goodness, their innate ‘humanity’ (tsk, speciest) is meant to steer the crew some of the Harder Choices.
Truthfully, Sci-Fi Doctor is conflicted about such reification, which was not in the job description, nor as comfortable a topic as funny-looking moles. Sci-Fi Doctor finds the demand of balancing the moral compass in three (and far too frequently, four) dimensional space extremely fucking tiring, and would like to discuss a more humane work life balance thank you. But Si-Fi Doctor must wait for the respite of their begrudged directorial debut in season nine, and the sweet, short agency of framing their own tale. For now, Doc loads up on carbs.
Sci-Fi Doctor eats vegan pasta because sometimes it’s worryingly hard to tell which creatures are sentient, and, crucially, which would hold a grudge. Sci-Fi Doctor wonders if anyone else spends so much time wondering about the risk of cannibalism if they were to be stranded in these tin cans. Sci-Fi Doctor doesn’t share these concerns with others, for fear of being mocked.
Sci-Fi Doctor finds humour here…difficult. Artificial gravity; wavering levity. Sci-Fi Doctor is in fact deeply traumatised by many recent events, but finds the rest of the crew recovers quickly, with the sort of jokes that will always be uncomfortable on a rewatch a decade later.
Beyond the heroism, Sci-Fi Doctor also eats alone because Sci-Fi Doctor is painfully single. Sci-Fi Doctor will be permitted exactly one romantic entanglement in this posting, but only if the lover is secretly ill, forcing Sci-Fi Doctor to become their lovers’ emergency physician and hold their life – and often, innards – in their hands. No one will raise a sculpted eyebrow at this conflict of interest, but rather support it as symptomatic (ha) of the ethical compromises of frontier medicine.
Sci-Fi Doctor regrets however that any final but tragically unsuccessful last-ditch surgery will have to be performed in the shiny gauzy scrubs that only come out for this occasion. The material gives Sci-Fi Doctor hives, which no one else notices, or wishes to discuss, because they think of Sci-Fi Doctor a generic Sci-Fi Doctor dammit, not a dermatologist.
Sci-Fi Doctor dutifully chomps through the pain of this – and more. Because the Doc has a Dark Past of course. Parental dysfunction, a death somehow complicit, a flirtation with Mad or Bad Science. Something to add a dash of complexity, a furrowed brow. But it will all resolved in one neat episodic arc, cut and stitched neatly in 42 minutes, no scar visible by the next credits. Sci-Fi Doctor’s memories are bitter pills. The Doc must swallow them, and hope for forgiveness.
Sci-Fi Doctor eats their vegan pasta with sadness, cooling ribbons twisted around their fork with frustration. Sci-Fi Doctor ignores the latest shudders, and staggerings, and chairs flying. In the whine of klaxons, and the flash of red warnings, Sci-Fi Doctor chews on. Tries to look like someone who still has depth and soul and something to offer. Like someone who can still figure out how to heal all wounds in the dark expanse, among the cold pitiless stars.
Jess Moody is a Wulfrunian in London. She likes her words and worlds a little weird. www.jmoodywriter.com. Tweets @jessmoodhe