I don’t want to be pummeled over the head with your Biblical symbolism. I think that this kind of writing works for some but I just hate when I have to think “yes, we fucking get it! This is symbolic”. There are instances where I clearly let this slide or where they’re not being symbolic, they’re just being blunt. The biggest case of the latter is Neon Genesis Evangelion. I kept thinking early on that the Angels weren’t real Angels. That was just a name.
Well this isn’t a spoiler. They’re Angels. Don’t let anything fool you.
I think the best case for symbolism not working and working is Doctor Who. In seasons one through four there is a lot of Biblical symbolism that just made me cringe. The scene in the Titanic Christmas special with the two angels carrying the Doctor up into the top of the ship comes to mind.
Like most of the early Christmas episodes, this one had nothing to do with Christmas and was cringe worthy all around. But this moment was where I literally wanted it to end. I only kept watching for continuity sake.
The best kind of Biblical symbolism seems to come when it’s hard to tell what it is right off. I think that it’s nice to have to think back on something and realize what’s happened. There’s a scene in Doctor Who season six that illustrates this. When the Doctor is talking to Craig about how he’s messed up and he’s paying for it with his life. They’re sitting in the living room and Craig is the last friend that the Doctor has left and in this moment of him spilling his heart he looks up and realizes Craig has fallen asleep.
Doesn’t remind you of anything? There’s a scene in the Bible where Jesus asks the disciples to keep watch over him while he prays. Matthew 26:38:
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
A few verses later he comes back to them:
When he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.
This might be a small thing that no one else noticed but it kind of stood out to me and there is this ongoing theme of the Doctor as a Christ-like figure. I get this and don’t mind it at all. But I hate being hammered with these kinds of ideas over and over until I’m just sick of them. The way that the last example does it is subtle and good. I could probably draw parallels between the group that is hunting the Doctor and why and the Pharisees if I looked hard enough, but this isn’t a Doctor Who blog. My point is that we need to be careful with our Biblical Symbolism. We’re so used to it in our culture that we can usually spot it all too easily and it’s just bad when it’s laid on too thick.