Doctor Who: The RTD Years Vol. 1 - Revisiting GRIDLOCK - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: The RTD Years Vol. 1 - Revisiting GRIDLOCK

Oh, how we've all been there: stuck in seemingly endless traffic, wondering if we'd be better off ditching the car and just walking. But what if that traffic jam was all there was? Welcome to "Gridlock", an episode where Russell T Davies manages to merge the mundanity of motorway mayhem with the madness of the Whoniverse.

A Metropolis in Perpetual Stasis

The setting itself is ingenious. New New York (Not to be mistaken with Old New York or, frankly, Just York), where the Doctor and Martha find themselves in a city where everyone is stuck in a never-ending loop of exhaust fumes and "I Spy". It's a brilliantly claustrophobic metaphor for a society that has lost its way, trapping itself in routine without questioning why.

Our Leads: The Doctor & Martha – More than Mere Passengers

By this point, David Tennant's Doctor is like a fine wine – and I’m not just talking about that aged coat. He’s becoming more complex, more layered. In "Gridlock", he's navigating the murky waters of grief over the loss of Rose, while also ensuring Martha doesn't feel like a mere "rebound" companion.

And speaking of Martha, Freema Agyeman shines brightly here. She's no longer just the newbie travelling with the Time Lord; she's a force to be reckoned with, displaying resilience and intelligence, and beginning to carve her space in the TARDIS.

A Cast of Characters: From Feline to Face

The diversity of life in those cars! From the feline-faced Thomas Kincade Brannigan to the elderly couple celebrating decades in traffic, there's a slice of life in every vehicle. And let's not forget the return of the Face of Boe, who always seems to be around when things go particularly pear-shaped.

Mood Shifts & Narrative Techniques

Davies masterfully juxtaposes the apparent levity of a never-ending traffic jam with the underbelly's darkness. The initial comedic tones slowly give way to an eerie, grim realization. The layers are peeled back gradually, leading to a potent commentary on faith, hope, and societal collapse.

Standout Scenes: Of Hymns and Heartbreaks

The scene where the trapped citizens spontaneously break into "The Old Rugged Cross" is both haunting and uplifting. It encapsulates the human (and, well, humanoid) spirit's resilience. Another heart-wrenching moment? The Doctor’s monologue about Gallifrey. Tennant delivers those lines with a blend of nostalgia, pain, and pride that leaves us with a lump in our throats.

Links and Winks

There's a nod to the past, with the Macra, those crabby ne'er-do-wells from the Second Doctor's era making a reappearance. For fans with longer memories, it's a delicious Easter egg.

As for future implications, the Face of Boe’s cryptic “You Are Not Alone” message does more than give us goosebumps; it sets a trajectory for the entire series.

The Message Behind the Motorway

Beyond the action and aliens, "Gridlock" poses pertinent questions. How often do we, as a society, get trapped in routines without questioning the why? How much faith do we place in a system, even if it's evidently broken? And isn't there always, always hope?

Conclusion: Fast and... Not So Furious?

While "Gridlock" might not involve high-speed chases (it's hard to speed when you're moving a foot a day), it's a testament to Davies' brilliance that he turns a traffic jam into a riveting adventure. This episode is a fantastic medley of character development, societal commentary, and just the right amount of cat people. Because, let’s face it, everything's better with cat people.

All in all, “Gridlock” isn’t just an episode; it’s an experience. It reminds us that sometimes, the slow lane gives us the best stories. And if this is what happens in gridlocked traffic, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to moan about it the next time we're stuck on the motorway. Though, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for giant crabs.

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