Jan. 21st, 2015

gen_is_gone: Anji, the Doctor, and Fitz from the Eighth Doctor Adventures; credit goes to red sharlach (danger&excitement our constant companion)
I’ve been thinking of identity as the EDAs’ most important and lasting motif for a while, and particularly today in the context of Anji, and how she’s both a part of the pattern of loss of identity and defies it.

Trix is a chameleon to begin with, a consummate liar who claims amorality and who fills her own voids with immediate gratification and a Trickster mentality that’s at least a little bit of mask.

Sam is split in two, into a kind of sick yin/yang or even Madonna/Whore division of someone who would be average, if not for the separation of her extremes. Her supposedly “darker” half is punished for not being exceptional, for not being pure, for not being (supposedly, again) someone the Doctor could love.

Fitz’s soul doesn’t reside in the body he was born in, and he loathes himself for being the fake, while Fitz 1.0 is tortured, corrupted, and filled with hate for the person he believes is at fault, the Doctor he used to love, and he can’t stand to see his double because Mark II is still Fitz in the way Father Kreiner can’t be ever be.

Compassion is changed physically and mentally to the point that she’s unrecognizable long before she even meets the Doctor, and just as she’s found a stable person to be, he becomes the catalyst for her to be destroyed utterly and remade into an entity beyond comprehension, and she keeps only the barest surfaces of her looks and personality to spite the Doctor, and as a sort of ironic nostalgia.

The Doctor himself embodies the disintegration of the self more than anyone else, so much so that his constant amnesia is the joke he’s most famous for. Each time it happens the loss is worse, is harder to recover from, and the more he picks up pieces of the man he used to be, the more horrified he is at the result.

Anji is the only one to start and end her time with the Doctor fully human and with her identity intact. She changes a great deal over the course of her travels, but subtly, and rather than being split in two or torn apart or washed away or obliterated, she grows. Anji, by the time she leaves the TARDIS for good, is braver, more observant, and more compassionate for the people around her. She’s scarred, she’s lost people, she’s lost the memory of four years of a settled life, but she’s maybe the only one of them who walks away with an even firmer sense of self than what she started with.

She tries to use Trix’s time-traveling to cheat on stock market trends and finds that she doesn’t need the help; she leaves the TARDIS and is happy with her partner and her adopted eldritch daughter and phase-jumping dog. She doesn’t need the thrills of the Doctor’s lifestyle to be happy, even after coming to admit to herself that having alien adventures does make her happy. She’s perhaps the least emotionally dependent of any of Eight’s companions; even Compassion’s angry, uncompromising push backs against him came from an awareness that it would be too, too easy to love him unquestioningly.

Anji doesn’t take the Doctor’s omnicompetence for granted, and while “doesn’t take shit from the White Male Lead” is such a fallback generic positive statement about secondary female characters (especially women of color) who aren’t granted the space to do anything except be angry with the Hero that it’s become its own stereotype, Anji, when written by people who treat her with dignity, is more than that stereotype as well. She’s weirder than she thinks, and she really has absorbed more of Dave’s love of science fiction and the unexplained than she’d care to admit. For that matter, she really did, and does, genuinely love Dave, for all of their differences and inequalities and arguments, and she’s allowed to grieve for him. She does love the Doctor, and she does love Fitz, but her love for them doesn’t blind her to their flaws, which in Fitz’s case make him annoying and incautious, and in the Doctor’s case can mean the deaths of millions from his pride or misplaced pity or unfair favoritism. She can stand up to his overwhelming presence and tell him that he’s not a god, and judging other people as one makes him so reprehensible as to become a stranger in her eyes.

Anji’s sense of self is so strong she can be taken into space against her will, decide for herself that she wants to stay even after the Doctor is finally capable of getting her home again, and then, in her own time, choose to leave and be able to keep to that decision even after the Doctor shows up in her life again.

Anji Kapoor alone of the protagonists of The Eighth Doctor Adventures grows into herself, rather than losing herself.
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