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Doctor Who: Cheap Imitations

As Doctor Who season 11 finally made its way into our lives,

we saw the Doctor go on a number of adventures exploring

time and space with a full squad of sidekicks. Notably, we also

saw the doctor finding ways to annoy Tim Shaw. The season

was filled with a lot of milestones. They met Rosa Parks. The

Doctor officiated a wedding, and her team battled a puppet

master like Dalek. The team ran around with giant spiders, and

The Doctor quoted scripture on occasion. That only scratches

the surface of everything that happened that season.

One of the least exciting episodes to me was the episode, “It

Takes You Away.” While it wasn’t the most entertaining, I

thought it did hold some of the best truths and spoke to me

deeply. The episode pits The Doctor against the Solitract, a

conscious independent universe that is incapable of

cohabitating with any other universe or creatures of any other

universe. Bottom line, it’s a living universe that is incredibly

lonely. The way that universe coped with loneliness was by

imitating people that other people miss. The Solitract would

seek out people as achingly lonely as it was, and mimic what

they needed to be fulfilled again.

For instance, it mimicked a man’s dead wife in hopes of

convincing him to stay. The Solitract’s plan worked. Its efforts

were enough to make a grown man abandon his blind

daughter in the middle of nowhere. While this dude was not

exactly parent of the year, he also wasn’t doing anything most

of us haven’t done ourselves. The circumstances may be

different, but oftentimes we trade something true for a cheap

substitute. It doesn’t matter how our reality is; sometimes we

just want something we’ve lost, something we want, or

something completely different.

All the way back to Moses and Israel, we see this. Moses had

led the people out of bondage and helped them cross the Red

Sea. He managed to corral hundreds of thousands of people

into a direction, lead them to freedom, and guide them safely.

Yet when he had to take one break to go hear from God, they

acted like they forgot who both Moses and God were.

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in

coming down from the mountain, they gathered around

Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before

us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of

Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that

your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing,

and bring them to me.” So, all the people took off their

earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they

handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of

a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These

are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the

calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival

to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and

sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship

offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and

got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your

people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have

become corrupt.” - Exodus 32:1-7.

They had an actual God, who was still present and active in

their lives. They had a dedicated leader who had constantly

put his life, peace, and sanity on the line. Yet they accepted the

cheap substitute of A people pleasing brother, and Mooby the

golden calf.

At least in Doctor Who, the substitutes were of people who

were gone. Israel was accepting substitutes for people who

were just out of eye sight. When the Doctor and squad travel

through the portal and ended up in the mirrored world the

Solitract had produced, they find Erik with a carbon copy of his

deceased wife Trine. He was so satisfied with his substitute

Trine that he had all but completely abandoned his daughter.

Once they arrived though, the Solitract fed off Graham’s loss

and heartache and manifested a copy of Grace as well.

Grace: I know this sounds daft but, am I real? That

creature on the crane. It killed me. But now, I'm here

with you. I don't understand.

Graham: No. Neither do I.

Grace: Why are you being so off with me?

Graham: Because this is isn't possible.

Grace: I know. But I'm here, love. I'm real.

As I re-watched this episode, it hit me that in one conversation

the Solitract goes from asking Graham if she is real to telling

him flat out that she is. The lies and cheap substitutes in our

lives will often tell us whatever we want to hear, or need to

here to just keep us in tow.

Graham: This isn't fair. This has to be a trick. You... you

can't be her.

Grace: I feel like me.

Graham: I'm lost, Grace. I miss you. All my life, I was

looking for you. Then I found you, and I was so happy.

Grace: That makes two of us.

Graham: And then I lost you.

Grace: I'm here.

Graham: Yeah. I miss you so much. I miss you so much,


Graham knew full well that this thing wasn’t Grace. He knew it

himself, and The Doctor told him, too. He didn’t want to hear

it. He wanted to believe the lie because the lie of a living Grace

was better than the truth of a dead one. The Doctor didn’t let

it continue though, because as she later stated in the episode,

“Friends help each other face up to their problems, not avoid


Doctor: Graham, we're off. Now.

Graham: Fine. Yeah. Come on, Grace.

Doctor: Yeah, sorry to be blunt. Hi, Grace. That's not

Grace. No offence, Grace.

Grace: None taken, love.

Doctor: She can't come, Graham. She's not real.

Graham: Oh, I think you're wrong.

Doctor: I'm not wrong.

Graham: She remembers everything.

Doctor: I know this is difficult.

Graham: I mean, all the crazy things you've seen, Doc, I

mean, you can't tell me that you know it's not her.

Doctor: This whole thing is a con. I don't think even

Grace knows it. I think this whole world is a trap, and

she's part of it. Listen to me. It's her or the real world.

You can't have both.

Moses dealt with the people of Israel accepting cheap

substitutes. It seems neither Israel or the rest of the world got

the message over all the years that followed all the way

through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The apostle Paul

was still explaining this same concept generations later to the

Roman church.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible

qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have

been clearly seen, being understood from what has been

made, so that people are without excuse. For although

they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor

gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and

their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they

claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged

the glory of the immortal God for images made to look

like a mortal human being and birds and animals and

reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful

desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the

degrading of their bodies with one another. They

exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped

and served created things rather than the Creator—who

is forever praised. Amen.” - Romans 1:20-25.

Paul can come across as harsh sometimes, but the bottom line

is he is coming from a place of love and accountability. Paul,

Moses, and even The Doctor are coming from the

understanding that dictates you can’t let people accept cheap

substitutes for the truth. You can’t force people to accept that,

but if you love them, you have a responsibility to help them


Just a few hours before I started writing this chapter, I was

giving pre-marital counseling to a couple. I spent more than an

hour talking with them about unspoken expectations, false

assumptions, and that the reality of “for better or for worse”

usually means worse more than better. Before I marry this

couple in a few weeks, I'm going to continue to pour truth into

them and help them move past the lies and cheap substitutes

we accept in relationships because I know if that’s what they

build their relationship on, it’s doomed to fail. We need to be

proactive about not letting ourselves or others be conned into

accepting something less than truth. That goes for our lives,

our relationships, and our relationship with God.

The Doctor wasn’t willing to let Graham or Erik be taken in by

the lies the Solitract was offering.

The Doctor: You want the same thing you've always

wanted. To be with us. So you've built a world you

thought we'd like, and taken forms we won't reject.

Graham: What about Ryan? He's in trouble out there,


Grace: He'll be fine. He's a smart lad.

Doctor: This reality's collapsing, Graham!

Graham: So close. You were so close. You see, Grace

would never let me leave Ryan in danger. You're a fake. I

wish you weren't, but you are.

The Solitract’s actions were deceptive, but not malicious. It just

didn’t want to be alone. The cheap substitutes were just an

excuse to have company. Our cheap substitutes, all throughout

our lives, are clever devices from our enemy. It can be a job, a

relationship, a platform, a project, entertainment, our pride, or

literally anything. Satan can take anything seemingly good in

our lives and offer us a twisted substitute to get in the way of

our relationship with knowing God.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I

have come that they may have life, and have it to the

full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays

down his life for the sheep.” - John 10:10-11.

Jesus tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He

fills our lives with substitutes that aren’t meant to keep us

around. They are meant to wreck us and rob us of life. His

substitutes are meant to destroy all that God has planned for

us. Jesus tells us clearly that His plan for our life is to have life

to the fullest, and He was willing to lay down his own life to

prove it. We know that Jesus died for us. We know that He was

willing to sacrifice Himself to set us free from the lies and

substitutes that have held mankind captive since the garden.

The Doctor was also willing to sacrifice herself in order to make

this happen. When it’s down to just her and Erik with the

Solitract, she knows he isn’t strong enough to resist, so she

takes his place.

The Doctor: Just one thing. This world is falling apart. I

reckon you can only keep one of us. You sure he's your

best option? ‘Cause the Solitract doesn't want a

husband, you want a whole universe. Someone who has

seen it all, and that's me. I've lived longer, seen more,

loved more and lost more. I can share it all with you.

Anything you want to know about what you never had.

Cos he's an idiot with a daughter who needs him. So let

him go and I will give you everything.

She willingly took Erik’s place so that he could live, Hanne

could have a father, and Earth and her gang would survive.

However, once they were alone, things quickly escalated.

Doctor: I wouldn't be much of a friend to you if I didn't

point out you're not in control of this.

Solitract: You're wrong. This is my plane. I control

everything here.

Doctor: So, you can see that it's still destabilizing? Me

being here is going to kill us both. You may want us to be

together, but it's not working. It can never work.

Solitract: You're lying to me because you want to leave.

Doctor: No. I'm your friend. But friends help each other

face up to their problems, not avoid them. This is... You

are the maddest, most beautiful thing I've ever

experienced, and I haven't even scratched the surface. I

wish I could stay. But if either of us are going to survive,

you're going to have to let me go and keep on being

brilliant by yourself.

The Doctor makes it clear to the Solitract that if they stay

together, it will mean destruction for them both. They can’t

continue living as long as they are in the same place. The same

is true for us. We can’t continue living the life God wants for us

if we continue to live accepting cheap substitutes over what

God actually desires for us.

“What agreement is there between the temple of God

and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As

God has said: “I will live with them and walk among

them, and I will be their God, and they will be my

people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be

separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I

will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you

will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.” - 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.

God tells us that He wants an intimate real relationship with

us, but it’s really hard for that relationship to be what it is

meant to be when we are accepting a substitute, instead of

Him. It’s not until we remove the substitutes in our lives that

He has the freedom and space to work. Imagine if you were

getting married and someone other than your fiancé was

standing at the altar. You wouldn’t go through with the

ceremony because that is not who you belong to. You would

get that other person out of your way so that you could carry

on with the marriage and life you have planned. Stop allowing

substitutes to take God’s place for His plans and purpose in

your life.

The title of this episode was, “It Takes You Away.” That is true

of any cheap substitute in our lives. Don’t let them.



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