THE REAL MEANING
OF THE SHOE


a woman's interpretation of the ending of
"The Dalek Invasion of Earth"

by Valkyrie
From the first time I saw the "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," it has been my favourite Dr. Who story.  I sometimes thought this strange because my favourite Doctor is definitely Jon Pertwee.  Why then is not one of "his" episodes my all-time favourite?

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" presents with exceptionally strong images that stay in one's mind -- take, for instance, that quiet morning in London, almost surreal in its tranquility ... suddenly, Dalek figures sweeping across the bridge, their stark menace intruding into the stillness (aided, I believe, by the subtle shading of black and white photography).  To this day I'd argue that this is the most chilling moment in all of Who history.

But could this alone merit my fascination?  Something else was happening here.  There was a nagging at the back of my mind until one day, I mentioned to a friend that I get the saddest feeling at the end when I see Susan, standing outside the TARDIS after the door has been locked on her by her own grandfather, lost and forlorn ... and wearing only one shoe.  My friend laughed and commented something along the lines of "Only a woman would think of a shoe at a moment like that!"  That's when it hit me:  The shoe!  The key to my unease was that shoe!  And not just the fact that Susan was standing on devastated soil with one bare foot, but what it represented, the symbolism contained in that one little scene.   One shoe, a door slamming in her face, alone now, everything familiar to her disappearing with the TARDIS, her surroundings in rubble, waiting to be re-built.  And after a while, David appearing.  There's something quite epic happening here!

You see, that particular moment was when Susan Foreman grew up.  Took that giant step from Girl to Woman ... and not of her own volition either.  Oh no, this hapless youngster is being dragged into adulthood kicking and screaming!

Let's look at her life so far.  She is a fugitive, we presume that she has spent most of her formative years 'on the lam' with her grandfather, a man who, if doting at all, is likely to have hidden those feelings behind a somewhat cold facade, perhaps out of necessity to help him deal with his own loss of home and family ... no, I don't doubt he cares for her, even loves her, but  I don't get the sense that he has ever shown this in the way a child needs to be shown. The things a young girl needs most, the warmth and love and guidance of a mother figure, has been denied to Susan for a long time.  And now she is forcibly cut off from the only woman that we know for certain she has ever been close to since losing her parents, her mother-substitute, Barbara (from dialogue in the first episode of "An Unearthly Child" we can assume that there have not been any "Companions" before the unwitting travellers Ian and Barbara).  At the slam of a door, Susan realises things will never be the same:  She has been forcibly ejected from the relative safety of the TARDIS (if I wanted to get melodramatic, I could even liken it to being ejected from the womb--for a second time).  She will in all likelyhood never see her grandfather or Barbara or her home planet again.  The horrible sense of loss she feels at that moment symbolised in that one shoe left behind ...

As she slowly walks away with David, we begin to realize that she is also leaving behind what's left of her child-like innocence, to begin her life as a woman.  A new beginning... This is Susan Foreman's coming-of-age story.  Quite an ending to what was meant to be simply a children's programme!  
The names "Dr. Who" and "Daleks" belong to the BBC and Terry Nation.
The thoughts are mine (previously published in slightly different form in a copy
of The Blue Box Companion Newsletter).

This page created 8/99 by Valkyrie
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