The Sixth Doctor and Peri need help in their relationship, and only Sigmund Freud can help them, in the brilliant Doctor Who story Conflict Theory.
Out of all the episodes from Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor and Peri Volume 1, Conflict Theory was definitely the one I was most looking forward to. Because it was written by arguably one of, if not the best writer for this particular duo: Nev Fountain.
Nev Fountain is a consistently fantastic writer in his own right, no matter which Doctor, companion, or even villain he writes for. His stories are often hilarious, bonkers, clever, and character-focused. Conflict Theory definitely features all of these.
Having the Doctor and Peri undergo therapy is both a simple and brilliant idea. Both characters have their flaws, and this episode recognizes that fact. But more importantly, it’s clear that Fountain wants to explore each of their flaws in full. When the two travelers are forced to confront some very real personal truths, they have to ask themselves: is it possible for them to continue traveling together? Or have they reached the end of the road?
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One thing that leaps out about this story – beyond the in-depth character exploration, that is – is how it’s told. Both the Doctor and Peri are telling a pair of Sigmund Freuds (it makes sense in the story) about one of their recent adventures. So essentially, we get a strong non-linear aspect to this particular episode.
Not only does this kind of storytelling provide a fresh way of telling the audience your average Six and Peri adventure. But it also helps to deepen the level of character exploration for both of them. For example, the Doctor reveals that someone died during their last adventure. Someone with an extremely important name that reveals a lot about the Doctor and the many relationships he’s shared with his companions…
Conflict Theory is a great way of rounding off this box set. It’s a story that combines humor and excellent ideas with fresh character exploration of the Sixth Doctor and Peri – exactly what you’d expect from a Nev Fountain story. While I’ve enjoyed the box set overall, Conflict Theory definitely stands out as its strongest entry.
Do you want more stories of the Doctor and his companion being examined on a more psychological level? Should the Doctor even be examined by a psychiatrist in the first place? If you’ve listened to Nev Fountain’s stories before, what’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.