Doctor Who: Why Van Gogh’s Krafayis Was Important

The Krafayis is seen to be an important motif in the season 5 Doctor Who episode, « Vincent and The Doctor ». This episode sees Vincent troubled by visions of a deadly alien that the Doctor soon identifies as a Krafayis, a reptilian species of intergalactic predators; it has since become famous for its emotional portrayal of the troubled painter, most specifically in its final scene as Van Gogh travels to the future and witnesses the longstanding impact of his works.

The Eleventh Doctor’s kindness was his best characteristic, and his encounters with Van Gogh really promote this aspect of his personality. It’s an extremely wholesome and thought-provoking story, and although it touches on some dark themes that Doctor Who hadn’t really tackled before, it does so with a helping of optimism and positivity that makes it all much more accessible. It’s one of the show’s best standalone episodes, and the Krafayis plays a huge role in understanding exactly what it’s trying to say about Van Gogh’s troubled mind and the way he influenced his own legacy.

The Krafayis Was A Metaphor For Van Gogh’s Depression

Unlike most other monsters on Doctor Who, the Krafayis was a very clear metaphor for Van Gogh’s mental health struggles – particularly his depression and isolation. The alien had been abandoned by its tribe, left alone on a unknown planet and misunderstood by everybody around him. This particular Krafayis was also blind – but the Doctor, Amy, and Vincent mistook his confusion for aggression, ultimately killing him to protect themselves. Tony Curran gave a brilliant Van Gogh performance, perfectly encapsulating just how lost and isolated the painter felt in his everyday life. Much like the Krafayis, he was misunderstood by a harsh world that didn’t see him for who he really was.

This parallel between Van Gogh and the Krafayis is proven by the fact that only Van Gogh can actually see the creature. To the Doctor and Amy, it was completely invisible. This shows that only Van Gogh, a person who suffered from the same chronic sadness and loneliness as the Krafayis, could truly understand and comprehend it. This was also the same reason why Van Gogh struggled to find success during his lifetime – people dismissed his art and struggled to connect with him (which did end up having a great affecting on his mental health and was reflected in his works).

The Impact « Vincent and The Doctor » Had

Since the episode’s release in 2010, “Vincent and the Doctor” has gone down as one of Doctor Who’s best episodes ever. Not only did it feature all the excitement and action, but it also presented those young audiences with a very mature story. With Van Gogh’s story, the writers decided to raise awareness to the stigmas around mental health and to teach young fans to treat everyone with kindness, especially when they were struggling.

The episode was written by acclaimed screenwriter Richard Curtis, who previously worked on movies such as Love Actually and About Time. He brings the same touching sentimentality to “Vincent and the Doctor”, injecting the episode with his signature charm and romanticism about life. It’s the perfect episode to introduce new fans to Doctor Who, as it represents everything the show does right – intense storytelling with mature themes and well-written characters. Curtis confirmed on an episode of Doctor Who Confidential that he wanted to do something special with this episode, diverting from the traditional storytelling of the show and bringing real humanity and tragedy to Doctor Who.