NNAAAAHHHH!! Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called midnight? What could possibly go wrong?
Proof the Doctor has ZERO genre savviness. And generally really really bad sense of history. You would think being 900 years old for the last 100 years would teach him to everything will always go wrong.
My head!canon tells me that Ten did know something could/would go wrong. He’s genre savvy; he knew something would go wrong. Things always go wrong. He just expected to be the hero in all of it. I adore David Tennant to pieces and the Tenth Doctor was a fun Doctor, but I always got the feeling that Ten was… arrogant. Cocky. He was smug when he was with Rose (and that cost them both), a total dick towards Martha and took her for granted (who got out because she realised she deserved better) - Donna was the one who wouldn’t put up with his nonsense. But I think in this episode, he expected, maybe even wanted, something to go wrong. So he could play the hero and smugly show off. Waltz back to Donna afterwards with a big grin and tell her all about how he did X by saying/doing Y.
Except he miscalculated severely this time. His miscalculated the people/strangers he was with, the situation, the monster, and how he handled it. He learned from it, though - in Planet of the Dead, where he was trapped on a bus in the middle of a desert on a different planet. He didn’t act cocky and arrogant and didn’t parade around with “the smartest voice here” and “Because I’m clever!”.
I think the Doctor went in search of some trouble in Midnight. I think he expected to be able to run and laugh the way he always does - outrunning and outwitting the monster, then walking away happy and proud that he’d saved another day. But it backfired on him. How do you outrun a monster when you’re trapped in very close quarters in the middle of nowhere and literally can’t run anywhere? How do you outwit a monster that has your voice? How do you reason with scared, paranoid people who are looking for someone to blame? (Hint: you don’t spout of things like “Because I’m clever!”.)
Also that episode scared the fuck out of me and it’s one of my favourite episodes. (Mind, I’ve never watched it more than once.)
First: deliciously put description.
Second: As I am watching this, I can safely say that the Doctor (Even just as 10) is not acting like he does when he expects something, or anything, to happen. This isn’t one of the “Tardis decided to bring us here” events. When the train stops, he has a face of bewildered annoyance. 10 is, as most doctors, very easy to read, either as an audience perspective or as a in world observance. When he goes to the cockpit, he lets the blatant lies he is being told to go in stride, and then, finally, his curiosity gets the better of him (The ever present thirst for knowledge) when they look outside. But then the mechanic spots something, and the Doctor is back in his thinking mode, a war face on. When the people start to panic before the knocking starts, it is even more evident, he is not amused by something disrupting his plans.
I don’t believe that for one instance the Doctor expected anything on this trip. Contrast how he reacted to the beginning of Midnight, to how he reacted on The Doctor’s Daughter (Tardis directed event), and The Unicorn and the Wasp (Goes there for the specific adventure to impress Donna). Add to this that this is right after the Silence in the Library, what with all that happened and he learned about his future, Midnight was intended to be a vacation for the Doctor. All he expected was to look at some pretty crystals.
As for Planet of the Dead, it was just another step in the drowned sorrows of 10. All the pain from the episodes before, finding and losing Rose/Donna/Jenny/River, all those lives lost, the Odd foretelling his semi-death, facing his death in the guise of the ballon doctor, reflecting on his past lives, all this bared down on the Doctor, essentially presenting what is a clinical Depression. He was calmer and subtle in planet of the dead because of the depression, his knowing that he would die soon, and not having a companion.
Via event horizon