Tag Archives: Donna Noble

Doctor Who 4:13 (Spoilers-R-Us)

Journey’s End

Journey’s End indeed, this season finale being RTD’s swan song on the ongoing series, and what a contribution this man has made, even just this week. The amount of media interest and fan speculation has dwarfed even that of series 1. And certain theories from last week were entirely correct, if a little out of sequence. Ten splits the regeneration energy off into the hand, refusing to regenerate himself. Fully reunited with his companions he asks Rose what’s really going on because her world is running ahead of this one – she’s seen the future. She remembers the stars going out, but far more important is she acknowledges that all the timelines converge somehow in Donna, and the surprises continue when the Daleks try to destroy the Tardis – not only does Donna manage to syphon off the regeneration energy, but she causes a second Ten to emerge from the hand. So far so figured out – the Darkness involves the stars going out, but who is Donna really and what’s to become of Ten and his alternate? For that matter why did the Tardis door close itself on Donna when Davros tried to destroy it?

Martha reveals the Osterhagen Key as a doomsday device, and Sarah Jane reveals her own – a warpstar, which can destroy the Crucible world engine. And they need to, because Davros’ Crucible, his world engine, powers a reality bomb, which he plans to use to destroy everything, starting with the stars. It looks like he’ll succeed too, with the companions all transmatted into the Crucible before they can detonate their weapons. And another theme is formally addressed here too, with Davros noting that the Doctor fashions ordinary people into weapons – Rose into Bad Wolf, Jack into an immortal, but Donna into…what? With all the companions and Ten and his alternate trapped and reality’s time running short, she reveals her place in Dalek Caan’s prophecy – part of the threefold man – the Doctor himself. In manipulating the regeneration energy she took on yet another aspect of Ten (his mind) and defeats Davros. Dalek Caan was indeed mad, but his prophecy all along was to destroy the Dalek race once and for all. No more for Steven Moffat to play with there – RTD too is done.

The Crucible is destroyed, the planets are restored, as is the Earth. Sarah Jane leaves back to her own spin-off for good. Jack leaves back for Torchwood, as does Martha, and it appears Mikey too. And this is where the episode falls flat on its face in agony. Rose, Jackie and Ten II go to Rose’s parallel world. And with Ten II physically human, with his human limitations, such as a finite lifespan – he offers everything Rose ever needed from Ten but he could never provide. Rose could use her ‘dimension cannon’ to continue leaping between universes, but Ten explains Ten II needs her to evolve him to the extent that she’s already evolved him – from angry, battle-weary Nine to the rounded character of now. And when Ten II tells her he loves her, she like a sap kisses him, acknowledging that he is in every other respect a precise copy of Ten, and they are left to live out their lives happily in the alternate reality. Rose and her family appear to leave once and for all, not complicating matters for Stephen Moffat either.

And then there’s Donna. The aspect of the Doctor she absorbed is killing her and he has to remove it. But to do that he must expunge her memories of their ever having met. The strange heartbeat we hear had been explained – that was Ten II – he admitted it – but no explanation is offered for how the timelines converged around her. Was it fate? We still don’t even know the true purpose of the attack on her in ‘Turn Left‘. Donna was (remains?) independently powerful since birth, and we are shown key sequences with the ring she’s wearing looming large – most importantly when she absorbs the Doctor’s essence. And was it just me or did it flicker at the very end? It’s an awfully big ring, and a woman lifted an awfully big ring from the Master’s corpse in ‘Last of the Time Lords‘ – a ring which still hasn’t been accounted for.

We know what Donna’s ‘loss’ was destined to be, as well as what she was destined to become, but it was also said outright that she already was ‘something new’. I’m convinced Donna and the Master are still in play, presumably fodder for RTD’s true final word on Who. Irritating as hell, but the endings were clumsy as anything too. Rose settles for a xerox who really isn’t anything like the original, and she still hasn’t got over her feelings? Gah. How convenient, and how demeaning of a character who’s shown so much potential. And yet again Jack’s role is perfunctory. I’m not sure why Barrowman’s still bothering. The edge the character had at the outset made him interesting – whilst he is pretty and engaging, he’s now far from interesting. The theme of time going the way it’s supposed to has run through this series, but it’s far from clear whether it’s complete. Some component subplots seem (as with ‘Bad Wolf’ in series 1) to have been ham fistedly delivered – why Rose didn’t just reveal herself to the Doctor instead of Donna in ‘Partners in Crime‘ remains confused – did she just know (as in ‘Turn Left’) the way things were meant to be? Being in the future in the alternate universe wouldn’t explain that. Or was her last minute insertion into that episode an editorial decision (again as with ‘Bad Wolf’) to catch the die hards off guard, and generate attention for the series? I have to assume the latter, given that there’s no way Rose can reasonably be used again under RTD’s stewardship.

The acting this episode was good where it mattered. Tennant shone as Ten and Ten II (whose ending wasn’t his fault), and Tate excelled as ever, although Freema Agyeman seems to have taken a step backward since series 3. I liked Ten II imprinting himself on Donna – apparently it was scripted that Ten spoke Estuary English instead of Scottish because he imprinted himself on Rose (the first being he encountered post-regeneration), and this is a nice final acknowledgment of that talent. I’m also glad Gallifrey wasn’t one of the stolen planets, and although I’m appalled at the (apparent) final word on Rose, I’m unsurprised that ‘Bad Wolf’ really was just two words, the power of which Rose has established and exploited before. But even there, what was it about Donna’s invoking the words (Rose pointedly not doing so) which caused such a powerful reaction by the Tardis? I wish RTD weren’t channelling Chris Claremont quite so well – sometimes long-term plotlines need to end definitively. Rose’s did, but Donna’s didn’t, nor has the Master’s, nor has this episode’s or even this series’.

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Doctor Who 4:12 (Spoilerama)

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The Stolen Earth

So Ten is killed by the Daleks eh? I guessed as much.

The Earth is stolen by Davros and transported into the Medusa Cascade along with 26 other planets, which the Doctor discovers operate as an engine when aligned correctly, when he visits the Shadow Proclamation for assistance in finding the Earth. The purpose of the engine isn’t revealed, nor is the reason for retaining the severed hand, and yes, I noticed that Donna still has something on her back (how much of this is really happening?). In revealing his presence to the Doctor, Davros calls himself Lord and Creator of ‘The Darkness’, which remains unidentified (and just how does Rose know about it?), whilst his Daleks invade the Earth. Davros is allied with Dalek Caan, who escaped New York in ‘Evolution of the Daleks‘ through a second temporal shift, except this one went right into the Time War itself, and he saved Davros. The Doctor says that’s impossible because the Time War is ‘time locked’ (the talent for seeing things as they are, should be and will be from ‘The Fires of Pompeii‘), except Caan has succeeded in breaking the unbreakable rules, and it’s driven him mad. Davros cloned the new Dalek race from himself, and it’s subjugating mankind.

Mankind in turn hasn’t been without help. Captain Jack and Torchwood, Sarah Jane and Luke and Martha and UNIT all work to find the Doctor, without whom they and the Earth are lost. Helpless, they’re contacted by Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister (they all know who she is), who has developed a sentient technology to contact the Doctors’s former companions simultaneously. She appears to pay with her life, but she succeeds in reaching them all. All but Rose – why? Rose meanwhile is walking around London with a really big gun, and rescues Donna’s mother and grandfather. Using Harriet Jones’ technology, they manage (all but Rose) to contact the Doctor who has also been trapped in the Medusa Cascade. They all converge on the arriving Tardis, and Rose gets there first. And in his rush to meet his lost love, Ten is killed by a Dalek. Regeneration time, but what will be the outcome?

A patchy episode, trying to juggle far to many ideas at the same time, although the formal crossovers with the spin-off series are very welcome, if a bit ham-fistedly written (a typical RTD failing). The big deux ex machina is a bit painful – Harriet Jones’ motivation is sound, but her timing is awfully convenient, and getting the technology from Mr Copper’s foundation (he of ‘Voyage of the Damned‘) is similarly awkward. Also the reused locations are an eyesore – the Shadow Proclamation in the same location as the finale of Torchwood’s ‘Dead Man Walking‘ and UNIT’s New York branch in one of the Adipose Industry’s offices from ‘Partners in Crime‘). But these are small quibbles, and I was genuinely moved by the Doctor and Rose’s brief reunion. There seems to be no way out of Gwen and Ianto dying. There seems to be no way out of Sarah Jane dying too, and there appears to be no way out of Ten regenerating into Eleven, or is there? What is ‘the Crucible’? What is the ‘Osterhagen key’? What is the purpose of the Doctor’s severed hand? What is ‘Bad Wolf’ really all about, and what’s the world engine really for? If Caan was able to re-enter the Time War, what’s to stop another player following suit? And who is Donna really? Very little revealed this week, and I don’t believe for a second that most of what we see is what is really happening. Something’s still on her back after all…

I’m going to guess: Ten’s regeneration goes wrong and causes the severed hand to generate a second Ten (and ‘prime’ Ten will regenerate as himself, which ‘The Doctor’s Daughter‘ has shown he can do), whatever’s on Donna’s back might still be an entity feeding off altered timelines – last week’s conclusion might have been both a red herring and a hint, which could make this the parallel reality which many have theorised since ‘Rose‘. Maybe she just has the Master’s ring. One player – Rose? Donna? Maybe one of the two Tens looks like they’ll go back in time and end the Time War properly. Given the constant tragedy affecting Ten and Rose, I’m guessing Rose will go back and undo even her’s and Nine’s first meeting, by restoring the timeline into how it should have been (hence the possible entity still on Donna’s back having something to feed off now ). Gallifrey will be restored, as will the other companions (Jack no longer immortal?), but the Bad Wolf will end up heroically giving Ten back what he needs even more desperately than her. Who’s been systematically blocking her though, and why?

Doctor Who 4:11 (BIG Spoilers)

Turn Left

OH MY GOD

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BAD WOLF. What a blindingly timed broadside. BAD WOLF! Rose Tyler is back and she knows what BAD WOLF is really about! After all this time RTD is going to retcon his failure of series 1 and tie everything together. The theories are going to be true – nothing that we’ve seen is what we’ve thought it was, and clearly not Donna.

The Doctor and Donna are enjoying an interplanetary holiday, when Donna chances upon a fortune teller. She gives in to the hard sell but is caught by an ambush. The attacker transmutes history by preventing the Doctor’s Christmas Special first meeting with Donna. A beetle attached to her back (which she can’t see) makes it happen, and it leads immediately to the Doctor’s death. With no Doctor, Martha dies in the events surrounding ‘Smith and Jones‘, London dies when the Titanic crashes into it, Sarah Jane dies, as does Torchwood. But as England and Earth head towards dictatorship and disaster, they’re watched over by Rose Tyler for reasons she refuses to reveal to Donna, whom she visits and revisits. Eventually she reveals all, well almost all, and Donna realises what’s been done to her, but Rose also reveals the power reading from the beetle is nothing compared with the power coming from Donna; she’s far more than she appears to be. But to restore the prime reality she has to go back in time and rectify the minute change which led to the change in history, and restore the Doctor. Only thing is she has to sacrifice herself in the process, and whilst Rose never reveals her identity to her (or UNIT which she commands), she whispers two words as a message to the Doctor. And when reality is fixed she reveals them: BAD WOLF! And then the repeated meme of series 1 returns, visible everywhere and completely out of control. The Tardis responds with the cloister bell, showing the end of reality itself is at hand. To be continued…

A masterstroke of timing. The big reveal of ‘Parting of the Ways‘ never adequately explained Bad Wolf. With Rose warning of the oncoming Darkness, we now have an explanation of what happened when Gwyneth saw ‘The Darkness, the Big Bad Wolf’ in Rose’s mind. In ‘The Fires of Pompeii‘, when Donna’s mind was read, it was clearly showing the future – the same appears now to have happened with Rose in series 1. It also means that when the Doctor’s mind was read in Pompeii, it too was showing the future, so the future involves the Medusa Cascade. Now how does the Doctor’s sealing the time rift at the Medusa Casdade fit with what might yet come? Who/what is the Darkness and who/what was Bad Wolf all along? For that matter who took the Master’s signet ring and why?

Next week we have every single companion returning, we have a fully-fledged Torchwood crossover, we have Rose Tyler with a very big gun, and we can only hope that Davros (Bad Wolf?) makes his presence felt. He appears to have been manipulating events since before series 1, so it’s about time. The implication is that we needed a Little Red Riding Hood after all to trigger Bad Wolf into action. And the current companion with huge independent power she isn’t even aware of has red hair. Coincidence? Not this time. RTD’s finale is beautifully timed, and we can only hope that the expectations he’s set up this time can finally be adequately met. What a way to bow out!

Doctor Who 4:10 (Spoilers)

Midnight

For an episode which started out so painfully camp, it sure improved in a hurry. An episode grounded in paranoia and fear, questioning human nature, albeit a little clumsily. On the planet Midnight the Doctor rides a space truck to observe a phenomenon never seen before. But it’s ambushed by a life form never encountered before, and although noone knows whether it’s good, bad or something else, the basest of human instincts take hold. The Doctor is trusted by noone and his argument for not throwing the possessed passenger out to sure destruction is easily defeated; it only takes the unexpected heroism of the least of them to save him. The speed at which normality breaks down is probably quite a good and unnerving morale to the story. The question of course which is never answered though, other than what this life form was, is why Rose Tyler was trying to shout at him through the video monitor again. Again the message doesn’t quite get through – why not? And why does the Doctor bring the Medusa Cascade up again?

Great issues – science we know against science we don’t know, what value is intelligence when fear is paramount? It didn’t seem to move series 4 on terribly far, although it reinforced for the first time in some time just how vital a companion is for the Doctor. There’s no companion, and without someone to back him up (for almost the first time) noone believes him. Where his arrogance is often goofy, amusing or charismatic, here he’s arrogant and patronising; there’s no balance. I wonder where that theme will go in the next three weeks. Rose is back next week, the Doctor dies next week, and whatever’s on Donna’s back is revealed.

RTD is leaving the franchise of course, and with his influence now time limited, it was a great last minute treat to have Jethro. The pretty boy in episode 2 was nice, but he was nothing compared with Colin Morgan. Thank you RTD, despite your many (although not numerous) failings, the balancing of sexual orientations in this franchise, long the desire (never realised) of Gene Roddenberry has been a triumph for this sci fi legend. May Steven Moffat doff his hat accordingly once in awhile in 2010! 😉

Doctor Who 4:9 (Spoilers)

Forest of the Dead

This really is about as good as it can get. TV doesn’t get better, Who doesn’t get better, and I can’t really imagine Moffat doing any better. Where RTD has often coasted the series, Moffat gives it an almighty kick, laying perhaps some groundwork for his 2010 run as executive producer and lead writer for the franchise. The Vashta Nerada are still killing members of Professor River Song’s team, and Donna appears to have been absorbed into the Library’s mainframe. She’s protected by Colin Salmon’s Doctor Moon, but who is Moon and who is the little girl he’s protecting? And who is River Song really?

The answers are both sad and shocking. Song isn’t just a companion to one of his future incarnations, she knows his real name. And this is where Moffat raises his game to the sublime, again playing ingeniously with the Doctor’s relationships, and with his position relative to people he knows throughout time. There’s a reason she has his future sonic screwdriver, there’s a reason she knows his name. We learn one but can only infer the other. We also learn that Moon is a virus protection system, protecting ‘Cal’, who literally saved the 4022 library users into the hard drive via teleport when the Vashta Nerada attacked 100 years earlier. And ‘Cal’ is the real consciousness of a real girl, who Song’s team are there to protect, overloaded as she was by the thousands of unexpected other consciousnesses.

Song sacrifices herself to save ‘Cal’, and her conclusion is as intelligent as it is bittersweet. It’s an episode of tragedy and mystery, leaving more questions unanswered than answered. Moffat both nods to his previous work on the franchise, whilst setting vital future continuity up, and moving the Doctor’s character dramatically forwards. This wasn’t an episode for kids, it was about as adult as you can get, and every single actor rose to the occasion. We’ve had episodes which have hurt the Doctor, upset him, forced his hand even, but only once before has he been caught completely by surprise. But where RTD dropped the ball last year with the Master, River Song here is dealt with brilliantly, with enjoyably spoiler-wary caution, high drama and great sensitivity. 2010 is going to be such a wonderful year, whether Moffat starts out with Tennant or not, although the latter’s bravura performance here surely begs a partnership of even a short duration. There really has been no better partnership for Doctor Who than Tennant/Moffat and my fingers remain tightly crossed for a good announcement soon to reflect that.

The Doctor Who Confidential episode which followed discussed the repeated meme of the Doctor’s name, and went back to episode 2. They reminded us that the Doctor’s real name had a connection with the Medusa Cascade, where he sealed a time rift. Moffat himself believes there’s an awful secret bound in the Doctor’s name, which is the reason he can’t reveal it, so why would he to River Song? And what is the real importance of the Medusa Cascade to the Doctor?

And in the trailer for the second half of the series, it appears the other repeated meme of disappearing planets is also important, because ‘the darkness is coming’ and Rose knows it. But what is the darkness, and is it connected at long last to ‘the darkness’ Gwyneth saw in Rose’s mind in ‘The Unquiet Dead‘? If so does that mean the Big Bad Wolf is finally upon us? Would it be Davros?

Doctor Who 4:8 (Spoilers)

Silence in the Library

And this is the reason why Steven Moffat is going to kick so very much ass as Doctor Who executive producer and lead writer in 2010. The Doctor and Donna arrive at the Library, a planet comprised entirely of books and all the knowledge of the universe, having been drawn there by an anonymous message on the psychic paper. They arrive to find the planet devoid of people – 4022 have been ‘saved’ but noone is there, not even a body. And the automated system has an equally cryptic message warning of ‘the shadows’…

Enter Professor River Song and her team of archaeologists, also attempting to solve the mystery of the empty Library. Donna gets a rude surprise when she turns out to be a future companion, the Doctor is taken aback to find out she knows his future history (and Donna’s not in it), and then the shadows advance, devouring the Professor’s team…and what happens to Donna?

There’s nothing weak in any way about this episode. We have the semi-theatrical delivery of The Girl in the Fireplace, the mad science fiction of Blink, the good humour and new continuity of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. And Alex Kingston shines as the Doctor’s apparently future companion, but who is she really? Is any of this real, when we are also shown the little girl who might be at the heart of the Library’s systems, and her psychologist Colin Salmon. Is this planet, this reality even all a figment of her imagination or is her consciousness the root cause of the Vashta Nerada infestation? It’s great TV, forcing you to pay attention and use your own mind. Where the Sontaran episodes were less demanding than I would have liked, this is semi-adult TV, and the acting rises to the occasion. Whilst Tate is as good as she’s been throughout the series, Tennant is quite outstanding. Considering he seems to raise his game when scripted by Moffat, he’d really better stay around when RTD leaves…

Doctor Who 4:7 (Spoilers)

The Unicorn and the Wasp

What a thoroughly enjoyable one-off! No evidence of Rose this week, nor of any grander conspiracy in motion, but that really didn’t matter. The Doctor and Donna arrive in England, 1926, at a dinner party attended by Agatha Christie, and there’s a murder! Whodunit?! It couldn’t be Professor Peach – he was murdered with lead piping in the library! Was it the fabulous Lady Felicity Kendall? Was it her son or his footboy lover? Was it…the famous jewel thief The Unicorn? And will Donna end up with copyright for the books Christie hasn’t written yet?

Perfect timing – a thoroughly old school, old fashioned murder mystery, with high campery and fantastic, pitch-perfect acting. Tennant shines in particular, clearly having a ball trying to out ham Tate. It’s wonderful that in this series they’re trying to show just how alien he is – this time displaying an amusing conceit in getting out of being poisoned. And taking a week out just to have a relaxed, enjoyable romp really strengthened this series in contrast to series 3. Having Felicity Kendall as almost the only straight character (in both senses) was almost as much fun as the gay suggestivity. I can’t think of anything I didn’t love – from Tennant’s Ustinov-esque unveiling of the murderer, to the plot – using the real mystery of lost time, which was never accounted for by the real Agatha Christie.

No doubt when the series resumes post-Eurovision interruption, we’ll get the conspiracy resumed in some manner, although again it won’t matter – the next two episodes are written by Steven Moffat (he of ‘Blink‘ fame), guaranteeing perhaps the best episodes of the series. I can’t wait.