Tag Archives: Freema Agyeman

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’.


Doctor Who 4:12 (Spoilerama)


























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 4:6 (Spoilers)

The Doctor’s Daughter

As when it first visited the Cybermen’s dimension, the Tardis is hi-jacked, bringing Donna, Martha and the Doctor to a future of an unending battle between humankind and the Hath. It’s a world where new warriors are cloned instantaneously from a single ‘parent’ and the Doctor is forcibly catalogued, forcibly siring a daughter (Georgia Moffett). As the troupe is separated in an initial battle with the Hath from Martha who goes with the Hath, they find what they expected the war to be isn’t how it turns out. 

On the surface the episode is a horrible retread, but under the surface there are plenty of things going on. In the middle of yet another total war, the Doctor a) doesn’t question how he is drawn into it and comes up with an easy and totally implausible conclusion and b) accepts without enough evidence that his family is dead, that it was his fault and that he should withdraw ever further from people as a result and c) sits in the middle of a conflict distorted by Chinese whispers – it isn’t what it appears to be. We still don’t have an explanation for the last time the Tardis was forced into a conflict without the Doctor’s consent, and it can’t be a coincidence that it’s happening again as Rose returns. Indeed the first series’ final outcome was a result of the Dalek Emperor’s manipulations – the Earth he tried to take over was compliant because of the Doctor’s intervention 100 years earlier. Are we watching the Doctor still being used (perhaps in a scheme to engineer the wishes of others?

The acting is for the most part adequate. With Tennant you’ve seen this all before, as indeed with Agyeman, whose perfunctory appearance this episode only proves her replacement by Tate was a wise move, and it’s Tate as the Doctor’s moral compass who shines once again. Joe Dempsie from ‘Skins’ shows that life after success in a cult series isn’t necessarily that easy, but it’s Moffett who’s interesting. As the real daughter of a previous Doctor (Peter Davison) she’s great ironic casting for the Tenth Doctor’s daughter. As their relationship develops from her being an irritating side effect of a conflict he didn’t ask for, to his genuine progeny, the ample chemistry between them shines. It shouldn’t be surprising, she did after all audition for Rose Tyler in 2005. The conflicts about an instant daughter’s legitimacy as a fighter (when the Doctor’s pacifism was itself balanced out in the Time War), as a Time Lord (when she hasn’t experienced a ‘suffering’ he himself can’t substantiate) and a human (when her thoughts and body are just as substantial as Donnas) are very interesting. What’s genuinely confusing though is her resurrection – a side-effect of the terraforming, a distorted regeneration, or did that first breath look an awful lot like residual time vortex energy? Did Rose bring her back as an accident of Parting of the Ways or by design now? It’s an important question when the terraforming technology – the Breath of Life – came from a ‘female creator’. 

With a newly created Time Lord in the mix, there is clearly a new strand heading into the back half of the series. We’ve had a huge implication through this allegorical episode that the Doctor’s involvement in the Time War wasn’t quite what he thought it was, that its disastrous result might not be true after all and that he’s a pawn in a much grander scheme. We have the wall between dimensions falling for an unknown reason, planets disappearing, the rift at the Medusa Cascade being rather important, different alien groups trying to use Earth as a breeding ground, and Donna fulfilling a potentially sinister role. And were Jenny’s (Moffett), Rose’s and Captain Jack’s immortalities all the results of grander manipulation of the Doctor and his assistants? It’s not like the Time Lords have form for that or anything…

Doctor Who 4:5 (Spoilers)

The Poison Sky

Now that was a lot better. The Sontaran Stratagem continues, as it becomes clear that they’re not out to pollute the Earth or destroy it, only turn it into a breeding ground for more Sontaran clones. The Martha clone sets out to confound the Doctor at every turn, Donna is kidnapped within the Tardis and has to escape the Sontaran mothership, with the Doctor stranded on the planet below, and why is Rose trying to contact the Tardis? For that matter why isn’t she successful?

The sloppy storytelling from last week is mostly fixed, with much better pacing, some excellent acting all around, and even Christopher Ryan’s scenes are (*ahem*) shorter, giving General Staal an edge which he simply didn’t have in the first part. The tragic denouement, with Ryan Sampson’s Luke Rattigan giving his life to save the Doctor, was an unexpected but tidy twist, given that the Doctor had no way out in his plan to destroy the Sontarans. And the Doctor’s reveal that he knew about the Martha clone was a nice piece of storytelling, with us finding out yet more of his alien nature – he could detect the clone by smell. But it’s Tate’s well written character who again steals the show – how she’s going to deal with the impending formal return of Rose is anyone’s guess. Or is that vice versa?

Rose herself is trying to break through again from ‘Pete’s Universe’. But why? If the wall between dimensions is now almost porous, shouldn’t we by now be detecting the impact? Or is it going on around us and we’re just not seeing it? Is the dimensional barrier falling through accident or design and either way what is it allowing to happen which we are being told about? This episode is the second this series to try to use Earth as an alien breeding ground. What is going on in the bigger picture and who just stole the Tardis with everyone in it?

Doctor Who 4:4 (Spoilers)

The Sontaran Stratagem

‘Is that what you did to her, turned her into a soldier?’

What a great question to build the episode on, and what a shame the episode never really worked. It’s not to say that there weren’t great moments, and some superb ideas, even a good script. But the direction was lousy – if they were trying to evoke the spirit of Classic Pertwee Who it was a worthy idea but came across forced. Martha Jones returns to the core Who show, bringing the Doctor back to work with UNIT for the first time since his fourth (Tom Baker) incarnation. It isn’t an easy return – Martha is working for Homeworld Security, although her point in staying behind to work for such a martial organisation (as the quintessential insider) is rather cute. And she needs the Doctor – the Sontarans are back for the first time since their battle with the Third (Jon Pertwee) Doctor, and plotting world domination through cutting the carbon emissions in cars. Can the Doctor, Martha and Donna work together to defeat them in time? And why is child genius Luke Rattigan any more important than just the inventor of the emission-cutting system?

The acting is quite wonderful – Agyeman showing the potential she recently displayed in Torchwood, and the episode works very well as a quasi-sequel to the sublime School Reunion. Having Agyeman and Tate trying to out-professional one another as sequential Assistants was a lovely touch which humanised both characters, whilst wrong-footing Tennant’s wholly assured turn as the Tenth Doctor (now freely referring his Third and Fourth incarnations). And again it’s Tate’s character who questions the humanity of the Doctor’s actions, giving voice to the questionable outcomes of his interventions with a depth, innocence, yet sincerity which even Billie Piper didn’t quite have. Tate really shines, effortlessly balancing her trademark humour with this unexpected dramatic flair. It’s a real shame that she’s only destined to be with the series for one season, and it makes you wonder what her true purpose in series 4 is. Where the episode falls apart is with the Sontarans. The approach is so cartoony as to undermine all the strengths the cast bring to the episode, and it’s surprising that an actor as experienced as Christopher Ryan should have aimed his performance so over-the-top. It’s true that each series seems to have episodes aimed at the younger audience, but to mix such a mature approach to the core cast with such a silly villain was awful. And why on earth didn’t Bernard Cribbins just smash the car window?

Don’t think I didn’t catch the Medusa Cascade reference. Given that it’s now getting repeated, and we’ve been told by a third party that the Doctor sealed the rift there, it makes you wonder why it’s a repeated meme – is Rose’s return connected? It’s always bugged me – the Doctor’s involvement in the Time War happened off camera before Series 1 – how much of what we’ve been told is actually true?

Torchwood 2:9 (Spoilers)

Something Borrowed

Gwen’s getting married, but Gwen is pregnant. And she wasn’t the night before. Bitten by a shape shifting carnivore, her changed circumstances change all the relationships around her, particularly with Rhys. And then the real mother comes after Gwen, who insists on no delay to the wedding. All the makings of a fine melodrama!

Nerys Hughes in Torchwood

A nice resumption of a lightness of touch in the direction, unlike last week’s borefest, although the editing remains questionable and the episode was a tad flimsy. Great idea (maybe too many ideas for one episode), lousy monster, with an overly drawn out central storyline. Where there needed to be conflict between Jack, Gwen and Rhys to counterbalance the screwball comedy, there was only screwball comedy with painfully Welsh accents (although Nerys Hughes did make it bearable). It may have been back to the fun of the top half of the series, but it suffered from series 1’s problem of an absence of strong character moments. Where a serious moment was needed, we got only asides or wisecracks, and only hints about more important character issues. Jack and Rhys do save the day together, so things do nearly come together at the end, but it leaves Jack far from happy, and again he’s kept on the fringes with his introspection. And will someone please treat Ianto properly? Series 2 is doing itself a serious disservice by ignoring this disfunctional but extremely good looking couple, no doubt because of the family-friendly edit later in the week. It’s nice that Gwen and Rhys are driving the show consistently this year, but I really want to know more about and see more of Jack, and Ianto in particular.

Torchwood 2:8 (Spoilers)

A Day in the Death

‘Like Jesus but without the beard’. Nice. Martha supplants Owen, who can’t come to terms with being dead yet alive, and whom Jack doesn’t trust for…being like him?! Not quite – he can’t die but he can break. Not needing even to eat, Owen starts to disconnect from everyone and everything. He has his uses as a stealth operative, having no body heat or heart beat, but can he be trusted and will this all end in tears? The framing storyline of him with a suicidal woman atop the Cardiff car park seems to suggest so…

The acting’s as strong as it’s been throughout series 2 so far. Burn Gorman does far better than he did last year in this showcase episode, showing very nicely the contradictions of what Owen’s going through and what his new status quo ends up as. With the rate she too is improving, departing Freema Agyeman might just steal the show when she returns to Doctor Who in a couple of months. But the script doesn’t quite match up with the strength of the plot – Gorman’s chat with a pontificating Richard Briers, both comparing their ideas about death, was worthy acting but a boring segment of a show which needed to take off. The framing sequence too had huge potential to start with, but ended up sappy beyond belief. It wasn’t a bad episode, it was just tedious. Couldn’t Owen’s new status quo have been more interesting and been developed with any excitement? A wasted opportunity.