Doctor Who: Journey's End

Doctor: 'Now then, where were we?'

The faces on Donna, Jack and Rose following the Doctor's aborted regeneration were hilarious. All that tension and upset, dissipated by the Doctor directing the excess regeneration energy into his severed hand, and reverting back to his usual, chirpy self. Not the best way of resolving the cliffhanger, but to be fair, barring an actual regeneration, there was no credible way out. They did their best, bless 'em—but there was a slight whiff of cop-out in the air.

I didn't enjoy this second instalment as much as the first. Martha threatening to blow up the world seemed completely out of character, and I know I've said it before, but I don't like UNIT Martha. She's about as bad-ass as an absolutely glorious looking pair of buttocks. I just wish the writers would play to the actors' strengths more. They'll have Jackie turning into an axe-wielding, homicidal maniac next. And speaking of Jackie, did she really need to be in the story? They even managed to drag Mickey into proceedings—another completely unnecessary character, with seemingly little to do, there purely for the spectacle. And K9 makes three.

I wasn't sure what to make of Dalek Caan. He was like a demented pink octopus, spouting out prophecy and cackling insanely, and his crisis of conscience seemed completely incongruous with the Dalek ethos. Davros, however, was brilliant. Julian Bleach was pure class as the ex-Emperor of the Daleks. His mental tirade about destroying reality was chilling, and his expose of the Doctor, masterful. Martha was prepared to destroy the earth to deny the Daleks their victory, and Jack and Co. were prepared to open a warp star to destroy Davros—destroying themselves in the process. Is this really the Doctor's legacy? An entourage of murderers, trained to do his bidding?

The montage of the dead was surprisingly touching. There was Jabe, Lynda, Mr Skinner, Ursula, Bridget Sinclair, The Face of Boe, Astrid, Jenny, Luke, River Song, Chantho... unnamed hostess chick. Have there really been that many? So what was Davros' point? That the Doctor was blind to his own evil deeds? That the unerring devotion of his companions made them oblivious to the fact that they were being used? That, in the final analysis, the Doctor was no better than the Daleks? Of course, the difference is, the Doctor's not in it for the glory. He's not interested in dominating lesser species and wiping out worlds for personal gain—his companions are there voluntarily, not by coercion. Still, Davros' taunts definitely hit a nerve.

I have to say, I wasn't too jazzed with the Doctor Donna rescue. After the darkness of the Doctor/Davros confrontation, the humour seemed misplaced. And to see the Daleks so utterly out of control, well, whatever dignity they've managed to retain after four seasons of having their arses kicked must surely now be gone. And having Donna controlling the Daleks from some inexplicably placed control panel, as if rattling out a letter on a typewriter, bordered on the ludicrous. Rest the Daleks for a season or two, guys. Please! You're killing me here.

Another thing which irked me was the 'one will still die' prophecy. Donna didn't die. Back in season two we were subjected to a similarly gloomy prophecy from the Beast stating that Rose would die in battle. She didn't. At least not in actuality. This rather loose prophecy fulfilment is becoming something of an annoyance. It sets the viewer up for something that never actually happens, or that happens in such a way that you can't help but feel cheated. I know she theoretically died (he says, waggling his fingers to emphasise the air quotes), but if language is to mean anything at all, and if we're to believe anything the writers say in future, they're going to have to play fairer than this.

There was also something horrendously wrong about the Doctor/Rose resolve. In the end Rose didn't get the Doctor, she got a life-sized replica—which was just plain creepy. I'm not sure how you can spend four years developing the relationship between two characters, only to have it end as unsatisfactorily as this. Why on earth would Rose settle for a rage filled lookalike? Simply because he was capable of saying the one thing she most wanted to hear—something that the real Doctor couldn't seem to manage? Logically, it all made sense, but if you actually stop to think about it, it was mental. She had no history with him. The man she loved was the man who was leaving her. Again!

If it hadn't been for the ending, I'd have been mondo cheesed, but Donna's mind-wipe packed an unexpected emotional punch. Donna pleading with the Doctor not to take her life away, really got to me. And to see her returned to her old life again, oblivious of the things she'd done and the things she'd seen, was the final indignity. Poor Donna. Forced back into an existence she'd longed to escape, unknowing that she was once someone else—a better person, a selfless person—the most important woman in all of creation.

Other Thoughts:

—Mickey saying 'just stay where you are, mister' was the worst delivered line since Arnie's 'Don't bullshit me' in Total Recall.

—Another extra long season finale, clocking in at 65 minutes.

—Nice bit of continuity, with the Doctor asking Gwen whether she was related to a Cardiff family. Eve Myles played Gwyneth in the season one episode 'The Unquiet Dead'.

—Davros originally met Sarah Jane in the Tom Baker episode 'Genesis of the Daleks'.

—Loved, loved, loved everyone helping pilot the TARDIS!

Billie says...

As I said in the previous episode review, what I wanted were some cool moments between the Doctor and all of his companions. And you know, that's what I got. Forget the over the top stuff – especially the Earth on a tow rope, and the incredibly overacting Davros and the Daleks. Yes, I could have done without K-9, too. But it still worked for me on an emotional level. The Doctor had all of those companions and friends with him again. And in the end, he was alone.

I didn't dislike Rose getting her very own human Doctor as much as Paul did, especially since I thought the second Doctor was a throwaway character who would die, anyway. It was the ultimate gift, as well as the only way the Doctor and Rose could ever live happily ever after. Maybe a tragic ending would have been more in keeping, but I was okay with it.

I especially loved this as Donna's swan song. She saved the universe not once, but twice. The Doctor told Donna how special she was, and he meant it. He also told her family, and they believed him. Donna finally got her mother's approval. Leaving the Doctor would have killed Donna if she had remembered. It's better this way. Wilfred's goodbye to the Doctor made me cry.

Quotes:

Donna: (to Jack) "You can hug me if you want. (Jack laughs) No, really. You can hug me."

Doctor: "It's been good, though, hasn't it? All of us, all of it. Everything that we did. You were brilliant. You were brilliant. And you were brilliant. Blimey!"

Jack: "Just my luck. I climb through two miles of ventilation shafts chasing life signs on this thing, and who do I find? Mickey Mouse."
Mickey: "You can talk, Captain Cheesecake."
Jack: "Good to see you! And that's beefcake."
Mickey: "And that's enough hugging."

Davros: "It is time we talked, Doctor, after so very long.”
Doctor: "No, no, no, we're not doing the nostalgia tour. I want to know what's happening right here, right now."

Davros: "The man who abhors violence. Never carrying a gun. But this is the truth, Doctor. You take ordinary people and you fashion them into weapons."

Sarah Jane: "So there's three of you?"
Rose: "Three Doctors?"
Jack: "I can't tell you what I'm thinking right now."

Donna: "I was going to be with you forever."

Doctor: "I just want you to know that there are worlds out there safe in the sky because of her. That there are people living in the light and singing songs of Donna Noble a thousand million light years away. They will never forget her, while she can never remember."

Wilfred: "Every night, Doctor, when it gets dark and the stars come out, I'll look up on her behalf. I'll look up at the sky and think of you."
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

9 comments:

Ben said...

Hmmm, I definately think Micky and Jackie were a step too far. They had pretty much no reason to be there. Micky at a push, but definately not Jackie.
The whole Rose build up and she didn't exactly do much, did she? Despite all the companions efforts, it was Donna who saved the day, and rightly so. She's the companion of this series, after all. And Julian Bleach was even more superb in this episode. He's amazing as Davros. If Davros returns, I can see Moffett not having to look far for him.
This episode had its strengths; the Tardis scene with the music is extremly powerful but the Regeneration pay off was not good. Isn't the whole point of it that the Doctor heals himself by changing form? If it can just heal you without change, then what is the need for change? And I personally think leaving Rose as she was at the end of series 2 was a better ending for her. Giving her a Doctor of her own was just.... weird.

Mark Greig said...

Oh, boy. This was pretty bad. I’ll warn everyone now there’s going to be some extensive ranting ahead.

Seems the bigger and more epic Russell T. Davies’ finales get the more corners he inevitably writes himself into. The Doctor-Donna was ludicrous, a cheap way to magically solve everything and get our heroes out of those meddlesome corners. Plus there were so many missed opportunities. I was disappointed that we never got a scene with just Rose and Jack where they could talk about what she did to him. With everything else that was going on there just wasn’t room for a few decent character beats.

I’m still not sure what point Davors was trying to make regarding the Doctor and his companions and I’m not sure Davies’s knows either. Sure Martha’s plan was a little bonkers but Captain Jack and co. were all willing to sacrifice themselves to stop the Daleks and save the universe. What’s wrong with that? It’s something the Doctor wouldn’t hesitate to do and yet Russell wants us to think it’s a bad thing. Huh? More to the point why exactly was it a wrong for Faux-Doctor to kill all the Daleks? Are we supposed to believe that the real Doctor would never do that even though he has done exactly that before. Twice this season in fact. Honestly, there are times I think Russell idolizes the Doctor a little too much and would canonize him if he could.

Also, Davros had a nerve calling the Doctor the destroyer of worlds when, not five minutes ago, he tried to wipe out all of reality. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Okay, time to stop ranting. There’s more, so much more, I could drone one and one about but I’ll stop now before I really get carried away. There were a few things I did enjoy about this episode. The German Daleks were just beyond brilliant. Loved Donna pushing Sarah-Jane out of the way so she could hug Captain Jack instead. And I loved that when Sylvia started mouthing of about how Donna was still special because she was her daughter the Doctor didn’t let her get away with it. About time someone put her in her place, shame it didn’t get to be Donna.

And I don’t think it needs saying how wonderful Bernard Cribbins is but I’m going to say it anyway because it can’t be said enough, the man is a national treasure and that final scene as he saluted the Doctor was just heartbreaking. He deserves a knighthood pronto.

By the way, Paul and Billie, thanks a lot for doing these retro reviews. Doctor Who has been my favourite show since I was a wee nipper and I so glad you guys decided reviewed it. Cheers.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I really did enjoy this finale, in spite of some of the logic gaps that occured within it.

Davros calling the Doctor out was a chiiling scene but too etched in hypocrisy as well.

Davros presumably escaped once. And I do not condemn human Doctor from wiping out the Daleks.

Jack and Sarah Jane worked well. I like Jackie and Mickey but I guess they were unneccessary for the episode.

Martha's plot sucked and she spent too much time on her lonesome as well.

Rose/Human Doctor. It's like Spike and the Buffybot in a way. I don't mind it but the fanfic it's inspired is insane.

Doctor/Donna bit of a cheat but Donna's scenes were bloody heartbreaking.

Aren't I glad that the amazing Wilfred is our last companion for Ten?

D said...

"Davros calling the Doctor out was a chiiling scene but too etched in hypocrisy as well."
It's not hypocrisy, because Davros doesn't claim to be a pacifist, but the Doctor does. Anyway, Paul's right, Davros just wanted to make the doctor feel as bad as he could before he killed him. And true or not, it is a fact that, along with what happens to Donna, the speech impacts the Doctor's mood for the following specials.

Marc said...

I thought the series one and two finales were both very strong, whereas the third and fourth were a little weaker. Strangely, the series one and two finales were more standalone, whereas the series three and four endings were the final parts of story arcs which were bult up over two or three episodes. Both times the build up was probably better than the final payoff. Perhaps this suggests they would have been better sticking with single episode arcs rather than using up all their good ideas in the setup episodes and being unable to fully develop upon or successfully resolve the plotlines in the finales.

Anyway, the good stuff. I thought the ending with Donna was brilliant. It was quite a unique and tragic way to write the character out, slightly similar to the wonderfully bittersweet way that Rose was trapped in the alternate dimension at the end of series two. In both instances the crisis was averted and the world was saved, but at a personal cost. Donna will never know the difference she made to the world, and the incredible eye-opening experiences she had with the Doctor. There will always be a tiny part of her that feels she's wasted her life, when really she did so much and showed such bravery.

And I think it really made Donna a unique companion. As much as I did like both Rose and Martha, it was nice to have someone completely different, not a young unsure woman but an older and more self assured person, and one who I felt had absolutely no romantic connection with the Doctor (although I know Billie feels differently!).

That was refreshing enough, but also the fact that they took which could have been a one note character (the angrier, more shallow Donna from Runaway Bride) and believably developed her into a more likeable person through her experiences with the Doctor. I never found her as annoying in her first episode as some people did, as her shrillness was entirely inkeeping with her situation, but I think Catherine Tate really proved a lot of her critics wrong over the course of series four by showing her range of activity ability and the depth of emotion she could explore. Billie and Freema were both relatively inexperienced actresses when they started on Who and it was nice to see an actress with a dramatic and comedic background who was able to keep up with David Tennant from the start. Ultimately I think she's my favourite New Who companion.

I agree her transformation into the Doctor/Donna was a little too deus ex machina, although again I think Tate did a great job with what she was asked to do, particularly when it went from being comedic to dangerous. And the hand regeneration thing was also a bit of a cop out. As was the prophecy about Donna dying. I mean you could argue that a part or version of her has "died" but I think that's stretching it.

Rose's return was, on the whole, a little disappointing too. They quickly went from all the characters returning and joining the fight to everyone being happy and enjoying themselves, with only surface interaction between the characters. Not including characters like Mickey, Jackie and Sarah Jane's son/computer, would have tightened the plot up and left more time for the most important characters like Sarah Jane, Jack, Rose and Martha. As much as I enjoyed Gwen and Ianto's brief appearances, I think I would have been willing to see them cut too in order to have more quality interaction between the main characters.

Marc said...

Just as someone else mentioned before, it's the little moments and unresolved issues between them that would have transformed what was essentially an over-the-top guest star affair into something more substantial. Of course this is the kind of thing that I think Joss Whedon often does brilliantly in episodes of Buffy like The Gift and Chosen, where every character gets at least a few important moments leading up to the battle. Instead it just felt like they were there to service the plot, or subplots were invented purely to give them something to do, rather than keeping them together dealing with one main plot. I do have to admire their ambition though, even if it was a little misguided.

I absolutely hated the way Rose exited the series. It didn't make any sense. Several times Torchwood has disappointed me with similar lazy plot resolutions where they haven't actually considered the consequences of what has happened, and it does happen occasionally in Who, like with the end of series 3 where the events of a year were magically reversed. This was really disappointing, that this clone of the Doctor pops out of nowhere and is suddenly supposed to make her happy and complete, even though IT'S NOT THE DOCTOR! They're raised interesting issues about identity and instead of exploring that, used it as a cheap way to give a "happy" ending to a character. I much preferred the tragedy of Rose being trapped in a separate dimension from the Doctor. They made it quite clear that the clone wasn't the same as him so how would he be able to make her happy, being constantly reminded of the man you loved and lost by someone who looks just like him but isn't him?

I thought the stuff with Davros was quite interesting. I know the fact that the Doctor feels guilty about some of his actions even though he has noble intentions seems strange logic, but I think it's entirely reasonable that his enemies should attack him in that way and that he would feel doubt about it, because he does feel the weight of every person he hasn't been able to save. It reminded me of the things the Slitheen woman said to try and grant a reprieve in Boom Town. Of course the Doctor shouldn't feel bad about constantly saving the world and not always being able to save everyone, but I think it makes sense that he would anyway.

And it did bring up some valid questions about what he does and the role of his companions. Rose, Mickey and Jackie were all a lot harder than we've seen them with the rocket launchers and guns, Marta being a full fledged member of UNIT and Jack leading the shady Torchwood organisation. You could argue that the Doctor is in some way responsible for the paths their lives have taken them on, and question whether it is really fair that he "fosters" people, often taking them away from their family and friends, exposing them to massive risk and expecting them to follow his orders. It is very interesting to think about how some people react to that- the first time he met Donna she couldn't cope with the idea of leaving her "real" world behind, as others have realised when refusing a place in the TARDIS although ultimately her and Rose both wanted to stay with him forever. Martha realised that it was too dangerous and her unrequited love for the Doctor would always be painful. But Donna was seduced by that idea- what if this fantastical world becomes too addictive and you can't go back to your mundane life where you'll never feel important or useful? The idea that all this discovery and danger is addictive, but ultimately always ends badly.

Marc said...

I think that was probably the one theme that was well served by bringing all the characters back. Although I am disappointed that there wasn't some sort of discussion between Jack and Rose about his immortality, which hasn't really been addressed on Who.

And I think David Tennant was, as usual, brilliant in this episode. It is nice that elements of the plot have been carried on through the final few episodes, with his character taking a much darker turn with the choices he has made. I always disliked the way he verged on arrogance a lot of the time "I'm so brilliant!/We're so brilliant!" but if it helped develop the hubris which will lead to his death and regeneration then it will have been worth it. Although I agree that it was stupid that the Doctor had such a problem with his clone destorying the Daleks- I know he always wants to offer his enemies a chance to back down and escape peacefully, but they never want to do that and he has to kill them anyway. If the clone hadn't, he would have had to.

I had mixed feelings about this episode. Some things were absolutely terrific, but there were a few major flaws. It was definitely memorable but it's a shame that some of the big plot points and character resolutions were so botched. And it's disappointing that Davies can rarely leave a finite ending and brings characters back again and again- I've got my fingers crossed that by the time David Tennant finishes his tenure as the Doctor, we won't see the beautifully tragic ending for Donna reversed. Of course I love the character and would love the option of her appearing in future episodes, but I think it would cheapen the wonderful ending she got in this episode.

Michael Colvin said...

I go back and forth on this ending. It actually reminded me of Farscape (Billie - your next retro review, please!) where John is split into two versions just to give us the storyline we all want only to have it taken away again. That's what it felt like. Rose got the Doctor but the Doctor doesn't get Rose. Blimey, indeed.

I think that it would have been a braver choice if Donna had actually died or been in a coma. But her massive reset button just angers me. She's not better off. Her growth was just erased. What do we the audience have now that we didn't have when we were watching the titanic float through space. It just doesn't work...

inspirejenny said...

I can't help it... I am glad Rose got herself a Doc... she deserved it.. sad though to watch him watch her kiss other him... (ouch brain freeze) anyway enough of the crap about not being happy with a Doctor-lite.. I would take David Tennent anyway I could get him.
I will never forget my favorite doctor! Go Team 10!