The Doctor-Donna [Doctor Who – Journey’s End]

Russell T Davies always insisted he’d never kill a companion, and kept his word up to his final episode of Doctor Who – instead, he subjected one of the companions to a fate worse than death. Much worse.

Donna lives – but Donna as we knew her is dead, back to being the unimportant, non-magnificent temp from Chiswick she was before she first encountered the Doctor in ‘The Runaway Bride’. And that is powerfully tragic, but full credit to Davies for knowing how to tug our heartstrings – I honestly would’ve preferred Donna to die with her memories of her wonderful experiences intact rather than be returned to her mundane life knowing nothing of how it was once so enriched.

I still have no idea what any of that “Doctor-Donna” nonsense meant (“human-Timelord metacrisis”? Wha?), but its results were lovely: Catherine Tate clearly had a hell of a time with the Doctor’s technobabble and David Tennant’s mannerisms. There was so much potential in Donna’s enhanced mind – her human intuition could dream up things the Doctor could never imagine – which makes it all the more sad that he had to revert her to her old, dull-witted self.

Tennant obviously had equally good fun imitating Tate, playing a second Doctor cloned from the stray hand of the first after Donna touched it (again, no idea how that happened). Doctor 2.0 inherited her loud-mouthed mawkishness and a human ability to love… not to mention all her human faults, namely that pesky willingness to commit genocide. Whoops! On the bright side, though, it looks like the Daleks are finally out of the picture: fingers crossed Steven Moffat won’t bring them back (unless he makes them speak German again. That was amusing).

Anyway, the spare Doctor wound up in universe B with Rose in what I found to be a very strange and somewhat emotionally unfulfilling finale. Billie Piper’s return was fun but would’ve benefited from an extreme plot makeover: her reunion with the Doctor was a little cold, I didn’t really believe that malarkey about her “fixing” him, and their final goodbye lacked that punch-in-the-guts sadness – especially compared to the teary ‘Doomsday’. At least Rose has a Doctor, but it feels a little peculiar.

Similarly, the reunion of the companions (even K-9 got a look-in) didn’t quite work – some awkward plot contrivances got them in the same room, but they mostly felt underused. I’m struggling to understand why Davies bothered to bring Jackie back, though on the bright side there was that hilarious line where Jack implied exactly just what two identical Doctors could get up to. Kinky!

Of course the point of bringing all Davies’ favourite characters back is to show that, even though the Doctor is surrounded by people who love him he’ll always sort of be an outsider. He’s dangerous: sure, he makes people better but, as Davros archly pointed out, he also makes them worse, turning them into weapons who are willing to go as far as destroying the Earth. Tennant did fantastic work of showing that the Doctor understands his two-sided effect on people, and the sadness and anger and loneliness and anger that arouses in him.

So glad that Tennant is sticking around as the Doctor, at least for a little while longer (I told you that whole “regeneration” cliffhanger would be resolved in the first 30 seconds) – though is he still the 10th Doctor, or is he now the 11th Doctor? Did that regeneration count?

Ultimately the finale was lots of fun, with several extremely fine moments in amongst all that silly fluff (a statement that also describes the whole of season four, really). And now we settle in and wait till the Doctor returns at Christmas to battle the Cybermen…


8 Responses to “The Doctor-Donna [Doctor Who – Journey’s End]”

  1. Flotsam Snr Says:

    ‘though is he still the 10th Doctor, or is he now the 11th Doctor? Did that regeneration count?’

    Nope, he’s still No. 10. He just soaked up the regenerative energy to recover without actually regenerating. Bit like that phenomenon in SATC where people chew their food without swallowing. Kinda.

    Nice break-down of ep. Disagree with you on a couple of points but totally with you on Donna. I’m thinking the only reason they didn’t kill her off – which as you say would actually have been less devastating – is to keep the window open for Tate’s eventual return. Old grampa Tate gives in and tells her about the doc, she gets electronically blasted again which triggers the memories he wiped, something like that.

    Otherwise, yeah, it’s a bit of a big F.U. to the audience who’ve invested in the character.

  2. I don’t think Donna will be back, at least not for a while – River Song never met her. Though I really hope they do find some way to restore her memories, because I’d much rather her return than River.

  3. I’m quite certain we’ve not seen the last of Donna. Starting at the beginning of Turn Left (can’t tell if she was wearing it at the end), she was wearing a large faceted charcoal gem ring. This ring was carefully highlighted with a glint in her last scene at the end of the finale.

    As for the 10th/11th Doctor… I believe they could write it either way. What is it that limits Time Lords to 12 regenerations? If the limitation is such that there’s a certain amount of regenerative energy stored up — enough to release 12 bursts — then he’s the 11th Doctor.

  4. ultradust Says:

    Hi. Hope you can help, I have 16 questions about this season ender and
    hope you can help answer them here:


  5. I loved and hated this whole thing at the same time. I was drawn in but felt unsatisfied by some of the plot. You pointed out a bit of them. The second Doctor thing almost drove me up the wall. He was an oddity that I wasn’t sure I really wanted and then they way they neatly fit him back into Rose’s world left me, well, a little unhappy to put it nicely. I’m not sure why that was because it was one of those things that you kind of want to happy but at the same time it was all wrong and to convenient.

    All in all i was left feeling a little down… for the Doctor, Donna and the fact I now have to wait until Christmas. I just can’t be satisfied.

  6. crazybabe1993 Says:

    I agree with you on most of these, the return and meetings of the companions would of had a lot more done to it. Also Donna losing her memories is a sure way to leave some room incase they ever want her to come back. I think the Daleks will be back mainly because it wouldn’t be doctor who without them finding away to survise ‘They always survise, when i lose everything’.
    I’m looking forward to the cypermen and seris 5. And i’m glad David Tennant is sticking around a bit longer. Lol Jacks face when he implies is just so funny

  7. lexicommonzero Says:

    one interesting possibilty is that the second doctor # 2.0 could be a fortelling of the reason or the mechanism for the valeyard’s existance causing the doctors final 13th already risky regeneration to go wrong bet it wont be forgotten if they work that story element in

  8. doctordonna Says:

    so sad with what happened to donna,practically had me crying haha she was my favorite by far,catherine tate has so much personality,i dont think she will be back though.the doctor said people will be talking about donna for millions of years to her mum and grandad so maybe thats where river song heard about her?…but i wish she will be back..hopefully

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