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…