Sunday, 6 September 2009

Doctor Who: Journey's End (2)

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!

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.'

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