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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Journey’s End”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Episode 12: “The Stolen Earth”)

Whew. After all that agitta, and a week’s worth of wondering what the hell new torture Russell Davies had concocted for us — the Doctor cannot regenerate! (can he?) — the not-regeneration scene was a little rushed, a little anticlimactic, wasn’t it? They seem to think so, too:


Oh, hey, and when I said, two episodes back, that this new Rose seems wiser… well, I was wrong. What the hell is wrong with her, anyway? Bad enough that she doesn’t even kiss the Doctor after the heartrending trauma of 1) losing him, 2) finding him again only to, 3) watch him get shot by a Dalek, and then 4) believe that he’s about to regenerate, and 5) finding oneself flooded with relief that the Doctor she knows and loves is back and actually in her arms:

How do you restrain yourself from kissing him in this situation?

Bad enough, that, but then there’s this:

= “We’ve been building this travel machine, this dimension cannon so I could come back.” –Rose
= (the Doctor giggles in apparent delight that she went to such lengths to find her way back to him)
= “Shut. Up.” –Rose, like she’s 12 years old and cannot countenance the fact that she’s attracted to someone, or that he might be atttracted to her

Could she have had a more immature reaction to the fact that he’s thrilled that she wanted to come back? I doubt it. And hey, why does she even hesitate to tell him she’s been trying to come back? She’s still a child, it seems.

I’ve been turning it over and over in my head, how the Doctor treats Rose at the episode’s end — dumping her in the alternate universe with a faux pseudo Doctor who’s probably going to drink himself to death out of the boredom of being stuck in one place and time — and I can only think: She deserves it. She has proven she wasn’t really worthy of him, and that all she’s able to handle is a crippled, half-human “Doctor.”

But of course, I hate the Doctor too, for not being brave enough to take on Rose again, in the full knowledge of where their relationship would have had to go now. I hate him to chickening out and abandoning Rose — not to mention this faux half-Doctor. But he was always, always going to leave her, he’s told as as much himself, and I predicted it:

“How long you gonna stay with me?” the Doctor asked Rose. “Forever,” she replies. Except we know — we know — he would have dumped her eventually like he dumped Sarah Jane. Oh, he would have made some excuse, lied to himself, even, to justify the dumping, to make it into something other than him dumping her (like he did with Sarah Jane). But he would have done it.

That was after the decision was taken out of his hands, in “Doomsday,” hence my conditional language, but now that the decision is back in his hands, he goes through with the dumping of her.

This may be the worst possible ending I could imagine for Rose: left with an approximation of the Doctor. “He’s not you,” Rose says, and she’s right. She’s getting the leftovers, and he — the Doctor-clone — is getting a raw deal, too. (If the clone “thinks like” the actual Doctor, then there’ s no way in hell he’s gonna be happy stuck in one location in spacetime, even with Rose.) The Doctor condemns him for being, basically, exactly the same as he, the Doctor himself, was not that long ago. And I get that the Doctor doesn’t want to face that again, but still… harsh. Very very harsh.

(I talked about a lot of the Doctor-clone stuff in the comments here, and ditto the Donna stuff coming up.)

But, man, talk about terrible endings. I’d previously thought that the worst possible ending for Donna would be that she, who had gleefully believed that she was gonna travel with the Doctor forever, would experience something so terrible in the course of adventuring with the Doctor — maybe her grandfather’s death — that she would realize that she could not, in fact, travel with him forever. But I was wrong. This is worse. If she had made the conscious choice to leave him, however painful it would have been, however much she would have mourned the loss of more extraordinary experiences with him, she would at least have had her memories. And she would at least have remained the changed person — the changed-for-the-better person — she had become with him. But even that is lost. And I don’t think it’s much consolation to say that, Well, at least she doesn’t know what she’s lost. The universe knows what she’s lost — the universe knows what it has lost. Potential has been squandered. That is a terrible crime.

And wow: I love Catherine Tate even more. Look how different she looks as changed-Donna:

and regressed-Donna:

That’s some badass acting. (Plus: Donna’s “You’re naked”? Brilliant. She’s a treasure.)

That’s true of David Tennant, too, who looks different as the Doctor-clone. (Tennant and Tate imitating each other? “Oy, watch it, spaceman!” “Oy, watch it, Earth girl!” Oy, glory.) And when he’s shaking with rage as Davros is fucking with him. Nice writing here, on Russell’s part, with all the levels of stuff happening: “Just think how many have died in your name,”Davros taunts, but all those people died to save others, they sacrificed themselves to save others, not even to save the Doctor necessarily (though some did). It’s not entirely false to say, as Davros does, that “the man who abhors violence, never carrying a gun… [has] take[n] ordinary people and fashion[ed] them into weapons.” But the intent of the Doctor’s actions, as Davros has interpreted them, is wrong. (Surely Davros recalls that the Doctor did in fact once hold a gun on him, and couldn’t use it.) Not that that stops Davros’s words from worming their way into the Doctor’s soul. Dalek Kaan predicted that “the Doctor’s soul will be revealed,” yet it’s not so much the Doctor’s actual soul as wha the Doctor believes his soul to be. Davros has — inadvertently, or perhaps deliberately — honed in on the guilt the Doctor feels about, well, his whole life.

And still the Doctor wants to save Davros. You have to wonder what is going on in the Gallifreyan noggin of his. What does he think he’ll do with Davros? Lock him away in the TARDIS, like he planned to do with the Master, and babysit him forever?

It just occurs to me that the reason — the real reason — the Doctor leaves everyone behind, eventually, is because he can’t bear to see their innocence sullied, can’t bear to see them transformed, at least in his mind, into the killers Davros pegs them as. And so he’s alone again:

and almost more alone than he’s ever been before. Perhaps because of what Sarah Jane said to him: “You’ve got the biggest family on Earth!” Except he doesn’t, and that’s by his own choice. He seems more aware of that now, and that he may never be able to remedy it.

Random thoughts on “Journey’s End”:

• The Daleks screaming, “Exterminate, exterminate!” in German? Awesome.

• Hmm… Somehow, this:

makes me think, “The galaxy is on Orion’s belt”…

• Did Harriet Jones have something to do with the Osterhagen Key? It’s pretty much the ultimate “how to cope with really bad aliens in the absence of the Doctor” thing, so it seems she must have…

• So Dalek Kaan has been manipulating the timelines, has he? “I have seen the end of everything Dalek, and you must make it happen, Doctor,” Kaan says. I really do hope this is the end of the Daleks: it’s time for some new stories and new villains.

• The Daleks are going to destroy all reality? And then what? It’s one thing to want to rule over everything, but who wants to rule over nothing? (“We will become the only lifeforms in existence”? What fun will that be?)

• “You are connected to the TARDIS — now feel it die,” the Dalek says, but Doctor seems surprised when it shows up later. What did he actually feel? Did he not know that the TARDIS wasn’t destroyed? Cuz that would be, um, interesting…

• Boy, Earth sure gets rattled on the tow home, doesn’t it? Is every vase on the planet now broken? And there was no reset button — this happened, and it affected the whole planet, and everyone knows it:

This must get worked into upcoming stories: there’s no denying that the whole paradigm of humanity’s understanding of its place in the universe has changed, drastically. Or will everyone think this was merely hallucinogenic drugs put in the water by terrrorists? I hope not. Yes, it moves the world of the show further away from our own, but that could make for some intriguing new dramatic possibilities, too.

• Great quote:

“Three Doctors?” –Rose
“I can’t tell you what I’m thinkin’ right now.” –Jack
(Oh, but we know, Jack. We know.)

(next: Season 4a, Episode 1: “The Next Doctor”)


MPAA: not rated

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