Doctor Who: Series 4: Journey’s End Review Part 2: Saying Goodbye

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s4_13_wal_07Spoilers contained herein.

Now it comes to the real point of this episode ““ saying goodbye.

First to leave the TARDIS is Sarah Jane.

Perfect Ten lands the TARDIS in a London park. It’s the middle of the day and the kids are playing. As they step outside the only home the Doctor’s ever know, they share a fond hug and a touching farewell. Sarah Jane tells him that he always thinks of himself as alone, but quite frankly, he has the biggest family of all, and she has to return to her son. And that’s a story for another day. She turns on her heel and runs.

If we don’t see Sarah Jane again, I can be happy with this. She had her moments in this episode. Her determination to find the Doctor once she realised the epic nature of the threat. Her fear at the sound of the Daleks. Her terror at the thought of Davros’ return and finally her steadfast resolve when she lays eyes on him again for the first time in many, many years.

But above all, her absolute faith in the Doctor sets her apart from the others.

Bravo to Ms. Sarah Jane Smith. And bravo to Elizabeth Sladen.

You’re always welcome here.

Next is Jack and Martha. The two most military minded of the companions, they leave together. Jack functioned as the action man in this story and I believe he usually works better as the man of action. When he is in a leadership role, his character generally tends to act to loud and self-important. He works best here as a support character. But he doesn’t half bring some good laughs and solid support.

As the immortal Jack Harkness he is probably the best companion to see once again in a far-flung future story. In the meanwhile, there’s always Torchwood”¦

Speaking of, given the way Jack practically offered Martha a job at Torchwood in his second to last line, and Martha’s unhappiness with doing things the military way, and always remembering that Torchwood lost its resident medic just recently, can anyone else see that that is where she is going?

s4_13_wal_05 I loved Martha Jones’ character. When she came onboard the series at the start of Series 3, she was good. She was old enough and mature enough that she should have been capable of not falling for Perfect Ten. But she did. And regardless of how I feel about that, I still love how her character is still completely at the core the Martha Jones we first knew. Yes, that lost year of hers wandering the globe telling stories of the Doctor in order to defeat the Master hardened her and to an effect made her more militarily minded, but her resolve, her morality, and willingness to give even the Daleks a last chance firmly ensconce her a place of in the companion hall of honour.

Mickey Smith. My how far you have come.

First introduced as the comic relief, the useless boyfriend to Rose’s plucky young heroine, to eventually becoming tech expect to full fledged companion, his journey is a show and tell of how the Doctor’s status inspires others to better themselves. Yes, at first his journey was about trying to prove something to Rose, that he was worthy of her, but by the end of “School Reunion” it isn’t about her anymore. It’s about himself. About seeing what he can become.

s4_13_wal_11 He chooses to cut himself off from Rose in the end by volunteering to stay in the parallel universe and help fight the Cybe rmen threat. And now he has come full circle because with that threat no longer present, and his grandmother in the parallel world also now gone, he has nothing there for him anymore. Not even Rose. He even states quite clearly to Jackie that he will miss her the most. It’s not that he doesn’t care about Rose. He does. It just that he knows he can’t ever match up to the man she wants and quite frankly he now knows that he doesn’t need to.

He’s got a whole new world to explore and a whole new life to live. Good luck, Mickey Smith. I suspect, given how you ran after both Jack and Martha, that it won’t be too long before we see you again”¦

And now, of course, Rose and Jackie. With a twisting of a TARDIS control, and a slight change to the materialisation effect of the TARDIS, we find ourselves, once again, in Bad Wolf Bay on the alternate Earth.

Everyone gets out of the TARDIS ““ the two Doctors, Donna, Rose and Jackie. Perfect Ten explains that he’s going to leave now because this is where Rose and Jackie now belong. In a much wanted bit of continuity check, Jackie explains that Pete Tyler is currently on baby watch duty with their son, Tony.

They can’t leave him.

s4_13_wal_14Rose is, somewhat understandably, confused. She came all the way across universes to find him. Crossed time and space. Surely he knows what that means.

Perfect Ten does know. But he simply can’t stay in this reality. It isn’t his home. But it is Rose’s”¦ and maybe it can be Ten 2.0’s.

From the very second that Ten 2.0 came to life in the TARDIS it was reasonable to assume that one of the Doctors was going to stay in the parallel Earth with Rose if the series was going to end Rose-less.

What I couldn’t wrap my head around was how Rose would accept Ten 2.0 over the full Timelord Doctor. RTD tried to have his cake and eat it to by giving Rose this happy ending of sorts, especially given what he does to Donna, but I ultimately just can’t buy Rose’s seeming choice here.

Perfect Ten explains his decision plainly ““ he can’t stay but Ten 2.0 can. In fact, he needs to stay, and it needs to be with Rose because this version of the Doctor was born in time of battle and crisis. He committed genocide. He is angry, and embittered. This is a Doctor very much like the Ninth incarnation and it was Rose who saved Nine, if anyone can save this Ten, and stop him from walking across that precipice again, it’s her.

But there’s more. As a part human, part Timelord being, Ten 2.0 will not regenerate. He will age. Just as Rose will. They can grow old together. They can be together. It’s Rose’s dearest wish in some respects.

Donna implores Rose to see what perfect Ten is trying to do for her. To give her that happy ending. But it’s not enough for Rose; she needs to know one thing more. How a conversation on this very beach a few years ago might have ended, if it hadn’t been for the closing of realities”¦

Perfect Ten tries to avoid the question; after all, does he really need to answer it? Handily, Ten 2.0, perhaps more daring to take risks, or maybe more aware of the situation he is in than he lets on, and whispers into Rose’s ear. We don’t hear what he says, but the way his jaw moves suggest all we need to know and Rose’s response is pretty evident.

She grabs him and kisses him for all she’s worth.

Reluctantly, but determined, the Doctor and Donna turn and walk away and before the kiss has ended, the sound of the universe can be heard as the TARDIS disappears. Rose breaks the kiss and turns to stare at the space where the TARDIS was only a moment before.

She’s been given her happy ending, to a point. This isn’t the exact man she fell in love with. But he’s close enough.

I think Russell tried too hard. He crammed in so much and pushed so much so that he went overboard. Rose didn’t need this happy ending here. Her return to the parallel universe could have been handled another way. I’m not saying they needed to avoid finishing that conversation on the beach; indeed I am extremely thankful we finally got an answer to what Perfect Ten would have said.

Rose was RTD’s first character. I just consider that she was too much of a Mary Sue character. Not in the sense that she could do or say anything she pleased and had exactly the right skills for any situation. We did, after all, see plenty of evidence to the contrary. But she was the character closest to Russell’s heart and despite how much she did for him, how well she saved him, I don’t believe her and the Doctor were meant to be together”¦

Regardless, her return was welcome. It was reasonably well constructed into this season. In fact I would go so far as to say her reappearances and indications of her return this series were the best recurring theme yet. If this was truly going to be RTD’s last foray into the nuWho adventures, why not bring back the character that help start it all? Why not come, in so many ways, full circle?

But now at last we reach Donna Noble.

s4_13_wal_15 Noble Donna.

Catherine Tate proved beyond a shadow of a doubt she can act with the best of them. She’s matched David Tennant  point for point on this show. And as for Donna, she was nothing short of absolutely fantastic.

She was a match for the Doctor in so many ways. I can only begin to imagine the kinds of adventures they could have continued to have. The kind of person she could have grown to be.

The repertoire between the two characters that became the best of friends was pitch perfect. For all of Ten’s arrogance, Donna could match it with attitude. For all of his lip, she would answer back. They weren’t afraid to get on each others wick and still carry on regardless.

And her growth from popular magazine reader to intergalactic traveller was nothing short of epic. Out of all the companions in the last four years, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed Donna Noble more than any. Whether it was because the writing was more comfortable and stronger than previous series, I’m not sure. Whether it was because they jettisoned any kind of love story developing between the characters, I don’t care. It just worked because they allowed them to be friends.

And that’s why Donna’s exit is so heartbreaking.

See, with the knowledge of a Timelord running through her head, Donna bounds around the TARDIS almost telling the Perfect Ten where she wants to go next. It’s a performance that crosses ably between Ten and Noble’s personality traits.

But with sad, lonely eyes, Perfect Ten approaches her as Donna begins to get stuck on words. She has his consciousness in her head, and no human can deal with that. It will eventually kill her. There is only one solution, and he doesn’t need to say it. Donna knows.

Catherine Tate gives a heartbreaking scene stealing performance here. It’s so raw and primal. The Doctor is going to take it away. All of it. The knowledge, the times they shared, any memory of him is going to be erased from her mind. If any of it stays, she will die. For her own good, Donna Noble has to return to the person she was before the events of “˜The Runaway Bride.’

Consider that for a moment. If you’re a fan of Donna now, and you weren’t when the show started after her gobby, rude attitude in the Christmas special, just take a moment and think. Consider how she changed. When she changed. Why she changed. And think about how much better she is because of the Doctor.

It’s cruel. It’s tragic. And it is just delicious that Russell T. Davies is capable of this.

This is the death from Dalek Caan’s prophecy. The death of Donna Noble as we now know her. And it is truly an “˜”¦everlasting death”¦’ because Donna will live, but the death will live with her everyday she goes on. That particular part of the prophecy I found curious because everlasting death is surely a paradox of sorts”¦

With his hearts heavy, Perfect Ten returns Noble Donna to her family. He begs of them to understand the importance of never revealing the truth. It could kill her. Wilf is near tears, indeed his eyes shine and I reveal in the genius behind whoever thought about bringing this character into the show. He even says it himself that Donna was better with him.

Perfect Ten tries to console them. For a single moment, Donna Noble was the most important woman in all of creation.

Sylvia, angry, bites back that she still is.

With a cold edge of steel in his voice; Ten remarks back “You could try telling her that once in a while.”

It’s all about the character moments.

Before long, Donna bounces back onto the screens. Loud, mouthy, and completely uncaring. Planets in the sky? Means nothing to her. Just another stupid story.

Perfect Ten bids goodbye to the family, and stops in the kitchen to wish her goodbye. Barely noticing, Donna waves as the best thing that ever happened to her walks out of her life forever. That’s our last shot of Donna. On the phone. Chatting away.

It’s painful.

Perfect Ten leaves the house and comments on the rain. They’ll be atmospheric disturbance for a while given the planetary shifts.

Wilf comes running after him. He wants him to know”¦ that he’ll think of him. Every night. He’ll never tell Donna. But every time at night, he’ll look up at the stars and think of the man who showed his only granddaughter the universe in all its majesty. Despite how devastated I was to lose Donna, how cruel I find it, Bernard Cribbins almost stole that away from me with his sadness here.

Perfect Ten, honestly, sincerely, thanks him. Wilf wants to know what he’ll do now.

He’ll carry on. He’ll be fine. He’s always fine.

With a salute from Wilf, Perfect Ten enters the TARDIS. Alone. He wanders around the console, wet from the head down due to the rain, he removes his suit jacket.

s4_01_wal_07Finally, we are given that ending we were so cruelly denied at the end of “Doomsday.” There’s no appearance of a bride, no ship called Titanic crashing through the walls”¦ it’s just silence.

The Doctor. Truly alone.

Naturally.

End credits.

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