Monday, November 18, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: "Stolen Earth/Journey's End"

“You know, you act like such a lonely man. But look at you! You’ve got the biggest family on Earth.”
-Sarah Jane Smith

We’re continuing Doctor Who Week with a recap of what was arguably the victory lap of the Russell T. Davies era of “Doctor Who” – the two-part series 4 finale, “Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End.” This two-parter really celebrates all that Davies had built over the previous four years. The Doctor is joined by all the people who mean the most to him in one epic battle against Davros and his Daleks. The very fabric of all reality is in the balance. It takes the whole time traveling family to set this very big problem right, and for a brief shining moment, the Doctor can revel in his “children of time” by his side, all piloting the TARDIS as it was meant to be. All of the Tenth Doctors companions and other extended people he cares about are there, and it’s spectacular. Briefly, Davros tries to convince the Doctor that this is bad – that he has turned these people he cares about into his weapons – but by the end, it’s all triumph, and it’s quite a lot of fun to watch.

Planets are disappearing, and the barriers between dimensions are thinning. The Doctor knows it’s bad when Donna tells him that she talked to Rose. There should be no way for that to happen. All of a sudden, the Doctor and Donna are in the TARDIS, but the Earth is gone. Everybody on Earth is panicking because all of a sudden there are a bunch of extra planets in the sky. The Earth has been completely moved. The Doctor and Donna, naturally, want to find it, and their first stop is the Shadow Proclamation. The visit to the Shadow Proclamation is a great example of how Russell T. Davies would plant a phrase throughout a season and have it pay off at the end. “Shadow Proclamation” and “Medusa Cascade” (more on that in a minute) were to series 4 what “Bad Wolf” was to series 1 and “Torchwood” was to series 2. The actual Shadow Proclamation is both a governing document and the body that enforces it (backed up by a Judoon army).

The Doctor realizes what’s going on pretty quickly. When he lines up all the missing planets, he figures out that whoever is behind all this wants to use the planets as some sort of power source. Then Donna mentions how the bees have been going missing. Apparently the type of really intelligent bees that left the planet left a trail on their way to safety. The Doctor and Donna jump in the TARDIS and whoop away over the Shadow Proclamation’s protest. They follow the bees to the Medusa Cascade, but then the trail goes cold. Meanwhile, on Earth, none other than Harriet Jones (we know who she is!) is bringing the band together to try and contact the Doctor. Rose is with Donna’s family who doesn’t have a webcam, but she can watch everyone else conferencing it up. She’s a little jealous, really. Anyway, Harriet sends out a signal that is boosted by Torchwood and everybody on Earth using their cell phones. This signal makes the Doctor’s phone ring, and he and Donna have their coordinates. The area where the missing planets have been collected is one second out of synch with the rest of the universe, but with the signal, the Doctor finds it.

Finding the Doctor comes at a cost. The Daleks, who are behind all of this, notice the signal immediately, and the kill Harriet for sending it out. She transfers the signal to Torchwood right before she dies, and Gwen and Ianto are ready for a fight. Captain Jack has left to go help the Doctor more directly. Rose, Mickey, Martha, and Jackie are all in the mix as well. Martha’s got a mission from UNIT to go to an Osterhagen key station. Rose finds herself right around where the Doctor and Donna land the TARDIS. Donna is the first to point out Rose to the Doctor, and it is obvious that they are both just overjoyed to see each other. After pausing a moment in disbelief, they start running towards each other. Unfortunately, the big reunion is interrupted by a Dalek, who shoots at the Doctor. It’s not a square shot, but it’s enough to really seriously injure the Doctor. Captain Jack arrives just in time to take out the Dalek before it gets worse, but the damage is already done. In the TARDIS, the Doctor starts to regenerate. He manages to put most of the regeneration energy in the jar that holds his hand, though, so he doesn’t actually change form.

Davros basically wants a complete victory over the Doctor. After the Doctor, Rose, and Jack walk out of the TARDIS and into the Dalek crucible, Davros sends the TARDIS to be destroyed with Donna still in it. Donna is also saved by the Doctor’s hand. She touches the jar, and somehow her DNA mixing with the jar creates a “meta-crisis” where the hand grows into a whole new, mostly human Doctor. I call him 10.5. At the same time, Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah Jane Smith have made their way up to the crucible by surrendering to the Daleks. The Daleks try to put them in the “testing” room with all the other humans, but they all manage to just barely escape. What the Daleks are testing is a “reality bomb,” and all the humans left in the room are completely disintegrated. It left me not quite sure what to think of Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah Jane, as they seemed to only truly care about saving themselves in that moment. Jackie did apologize to a fellow captive before teleporting out, at least.

With everybody (except the Doctor and Rose) free, it’s time to start fighting back. Martha’s at the Osterhagen station, which is part of a system that will blow up the Earth in case of extreme emergency. Sarah Jane also has a warp star that can blow up the whole crucible. Davros gives the Doctor a big speech about how he has turned his friends into weapons, and it’s pretty clear that the Doctor isn’t thrilled at all with the thought of his friends doing his dirty work. It ends up being a moot point, though, as Davros has everybody teleported right to his room in the crucible vault before any exploding can happen. It is interesting, though, that all of the Doctor’s companions were so willing to cause widespread destruction in his name. I guess the Daleks have that effect on people.

Donna of all people is the one to save the day. She and 10.5 return to the crucible, and when she’s grazed by a Dalek shot, something clicks in her brain. When the metacrisis happened, she took on some of the Doctor’s consciousness. She’s the Doctor-Donna, just as the Ood said she would be earlier in the season. She basically ends up doing what needs to be done to stop Davros and keep the reality bomb from going off. 10.5 then decides to take it a step further and kill all the new Daleks. The actual Doctor is pretty horrified by this. He has already committed genocide once, and he doesn’t wish that emotional turmoil on anybody. He’s also the ultimate pacifist and “good man,” of course, and I believe we will see in the 50th Anniversary special this Saturday just how much of a toll setting that aside took on him.

Anyway, with Davros and the Daleks defeated, the last thing to do is put Earth back where it belongs. The Cardiff Rift and Sarah Jane’s computer, Mr. Smith form a sort of virtual tow rope, and the Doctor has his whole posse help him pilot the Tardis to drag Earth back home. It’s that moment, with triumphant Murray Gold music accompanying it, where all is as it should be. The TARDIS, we learn, isn’t meant to just be piloted by one or two people. All too soon, however, the Doctor has to say goodbye to all of his friends, and we swing back towards Lonely God mode. Sarah Jane, Martha, Mickey, and Jackie all have fairly standard, although nice goodbyes.

The goodbyes with Rose and Donna hurt a bit more. The Doctor takes Rose back to the parallel universe, and he leaves 10.5 with her. Rose probably shouldn’t be okay with this, but when 10.5 says he’s part human with all of the Doctor’s memories, and he tells her he loves her when the actual Doctor can’t, Rose goes with it. The Doctor wants this to happen because 10.5 can give Rose a life that he can’t, and he also hopes Rose can help 10.5 heal from the effects of committing genocide like she helped him. I never really liked this resolution. I can’t believe 10.5 would be an acceptable substitute that quickly. Donna’s fate is just tragic. She can’t survive with the Time Lord consciousness in her brain, and the Doctor has to wipe her of all her memories of traveling with him. As the Doctor leaves Chiswick to resume Lonely God status, Donna is back to being the rather shallow person she was back in The Runaway Bride. It’s probably the biggest tragedy of all.

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