I have a confession to make: I’m doing this live-blogging while finishing watching an episode of 30 Rock and also playing the “Tower of Darkness” adventure on Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures.
But it shouldn’t interfere: after all, the encounters in Dungeons and Dragons only refresh every ten minutes or so.
30 Rock, on the other hand, was Nick’s idea. It is hilarious. I was uncertain about watching anything with Alec Baldwin in it, but I’m loving every episode. Of course, it’s being shown on free-to-air television at some ridiculous time analogous to the time that Arrested Development was shown—11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m., something like that—but that’s par for the course, isn’t it?
We’ve also decided to revamp our eating habits, and I now have a stomach full of fibre (especially bran) and fresh vegetables. So far, my body isn’t really enjoying this new pattern of behaviour. Apparently, it can cope with one healthy meal a day.
Whoops, the episode has started, while I was rubbishing on about irrelevant things.
I love you, Colin Salmon! You rock.
NICK: Where’s my iPhone?
ME: I don’t know! Just sit down and watch television!
I’m losing patience with Nick’s obsession with his iPhone—but then, I have no power over the situation, do I?
(He still hasn’t found it.)
And we’re back to everyone being chased by the skeletal remains of Proper Dave. Poor Proper Dave.
Oooh, hang on—we haven’t seen this country house before. (Nick is going to try ringing his iPhone.) And that’s Donna. Wait, what’s happening here?
(He’s found it.)
Hang on, that’s Doctor Moon! What’s he doing there? This manipulation of Donna’s memories and her behaviour is intensely creepy: that repeated “and then you remembered” is starting to seem thoroughly disturbing.
It’s so like Donna to go fishing in a black sequined tunic. And now she’s married? Wow. And with children? This is, perhaps, the creepiest sequence in the entire episode.
Fully integrated? Pardon?
Hey, that was the Doctor! And now Doctor Moon’s telling her to forget the Doctor? Okay, this is well disturbing. I don’t like the idea of people having control over my memory; I feel as though I have little enough control over it myself.
This back story with River and the Doctor is fascinating to me; I understand that a big influence was The Time Traveller’s Wife, but I’ve never read that. What it’s reminding me of is Slaughterhouse Five: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim’s come unstuck in time.”
Oh, so they’re quarreling like an old married couple, are they? I’ve heard a lot of debates about what these two are to each other, but to me it seems quite clear: she’s his wife. Or she will be.
Oh, a doctor moon is a virus checker that supports and maintains the computer at the centre of the planet? Well, that answers some of my questions.
Now, that’s why I like River: for much the same reason as I like Donna. Donna is free from jealousy, and River, seeing Donna, demands to know whether the Doctor can get her back. They’re both free from jealousy, because they’re both secure in their relationship with the Doctor, different though their relationships are. We need more women like that on television, instead of the skeletal, insecure child-women that we’re supposed to enjoy. (It’s true: I’ve never got over the idea of Ally McBeal as a role model.)
(On the plus side, I just challenged the Captain of the Guard to a sword fight and won. Yay, me!)
Okay, that woman in the flowing Victorian garb is thoroughly creepy. And now the little girl doesn’t want Donna to have anything to do with her? So what does that imply about Donna’s current existence?
See, this mysterious woman points out that Donna has suspected that this world is not right before it is pointed out to her.
(Wow, that’s a lovely shot, with them all running along the bridge from one building to another.)
She’s not stupid, Donna: that’s my point.
I feel as though I can’t type fast enough to deal with everything that’s being dealt with in this issue. And now Nick’s trying to make interesting ideological points to me, and I don’t have time to deal with them.
Oh, Doctor, honestly: I figured out what the Vashta Nerada were talking about when they mentioned their forests, long before you did.
Oh, dear: now Other Dave is repeating himself. He’s ghosting.
Nick thinks that the fact that the Doctor uses the word “soul” is problematic, since after Time Lords die, their minds are stored in the APC Net—the Matrix, before Keanu Reeves. For Time Lords, that is their afterlife. So the use of the word “soul” is suggestive—and perhaps not canonical.
(I managed to defeat a gargoyle in battle, but took four points of damage.)
Ah, now River’s talking about her Doctor, and how this Doctor doesn’t seem finished in comparison. This is fascinating. Solipsistic, yes, but fascinating. What happens to the Doctor in the interval, that whole armies run from him? Or, more to the point, that he’s willing to put himself in a position where he’ll face whole armies. Has he come to terms with the Time War and his genocide?
Oh, there’ll be reams of fan fiction written about this.
Nick wants me to add that it’s not problematic that someone’s stolen a person’s soul through a computer programme, but that it would be a sore point for the Doctor. I think my garbled rewriting of that is what Nick gets for introducing complicated ideological issues while I’m trying to live-blog a complicated episode.
River’s attitude is intriguing to me: she loves this man, that’s quite clear. But she doesn’t love this man. This man she finds frustrating and immature, essentially hard work.
DONNA: But this isn’t me? This isn’t my real body? But I’ve been dieting!
For some reason, that makes me laugh out loud every time.
I don’t buy the idea that “being brilliant and unloved” are the two qualities needed to reveal absolute truth. That seems odd. Being brilliant and having a frighteningly pixellated face would seem to be closer to the truth.
Damn! The little girl just deleted her own father! Now that’s strangely depressing.
Donna’s children seem to have a better grasp of what’s going on than Donna does.
Oh, dear: now Doctor Moon’s gone the same way as the little girl’s father. Poor Colin Salmon.
Nick’s excited because in the first shot of the gravity platform, you can see its reflection in the windows. Nick is easily excited by CGI.
That the children are conscious that they cease to exist when their mother isn’t looking? That’s horrible. How can they, processed to think that they’re small children, manage to cope with that idea?
Now the Doctor and River, and the others, are in the data core. Remind me never to wake my computer up from sleep mode. Apparently, it’s terribly cruel.
(I’ve just been stabbed by a thief. After chasing him and tackling him down a hill. That doesn’t seem fair.)
This child’s face on a statue is creepy. (I know, I’ve used the word creepy a hundred times in this blog entry, but it’s an intrinsically creepy episode.) I love reading as much as anyone. I dare say that I love reading more than many people do. But spending eternity as a computerised version of myself? In a giant library?
Actually, I’ll get back to you on that one.
Oh, Vashta Nerada—the Doctor’s not stupid. He didn’t need that much time to realise that Anita was already dead. Poor Anita. I felt worse, frankly, after Other Dave ghosted, and he died in a much more perfunctory fashion.
DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor, and you’re in the biggest library in the world. Look me up.
Oh, River! As soon as you punched the Doctor, I knew things weren’t going well.
DOCTOR: That’s my job!
RIVER: And I’m not allowed to have a career, I suppose?
Oh, they’re definitely married.
Now, this angle—the idea that the Doctor knew from the beginning of their relationship when and how she would die—this is the sort of thing that normally makes my brain ache. But Alex Kingston just acts the hell out of this scene.
(Embarrassing admission: I’m closer to crying at this point than I ever have been in all the episodes of Doctor Who. I cried unceasingly for the last ten minutes of season two of Torchwood, but Doctor Who—never. But this scene breaks my heart, and combined with Donna’s separation from Lee is almost too much for my stiff upper lip.)
Oh, Steven Moffat. How you (normally) hate killing people off. And I love you for it. I do so love a happy ending.
Oh, crap: cut to the Doctor staring at (what’s left of) River. That’s not a happy ending.
Dammit, Moffat! How am I supposed to cope now? Now you’ve decided that Lee may just be imaginary? That’s just cruel.
DONNA: Is “all right” special Time Lord code for “really not all right at all”?
DONNA: Because I’m all right, too.
Damn, they come out of this episode damaged.
Oh, Moffat, you bastard! You absolute bastard! (I love you, Steven Moffat!) So Lee is real, but he can’t call out to Donna? Oh, why not just kill people off?
No, Doctor—you can’t leave it at “spoilers”. You know there’s more to it than that. There must be. Moffat hates killing people off! Remember, “everybody lives! Just this once, everybody lives!”
See! I knew that wasn’t the end of the story!
This running scene, here—this is the culmination of all those discussions about how much running the Doctor does. This is the Doctor actually running for his life, running for someone else’s life—not just avoiding a monster, but running when there is nothing else to do, no other way to save people.
And here we have absolute Moffat: he just hates killing people off. So Proper Dave, Other Dave, Anita, Miss Evanglista—all alive. And there’s Doctor Moon! Hurray!
I’ve heard it said that what the Doctor does here is cruel: trapping the woman he apparently loves in a computer that he knows is going to go insane. But I don’t think that that’s supposed to be the end result. I don’t think it should be assumed that the computer will go insane again: there’s a big difference between four thousand minds and five minds.
I understand that Moffat argued his way into keeping Donna’s children alive in the computer at the end of the episode, against executive producer Julie Gardner’s concerns. And that, in the end, they switched positions: she felt the ending with the children alive was ideal, and he came to see it as saccharine.
I can’t remember having any opinion on it at all: I was too busy trying to deal with the rest of the episode.
And that’s “Forest of the Dead.”
Next week: “Midnight.” Oh, dear lord, that’s going to be hard to rewatch.
(Still, I became so distracted by the live-blogging that I managed to kill a grick—I don’t know what that is, but it has tentacles—without noticing.)