This live-blogging of the final episode brought to you by the fact that we had to chase two possums out of the kitchen this evening: the second time this week we’ve had to chase native animals out of the house.
I love Brisbane.
(Of course, the last great possum chase was slightly derailed by the fact that the possum was running hysterically in one direction and Nick was running in the opposite direction looking for his camera, while I was stopping the possum from making it into the bedroom, and wondering aloud why Nick needed to take pictures of the incident. But that’s not important right now.)
So this is the final real episode of Doctor Who until 2010: sure, there are the specials next year, but it’s not the same as a full season. We’ll see how it works out.
And he we go: the beginning of the final episode. And we have a brief recap of the events of the last episode, to begin with, including Davros. Davros!
And Gwen and Ianto.
And terrified Sarah Jane. (Nick tells me I gave away a spoiler there, last episode. Sorry about that: it’s hard to type and watch at the same time. I do try to keep things spoiler free, honestly.)
And here’s the episode, with the Doctor regenerating, but forcing that regeneration energy into his severed hand.
NICK: The Doctor Who equivalent of the Hand of God goal.
And here come Mickey and Jackie to save Sarah Jane.
And something mysterious to save Gwen and Ianto.
(I have to say, I wasn’t fooled by the regeneration sequence at the end of the last episode. I knew we’d have heard if Tennant was leaving the episode.)
Damn: Doctor and Rose angst. So over this.
Nick points out that the Doctor has technically used up a regeneration, even if he didn’t actually regenerate.
Now why won’t Captain Jack give Donna a hug?
So Torchwood is locked down: Captain Jack is outside, but Gwen and Ianto can do nothing because of Tosh’s time lock. And the TARDIS has been caught in a temporal loop and transferred to the Crucible, the Dalek control ship.
But Sarah insists on the three of them surrendering, so that they too will be taken to the Crucible, where the Doctor is. (Jackie, of course, is only interested in following Rose.)
Martha won’t explain what the Osterhagen Key is (Hee! Daleks talking in German! Funniest bit of the entire episode) but she’s going to activate it, anyway.
NICK: It’s a wonderful McGuffin.
Rose is explaining that her world is ahead of this one, and that this is how they know that the stars are going out—and that all the dimensional timelines converge on Donna. Donna, naturally, immediately puts herself down again, but we know what Donna’s capable of.
Even the Doctor’s scared, here: as he says, this is a Dalek empire at the height of its power. Not like the last time they fought the Daleks.
But something odd’s happening to Donna: she can hear a heartbeat that no-one else can hear.
Rose and Jack are pretending to be tough about the whole thing—but they’re scared. Jack’s terrified, even though he knows he should be fairly safe. And even Donna, who doesn’t really know what the Daleks are like, is concerned—but she keeps getting side-tracked by that heartbeat. The Doctor thinks she’s scared, but it’s more hypnotic than that.
But now Donna’s scared, because she’s trapped in the TARDIS, and the Daleks intend to destroy what they rightly identify as the Doctor’s greatest weapon. They’ve deposited it into the heart of the Z-neutrino energy that powers the Crucible, which will destroy it.
Now, Russell T. Davies: I warned you I’d stop watching if you destroyed the TARDIS.
The Doctor is, rightly, more concerned about Donna, but the loss of the TARDIS must hurt him, too.
Donna, meanwhile, has touched the Doctor’s hand, from which the heartbeat is emanating. And the glass breaks, and the hand glows, and a new Doctor grows from the severed hand.
A second Doctor. Completely naked, if that’s your cup of tea.
He activates the TARDIS and it dematerialises, but from the original Doctor’s perspective, it looks as though it has been destroyed.
Jack shoots the red Dalek, and is exterminated. This freaks Rose out: the Doctor, obviously, slightly less.
Rose and the Doctor are being taken to Davros; as they leave, Jack—who, remember, cannot die—winks at the Doctor.
Donna is freaked out: “Lop a bit off, grow another one? You’re like worms!” But this Doctor is much more frenetic than the original, and David Tennant does a nice Catherine Tate impression. This one only has one heart, and he owes his existence to Donna: part Time Lord, part human.
And he’s more intuitive than the original Doctor. He knows that Donna lacks self-confidence, that she really does think that she’s worthless. But he knows better. The original Doctor does, too, but he doesn’t see any reason to convince Donna of it; he doesn’t really see her fragility.
He emphasises again that the way in which he and Donna keep meeting each other over and over again is not common, that there must be something more to it than that.
Martha, meanwhile, has reached her destination, and met an old woman who has stayed while the soldiers—boys, all—have fled in terror. The woman has heard of the Osterhagen Key, and she knows what it does. She blends this with memories of a single trip to London, the central thought in all her memories—all spoken in a mixture of untranslated German and English, so we don’t understand all that she is saying—but she can’t bring herself to shoot Martha.
Jack is being incinerated, but he works his way out. What kind of incinerator has a lock on the inside? Still, it’s good for Jack that it does.
Sarah, Mickey, and Jackie are being taken for “testing.”
The Doctor and Rose are being “contained” in Davros’s vault. The Doctor suspects that Davros is no longer in charge of the Daleks—he claims Davros is the Daleks’ “pet.”
Dalek Kaan is ranting, again—Davros is committed to the idea of the prophecies that Kaan is repeating. His trip into the Time War means that he saw “time,” and that is what has driven him mad.
Once again, he emphasises that one of the companions will die, but the Doctor, of course, thinks that Donna is already dead.
Davros repeats the idea of “testing,” but this time he mentions that they are testing a “reality bomb.” Sarah easily runs away from the group, and Mickey follows her. But Jackie has stopped to help a woman who has fallen down, and now the Daleks are looking directly at her. She can’t escape.
The planetary alignment field allows them to power the reality bomb—and z-neutrino energy in a single stream. The Doctors know what this means, but everyone else is in the dark. The test subjects will soon find out, though—but not Jackie, because her teleporter has recharged; she can still escape, and does so.
Everyone else in the firing lines dissolves into their constituent atoms, leaving nothing but dust.
Donna and Rose both ask their respective Doctors what happened, but neither answer: Davros tells Rose that the reality bomb cancels the electronic field that holds the atoms in any object together. With the help of the twenty-seven planets, Davros can send the wave through the entire galaxy and through the interstices between galaxies, destroying all of reality.
(I originally wrote that as “destorying,” which is fair enough, but not quite accurate.)
Detonation is near: the Daleks are retreating.
Captain Jack meet up with Mickey, who’s both pleased to see him and not:
JACK: And that’s beefcake.
MICKEY: And that’s enough hugging.
Sarah Jane, though, has a warp star: an explosion waiting to happen.
And Martha has two other people on line, and that’s enough to activate the Osterhagen Key, but she won’t activate it yet, not until she’s tried one more thing.
And that’s contact the Daleks on behalf of UNIT.
(The clone Doctor, on the other hand, has an idea to lock the reality bomb onto Davros’s DNA, which will cause the plan to backfire.)
Martha explains that the Osterhagen Key—invented by someone called Osterhagen, the Doctor supposes—will detonate nuclear bombs below Earth’s surface, tearing the planet apart.
The Doctor objects, but Martha points out that the Dalek needs these twenty-seven planets, and have no use for twenty-six planets.
Jack also pops up on the monitor, with the warp star. It gives Sarah, too, a chance to confront Davros, whom she originally met back on Skaro as a much younger woman. I’d love the deal with that confrontation in more detail, but I don’t have time.
Because Davros is pointing out that the Doctor has killed many people over the years: his daughter, the stewardess, River, the tree woman from season one, Rattigan, the man from “Tooth and Claw” . . . many, many others whose names I can’t remember, and that’s only the people who’ve died in the past four seasons. Many more died in the Doctor’s name between 1963 and 1989—it might have been nice to see some of them.
Martha and the others are drawn into the Crucible’s vault, with Davros, the original Doctor, and Rose.
DAVROS: Detonate the reality bomb!
And then the evil cackle. For one friend of ours, that was his sole update on every social-networking site around for about three days after this episode aired. “Detonate the reality bomb! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
But now the clone Doctor and the TARDIS are here: unfortunately, the clone Doctor is a bit rubbish, and ends up getting shot and locked in a cell. Donna, trying to activate the weapon, is also shot.
But the bomb isn’t detonated? Why not?
Donna’s not dead—and, as the Doctor points out, she can’t even change a plug. So what’s happened?
She has control of the Daleks, who are horribly confused by the fact that they can’t exterminate anyone.
The Ood saw this coming: the Doctor-Donna, they mentioned.
(Ha! The spinning Daleks make me giggle every time. And they remind me of the sad, wailing Daleks dying of lack of radiation in the original William Hartnell Dalek story. So sad, that was.)
So it was a two-way meta-biological crisis (or something like that: this is a hard episode to recap), and now Donna is part Time Lord, as the clone Doctor is part human. And Donna knows what needs to be done to send all the planets back home: without those, the reality bomb is no threat.
SARAH: So there’s three of you?
ROSE: Three Doctors?
JACK: Oh, I can’t even tell you what I’m thinking right now.
Jack, we all know what you’re thinking of right now. You’re not exactly an opaque character, in this regard.
Dalek Kaan has been manipulating the time lines: in his trip into the Time Wars, he has seen what the Daleks have done, and he objects. He is working to the end of the Daleks, but he needs the Doctor to do it.
The Doctor won’t.
But the clone Doctor will. He reverses the power feeds, blowing each and every Dalek in the Crucible, in all the ships, into dust.
Oh, and the Doctor is not happy. Because he’s seeing himself re-commit the genocide that we know he committed. And Davros is left alone on his burning battleship: the Doctor wants to save him, but Davros refuses—he forces the Doctor to accept the fact of his genocide. And Dalek Kaan insists that one will still die.
The Doctor calls Torchwood, and he calls Luke and Mr Smith—but wait! What’s this? K9!
K9! Good dog, K9! I’ve been waiting all episode for you!
With the help of Torchwood and Mr Smith (and K9!)—but not Jackie, who’s not allowed to touch anything—the Doctor can fly Earth back home, towing it behind the TARDIS with the help of the rift.
A little silly? Perhaps.
Lovely music, though. And Ianto seems to be enjoying himself. And I like to see Ianto enjoying himself.
Plus, this is a bit of a break from the recapping, because we’re still ten minutes away from the end of the episode, and I’m already thoroughly confused about whether I’ve mentioned all the main points or not.
So Donna finally gets her cuddle from Captain Jack? I don’t know how I feel about the fact that Donna’s not just the only woman, not just the only human, but the only sentient being that Jack’s been reluctant to cuddle.
Back on Earth, Sarah’s off, to see to her teenage son.
Mickey’s off; he doesn’t want to go back to the parallel world.
Jack and Martha are off: Jack’s been deprived of his teleport, but hints at another possible career for Martha, other than UNIT.
Mickey’s not stupid, he says: his Gran’s dead, and he can see which way the wind’s blowing, so he’s off after Jack and Martha.
The Doctor, meanwhile, is back to Bad Wolf Bay: Jackie’s not thrilled about being in Norway, because she’ll have to get Pete to pick her up.
Rose doesn’t want to return to the parallel universe, but the Doctor says she has to, because the clone Doctor needs her. He, she says, is himself when he first met Rose, fresh from committing genocide and scarred by his war experience. The Doctor wants her to heal him, as she originally healed the original Doctor.
Rose is reluctant, but Donna points out the great gift that the Doctor is trying to give her: this Doctor has only one heart, so he will age and die as Rose does. He can spend the rest of his life with her.
Rose is still reluctant, but when the clone Doctor completes the sentence that the original Doctor never managed to finish in “Doomsday,” Rose grabs him and kisses him.
She still runs after the TARDIS when it leaves without her noticing, though.
I feel a little sorry for the clone Doctor—I think things are going to be a little difficult for him at first, with Rose or without her.
Donna, on the other hand, is breaking down. Her brain can’t contain the effects of the human-Time Lord meta-crisis (I must go back and correct this), and the Doctor knows what’s happening.
Donna knows, too, but she doesn’t suspect the consequences.
Until right now. She knows what he’s going to do—she can see it in his face, and he apologises, but she’s crying and she’s begging him not to, and this scene breaks my heart, because he’s going to strip everything away from her, everything that makes her Donna.
He’s going to do what the humans did to the Ood.
Damn, I don’t want to watch this again.
And he does it.
And he takes the unconscious Donna back to her mother and her grandfather, stripped of every memory of the Doctor. And no one can ever mention it to her again, for the rest of her life. She can’t ever know what happened to her.
And Bernard Cribbens is weeping: he knows what this means. He knows that Donna grew and stretched while she was with the Doctor, and now that’s all gone.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the cruelest thing that the Doctor has ever done.
And I know Sylvia is trying to be supportive of Donna here—the whole “She’s my daughter” thing—but it breaks my heart to see that braying woman on the phone, not knowing who the Doctor is or what they did, and knowing she’s been dumped back into that suffocating life, with her hen-pecked grandfather who has to escape up the hill to be able to breathe and a mother who’s constantly berating and belittling her.
What Rose goes through—a parallel universe, sure, but with her mother, her formerly dead father, her ex-boyfriend, and a clone of her recent boyfriend—is nothing compared to this wholesale destruction of Donna.
Okay, I can see in his face that the Doctor feels the horror of what he’s done.
I say again: this is the cruelest thing you’ve ever done, Doctor. Ever.
(For those of you watching these as they air on the ABC, some of us had an enthusiastic conversation about this episode here. It was spoilerific, but no longer.)