In the sixth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, the TARDIS drops the Doctor, Martha, and Donna on the planet Messaline, where the Doctor meets his own daughter. Technically. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
This episode is all about perspective.
You know, it might just be applicable that all of series four is about seeing the universe through someone else’s eyes. What starts off as a humorous plot device (splitting up Martha from the Doctor and Donna) becomes a much larger rumination on this greater idea: maybe, all along, the Doctor has really needed to see what he does through other people’s eyes.
So, of course, I was shocked at the concept of the Doctor having a daughter and I figured this would fill in some gaps of his past. It’s only technically his daughter, though, since she’s a clone, and I was initially disappointed at the concept. Oh, Stephen Greenhorn, I was so unprepared for where you were taking this story. Not only did I get some more information about the Doctor’s past, but the writers crafted the character of Jenny to be a much deeper reflection on the Doctor’s personality and history. And on top of that, there’s still one fantastically complex and exciting plot to tie it all together. Hell, this might just be one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes yet.
Our time-traveling heroes essentially get plopped down into a gigantic war between humans and a bunch of fish-like aliens called the Hath, who are battling for something known as the Source. For both sides (which we get to see through the split-up characters), it’s a coveted object because it’s believed to hold the power to their creation. I didn’t really take this bit of the story as a commentary on Creationism since the analogy wouldn’t really work. The Doctor has actually seen the beginning of the Universe and knows this isn’t how things have happened; it’s also nice that he’s not terribly condescending about this either. He’s actually intrigued by this origin story the humans have concocted. Why are these two sides really fighting? And how’d they develop the cloning technology they used to create his daughter?
There’s a fantastic X-Files episode by the name of “Monster” in the seventh season that finally gives the viewer the perspective of being the monster-of-the-week in an X-Files story. “The Doctor’s Daughter” is not the same format, but it’s the same sentiment: what if we saw both sides of the battle and sympathized with them as well? (Except General Cobb. Fuck him.) (Also, JESUS I USE A LOT OF EXAMPLES FROM THE X-FILES. I swear I have seen other shows, I SWEAR.)
I feared that Martha Jones would be seriously hurt, possibly killed, because she wasn’t the main companion in this series. That fear disappeared once it became clear that this episode would follow her as she helped the Hath, unknowingly leading them to war. Simultaneous to this, the Doctor and Donna help the humans, bring them to the exact same conclusion. While Martha is off trying to find the Source with the Hath she saved after the tunnel was caved in my the Doctor’s daughter, the Doctor is locked in a cell with Donna and his daughter. Much like Martha’s time with the Hath, it’s a chance to learn more about this war and those involved with it.
For the Doctor though, he’s wildly dismissive of Jenny. If it weren’t for the constant voice of reason (also known as DONNA NOBLE), I’m not sure the Doctor would have ever come around to embrace his daughter at all. Jenny was quick to pick up on a lot of similarities the Doctor has to her, both her nature as a soldier and then, later, her physiology, which resembles that of a Time Lord. I think that the Doctor’s reluctance here might have been a combination of a few things: his ego, his insistence on spelling out the science of it all, and dismissing the chance that she really could be his daughter. Again, as I said before, both Donna and Jenny provide the Doctor with a new perspective on himself. This time, it’s absolutely necessary.
So Jenny has two hearts. Physically, she’s about as close as one could be to a Time Lord. Given the final moments of the episode, is it at all possible that she could grow to become one? She doesn’t see the time vortex like the Doctor does, but what else will we see from her?
I’m getting ahead of myself. SORRY, I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS OK. Let’s move back to Donna, who seriously saves EVERYTHING in this episode, and maybe this is a chance for the Doctor to see how necessary she is to him, both as a companion and a new view of the world for him. Hell, I couldn’t figure out the numbered plaques if you had sat me in front of them for a whole day. (Figures that I forgot about the Dewey decimal system. THANKS PUBLIC SCHOOLING.) But when she does figure out that it’s a dating method, it’s proof that this episode also has a mind-melting plot. It’s not just character heavy, which a lot of the episodes do.
Seriously, the great war that lasted generations TOOK PLACE OVER ONE FUCKING WEEK. That is one of the coolest and most fucked up plot twists/revelations I have ever seen on television. GOD BLESS DOCTOR WHO.
The finale of this episode is FULL OF SMILES and then WHAT THE FUCK, well ok, that was sort of expected. But the idea that the two sides have been fighting over LITERAL CREATION is so goddamn fantastic. I wasn’t sure that the Hath and the humans would actually set their weapons down, but it seemed that Jenny couldn’t really last beyond this episode. (This is why the actual final scene is so exciting. Red shirts never come back to life!) After a two-parter that ended with a whole lot of destruction, I’m glad we didn’t have to sit through yet another episode of battle and death. Though…yes, there was a lot of gunfire here. And running. Lots and lots of running.
The Doctor orders these two warring factions to build their new world under the premise of the “man who never would.” I know people complained that “The Doctor’s Daughter” felt too similar to the Sontaran story before this, but I felt that this was merely a continuation on the theme of violence instead. We know the Doctor has an aversion to guns as an “easy” solution to problems. Here, though, I actually believed for a second that the Doctor would act out his revenge on Cobb. (Fuck Cobb, by the way.) But it was an interesting message he gave them: don’t act out of revenge. Don’t be the person to would resort to what had happened over the last week. (A week! A FUCKING WEEK oh my god i love this show). It is rather arrogant of the Doctor, but it’s his style. He saves planets and civilizations! I guess it comes with the territory.
ALSO: Ohmygod WHEN IS JENNY GOING TO COME BACK???
- This series, so far, has a lot of companions. Three, to be exact. And one possible companion in Jenny. I like this. Keeps me guessing.
- “Then you need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up genocide. You’ll see a little picture of me there and the caption’ll read ‘Over my dead body!'” ;AKSDLJFA;SDF Well, at least he’s finally acknowledging this.
- “All right, cool the beans, Rambo.” Seriously, Donna has all the good lines.
- “Let’s save your wiles for later. In case of emergency.”
- “Oh come off it. You’re the most anomalous bloke I’ve ever met.”
- “He saves worlds, rescues civilizations, defeats terrible creatures and runs a lot. Seriously, there’s an outrageous amount of running involved.”
- Good bye, Martha Jones. 🙁