Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E11 – Turn Left

In the eleventh episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, Donna gets separated from the Doctor and WHAT THE FUCK HOLY SHIT GOOD GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

What if you could change just one event in your life? What would it be? Why that moment? Why do you believe that one act or decision would change where you are now? Can the ramifications of one moment change your entire life? “Turn Left” explores both this concept and parallel universes but in a much more disturbing way: What if you were forced to make a crucial decision differently? And what if you never knew you were living a life so different from the one you’d experienced?

Let me just get this out of the way so I can get back into the swing of things: the giant beetle is one of the worst things I have ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. It looked like a giant toy. Unbelievably distracting, folks. Additionally, I groaned at the whole PERSON OF COLOR TRICKS WHITE PEOPLE INTO RUINING THEIR LIFE thing. NO. No thank you.


We’re heading to the final three episodes and “Turn Left” is less part of the final thrust and more of a set-up to what I imagine will be the main narrative focus of the end of series four. We’ve seen how much Donna has acted as a foil and a mirror to the Doctor, even right from the beginning. She stopped him during his attack against the Racnoss; she showed him that he could save people in “The Fires of Pompeii.” You get the idea. You don’t need me to go over all the examples! You’re all EXPERTS compared to my Doctor Who knowledge. Anyway, I had a feeling that this entire season would provide a much-needed analysis of the Doctor’s actions, both positive and negative, and the way in which he affects his companions. As Donna makes the small decision to turn right, never meeting the Doctor, we’re treated to the events of the previous two years in a new light. What happens if Donna doesn’t meet the Doctor? Well, there’s no one to stop him during his destruction of the Racnoss, and he dies. THE DOCTOR DIES. WHAT? I thought he couldn’t die!

But if that was depressing, the chain of events to follow are heartbreaking. Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith are killed when the Judoon steal Royal Hope Hospital. There’s no one to stop the Titanic from “Voyage of the Damned” from crashing to earth, and all of London is destroyed in an atomic blast. Davies, who penned this episode, uses this last moment to paint a terrifyingly eerie portrait of a world in constant attack. (I agree that this is not the Earth at war. There’s no war. It’s all destruction with no hope of defense.)

I’ll get back to that point, as I’m sure most of you are squirming in your seats waiting for this. But as we find out the Doctor has died, a woman comes running up to Donna from behind her; she’s blurry, hard to make out, until she comes into focus and HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT’S ROSE TYLER HOW THE FUCK DID SHE MAKE IT INTO THIS UNIVERSE WHAT THE GOD ALKSFJD A;KJ A;LKSDFH IO 453#$% AFG

I can’t. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! Rose Tyler can TRAVEL IN BETWEEN UNIVERSES. Not only that, but we’ve been seeing flashes of her because SHE FOUND OUT ALL UNIVERSES ARE COLLAPSING.

My god, I’m not prepared for the end of this series, am I?

I feel that, ultimately, as cool as it is to have Rose come back, it’s a bit underwhelming. However, I think that’s a good thing this time around; this episode really works best as an examination of the Doctor through Donna, and I’m glad the story doesn’t distract from that. “Turn Left” made me realize exactly how much Donna has changed since we first met her in “The Runaway Bride.” As Donna pulled farther away from the life we’d seen her life, I couldn’t help but worry about how this was all going to come together. Why do so many people have such a bad feeling about Donna? River Song balked once she found out this was the Donna Noble, and I feel like there’s another subtext to Rose hinting to Donna that she’s sorry for how the future unfolds.

Still, aside from that, there is some phenomenal world-building here that I referenced here. As Britain sinks into chaos and the Nobles are forced to relocate to Leeds….ok, sorry, I had to laugh. See, my buddy Kasper lives in Leeds and when Donna was livid they were moving there, all I could think was, “BUT YOU WILL GET TO HANG OUT WITH KASPER SHUT UP DONNA NOBLE.”

WELL. Ok. Moving on. I seriously LOVED the way Davies created such an uncomfortable and unsettling atmosphere towards the end of Donna’s “life” in the world without the Doctor. I was especially impressed that he included the allusions toward labor camps through Rocco. It’s never the “native” population that gets sent to camps like that and, for all the times this show slips up with its portrayal of people of color, I was happy that they acknowledged that this is the sort of thing that historically happens to the “other” during times of war or chaos.

I’m still unsure of the grand scheme of things. The resolution to “Turn Left” doesn’t seem to provide any answers as to what the Doctor and Donna are going to face in the series-ender, but it gives us one of the more depressing things this whole series. We have to watch Donna Noble die. (That’s not what River Song was talking about, was it? DON’T ANSWER THAT.) It’s a sign that, even in this alternate world without the Doctor, Donna is courageous on her own. For me, that is a beautiful, powerful statement. Donna does not need the Doctor to be a royal badass, and I love the message that sends.

I was surprised that time reversed in a way that still allowed Donna to remember some details, at least enough to relay to the Doctor so that he could figure out the beetle was part of the Trickster’s Brigade. I also figured that whatever Rose whispered to Donna wouldn’t be known until at least the next episode or so, but Donna, confused as all hell, merely repeats the words to the Doctor:

Bad Wolf.


Never, ever prepared. I am in an eternal state of unpreparedness with this show, I swear.


  • Badwolf badwolf badwolf badwolf BADWOLF!!!!!!
  • “It’s sort of complicated. I ended up on a spaceship on my wedding day. Long story.”
  • “I’m losing a fortune!” “Well, sack one of this lot. Sack Cliff. He just sits there. Don’t know what he does all day. Sorry, Cliff. Actually, I’m not sorry. What do you do all day?” Love you forever, Donna Noble.
  • “Hole punch, having that, stapler, mine, toy cactus, you can have that Beatrice, cath. Cliff, I’d leave you my mouse mat, but I’m worried you’d cut yourself.”
  • “Dad, take that thing off!” “I shan’t, it’s Christmas.” FUCK YES. Wilfred rules YOUR FACE.
  • BAD WOLF!!!!!!!!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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