Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E12 – The Stolen Earth

In the twelfth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, WHAT THE HOLY FLYING FUCK JUST HAPPENED????? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.


I am speechless. What do I say? WHAT DID I JUST WITNESS?

It took some context outside of what was given inside the episode for me to begin to both understand and appreciate the monumental amount of work went into making sure “The Stolen Earth” could even happen. I wasn’t aware that this was Davies final series as showrunner and it helps to explain so much: why all of the companions returned, why the two other Doctor Who-related shows converged in the story, and who so many clues and hints from the past four years were all seemingly answered with grand narrative sweeps. The Shadow Proclamation. Bad Wolf. The Lost Moon of Poosh. Adipose III. The Medusa Cascade. FUCKING DAVROS. DAVROS!!!! Oh my god, my brain is overloaded with information.

On Rose Tyler’s warning from the alternate universe, Donna and the Doctor head back to earth and THE EARTH IS TELEPORTED TO A NEW LOCATION. I mean, seriously, yes, this is all ridiculous and over-the-top and incredibly Russell T Davies and, for now, I JUST DON’T CARE. Oh god, we’ve seen hospitals transported to the moon, but TWENTY-SEVEN PLANETS? Good lord!

At the beginning of “The Stolen Earth,” all of the characters are scattered over various parts of planet Earth while Donna and the Doctor head to the Shadow Proclamation. THE SHADOW PROCLAMATION. IT’S REAL AND WE ARE GOING TO SEE IT.

I honestly did not expect that the Proclamation was an actual organization. I’d always assumed the Doctor was invoking a rule or a set of laws and then I saw the Judoon and HEAD EXPLOSION. I loved the Shadow Architect; her make-up and costuming was another unexpected detail, but I was sort of surprised they had no idea the Doctor was still around. Wouldn’t they have known if there was one singular Time Lord left?

Regardless, one of the main theme’s of Donna’s character is continued here in “The Stolen Earth.” Donna’s self-esteem was a main focus of that episode and we still see how she questions and doubts herself, yet it’s her two suggestions that help the Doctor put together the pieces of what’s happening. I love the idea that this season is building up to a point where the Doctor realizes he needs Donna (and all of his companions) far more than they need him.

The big reveal for this episode is the return of the Daleks. I’m going to admit a couple things here, just right off the bat. I don’t understand the logistics of Dalek Caan bringing back Davros. So he escaped last series through a temporal shift, entered the locked time war, grabbed Davros, lost his sanity while being able to see the future, and then Davros built the Dalek empire out of his stomach? Is that correct? I think those are all the pieces, but this episode in particular is extensively dense, so it was hard enough trying to keep track of the twenty million separate plots on top of this.

Additionally, I like the idea of Davros, and I recognized his name as the one who initially created the Daleks so long ago. His make-up was some of the best in the entire run of Davies’s reign. But I was reminded of my experience watching “School Reunion” in series two, when, incidentally, we first met Sarah Jane Smith in the newer series. Like that episode, I understood the dramatic weight Davies carried in bringing back Davros, but for me…it’s not that I didn’t care. I do!!! But I have no history with him, no real experience with his character and what he did in the canon of the show.

That being said, I don’t think I would have been as excited or joyous to have the Daleks return with Davros. He’s the real key to tie this all together, especially since it creates such an awful situation for Sarah Jane and the Doctor, who have battled him before. Putting Davros in the center of this gives a much more credible justification for the return of the Daleks. (Which I wondered about anyway, since it seems the Daleks must appear at least once each series.)

I think my only complaint for this first parter is that THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON. I don’t watch The Sarah Jane Adventures and I’ve only seen the pilot of Torchwood, so I can’t feel too attached to all the time spent on both of those teams. I mean, I think I understand the need to have the Doctor’s companions appear here. Well…I’m sure I’m completely unprepared. But you know what I mean. Still, THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON. Martha Jones has the ability to transport herself via technology stolen from the Sontarans and has an Osterhagan key that does…something? It opens a door? LOOK, I DON’T KNOW.

I like Jack’s team from the only exposure I’ve had to them, but they certainly do a lot of…hiding. So does Sarah Jane and her son Luke. Rose is back, but she’s unable to contact anyone aside from Martha Jones, but I didn’t realize why this happened this way until the end. WHICH I WILL GET TO. There’s a way that all of this frenetic works; it was incredibly hard for me to turn my eyes away from the screen for even a second, as I knew I’d miss something. I am worried that Davies has bit off more than he can chew, but at the same time…look, it’s his last couple of episodes. He’s going to bring it all out, isn’t?

To further tie things together, I found the episodes greatest casting surprise to be the return of Harriet Jones, ex-Prime Minister, who managed to contact Mr. Copper from “Voyage of the Damned” to help with a “secret” that she uses to contact all of the Doctor’s companions. (Well, not Rose, BUT I’M GETTING TO THAT.) We’re at a point where there’s no need to expect the companions of the Doctor to fight with each other or to feel jealous, and I think that’s part of a larger theme that Davies likes to address in his more grandiose scripts. When Harriet Jones shares her idea for contacting the Doctor with the companions, I feel that it’s this theme manifested. The concept of the entire group phoning the Doctor at the same time is, of course, really silly, but who cares at this point? It’s about cooperation. It’s about people who have met the Doctor coming together on their own to do what they think is right

But really, if we’re going to talk about companions and the Doctor, this episode rests on an emotional climax that we’ve been waiting for, for a long, long time. As the companions succeed in contacting the Doctor, who also figures out that Earth is hidden in a DESYNCHRONIZED POCKET UNIVERSE, which is THE COOLEST THING EVER, the inevitable begins to happen. The Doctor learns of the Dalek invasion at the hands of Davros. He learns that his companions are on Earth, ready to save the world. But all of this pales to the moment when the Doctor and Donna stand on earth, the Doctor wondering what Rose told Donna in the alternate universe, and she tells him: “Why don’t you ask her yourself?”

It’s beautiful. And as they run towards each other, I suddenly felt suspicious about Davros’s demand to the Daleks and when one appeared, I knew that Rose would die, that this is how Davies would write her out of the series.

And then the Dalek shoots the Doctor.

And then the Daleks descend on the Torchwood Headquarters.

And then the Daleks confront Sarah Jane.

If that isn’t enough of a goddamn cliffhanger, I watched in disbelief as the Doctor is dragged to the TARDIS and he begins to regenerate. AND THEN THE EPISODE IS OVER.

Is this it??? Is this where Matt Smith steps in? I yelled at the screen SO LOUD. Oh my god THIS EPISODE. THIS EPISODE.


  • Man, the Daleks straight fucked shit up in this episode. The Valiant and the UNIT headquarters are gone. And I imagine there’s no way to bring them back, is there?
  • The “lost moon of Poosh” rolls off the tongue really well.
  • What the hell is the Osterhagen key?
  • I never would have expected that Rose would end up with the Nobles. Wlifred seemed particularly weepy in this episode. Just a thought.
  • That’s ok, though, because Wilfred used a paintball gun against a Dalek. Greatest thing ever or greatest thing ever?
  • Ok, so “maximum extermination” is pretty scary.
  • I feel like the “time lock” detail regarding the Time War is a HUGE reveal to me. It helps explain why the Doctor hasn’t gone back to change the war or do anything about it.
  • Harriet Jones is an interesting character, and her death was pretty sad, though I’m glad she went out fighting and doing something good.
  • “Have you got a webcam?” “No, she won’t let me. She told me they’re naughty.”
  • “Death is coming! I can see it, unending death for the most faithful companion!” UGH COULD THIS NOT HAPPEN

About Mark Oshiro

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

752 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S04E12 – The Stolen Earth

  1. Late for the party so I'll just add in a bunch of fangirl squeels because this is my favorite two-parter and season closer and I've been waiting for you to get to this point for ages. Yeah, science is completely ridiculous in this as usual (planet teleporter? REALLY?) but it's just an absolute joy watching all the cast interact with each other. I especially loved when Wilf and Rose meets up and he holds up his paint gun and goes "Want to swap?" Never change Wilf, never change.

  2. notemily says:

    Hyperbole and a Half is the best thing ever.

  3. stellans says:

    This episode was my first experience with Doctor Who, and it very nearly drove me away. I watched it cold, no preparation, no background, nothing. It was so confusing and hard to follow — but something about the characters really drew me in, and I didn't watch any more until I could find the first episodes of the new series and watch them in order. All was then well. 🙂

  4. Holly says:

    As someone who freaking loves all of the companions (even if you ship one companion with the Doctor!) this episode is one hot mess of awesome (which is, strangely, a very good thing). RTD is bombastic, sure, but he makes it work.

  5. Patrick says:

    I get goosebumps everytime I watch this episode, at one part.
    “I’m receiving a communication from the earthbound ships. They have a message for the human race.”
    “Put it through. Let’s hear it.”
    The way everyone just breaks down, and just hearing that one word over and over…jesus. Hell, I’m getting goosebumps just typing it out.

  6. BBQ Platypus says:

    One question: What exactly is Richard Dawkins doing being brought on television to talk about the planet moving, seeing as how he's an evolutionary biologist and not an astronomer? Was Patrick Moore out of town or something?

    The real reason, I suspect, is his personal connection to the show – he's married to Lalla Ward, aka Romana II.

    • kaybee42 says:

      They should totally have had Brian Cox do it!!!!! I mean, I squeed over Dawkins being in Doctor Who, but *Professor* Cox? Mmmmm! He's totally gorgeous and appropriate to talk about the earth moving 🙂

      • Starsea28 says:

        Back then, Professor Cox hadn't taken the world by storm, which is sad as he would have been far more appropriate. But then he might have started talking about what would happen to the moon and the other planets and they'd have changed the channel. *lol*

  7. hilarius11 says:

    Don't worry Mark! Everything will be wonderful. And If not, you can always just rewatch this over and over.

    • MowerOfLorn says:

      Oh, I absolutely love that song- maybe its because its from Wicked. Maybe because its about Doctor Who. Maybe its because John Barrowman sings it. Okay, its definitely all three of those things!

    • scholastika says:

      How have I never seen that before?? Wicked+Doctor Who, two of my favourite things!

  8. ThreeBooks says:

    Mark… Mark, I'm sorry, but I can't stand to let you break your heart like this.

    The truth is, Ten doesn't regenerate right now. The Dalek's extermination beam is made of dirty Huon Particles, and the Time Vortex threatens to collapse if he tries, so he dies on the floor of the TARDIS, Billie Piper crying unbeautifully into his jacket, and the season switches to Donna's point of view.

    Something really weird happens, though, after they defeat Davros and send him back into the time war; the TARDIS decides that since it needs a Time Lord to run it, it may as well have a BAMF like Donna doing it, so Donna becomes a Time Lady and is forced to regenerate into Karen Gillian, who then changes her name to Amy Pond. She also picks up a companion named Gerald Jones, played by Matt Smith, who is an alien from the 51st century that breathes gold dust. He is also engaged to the incredibly sexy Rory Williams, played by what's-his-face, but he isn't important so there are next to no GIFs of him.

    I know your spoiler policy is very strict and all… but really, could you have sat through all that without bawling your eyes out?

    (FORGOT TO MENTION: Rose, Martha, and Roses's mom end up dying in a fire, and when Buttercup attempts to stand as close as possible to their corpses in order to get warm, a Dalek exterminates her. Him? Her.)

  9. Openattheclose says:

    Is this it??? Is this where Matt Smith steps in?
    Ahem, what makes you think he regenerates into Matt Smith, Mark? I am sorry, I am going to have to spoil you here.
    <img src=>

  10. @nessalh says:

    I love this episode with every fiber of my being. SERIOUSLY. It's all SO AWESOME. When Rose and the Doctor make eye contact and start running, I wanted everything to go in slow motion and for them to play the happiest/saddest reunion music that ever existed.

    Davros kind of scares me, but mostly whenever he talks I just want to clear my throat.

  11. @nessalh says:

    PS (I type that entire comment with a giant kitten on my lap, so I ought to be congratulated)

  12. jackiep says:

    Nobody was prepared for this one, especially when it first went out. I was not prepared either when my phone rang 5 minutes after broadcast, from a mate who was at a party, guest of honour one certain writer. People at the part were phoning up their mates just so that he could have a good laugh at people's flabbergasted reactions. Laughed at I was… I did point out that I really didn't want to find myself watching James Nesbitt or John Simm as the Doctor the following week. And anyway, where's my next time trailer? He just laughed harder and told me not to believe everything I read on the Internet!

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  14. gsj says:

    i'm waiting with ~*baited breath*~

    • __Jen__ says:

      Lol I will not be able to live up that. 😀

      I guess this is all part of a greater problem I have with some of nuWho (which I still love, so don't get me wrong). I don't particularly think that the Doctor is asexual, but a conventional love story involving the Doctor is just not something I care about watching. Obviously the showrunners can do whatever they like with it and many people enjoy it, but it's not my personal preference. I will say I loved Nine and Rose together. They were adorable. Ten and Rose had a dynamic I didn't really enjoy, but I could handle it. However, I do feel like the constant linking back to her and that relationship in subsequent seasons did drag down the momentum of each of those new story lines and took the focus off of the new companions too much. I get that the Doctor would clearly be suffering after Rose was trapped in the alternate universe, so bringing her up wasn't an odd thing to do, but it was frustrating to watch it stifle the new dynamics of the show. By introducing this love story, they had to deal with those repercussions in subsequent seasons. Because of this, I don't really feel like the following companions/stories got their fair shake. As you said, it was still a lot about Rose and the Doctor experiencing angst over her. As much as I did like Rose, I want to watch the Doctor experiencing new things and engaging in new relationships (like he has all along) without quite so much obvious attachment to the past.

      If NuWho is as much about the companions as the Doctor, as it has been said to be, I want it to be about the companions equally. The constant invoking of nostalgia for past seasons really did disrupt too much of the 3rd and 4th season. Looking at Martha, almost every discussion of her character circulates back to her crush and her reactions to the Doctor constantly bringing up Rose. I don't really have a problem with Martha falling for the Doctor, but the way the show dealt with the repercussions of Ten/Rose almost did a disservice to her character. S4's most obvious recurring meme was the appearance of Rose. Yes, Martha reappeared, but it had a very different tone- showing her moving forward as a character rather than looking back. With Rose, it almost became a sort of Where's Waldo? with a side of "how the fuck is that happening" which, while it is justified by the story, was a distraction that just made me wish that Donna could have had a narrative arc that was all about her. To sum things up, I agree that it was a unsatisfying narrative choice that doesn't really fit with the style of the show as a whole. YMMV definitely though.

      LONG WORD VOMIT IS LONG and not at all deep. Sorry. /o\

  15. justapalindrome says:

    This ep was one giant emotional roller coaster for me. I was excited that all the companions were coming back, and then i was freaking out because of the whole Davros thing, and then finally Rose and the Doctor meet up, and as they are dramatically running toward one another HE GETS FRICKING SHOT AND THE EP ENDS! At this point I just screamed and probably blacked out due to lack of oxygen to my brain haha.

  16. plummy says:

    I am SO EXCITE for Monday! It's gonna be TOTALLY AWESOME!!111!

  17. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    For anyone who reads this far in the comments….

    The forums for Mark Reads/Watches should be done today or tomorrow.


  18. Cathy (catd94) says:

    I cried so hard. It was horrible. I was just sitting at my laptop crying forever and ever

    I loved the whole reunion part of this ep. I was just squeeing over everyone.

  19. CBG says:

    Rose and 10 running toward each other made me gag, then LMAO. I would have found it terrible if it were anyone else, though.

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