In the thirteenth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who, we learn what happens when the Doctor regenerates and then THIS IS SERIOUSLY TOO SAD FOR ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
I have a lot of thoughts. And I just wrote over 4,500 words for Mark Reads, so buckle in, my friends. It’s going to be a lengthy ride.
I spoke pretty candidly in my review for the finale of series two about my attachment to Rose and how I was able to relate to her struggle in my own way. I wanted to provide a bit of additional context before I heaped my praise on Donna because I didn’t want it to seem like I was emotionally cheating on Rose.
Straight up, Donna Noble has been my favorite companion of the Doctor. I still like the previous two companions quite a bit, but so much of Donna’s character has grown on me, from her sense of humor, to the way she interacts with the Doctor, to the rather brilliant, unthanked way that she has forced the Doctor to confront what he has become over the years.
In an entirely different way than Rose, however, I found myself feeling a sense of affinity for the character created by this show. One of my only complaints about this series finale is that by jamming so many plots and characters into the story, I felt that there wasn’t enough time spent on Donna as there could have been, especially after what she did over the course of the fourth season.
Donna was developed not only as a foil to the Doctor but as an exploration on self-esteem. We all knew that Donna was important to the story, that she had done wonderful, courageous things for the entire universe, and yet she still referred to herself as a temp. As the temp. As someone who was disposable and forgettable and worthless in her own eyes. (I think “Turn Left” had a great deal of this self-introspection as well.)
Self-esteem has always played a large part in my identity. I don’t have any stories to tell and I’m not really sure I want to right now. But, if you’ve gleaned anything from what I’ve shared with the world, you know I’ve had some…difficult moments in my past. A lot of what Mark Reads and Mark Watches has done for me is to give me an outlet for my experience and my voice and it’s allowed me to come to terms with a lot of what I’ve gone through. One of the harder things to talk about, through all of it, is self-esteem and self-worth. I think for a lot of people (and please correct me if I’m overstepping myself here) it becomes increasingly complicated to discuss self-esteem because other people, especially those who haven’t experienced bouts of really awful self doubt, are quick to immediately erase the sensation. They want to tell you that what you’re feeling is wrong, that you are not the best judge of your character or situation, and that everything will be ok. Funny thing about it is that it’s generally done with the greatest intentions, as a way to cheer a person up. And I get that. I’ve probably done it myself in the past.
To hear that sensation and feeling vocalized on television was a bizarre thing for me. As Donna continued to insist that she wasn’t worth it, despite that we knew it, I did feel as if I could step into the same situation and nothing would be unfamiliar about it. Ok, well, clearly I am not fighting Daleks to destroy a Reality Bomb. But you get the point. (PS: That is a terrible name for a bomb, FYI.)
I think that Donna is a wonderful character and may always be my favorite one from this entire show, and it hurt so much to see her in pain in this episode because I knew there’d always be a part of me that could relate to her. I have to come to the realization myself that I have done good things and that I’m a person who deserves to enjoy who he is, that’s it’s perfectly ok to take care of yourself and feel proud of yourself and to celebrate my accomplishments. That is not what I was raised with, and despite that I fought it so hard (and still do), most days it is hard to escape that voice in my head that echoes what my parents used to tell me, that I am worthless and pointless and useless, that I was a mistake from the beginning.
I am not. And even if I have to consciously tell myself this, day after day, it was really empowering to watch the same realization on screen with Donna Noble. Sometimes, you have to do this yourself. That’s perfectly ok.
“Journey’s End” is not without it’s problems. Reality Bomb? Really? Ok, that’s pretty small. Rose’s end? ONE OF THE CREEPIEST THINGS I’VE EVER SEEN. Hey, did you miss me, Rose? How about you spend eternity in a parallel universe with a human copy of myself? Holy god, that is so, so, so, so uncomfortable. RIGHT?
But even right from the beginning, this episode is SO TERRIBLY EXCITING. I would never have expected the Doctor to regenerate as himself by using that severed hand that’s been sitting around for years, and the creation of another Doctor was even more shocking. TWO OF THE SAME DOCTOR. Oh my god, in what world is having two David Tennants not the most amazing thing ever?
We also get the return of Mickey (HHHNNNNGGGG) and Jackie, and it’s when I started to feel there was some sort of a reason for this sort of convergence. Why were all of these people come together at this exact moment? There had to be one beyond the need for Davies to show off.
As all of these people revealed their secret weapons, I thought I had it figured out. Was this Davies’s statement about loyalty, about how the companions of the Doctor were so inspired by them that they’d willing to risk anything to save him? Would Sarah Jane, Mickey, Jack, and Jackie destroy themselves via a Warpstar? Would Martha use the Osterhagen Key to DESTROY ALL OF PLANET EARTH? Holy god that key.
It’s eerie how much the scenes with Davros and the Doctor feel like an impromptu trial, that the Doctor’s companions were a parade of witnesses against him, and for me, it is all the more uncomfortable than any Reality Bomb or Dalek. Has the Doctor really inspired that level of violence, that willingness to destroy, in the people he has traveled with? Even if that question is left unanswered, what is answered is the fact that so many people really have died because of the Doctor.
“The man who keeps running, never looking back because he dare not…out of shame! This is my final victory, Doctor; I have shown you yourself.”
Davies is not a perfect writer and he can be wildly inconsistent. But when he attempts to make grand statements about humanity, or at least the humanity of his characters, he routinely knocks it straight out of the park. He needed this. The Doctor needed be told about his actions and most especially the ramifications of them.
This realization affects the entire end of this episode, from the moment the TARDIS shows up to the final moments with Wilfred. Despite that this episode is transfixing, exciting, and fairly depressing, when Donna arrives, it’s a very brief moment of watching Catherine Tate and David Tennant prove exactly how much talent they have. It is funny to see them imitate the more ridiculous tendencies of each others’ character, but it was also sad to me, because I knew that soon, Catherine Tate would be gone from the mythology of this show. But before that happened, we get to see her become a Time Lord. (Well, at least partly so.) It was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen this show do, and I watched her zip about the Crucible with a giant smile plastered on my face.
But that joy did not last long. As Davros was defeated, the Crucible self-destructed, and the Doctor’s companions scattered about time and space, I knew I had to deal with the inevitable. Donna was now half Time Lord. It couldn’t last.
If “Doomsday” was emotionally difficult to watch, then the end of “Journey’s End” is downright unbearable. Donna Noble changed the entire universe, saved everything and everyone, and protected reality itself. But the knowledge of this won’t matter. Being part Time Lord is killing Donna, and I watched in terror, tears in my eyes, as the Doctor placed his hands on Donna’s temples as she begged him to stop, and took away her memories.
Donna Noble will never remember that she saved the world. She will never remember her travels with the Doctor and she will never remember that she mattered. If that is not the definition of tragedy, then I don’t know what is.
- Kasper has informed me that the name of Bad Wolf Bay is some of the poorest usage of Norwegian he has ever seen. Instead, it’s translation is more like, “Beach of the Wolf Who Is Rather Shite At Being A Wolf.”
- I’m also rather sad that we may never see Jackie ever again. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.
- JACK HARKNESS CALLED MICKEY “BEEFCAKE.” Well, at least the two of us are on the same page about how hot Mickey is.
- GERMAN DALEKS!!!!
- “But, every night, Doctor…when it gets dark, and the stars come out, I’ll look up…on her behalf. I’ll look up at the sky…and think of you.” MY CREYS.
- “Oi! Watch it, earthgirl!”
- I found it interesting that Dalek Caan saw what would happen and went ahead with it anyway. So my only question about that is: How can they bring back the Daleks ever again?
- “I just want you to know, there are worlds out there, safe in the sky because of her. That there are people living in the light, and singing songs of Donna Noble, a thousand, million light years away. They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment, one shining moment, she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.”
So here’s what the upcoming schedule will be like:
Tuesday: The Next Doctor
Wednesday: The Genesis of the Daleks (classic Who)
Thursday: Planet of the Dead
Friday: The Waters of Mars
Monday: The End of Time, Part I
Tuesday: The End of Time, Part II
Wednesday: The Mind Robber (classic Who)
Thursday: Start series 5!!!!
Sound acceptable? PARTY TIME.