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20 March 2015 @ 08:23 pm
NuWho Rewatch: Stolen Earth/Journey's End  
NLSS Child was hugely excited by the end of the pre-credits sequence to this, even though she had had to have the identities of Gwen and Ianto explained to her. I've observed before that things clearly designed to excite the fans, excite her even when she lacks the fannish context. So she was really excited by the convergence of all things Davies Doctor Who, and particularly impressed by the number of names appearing before the logo in the pre-credits sequence. She was also excited by the appearance of Davros and Sarah Jane in the same story (having watched the first episode of Genesis of the Daleks with us for the Randomiser but subsequently opted out of the rest of the story). In fact she was so excited I was a little concerned she would fall off the sofa, though in the event the worst that happened was she bounced on top of the keyboard for the computer that runs the telly and exited us out of the DVD*.

In my memory the central point of this episode was the way the Doctor weaponises his companions and, indeed, on the rewatch I had assumed that this was part of what episodes like The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky and The Doctor's Daughter were building towards. But that actually feels like a fairly minor part of what is going on and the interesting point, one which the Doctor doesn't make (probably because he's angsting) is that what the companions have learned is that they must give the Daleks an opportunity to back down. Although, I note in passing, they give the Daleks informed choices while the Doctor tends to offer a choice without spelling out the consequences.

Having read The Writer's Tale I'm aware how late the scripts were for this and Davies' own dissatisfaction with the way Rose's story, in particular, is resolved. In this light some of the cracks do show rather. For instance the blue suit Doctor accurately identifies that much of Donna's attitude is bluster concealing a lack of self-confidence and but then, in spite of all the brilliant things Donna has genuinely done this season, the characters seem to stutter to halt unable to articulate what is so brilliant about her and, in the end, her specialness seems to rest more on the accident of the meta-crisis than on Donna's own qualities: her refusal to be cowed by people who think they are her betters, her refusal to accept defeat, her consistent compassion and ability to look for the people beneath the surface, her curiosity and quick wits.

Rose has to leave because Billie Piper isn't returning to the show but Davies continues to struggle to figure out a reason for her departure that isn't tragic. In the end, it does look a bit as though the Doctor, having moved on, is anxious to dump her back somewhere she can no longer reach him - blue suit notwithstanding. It also seemed odd that, by the end, the two Doctors were essentially insisting that they were identical when, earlier, there was this suggestion that blue suit had more than a little of Donna in him. It would have been nice to see more of that - blue suit as a distinct character - but of course that would undermine even further Rose's supposed happy ending.

One thing that did surprise me was how nostalgic this all made me feel. They are not quite the UNIT family, but the final assembly on the Tardis does feel a bit like the family of the Davies years. We will not get to see most of these characters again in Doctor Who, Moffat having his own ensemble to build (mostly the paternoster gang). It seems a particular shame that we see no more of Captain Jack who I never felt worked in Torchwood, but I always really enjoyed in Doctor Who for the lightness he brought to his episodes. But this is really a farewell to an era. It's going to straggle on for a few more episodes but the new broom is already looming on the horizon and Davies seems to know this. I realised I missed all these characters and it has been good to revisit them.

Having bounced through a good hour and a bit of Doctor Who, NLSS Child was reduced to floods of tears by Donna's fate even though, as she explained, she already knew what was coming being no stranger to YouTube (not to mention the "How to be a Time Lord" book supplied by Father Christmas). Post episode discussion included the observation that Martha had had the happiest ending, while Donna's had been the most tragic. Donna, she decided, was her favourite companion. I said Donna was also my favourite companion but that Tame Layman didn't like her. Tame Layman responded that she wasn't as bad as Rose but refused to elaborate on Rose's sins.

To be honest, I enjoyed this two parter a lot more than I expected to. A lot of it was the sheer enjoyment of revisiting a group of characters who vanished when Moffat took over, but then that was always a part of the point and to do the story credit it gives everyone an reasonable amount to do. All things considered it makes a good end to Davies time on the show, pulling a lot of plot threads (e.g. the Dalek storyline) and themes (the way the Doctor changes companions and they change him) together and rounding them off in a story with Davies' typical over-the-top ambition and eye for spectacle.

*In her defence she claims she merely moved a blanket that it happened to be resting on.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/149136.html.
 
 
 
wellinghallwellinghall on March 21st, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC)
I am amused by NLSS Child exiting you out of the DVD, and her feeble excuse defence for doing so :-)
louisedennislouisedennis on March 21st, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
I was pretty amused, and nothing was damaged so all was good.