The fourth series (season, for those of us in the US) finale of Doctor Who aired on Friday on Sci Fi, and John, our resident Who expert, is here with his take on the last two episodes. Here’s his review, with spoilers:
SYNOPSIS: The Doctor and Donna rush back to Earth after receiving Rose’s warning. Things seem fine one minute, but a few minutes later, Earth disappears! As The Doctor hunts down the trail, his friends on Earth try to contact him to warn him. The Daleks are back, and this time, they brought Daddy.
ANALYSIS: It’s one thing to call this two-part finale a great big squee-fest for the fans. To call it that would be missing the intention. The crux of “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” is that we’re seeing how much The Doctor has changed since the Time War ended. We see how his change came about because of his companions and how they, in turn, are changed because of him. The essence of this story is about how one can inspire others and how they can change the world. Even one like Harriet Jones who had fallen from grace redeems herself by uniting “The Children of Time.” The episode never flinches in its resolve to bring out every emotion it can muster from the audience. By the conclusion of the episode every recurring character from the past four series is shown in a grander and more heroic light.
The companion who illustrates this point the most is Donna. Throughout series four we saw her become that magnificent person she always wanted to be. Through her tenacity and her eagerness to do right, she saves the day. All this takes me back to the day when Donna was announced to be returning as a full-time companion. The announcement was met with many derisive comments from the fans. Once the first few episodes aired, all those naysayers stopped and immediately changed their tune. I’d like to think that of all the companions in Nu-Who, Donna is, without a doubt, the most relatable. When we meet her again in “Partners In Crime,” she is clinging to the hope that things will change. It is through hope that she is saved. As time goes on, we discover that her simple knack for being herself aids her in her adventures. She always thinks it is a flaw, but through The Doctor she realizes her full potential, and she becomes extraordinary. So you can imagine how heartbreaking it is when Donna is forced to leave against her and The Doctor’s will. The injury is exacerbated with the fact that Donna will not be allowed to remember it. In the last scene when The Doctor is alone in the TARDIS, you feel the pain of The Doctor’s put-upon solitude. Worst of all, it feels even worse than it did in the beginning of the series. It’s a reminder of why The Doctor is always destined to travel alone, in spite of the fact that he has an incredible surrogate family on Earth.
A miraculous feat of this finale is that it puts all of Russell T. Davies’ achievements on full display in this two-part story. All the things we thought were so insignificant become so much more grandiose. It stings us as Davros resurrects unpleasant memories–memories of all the good people who died bravely during the past four series. After recollecting these events, you are left with a sobering reminder of the tumultuous life The Doctor leads and how he will be saddled with these memories forever.
The constant reemergence of the Daleks is like a bunch of photos from a bad childhood. They keep turning up when you least expect it, and with them always come the bad memories. Now the Daleks are no longer the standard issue monster of the week. They are that constant evil, lingering in the shadows, and they will always be there to haunt The Doctor. The return of Davros (chillingly played by Julian Bleach) gives the Daleks a real voice, a voice which is a weapon that the Daleks alone cannot wield. This voice is a weapon Davros uses and will continue to use to wound The Doctor in ways that conventional weapons fail to do.
It is obvious now that Russell T. Davies has had the past four series meticulously planned from the start, and this final two-parter is a testament to all his endeavors. They solidify his integrity as a storyteller. Steven Moffat may have exceptional skills of his own, but even he can’t deny that come 2010, he’s got some big shoes to fill.
FINAL GRADE: A+ (With Honors)