Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"Journey's End"

I doubt anything could have lived up to the hype surrounding tonight’s season finale. I think it even surpassed the early buzz Star Wars fans had about The Phantom Menace before we all suffered through it in the theaters. The question is whether the episode lived up to the hype or did Russell T. Davies just phone it in before handing over the reins to Steven Moffat.

I have mixed emotions. I was well aware David Tennant was staying on as the Doctorat least through the 2009 specials, so I figured something odd was going to happen with the regeneration. There was even a wink to fans afterwards when the Doctor asked why he would want to change that was essentially tenant speaking. But the result was…peculiar. I would even call it contrived. There was too much here that wrapped four years worth of storylines into a nice little bow, even down to the relatively insignificant question of whether Torchwood’s Gwen Cooper is a descendant of Gwyneth Cooper from the second season episode, “The Unquiet Dead.”I have a beef with the end of Rose’s story, too, but more on that in a minute.

I did like a couple nods to the classic series. Like so many times in the past, Davros appears to be in charge, but is actually being dragged along by his creations just in case they need him for anything else. Davros remarked once to Sarah Jane smith he recognized her from “Genesis of the Daleks” way back in 1975. Even the ultimate plan is an fruition of a hypothetical question the Fourth Doctor asked Davros—whether if he had the power to destroy the universe, would he use it? Thirty-three years later, we discover the answer is yes, yes he would.

You had to figure with planets being stolen, huge Dalek armies invading, and reality being destroyed piece by piece, there was going to be a reset button. I am pleased to know it was on a smaller level instead, dealing only with Donna. It wasa bit of a cop out to claim the death odf a companion was the “death’ of what donna has become after a year of bf traveling with the Doctor, but that is typical cutsy RTD. So are the bitter twists, such as Donna finally becoming the most important being in the universe for a time, then never being able to remember it. With her mind wiped, she was back to shallow, chattering Donna. Seeing her revert back to that made me notice, perhaps for the first time, what a great actress Catherine Tate can be. I am actually going to miss her.

But most every fan was looking forward to the resolution of Rose’s story. It comes back to that wrapped in a neat little package deal I mentioned above. The doctor split three ways because of the botched regeneration; himself, part into Donna, and a human version. The human version is the catalyst for the Daleks’ destruction. He is bourn in war, full of anger and revenge just like the Ninth Doctor was when he met Rose. So when Rose goes back to her parallel Earth, he dumps the human version of himself on her. The two spark up a romance because he sayshe loves her while the real Doctor refuses to put it into words before leaving forever. I would have much preferred Rose get over the Doctor once and for all rather than hook up with a discard the real Doctor does not want to be bothered with.

That is indicative of what Davros was trying to prove to the Doctor to begin with—he is an ass. While he is captured and helpless, Martha plots to use a doomsday device to destroy the earth rather than allow the Daleks to use it in their plans. Jack rigs a device to blow up The Crucible, the pepper pots’ own, personal Death Star. The Doctor is a pacifist, but he has taught his companion the nerve to commit genocide for the sole purpose of stopping the bad guys. What does that say about him? Even after the universe is saved, he dumps Rose with his cast offs and again eliminates Jack’s ability to travel through time. Has he really had a positive influence on any of them? Maybe not, since they all seem to happily go their own way afterwards while he winds up alone.

It is interesting food for thought, but is it enough? I do not think so. I liked this one better than last season’s “The Last of the Time Lords, but not as much as “Doomsday” or “The Parting of the Ways.” Characters were brought back just for the sake of being there. There was no reason to have Jackie or k-9 show up. When Mickey decided to remain on our earth, he told Jackie he would miss her terribly and did not even acknowledge rose at all. What about their relationship? It seems to mean nothing by this point. At least we do know for certain Martha and Mickey are replacing Owen and Tosh in Torchwood next season. Interesting that Tosh wa referenced here but Owen was not. Poor guy is not even remembered in death.

It all comes across as less than thrilling for me. I am appreciative RTD has revived Doctor Who, He got too repetitive with his stories and probably stayed a season too long. What was with his need to humanize the daleks? This is the third time one of them realized what they are doing as a race is evil and must be stopped. Even as loony as Caan was, he manipulated everyone to stop the master plan. It still is not clear even how far his manipulations went. No one has fully explained bad wolf, asa for instance. But that is the way it goes with RTD. Bring on Steven Moffat—and hurry.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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