Doctor Who 4.12: The Stolen Earth

Multiple spoilers beneath the cut. Trust me, you don’t want to peek if you haven’t seen the episode yet!


I finally got to see Doctor Who last night and I am now so, so, so glad that I didn’t peek at any of the spoilers I’ve been seeing around for the last few weeks. The episode left me rather stunned and I’m still not sure that I’ve recovered yet.

Wow.

Things of note (apart from the obvious final three minutes):

– Donna! Donna!
– Wilf is so cool ๐Ÿ™‚
– Despite Wilf being super cool, I am actually glad that the paint gun didn’t work. That would have been way too old school Dalek. The thing with the Daleks in modern DW is that they really feel like an implacable, indestructable enemy.
– Rose managed to lose the speech impediment from last week and became even cooler. Yay for Rose!
– Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister. I still adore her to pieces.
– I was ridiculously excited to see the Torchwood and SJA crew. Yes, I had seen the hints that they would be there, but it was still very exciting.
– Shadow Proclamation! I think I called on them being important in episode two. Good to see my assumptions proved correct.
– The Judoon (sp?) proving to work for the Shadow Proclamation actually works really well for me.
– Time Lords as myth? Also works surprisingly well.
– The Time War is time-locked. That actually makes sense and solves the eternal question of why nobody just went back and tried to stop it.
– OK, so the Confidential last week had spoiled me for Davros (I have avoided this week’s Confidential totally) but it was still a bit of a thrill to see him. The reveal was done really well, I thought. The gradual showing of him, hiding in the shadows but with enough for old school fans to immediately recognise him really worked.
– Re-creating the Daleks from Davros’ cells also worked. He created “true Daleks”: made from Kaled cells rather than trying to find human cells with sufficient resemblance. Why yes, I have just watched Parting of the Ways.
– Dalek Caan was definitely creepy. And if he could get past the time-lock, I’m starting to think that this might be a loop-hole that could be used to bring the Time Lords back. Worth pondering and I suspect there will be a flood of fanfic on the subject.
– Martha is very cool. And for some reason, I really liked seeing her mother.
– The expression on each character’s face as they heard the Daleks broadcast, the knowledge of what was facing them and that they were going to die, was both heartbreaking and beautiful.
– I knew we would have a cliff-hanger, but I am now so unbelievably impatient for next Saturday. Seriously. And I’m going to be playing trailer avoidance because I really want to get to next Saturday unspoiled.

I suspect that I’ll be forgetting things in this review so there may be some follow-up reviews ๐Ÿ™‚

The thing that really got me was that ending. I’ve been avoiding spoilers like the plague and now I’m really glad because the regeneration took me totally by surprise. Nope, I hadn’t even seen a hint. I watched the Confidential for the second library episode afterwards (yes, I’m behind in my Confidential watching) and I spotted a couple of hints that this might be what would happen, but none of those hints would have stood out until I watched this episode. My anti-spoiler policy really paid off because the impact from the regeneration was incredible. I just sat there and felt stunned.

The other thing that got me was the way that Ten died. That moment of pure joy as he ran to Rose was beautiful and then the Dalek appeared. I was sure that it would shoot Rose and then the Doctor went negative and collapsed. Ouch.

Donna’s reaction was just perfect. I loved the knowing smile as she told the Doctor to turn around because Rose was there, the understanding that his relationship with Rose is different from her relationship with him and that it’s OK, it doesn’t change their friendship. It was just right. Then her fear and pain at the idea that the Doctor is going to die. I liked that he hadn’t told her about regeneration because really, how do you explain it? Jenny didn’t regenerate and obviously Martha didn’t explain that she should have. Of all the people in the TARDIS, it was only Donna that didn’t know what would happen and her reaction was exactly what it should have been.

It was Rose’s reaction to the regeneration that surprised me. She is the only one who has seen a regeneration in person so she knew that he wasn’t going to die. I wonder whether her reaction was because she knows better than anyone that even though the Doctor wouldn’t die, the Doctor that she had known would die. She is able to make that distinction between the different bodies and yet also understand that they are the same person, but she didn’t want to lose the Doctor that she had come to know and love.

I suspect that the regeneration is going to be discussed to death this week. I can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t know who Eleven is going to be. Part of me wants to know because I’m curious, but a bigger part of me really wants to see it revealed for the first time next week. I suspect that the impact is going to be bigger if I don’t know but I have this nasty feeling that no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to avoid finding out.

The scenes with Donna’s family were done really well. I love how brave Wilf is, even though he knows that he can’t really do anything. Sylvia’s disbelief in Donna is both sad and appropriate to her character. I can see why the pre-Bride Donna was the way she was: she learned from her mother how to avoid seeing the big picture and only see the world she has created around her. The Doctor pricked that little bubble and Donna is enough like her grandfather to relish everything that she can now see. Her mother doesn’t want to see it and, even more importantly, doesn’t want to see how much her daughter has changed. Sylvia almost seems afraid of the idea that Donna could be out there doing something more than she did. The contrast with Jackie, who was afraid for her daughter but also so proud, really stands out having watched the S1 finale so recently.

I loved the scenes in Torchwood, Jack so protective of his people and those tiny hints at what Jack and Ianto share. Something about Doctor Who seems to bring John Barrowman’s acting talents out – maybe it’s because he suits the big finale stories better than some of the smaller, more nuanced stories he’s had in Torchwood?

As I mentioned, one of the moments that got me was the reaction shots of each character as they heard the Dalek broadcast. They all know what the Daleks are, they’ve all experienced what they can do and they know that without the Doctor they stand no chance.

The mass telephone call had echoes of last year’s season finale, but without some of the overtones that I wasn’t happy with last year. RTD does have a bit of an obsession with the idea and this year he’s doing a better job with it. In general, this year’s finale already feels much better than last year’s, closer in tone to the previous two finales. Perhaps it’s because Daleks just make really good finale enemies?

Finally seeing the Shadow Proclamation was very cool. The hints that we’ve seen over the years have told us that they’re powerful and only interfere in fairly major events. The Judoon make sense as their active field agents. It makes me wonder exactly what the creature in Smith and Jones had done to get the Shadow Proclamation after it. They don’t strike me as a group that goes after low-level psychopathic murderers. It’s interesting that the Doctor didn’t want them actually involved – perhaps he knows that they aren’t going to have much regard for the victims on the stolen planets as long as they find who did it?

The stolen planet still intrigue me. “Perfectly balanced” and the hints that they can create huge amounts of energy imply that there is something else to be revealed about this idea. Davros must have a plan beyond the simple subjugation of Earth, he always does.

The disappearing bees are so cool. Some bees are alien: I love it.

There is so much in this episode to discuss and I know that there are things lurking in the back of my mind that I wanted to mention. RTD has created another huge, epic finale and I know that it’s only going to get bigger next week. It’s one of the things that he’s so good at. His smaller scale episodes often fall apart (Midnight being the exception IMO), but when RTD gets his hands on the big epics he delivers. Is it Saturday yet?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cristina
    Jun 30, 2008 @ 12:49:43

    I like Ten! *sobs* Sadly, it’s not Saturday yet.

    One of the reasons I’ve read for Rose’s behaviour when Ten starts the regeneration process is that she also knows that the Doctor goes through a weak period after one, and this is just not the time for some tea and regeneration.
    I shouted “no!” at the screen when the stupid Dalek appeared, and was really sad when the regeneration started.

    I don’t want Sarah Jane and the Torchwood people to die, but I don’t know how the Doctor is going to manage to regenerate, have some tea and change clothes before rescuing them.

    I too loved the reactions to the Daleks broadcast. So much emotion, especially from Jack (I think I hadn’t put him as the emotional type – note that I haven’t seen any Torchwood).

    Ok, it’s been some time. Is it Saturday now?

    Reply

  2. archerygirl
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 10:47:31

    Sadly, itโ€™s not Saturday yet.

    But we are now getting closer. Phew!

    she also knows that the Doctor goes through a weak period after one, and this is just not the time for some tea and regeneration

    That makes a lot of sense. It’s really not a good time for a post-regeneration Doctor!

    They’ve left it at a really good cliff-hanger because I just can’t see how everyone will get out. Less than 36 hours until I find out, though!

    Reply

  3. hal786
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 12:11:00

    salam
    hey!
    i luv watchin doctor who
    ooh cant wait till the christmas speciall!
    i’ve also put up a post about doctor who about the finale episode, u can check it out:
    http://hal786.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/doctor-who-finale/2/

    Reply

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