The real journey’s end?

There’s been a very DW-shaped hole in the British press over the last week or two, as new series of “Robin Hood” and “Primeval” kicked off to grace our early Saturday evenings, and several critics complained that they lacked the Doctor’s lightness of touch. That’s probably why there’s been so much good publicity for POTD – we make the most of what we’ve got.

It looks like it’ll be a good romp, but I get the feeling that the hardcore fans are much more interested in what will basically be the final three-parter (RTD likes those, doesn’t he?) I’ve a feeling it’s going to deliver a few shocks that’ll make JE end look mild in comparison. Here, FWIW, is my prediction.


Donna’s going to die. How do I know? Well, I don’t, of course. I’m just going on my hunches – that JE was very much unfinished business and the reactions of both actors and production staff conveyed that at the time, that Ten and Rose in the Alt!verse has so much spin-off potential that any TV producer would be insane to let it go and that the overwhelming, distinctive story of the RTD years has been the Doctor and Rose. I still think that is going to be honoured with an appropriate ending. I didn’t say happy – you could argue that JE was that. Happy, but not appropriate. It didn’t feel like the right ending, because it was not. Not the ending, that is.

It’s safe to say that whatever RTD goes on to do, he’ll never get a better opportunity than the end of his DW tenure to pull off what he’s always referred to as the Holy Grail of TV drama – the completely unpredicted character death. He’s already tested the water for his two most controversial decisions – the “death” of a companion and the Ten/Rose happy ending, in JE. He’ll be aware of the charge that killing off a loved companion could upset the kiddies (never mind the grown-ups). But Donna’s end has been prepared for. First, by the loss of so much that made her narrative arc meaningful in JE. Second, by the time we witness it, she’ll have been off-screen as a regular for nearly 18 months, long enough for the kiddies to forget her a bit.

Many Donna fans have noticed how, compared to Martha, Donna’s received little attention in the novels and other spin-offs. In fact, there have only been a trio of “proper” Donna stories. The fourth, “Beautiful Chaos”, was very much an elegy to the Doctor/Donna relationship. It’s framed by Wilf and Sylvia remembering it, a theme that’s underscored by personal loss in both characters’ lives (the story starts on the anniversary of Geoff Noble’s death, and Wilf  becomes involved with someone who’s losing her mind to dementia). There’s even a farewell letter from Donna to her Mum explaining that she belongs with the Doctor, regardless of the price she’ll have to pay. It’s very different from Martha, who continued to have published adventures with the Doctor long after S3 was over. I believe there’s a reason for that.

Let’s turn to the prophecies. There’s three significant ones, at least – Caan’s warning that “one of them will die”, the Shadow Proclamation’s hint of Donna having to make a terrible sacrifice and, going a little further back, the Ood’s prediction that the Doctor’s song was soon to change. RTD himself has said that is about the Doctor’s death, he perceived it as such and he’s “haunted by it.” Okay, so RTD’s interpretations aren’t always reliable, but I’ll be coming back to that later.

Starting with Caan – well, people will argue, Donna as we know it did die, so that’s  been fulfilled. That’s a fair point, although it’ll be badly undermined if she returns. It won’t be any more convincing than the Beast’s prediction that Rose would die. We saw RTD wriggle out of that and he’s pushing his luck if he does it again. It would be more in character for the old rascal to lull us into a sense of security and then kill Donna, after all. He’s even had a practise run at companion death on Christmas Day, when we lost Astrid in VOTD.

Next, the Shadow Proclamation. It was possibly lost in the general noise of that frantic episode, but the Chief Constable said very clearly that Donna would have to make a sacrifice. That implies an element of choice and self-determination, which she was denied. She didn’t want to lose her memories, so they were removed against her will. Regardless of the moral argument, that’s not a sacrifice, or at least not one you need to purify yourself for in advance.

The Ood’s prophecy is perhaps the most cryptic. “A new song” could be sad or happy. However, by that stage in Ten’s career, a sad song would hardly be a new one. It seems especially incongruous that in a scene celebrating freedom and happiness, the Ood offer to share their song with the Doctor when all it will express is his continued misery. But there’s a lovely sense of things coming full circle if the tale of the Doctor making good his failure to protect the Ood at the end of TSP culminates in them predicting that the glory of that episode, his unswerving belief in Rose Tyler, will ultimately be vindicated.

Of course, the last people to give anything significant away are likely to be RTD and DT themselves, but they’ve both dropped interesting tidbits. Back in the Christmas Radio Times, RTD warned viewers that regeneration wasn’t a straightforward process, and gave a big hint that the Doctor hadn’t heard the last of his botched one. RTD has also taken great care to warn us of the Doctor’s impending “death”. But wouldn’t it be typical of him to be concealing the shock of Donna’s death by setting us up for Ten’s?

There are a couple of problems with getting too heavily into the concept of how and why the Doctor’s going to die. First, spin it how you like, it won’t have shock value because the viewers know it’s going to happen and that he won’t die in the way a human character would. We have to believe that in some sense the Doctor lives on as the same consciousness or it makes nonsense of the whole show. Then there is the issue of repetition. It’s been suggested that Ten will perish saving Donna’s life. That raises the question of why he didn’t do that first time around – he had little enough to live for by the end of JE.  Also, it would be virtually identical to the way that Nine died for Rose in POTW. I think they’d want to avoid that, if only because it cheapens what little we have of Nine’s unique contribution to the story. It’s bound to invite comparison.

We can also be reasonably sure that if Donna’s “fix” is in trouble, there’s a fair chance that Handy’s will be as well. The two characters are very closely linked. In fact, 10.5 states unequivocally that it was the touch of Donna’s hand that brought him into being. If the original Doctor separated himself from Rose a second time because the only hope of keeping both the second Doctor and Donna alive was if they were in separate universes, that makes him an infinitely more attractive character than the self-destructive emo he appeared to be in JE. As many people have noted, it simply wasn’t consistent characterisation for the man who ran joyfully to meet Rose at the end of TSE to decide he couldn’t handle loving a human woman at the end of the next episode.

By contrast, the drama and angst of Ten sacrificing the love of his life to save his best mate is pure TV gold. He wouldn’t tell anybody why he was doing it for the very good reason that if he did Donna would be the first person to slap his face and tell him not to be a pillock. It would also present viewers with the unedifying spectacle of seeing the reunited lovers condemn 10.5 to death. Anyone familiar with “The Writers Tale” will recall how Rusty agonised over the Bad Wolf Bay scene; candid though that account of the creative process was, would he really have been so honest about his dissatisfaction with it if he hadn’t already been thinking in terms of a second attempt at its resolution?

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Rose will lose her happy ending with 10.5. It could be that either Ten or Donna sacrifice themselves to prevent that happening – or that, as was RTD’s original intention, Ten himself goes to Rose when he regenerates, and replaces Handy. But I do think we can infer that (a) Donna’s memory-wipe is at risk somehow, or why bring her back at all? and (b) that will have implications for Handy and Rose that will, somehow, need to be fixed.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities – there are several other intriguing ones, such as the return of the Master or even a complete Time War retcon. It’s all deliciously speculative. DT himself says of the narrative arc after the Easter Special, “When we start on the next script, you can sense the bell tolling for the Tenth Doctor. Something happens in that one that fundamentally alters who the Doctor is and where he is, which is the sort of thing you can only do when you know you’re coming to the end.”

Intriguing stuff indeed, and it could give a whole new meaning to the “whole new man” line. My personal hope is that he’s given the option of living a human lifespan with Rose, but if he is it will be at a terrible cost. The high price tag of such happy outcomes is built into the moral underpinning of the show. There are very few occasions, arguably none at all from RTD’s pen, when everybody lives. But it is also a series that consistently celebrates the ability of ordinary people to make extraordinarily brave and unselfish decisions. That was why the fate of Donna in JE felt so wrong – the Doctor had apparently taken that away from her. It was particularly difficult to take because in “Turn Left” we had seen Donna’s potential to sacrifice her very life to the greater good – and Rose, standing in as the Doctor in absentia, had been the priestly figure expressing sorrow and regret that such a sacrifice was required of her.

I wonder if RTD ever guessed just how much Donna would be loved as a character? I’d hate to think of him rubbing his hands and chuckling at the thought of bumping her off, but I think the end of JE showed that there are, literally, fates worse than death – at least in TV drama. Such fates are those that contradict everything about a character that has captured our hearts and made them memorable. Donna deserves to make her own choices, not only in some fan-created AU where she can be awesome in a Doctor-less career, but right up there on screen, finishing what started when she stood there in her wedding gown and held out a lifeline to him. Much as I love Donna (in fact, because I love her so much) I can’t think of a better way for her to go than by deciding, of her own free will, that through her death she will give this character, who has saved so many people, the chance to finish the sentence he was in the middle of when she burst into his life three years ago. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that RTD had planned it that way all along.

High-profile, prime-time character death is a sure route to a place in broadcasting history, but I hope that RTD will be remembered best not as the person who had the guts to kill off a loved companion, but who had the cheek and the courage to give the Doctor what he needed more than anything and would always deny himself – his hearts’ desire and the dream of a normal life. It would be the wrenching but life-enhancing culmination of a story that has been, more than anything else, about love in all its forms – love of planet and species (both native and adopted), romantic love (fulfilled and unrequited) and, arguably the greatest of all, the love that willingly lays down its life for a friend.



34 thoughts on “The real journey’s end?

  1. it simply wasn’t consistent characterisation for the man who ran joyfully to meet Rose at the end of TSE to decide he couldn’t handle loving a human woman at the end of the next episode
    I think maybe some of the bloom came off of Rose when she thought he was going to regenerate and it mattered so much for her – that she wasn’t ready to accept him for everything he is. It did for me anyway.

  2. This particular post isn’t really about Rose, but I do get the feeling that for many people she just couldn’t win in JE. If people aren’t bashing her for using the dimension cannon they’re angry with her for feeling emotional about him regenerating. It all sounds a bit like finding reasons to dump her with the human Doctor to me. The fact is – and this is on your own LJ, Jo – RTD doesn’t write perfect characters. He writes believable ones. I think the longing for Rose is nothing to do with whether she’s a perfect person (though at times the Doctor does over-idealise her). It’s about his own longing for that quality of relationship, a respite from the unnatural life he is living.
    That icon is brilliant, by the way. I so wanted someone to icon that gorgeous pic!

  3. Like all of your posts on DW matters, this is a well thought out and you do make a persuasive argument. I wish I could share your optimism in RTD’s “grand plan.” After the way he resorted one of the oldest and least effective sci-fi tropes – the double (hello Captain Kirk)- my faith in the almighty story arc is gone. I can’t believe a person who was frantically rewriting (and came up with that) at the eleventh hour had a well thought out plan. He forgot, of course, that he had already written the perfect Deus ex machina created for the sole purpose of dealing with Daleks. The fact that he failed to utilize that easy out is curious to me.
    In dealing with what we have, much as I would love a better end to the Donna tale, I would almost rather they left the Ten II/Rose issue alone. That’s shocking to me also. Deep down I feel they will never grant the Doctor a happy ending.
    IMO, DW has dissolved into modern comic book story telling; a soap opera with more special effects. In this genre, the heroes are angsty, the love always star-crossed and the villains always get their cutting words in before they go down. (JE brings to mind the whole Spiderman drama actually). The pattern is there and it distresses me no end.

  4. Actually, IIRC, the Ood tell the Doctor that his song is going to end soon. I’ve always read that to imply the death of River.
    I can see the potential of Donna coming back only to die, but I’m not sure if I agree w/your reasonings behind it. I won’t dispute that the Doctor loves Rose (granted, I also won’t dispute that he loves his other companions as well) but to say that she is the ‘love of his life’ – I hardly think that is a qualifier for a being that is over 1,000 years old. And if it is, I feel rather sorry for said being that he’s so v. limited in that regard.
    Also, while I can certainly see Donna sacrificing herself for the greater good of ALL, I can’t see her doing it so that true love can conquer all or whatever it was. She’s not exactly the picture of selflessness. If RTD does go there (and I wouldn’t put it past him), it will be wildly out of character for Donna. I’m pretty sure that Donna isn’t a Ten/Rose shipper. She’s happy for him when he finds Rose again, but she’d have been happy for him if he’d found a beloved lost puppy dog again too (and no, I’m not comparing Rose to a dog there, I’m merely saying that to illustrate a point). The point is the Donna would be happy for the Doctor, her friend, regardless of the situation. Happy, yes. Willing to die for it? Not likely.

  5. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? Not what a higher authority forces us to do, but what we choose to do with the time we have left. Rose didn’t get a choice, Ten 2 didn’t get a choice, Donna didn’t get a choice and to an extent neither did her family. If anything, JE indicates that the Doctor we’re left with shouldn’t be protecting the universe because his decision making is dire. He seems to have defaulted that the worst option for him is the best for everyone else, when clearly it’s not.
    I would be pleasantly surprised is RTD had the conviction to kill Donna as a noble sacrifice. In the Writer’s Tale, p33-4, RTD spells out that a companion throws herself under a car in 4×11, and it would have to be handled very carefully so kids didn’t imitate it. There’s also RTD’s tendency that no-one ever really dies – he creates options so characters can return in the future, such as the Master. Hopefully, when RTD says the finale will be EPIC, he means companion willing sacrifice, people living the life they want, and humans proving that they can cope without the Doctor.
    It won’t be any more convincing than the Beast’s prediction that Rose would die.
    Rose did die, though. By Doomsday, she was on the list of the dead, officially, back home. And yet, she was living her life, day after day in the parallel. With this thinking, it’s Ten 2 that has died in this world by going to the parallel ‘forever.’ The question then is, does Ten 2 count as a companion and/or a child of time? The latter definitely, but who would you describe as ‘the most faithful companion’ to endure everlasting death? Hopefully Jack because he deserves peace, but Jack walked away from the TARDIS willingly. We’re back to Donna and Ten 2 (because Rose is already ‘dead’), the ones that didn’t want to leave. Does it count as everlasting death is Donna becomes a part of Ten 2?
    I get the feeling if I keep speculating, the ending won’t live up to my expectations.

  6. I do get the feeling that for many people she just couldn’t win in JE
    I think many people were annoyed by the fact that she’d been parallel-universed and managed to break that law to come back. Those same people are going to be LIVID if she’s in the specials, because the Doctor explicitly says that her world is now sealing itself off and she can never see him again. Fair enough he did it for a kick arse finale, but if he recycles that plot line just to bring Billie back again, i’m seriously going to have respect issues for his writing.

  7. Okay. Please don’t take this personally, but if Rusty killed Donna so that Ten and Rose could have their TWOO WUB, I would actualfax lose my chips. It would not be a noble sacrifice, it would be offensive to everyone, everywhere, and then some. Not to mention shit storytelling.

  8. Does it count as everlasting death is Donna becomes a part of Ten 2?
    The way I see it, that’s entirely up to interpretation because it would be outside human experience. I think all we can do is look at the text so far and see if it seems to be consistent with that view. I’d describe it as a shift to a new type of being, rather than a death as such but there’s absolutely no doubt that the general public and the Press would see it as “Rusty kills Donna.”
    Donna expresses a wish to be with the Doctor forever – perhaps that’s exactly what she’s going to get. I find it easy to see Donna and Ten Two as two halves of the same being – Ten Two being maintained as a separate entity simply by the Doctor keeping Donna in a state where her true awareness of her nature is unknown to her.
    I think Rusty’s atheism comes into play here. If an athiest is going to write an optimistic story (and he’s always claimed that is what DW is) then belief in the deus ex machina has to be replaced by faith in humanity. I find it significant that, of all the scripts that he didn’t write himself (and that Moff didn’t write, because he’d praise those for political reasons) RTD has spoken most highly of TIP/TSP. Those were very specifically about the Doctor and his faith in humanity. RTD had to select a moment that defined each companion in New Who, and for Rose he chose her refusal to leave Sanctuary Base even while she thought the Doctor was dead.
    And that is exactly why I felt let down by JE, because I don’t want RTD’s tenure to end on the note that Daddy Time Lord decides what is good for us and is a miserable, martyred sod as a result. Nor do I want to see a complete reset from the Time War onwards – it’s very difficult to claim that any of our actions as humans have a serious moral dimension if the rules can be changed at any moment. Do that too often and you wind up in a universe where everyone might as well do what they like – the Master’s world, if you like. But if you finish by affirming that people have a right to determine their destiny, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice, then that seems the right conclusion to me. Anything less and you’re giving the Doctor the power and the right to do what isn’t permitted for humans. And that brings us back to a theist world-view, which doesn’t seem to be what RTD accepts.

  9. they’re angry with her for feeling emotional about him regenerating
    “Anger” is too strong a word for it (In my case. Have other people said this too?). The incident just better crystallized something I, in retrospect, already knew about Rose: That she loves her idea of the Doctor that doesn’t necessarily encompass his multitudes. The mortgage discussion is another example showing this: to her it’d’ve been a good thing, just different, while to him it would have been not just a “respite” but the end of the universe as he knows it. I’m not saying that, had things been different after the Medusa Cascade – had he regenerated and had she stayed in his universe – she’d’ve left him instead of expanding her idea; probably not, in fact, since she’d already done it once. But with a Doctor to whom a mortgage is the end of the universe there’d eventually have been a reckoning.
    It all sounds a bit like finding reasons to dump her with the human Doctor to me.
    Now there you’ve got me. Rusty almost certainly put the regeneration objection in to point up that, when they got back on the beach, she’d be getting a Doctor modified to her preferences – a Doctor, among other things, to whom a mortgage would be scary, but just different, instead of the end of the universe.
    It’s about his own longing for that quality of relationship, a respite from the unnatural life he is living.
    I’d argue that his speech to Donna with her hatboxes in his hands pretty much says that such a respite without danger of the M word being bandied about is more to his taste.

  10. Just to follow on from that, I think the reason this affects me so much is that Donna being kept in a state of ignorance for other people’s reasons (even though the reasons themselves may be morally sound – for example, that if she knew the truth it would kill her) is taking us right back to the Garden of Eden and the argument that faith should take precedence over knowledge and reason.
    Donna in her present state represents all that disturbed me about my years as an evangelical Christian. Being told I was wonderful (I was, constantly) yet not being trusted to know the truth about myself and running up against barriers if I tried to think too independently. It really is a living death and it would bother me enormously to see Donna condemned to that in perpetuity, particularly with her family co-opted as unwilling accessories to the Doctor because the alternative is their daughter’s death. There are far too many parallels with toxic religion in that.

  11. You could possibly say that the Doctor loves his idea of Rose. I think we’re being pointed to that conclusion (even though a relationship with Donna would be healthier for him in many ways). For me, the clincher was how the John Smith arc was handled, and the way it’s feeding back into the finale. The Journal of Impossible Things will possibly be the catalyst that brings things to a head.
    It’s part of the to and fro of courtship, the human comedy if you like, for the female to mention commitment and for the male to evade it. It’s mythic – Odyssius and Penelope. If we were meant to see Rose and 10.5 as the happy ending, I think they’d have played it differently. They’d have left in the long kiss. They’d have made the body language in the Bad Wolf Bay scene different. They’d not have left Billie’s comments on Beauty and the Beast in the Confidential, or ended, literally, with DT saying, “It’s just desperately sad.” That is not the way you give your punters a happy ending.
    I can certainly see the Doctor as Moffatt writes him running from domesticity, but Ten is not that man. That has been made absolutely clear throughout the last two series. If you look at his body language throughout the hatbox scene, he’s thrilled to have Donna along but he’s holding himself back, already preparing himself for when she’ll leave him. I don’t think that’s the life he really wants. And I don’t think a mortgage is the only alternative. The M conversation didn’t stop him telling the Beast that the one thing he believed in – more than the whole pantheon – was Rose.

  12. I did note a certain dichotmy between what Rusty said in the Confidential about happy endings and Doctor Who being for kids, and what happened to Donna. I’m not convinced that Rusty didn’t mean Encounter at Bad Wolf Bay II to be Rose’s happy ending, though I admit her turn and rush for the TARDIS when the dematerialization sounded was pretty ambiguous. I don’t deny that Rose is special in the Doctor’s mind among all his companions, even that he loves his idea of her, but I have different reasoning why.
    Maybe we are being pointed toward your conclusion. We’ll find out in December. I saw Piper’s name in the casting rumors that have so far been borne out.
    But, either way, I say he’d’ve said the same thing to the Beast, and meant it, about any of his companions before or after.

  13. But if you finish by affirming that people have a right to determine their destiny, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice, then that seems the right conclusion to me.
    I’m with you there. I too disliked the Doctor hijacking Rose’s and Donna’s agency enough to have written “canon-compliant” fixit stories. I was on the verge of producing a noncompliant story to give Donna’s memory back when the Christmas 2009 special set photo spoilers started circulating* and it started looking like she’ll get a second chance in the screensource. I’d like to see those things rectified next December, though I haven’t any suspicion or preference formed as to how it’d be done.
    * Master of unintentional alliteration!

  14. I’m hoping Wilf calls the Doctor a coward. Maybe then the Doctor will give us the exposition of keeping Ten 2 and Donna apart that puts the Doctor in a better light. If that happens, Wilf will understandably ask why he didn’t say it sooner, to which the Doctor says he was afraid of being asked questions he wasn’t willing to answer because it hurt too much.
    But if that exposition isn’t coming, Donna being saved from physical death is the same reason he hasn’t gone with Rose. Namely, he’s tired of watching people he loves die while he lives on long after they have perished. Only with Donna, she’s doomed by human standards, just without the Doctor to witness it. Wilf can still call him a coward. The softer solution is putting Donna’s Time Lord mind into a fob watch – she gets to live and slowly remember without dying. But if the bad guy has made Donna integral to his plans… remember everyone chanting ‘Doctor’ to defeat the Master? It’s the one word Donna can’t comprehend. I imagine the Doctor would show the fury of a Time Lord to whoever put that choice in his hands.

  15. Oh yeah, it would upset a lot of people. Including me, at some level. When I say he could do it, that doesn’t necessarily mean complete agreement. Actually, what I’d really like to see if there were no constraints on people’s availability would be for one Doctor to stay with Rose for ever, and one with Donna. I just think it’s a lot more likely he’ll find a way to lose Donna because she’s made it pretty clear she wouldn’t stay with the show for another series. With Billie it’s less clear cut. I think it’s very likely she’d be up for the odd special with David Tennant.
    So given he has those constraints to work with, I think it’s a mistake to look at it in terms of saying, “Right, Donna, you’re dead meat.” Often actors/actresses jump at the chance to have a big tragic exit, so long as they feel it does their character justice. I think a Donna death could be written in a way that would do that, although I’d much rather nobody had to die at all. And I suspect RTD would rather love the chance to do an important character death – it’s a big professional challenge for him.
    Where I don’t agree with you is that it would be “offensive to everyone everywhere.” That’s a huge claim, I’m afraid – however reasonable one’s own position may seem, somebody else in fandom will be absolutely appalled by it. And I don’t think it would be shit storytelling. Tragic, yes, but that doesn’t have to be the same thing.

  16. You’re obviously better up on comic book storytelling than I am and I can recognise where you’re coming from. I’m assuming by the DexM for dealing with Daleks you mean Bad Wolf – and if so, I agree RTD has some explaining to do there and that JE was his lowest point. I think the way he messed that finale up showed that he needed to quit the show and that he tried to handle far too much alone.
    He’s been called a “first draft writer” and there’s something in that – he needs an editor sometimes to make him kill his babies – all those good ideas that don’t lead anywhere but sound great at the time. And maybe your pessimism is absolutely justified. But he’s had time to regroup and think and, quite honestly, if he can’t get things right this time around there’s really no hope for him.

  17. I went back and reread your companions post and I think you’re bang on the money. Where I think I maybe differ from you is my analysis of how that issue needs to be resolved. We need to have an unambiguous ending to the Nine/Ten/Rose arc, and JE wasn’t it. It’s essential to the show’s long-term future that we break this cycle of love-them-lose-them-emo-oh, they break my heart. I think Moff will do that and I’m not as anti-Moff as many Rose shippers. I think Moff was wrong for Rusty’s Who, but probably right for the show as a whole.
    Re the Beast, I dunno…I think he was struggling between the individual and the particular at that point. Very torn between wanting to love Rose individually, and maybe trying to distance himself from that threatening feeling by making it into a general riff on the human race. Why didn’t he say, “If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s that lot of crazy humans up there?”
    In a way, I think Rusty’s Doctor has boxed himself into a dead end. His story can only end with him getting that dream of a normal life he thinks he wants – even if it drives him mad. I’d rather have liked him to have a life with Rose and then come back 60 years on with it all out of his system, raring to go. Who knows – perhaps he will? Maybe Matt Smith is that Doctor.

  18. I already have respect issues with his writing, because he really fouled up in JE. Actually, I don’t think he’d do anything just to bring Billie back. And I’d hate another companion-palooza just for the sake of it. God, no. But I think it might come up in the context of something bigger with huge stakes – quite possibly the Master, or the return of the Time Lords en masse. It’d be quite fun if his people do show up and say, “Right, stop whining and go get your girl – we can do without your sort.”

  19. I think what we have to see end with RTD’s tenure is the Doctor’s emotional vulnerability, and that’s a direct result of the Time War. I’ve a hunch that for Rusty that involves resolving the Rose arc, simply because it’s very much outstanding business – he had his opportunity to offer us a happy ending, but it was done very equivocally. He may have been testing the water, more likely he screwed up.
    On reflection, I think the most likely scenario is that Donna decides to make some sacrifice for the greater good – not just for the Doctor but because the Master’s back, or something equally terrible. I differ from you in one respect though – I see Donna as a massive shipper, and have done all along. But that’s just how I read the character.

  20. Where I think I maybe differ from you is my analysis of how that issue needs to be resolved. We need to have an unambiguous ending to the Nine/Ten/Rose arc, and JE wasn’t it. It’s essential to the show’s long-term future that we break this cycle of love-them-lose-them-emo
    You probably have something there. I did a lot of defining of what I see to have been a problem, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to me to come up with a solution, or even suggest that one’s needed and possible.
    I’d rather have liked him to have a life with Rose and then come back 60 years on with it all out of his system, raring to go.
    Actually I tried to do that. The story at the link was written before we knew that Season 2007 wasn’t going to go that way, though no one was taking bets.

  21. Bad Wolf
    The Bad Wolf comment got me thinking through the night. My fanfic skills are being worked to explain the canon.
    If Rose had to be Bad Wolf, the only opportunity she had to rip open the TARDIS console was after he regenerated but before the Daleks put the loop around the ship, killing the power. I question how much Rose remembers about the Game Station. Yes, she knows she killed the Dalek Emperor, but does she remember how she took the time vortex into her?
    Rose also expressed an interest in JE in keeping the Doctor looking like David Tennant. The last time she became Bad Wolf, he regenerated to save her. I don’t think she’d want to push her luck on how much the Hand could take to keep him the same. She’s happy to be with him, rather than trying to reach him as with PotW.
    If Bad Wolf isn’t restricted to Rose, the next candidates are Ten 2 and Donna after they escape. They have to keep quiet to go undetected, so they aren’t going to create a power surge to rip the console open (Boom Town). If they managed to do it quietly, neither of them can regenerate. At that point, they don’t know if anyone else has survived; all their plans are self sufficient. Whoever of Ten 2 and Donna took the vortex would do it thinking they would die because the other has no spare life to give. I don’t think Ten 2 would let Donna do that, and Ten 2 doesn’t strike me as a suicide bomber.
    As for RTD’s writing style, I do agree he needs a proof reader. Julie Gardner’s power word was ‘budget,’ otherwise it was her job to support him creatively. RTD’s weakness as a writer comes from leaving things too late. Had he not got chicken pox, JE might have gone better. As it was, his health and deadlines resulted in what we saw on screen. He handed first draft scenes to actors on the day of filming! For the Specials, he’s had time to think. DWM #407 says he’s finished his final script, meaning they have 38 days of filming to refine it.

  22. Re: Bad Wolf
    I only mentioned Bad Wolf as an example of a Good Idea that RTD appears to have dropped. But…I am intrigued by what David said in this week’s “RT” – that in the next story the Doctor will find out something very important about who he is and where he is, and after that he’s on borrowed time.
    And like you, I had this idea. What if, when she looked into the Vortex, Rose became immortal and the Doctor lost his immortality – she became the new keeper of the TARDIS, as it were. We know she has power over who lives and dies – if she said “Don’t die!” someone wouldn’t. And that’s what she said to Ten when he was dying. Because of her word as Bad Wolf, the life energy went into the Hand and that was why TenToo could be born even when she wasn’t around. Rose isn’t aware that she has this power, but maybe the Doctor is about to find it out and to discover, somehow, that the next time he dies, he won’t regenerate, but Rose now has the power of a Time Lord and is the heir to the TARDIS?
    It’s no more possible than 100 other scenarios, but it would explain Tennant’s comment, that as soon as he finds out whatever he finds out, he knows he’s going to die. I keep thinking about the way RTD says, “die” rather than “regenerate.”

  23. I have this bizarre feeling that Gallifey’s existance (or non-existance) is linked to Donna somehow. I don’t know how or why, but for some reason I’m practicaly convinced of this. I mean, did we ever find out who was manipulating her timeline in the first place?

  24. This is some fascinating speculation.
    I can’t think of a better way for her to go than by deciding, of her own free will, that through her death she will give this character, who has saved so many people, the chance to finish the sentence he was in the middle of when she burst into his life three years ago. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that RTD had planned it that way all along.
    I so hope you’re right there.
    It hadn’t even occurred to me that things might not be happily resolved for Ten II and Rose. I mean, I’ve thought that maybe someday they could do a special about them “The Adventures of Ten II and Rose in Pete’s World”, maybe a Christmas special or something for the 50th Anniversary or something. But now that you mention it, it does seem likely that we could be seeing them sooner and more urgently than that.
    I hope it works out happily. Ten II is the one thing giving me solace knowing Ten is about to regenerate. I NEED David Tennant’s Ten to be out there in the universe is some form or another!
    Hey, do you mind if I friend you? I don’t have nearly enough Doctor Who fans on my flist, and well, I’m just a tad bit obsessed with this show. 🙂

  25. Oh yes, please do friend me. I have two journals BTW – catsfiction is just for fic. It’s interesting to read over this debate again. Of course, since April we’ve had the King Lear type despair of Children of Earth, which has dealt a massive blow to any speculation that RTD will resist the temptation to torture Ten still further.
    I do think it’s safe to predict that we’ll see Ten do something monumentally stupid and dangerous as a direct result of his refusal to have a companion. RTD’s as good as said that in public. That “something” may well involve revising a timeline in a way that brings the Time Lords back, maybe even a “Prisoner” scenario in which we find out they’ve been testing or torturing him by leaving him alone in an AU ever since the Time War.
    I’m beginning not to mind what they do as long as they break the cycle of emo. It even figures in the DW storybook – virtually every story reiterates the “I’m doomed to be alone” anvil and it looks very much as if RTD was responsible for editing it in.
    Meanwhile, there’s always Sarah Jane later this week, though I’ve a feeling that’ll be a bit of a tearjerker as well!

  26. I haven’t seen Children of Earth yet (nor Season 2 of Torchwood) although I know all about it. I’m just wondering how they’re going to continue Torchwood what with all the stuff that’s happened.
    I am so looking forward to seeing Ten on the Sarah Jane Adventures! (although that’s another show I haven’t seen) Thank goodness for all the people who make that show available to poor Americans like me. 🙂
    What’s the storybook? (sorry, newbie, me)

  27. re: The real journey’s end?
    This is interesting speculation, here.
    I’ve been worried ever since I saw Donna in the taken-on-set pics as to what would be her ultimate fate.
    I can see your point about Ten saving Donna at the expense of his own life, and how that compares to Nine saving Rose. I still think that this sacrifice will happen, but in a totally different way, and if it’s true that the Time Lords return from Rassilon only know where, that they could be the true instrument of saving Donna, after Ten’s failure which causes his regeneration.
    As for companion death, it has happened before, but Katrina hadn’t been around long enough for anyone to understand her sacrifice, and Adric’s death, although sad, always seemed a bit pointless to me, until New!Who. I used to think that Five could have saved him, but if this is a fixed point in time (according to the mythology of the new series), then it now makes sense why Five could not; also there’s the mess that can be created by going back to the same point in time in the same place (see Father’s Day for what can go wrong when breaking the laws of time and space).
    And that whole concept of not being to interfere in the same place and time where you have already been once does make sense.
    Sad to say, very few viewers cared about Katrina and Adric, but many care about Donna, and her death would certainly rock the viewership, just not fandom. So, if she does die, it had better be for a good reason, and not be pointless. But then, RTD isn’t known for good season enders (PotW being the exception, to some extent), and that worries me. Of course, as he has said in at least one interview, he can write himself into corners, and then can’t come up with a good way to get out, at least a plausible one.
    Like Rose, Donna wanted to travel with the Doctor forever, which we know can never happen. The real Donna, the one that grew and changed whilst travelling with the Doctor, is basically “dead”. So maybe the death of the physical body would not be so terrible, since the real Donna is not there, so to speak. Or can’t be, at any rate.
    It’s just hard to imagine a happy ending for any of the characters in the RTD version of DW. 😦 It’s just angst and hubris all the way.

  28. Late reply, but better than never. We should be reminded of the fact that Rose was upset in The Christmas Invasion that Nine had changed into Ten, and even asked him if he could change back. So, yeah, there’s an issue there.

  29. Re: The real journey’s end?
    Reading this over after a few months I’m not quite so confident that Donna will die in epic circumstances – I think that’s more likely to be Ten himself. Nor do I hold out an undue amount of hope that his narrative arc will end happily or even with everything explained. I’d like to see the Bad Wolf invoked in some way, I think the Ood could turn out to be the new Time Lords (or even the fob-watched old ones) and I think we’ll hear more of the botched regeneration. It may be that 10.5 or Donna has to die to fix that.

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