Episode star rating:***** (out of a possible five)
Two-parter star rating:***** (out of a possible five)
Okay! In the first few minutes of the episode, the resolution of the cliffhanger appeared quite flip and glib, but Tennant managed to charm us through it all with a very Tenth Doctorish explanation. And so, the viewer shrugs and the episode continues.
However, the significance of a regeneration was not ignored – it was used a springboard to an utterly extraordinary plot twist I doubt any viewer could have expected. Riffing wildly on some of the ideas of the Doctor Who 1996 TV Movie, including (daringly, as this aspect of the TV Movie was widely reviled) a half-human Doctor. (The Doctordonna-Doctor? Trying to figure out what to call him underlines the bizarreness.) Suddenly, what seemed a throwaway running gag across the season, “No, we’re not together”, “No, we’re not a couple”, is shown to have a double meaning: not a couple, but “the threefold man” that Dalek Caan was ranting about.
The Doctordonna-Doctor allows the show to eat its cake and keep it too, as, working in tandem with Doctordonna-Donna, he destroys the Daleks. Davros would no doubt add him to the list of people who gets involved so the Doctor doesn’t have to. That was a fascinating part of the episode, Davros talking of the Doctor’s methods, and like the similar conversation in Boom Town, there were no simple answers to the questions.
Even though this was extended episode of 65 minutes, it was still amazing just how much story was packed into the minutes, including proper goodbyes to Jack and Mickey, and there was an astonishing series of codas for all four of his female ex-companions. All of his “exes” were given an endpoint to their story that made satisfying dramatic sense with the context of their previous episodes.
There was an awkwardness at the end of School Reunion, where Sarah Jane appeared alone but for her tin dog – now Sarah Jane was rushing off to be with her son Luke. At the end of Last of the Time Lords, Martha made it clear to the Doctor she felt she should move on – and here she was going off arm in arm with Jack into the sunset (and presumably the next episode of Torchwood.)
The Human Doctor stays with Rose, in a redux of the closing moments of Doomsday, an audacious scene. Human Nature/The Family of Blood first showed a Human Doctor and his love, but this time the Human Doctor stays.
The endpoint of Donna’s story was a heartbreaking one, and Bernard Cribbins as Wilf really emphasised the tragedy of this scene, and his promise to keep stargazing was extremely moving. For a season that Russell T. Davies promised would be the “fun” season, this was a very downbeat and dark ending. The idea of the “Lonely Doctor” that has been a theme across his four years of stories was given a resolution in the image of the glum face of the Doctor alone in the TARDIS. A fantastic end to four seasons of stories.