That was like eating three Christmas dinners in a row. It was fantastic for a bit, then made me slightly queasy, and now I feel like I need about a week to digest it.
On balance I liked it more than I didn’t. Some bits I really didn’t like, but nothing compared to last season’s finale. Some bits I really did like, far more than last season’s finale.
Things I liked:
Everything to do with the Daleks. The fact that Davros was not just insane but INSANE!1!! and yet seemed like the same character from ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, right down to recognising Sarah Jane. Dalek Caan being, if anything, more sane than Davros and betraying the Daleks. Big fleets of ships. Dalekenium. Rels. Huge Dyson Sphere type things. German-speaking Daleks. Vast cosmic networks of planets firing beams of energy that disintegrate matter itself. Really, megalomania doesn’t get much better than this.
K-9! Seriously was there a single recurring character who didn’t make a guest appearance this week? It’s just a shame RTD isn’t leaving straight away as this tied a bow around his era on the show quite comprehensively.
The discussion about how the Doctor turns those around him into soldiers, much like the chat he had with his ‘daughter’. The sense that this, as much as anything, is Davros’s victory: to see the Doctor’s darkness. He is become death, destroyer of worlds – not least the worlds of those around him.
Towing the Earth. Absolute, complete and utter bollocks of the kind that only this show would dare to do. (Okay, maybe Farscape but they never thought of it.) I love the idea that the TARDIS is designed to be flown by six people, hence the reason he has it jury-rigged the rest of the time.
Wilf. Wilf should be the next companion.
The fact that the new part-human Doctor is like the “damaged goods” Ninth Doctor that Rose first met, who then healed and became better. This ties back to the sense that the Doctor needs people to “humanise” him, and also that, in a way, his regeneration into the Tenth Doctor was a metaphorical process of healing and moving on from the Time War. (Unless of course he meant that Doctor #2 is like the early days of the Tenth Doctor, but that doesn’t really scan for me.)
No reset button. Seriously it all still happened. I know, I can’t quite believe it myself.
No ridiculous cliffhanger ending with the Doctor shouting “What?” a lot. A quiet ending with the Doctor alone once more seems right, somehow.
Things I didn’t mind but others probably will:
Mind-wiping Donna. She’s leaving, they have to write her out. Wiping her brain seems cruel, but for me it’s rescued because the episode devotes enough time to eulogising her. Her actions are not wiped out and are remembered across the Galaxy. I can cope with that because it doesn’t devalue her.
Things I didn’t like:
The get-out from last week’s regeneration cliffhanger. We knew it was coming but even so it felt cheap when it happened. Fortunately it had consequences down the line. Unfortunately they weren’t very good ones.
Part-human Doctor. In principle I don’t mind this and on its own it provided some fun to see two versions of the Doctor hanging around. However there was all that unnecessary hi-jinx with the chiswick-isms, and then the Just Plain Wrong scene in which he’s packaged off with Rose in a neat please-the-shippers way. This just makes no sense to me – even a part-human Doctor would surely love to roam the Galaxy righting wrongs. Even if he didn’t, are we really to believe that he loves Rose so completely that he’ll spend the rest of his human life with her – if so why does Ten give her up so readily? Did we really have to hark back to the unspoken “I love you” scene? Thankfully it remains unheard by the audience but there’s only one possible interpretation1 for what was whispered and it doesn’t quite sit right. This whole aspect of the story smacks of pure convenient plotting.
Come to that, why exactly does Rose have to go back to parallel-Earth but Mickey doesn’t? Surely it’s not just so Doctor #2 is safely sealed away in an alternate reality?
Come to that, how come the stars were going out in ‘Turn Left’ if the Earth hadn’t been stolen and moved to the Medusa Cascade? Wouldn’t the celestial engine have had a gear missing?
Half-Time Lord Donna. I don’t even mind this idea in principle, but she really annoyed me when gabbling Doctor-babble. It’s like Tennant’s worst excesses when he first took on the role.
God that music was over the top. I didn’t think it possible for the music to get any more bombastic. Then it did.
I know Jack can’t die but that Dalek incinerator must be rubbish. His coat isn’t even scorched.
The lack of explanation for new viewers of exactly who Davros is. I suppose it’s all there through context.
So in conclusion:
I think the main thing that annoyed me was all the regeneration-related stuff, which not only felt contrived but led to a weird-feeling resolution for Rose and some annoying characterisation for Donna. Most of the rest I enjoyed, particularly the Davros-Doctor dialogue. I quite liked it.
I’m sure it’ll give me indigestion, and I’ll be eating the leftovers in sandwiches for days.
P.S. Cybermen! I’m excited! Will I never learn!
1 Okay, there’s only one possible *non-smutty* interpretation.