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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Full review of "Journey's End" season finale of DOCTOR WHO

This episode seems to have honked off some people. Probably the ones who lost lots of money wagering on the outcome of the cliffhanger from "The Stolen Earth".

Yeah, it helps to unhinge your mind from common sense and real-world physics while watching "Journey's End", the finale for Season 4 (or is that 28?) of Doctor Who. But you know what? I don't care... 'cuz this was about the most perfect season finale of a television show that I've ever seen, and if this had been the very last episode of Doctor Who ever, it would be enough to let me die a satisfied man.

Okay, if you read this blog you know the drill: "thanks to our Brittish brethren across the pond" for putting it on the Internet after it premiered on the BBC last night, yaddah yaddah, cue the standard screencap and select quotes...

"Now then... where were we?"

"You can hug me if you want. No really, you can hug me."


"What have I ever done? I'm a temp from Chiswick."

"Right now that wooden door... is just wood."

"You were brilliant. And you were brilliant. And you were brilliant."

"You are connected to the TARDIS. Now feel it die!"

"You're naked!"

"That's disgusting!"

"We were always heading for this."

"So cold and dark... fire is coming... the endless flames..."

"Oh that's it! The anger, the fire, the rage of at Time Lord who butchered millions. There he is. Why so shy? Show your companion. Show her your true self. Dalek Caan has promised me that, too."

"Behold the apotheosis of my genius."

"No, Davros! DAVROS YOU CAN'T! YOU CAN'T! NO!!!"

"It's not over yet sweetheart!"

"Just my luck. I climb through two miles of ventilation shaft chasing life signs on this thing, and who do I find? Mickey Mouse!"

"I don't want my name on this, given what we are about to do."

"Oh my God. He found you."

"Captain Jack Harkness calling all Dalek boys and girls! Are you receiving me?"

"Impossible. That face. After all these years... you were there on Skaro at the very beginning of my creation."

"The man who abhors violence, never carrying a gun. But this is the truth, Doctor: you take ordinary people and you fashion them into weapons. Behold your children of time transformed into murderers. I made the Daleks, Doctor. You made this. How many more? Just think. How many have died in your name? The Doctor: the man who keeps running, never looking back because he dare not, out of shame. This is my final victory, Doctor. I have shown you yourself."

"Donna you can't even change a plug!"

"Because you two were both Time Lords!"

"I can't tell you what I'm thinking right now!"

"I am The Doctor!"

"Never forget Doctor: YOU DID THIS! I name you, forever, you are the DESTROYER OF WORLDS!!!"

"Affirmative, mistress!"

"You've got the biggest family on Earth."

"Anything! Brand new life! Just you watch."

"That's me, when we first met. And you made me better."

"When I last stood on this beach on the worst day of my life, what was the last thing you said to me? Go on, say it."

"I was going to be with you forever. The rest of my life. Traveling in the TARDIS."

"Oh, Donna Noble, I am so sorry. But we had the best of times. The best. Goodbye."

"They will never forget her..."

"But every night, Doctor, when it gets dark, and the stars come out, I'll look up, on her behalf, I'll look up at the sky and think of you."

The final scene of last week's Doctor Who left millions of fans on tenterhooks: The Doctor was regenerating after being shot by a Dalek... so what was he going to look like this time? Which actor would now play The Doctor? Without spoiling anything more, I'll just say that particular plot point gets taken care of within the first minute. Personally, I loved it!

"Journey's End" ran 65 minutes long and it was packed with not just some of the best action sequences of the story to date... but also what might be among the best dialogue in Doctor Who history. This was Russell T. Davies's final regular episode as showrunner (although he'll be producing this year's Christmas special and next season's three Doctor Who television movies also) and let's face it: the guy has drawn some flack for episodes such as "Love & Monsters" and the like. But you know what? Between "The Stolen Earth" last week, and how he did "Journey's End", I'm going to completely overlook those few low moments of his tenure. Because I would be lying through my teeth if I did not say that I screamed with horror, then screamed with joy, and had tears of both laughter and sadness and then ultimately triumph from watching "Journey's End".

This was a love letter episode not only to Davies's own work, but to all the faithful fans of Doctor Who across the years, including those who watched the original run. The scene where Davros recognizes Sarah Jane from the very first time that they met, and you gotta bear in mind that this was from "Genesis of the Daleks" all the way back in 1975, and watching Elisabeth Sladen portray genuine horror and then radiant defiance at this twisted freak just as she did over thirty years ago... I loved that! And then later on in the episode, the scene that will forever come to mind whenever I think of Doctor Who: the TARDIS, that brave little blue police box, pulling the entire planet Earth all the way across the universe back to its proper home while The Doctor and his friends operate the controls. If there was a single moment from the almost half-century of Doctor Who that symbolizes the spirit and hope of this show, then that is it.

But it's not the effects or the little "geek" nods that made "Journey's End" one of the most astounding episodes of television in recent memory. It was the characters and how Davies used them, perhaps more poignantly than has ever been done in Doctor Who history, to show us what it means to be The Doctor. And of all the moments in "Journey's End", none more illustrates this than when Davros confronts The Doctor and forces him to realize the horrible truth: that The Doctor, for all his desire to save every life, inevitably uses those closest to him in his pursuit of good... and that they are all too often hurt and even die because of him.

It's one of the most powerful moments of Doctor Who ever, and it helps to make Julian Bleach's portrayal of Davros possibly the finest of the show's entire run. A lot of fans have argued over the years that it's Davros, and not The Master, who is The Doctor's true supreme nemesis. After Bleach's turn in the role, I think there's no doubt about that now. Davros now stands alone as the one villain who is the complete and full counter to everything The Doctor stands for... and in his own way, he's done it by showing that he and The Doctor are not very unlike at all.

Dear Lord, I've got to watch myself or I'm going to totally spill the beans about this episode to anyone who hasn't watched it yet!

The conclusion of "Journey's End" was the best ending possible, and I don't think there was anything wrong with it (though plenty enough people are saying that Davies wasted an opportunity... personally, I can't see it). This was the final chapter of one volume of The Doctor's adventures, and true to The Doctor's nature it ended as happily as could have been hoped for, albeit not without loss. And like I said earlier, had this been the final Doctor Who episode ever, this would have been a very fitting and towering conclusion...

...but also in keeping with the spirit of Doctor Who, there is always a new adventure waiting to happen.

David Tennant was terrific, as always. Catherine Tate was stupendous and for her work this season, she is always going to have a special place on my list of favorite companions. Billie Piper and John Barrowman and Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri and Freema Agyeman, and especially the ever-lovely Elisabeth Sladen: in their own way they made this such an unforgettably beautiful episode. Julian Bleach channeled Emperor Palpatine and Hannibal Lecter into his turn as Davros... and I hope we get to see him many more times in the future. Bernard Cribbins again showed why he has been one of the best things to ever happen to Doctor Who since the show returned. The whole cast was terrific... but I especially have to say that I was delighted that John Leeson got to provide his voice for a certain classic Doctor Who character ;-)

Murray Gold deserves a ton of awards for the music he has composed for this season of Doctor Who but especially for the past several episodes beginning with "Silence in the Library". The themes that he came up with for "Journey's End" are nothing short of magnificent. The CD of this season's soundtrack cannot arrive fast enough: just for the theme where the TARDIS is pulling the Earth through space, I will buy this as soon as it comes out.

All in all, "Journey's End" was not only the best way to end not just an over-the-top wonderful season of Doctor Who, but a fitting tribute to the man who brought the show back from its long hiatus. My hat's off to ya, Mr. Davies!

On my rating of Doctor Who episodes, "Journey's End" gets the full Five Sonic Screwdrivers!

Coming to the BBC on December 25th, 2008: The Doctor faces the return of the Cybermen. So if you've been following these review of new Doctor Who episodes all season long, I'll see ya again probably the day after Christmas!


Anonymous said...

Best Who episode of all time.

qemuel said...


'Nuff said.


Anonymous said...

Truly amazing episode.

Probably one of the saddest.

I think the fact Donna can never remember is heart breaking. She (sorry for the bad pun coming up) went from Zero to Hero, then back to Zero and worst of all she doesn't even remember. It gets me in stupid man boy crying every time.

Geoff Gentry (aka xforce11) said...

Just watched the ep. GREAT STUFF. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Stunning. I know it's only a BBC drama....but...the soundtrack was incredible. The story so moving.It was an emotional rollercoaster pulling together decades of viewing.
The doctor...so lonely.
Great finale. Thanks.