Thursday, July 02, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 2x13: "Doomsday"

Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Graeme Harper

Dalek: “Daleks have no sense of elegance.”
Cyberman: “This is obvious.”

Hmm, you wait forty years (well, not myself – I’m only 21) for the meeting of two dangerous and destructive forces such as the Daleks and the Cybermen and when they do finally interact with each other, you as an audience expect and even want the bloodshed to come. I mean – they are the two deadliest Doctor Who villains in the series, both new and old. For their meet up to have little effect or body count is inconceivable.

What is conceivable though is for both of them to differ on opinion. They both may be dangerous but their attitudes on human life are too different to compromise on. While the Cybermen are happy to upgrade their victims, the Daleks only see fit to kill them. In a sense, this retains the Daleks impact on Doctor Who. The Cybermen are going to have to settle with being number two.

Those of you hoping for an alliance between both species, forget it. The Black Dalek more than tells the lead Cyberman where to shove the idea of a team up. Both of our baddies are powerful but the Daleks are far less prepared to share than the Cybermen. Selfish little blighters when you think about it and I did. Does that make me sad? Not in a million years. I only switch off my brain when watching reality TV. Anything else, it’s alive and thinking.

I guess I could split the carnage between the Daleks and the Cybermen up into categories and then merge the storyline, so I’ll do that. Who should I talk about first? Might as well be the Cybermen. After all, the started this entire fiasco in their bid to escape and we’re given a dollop more information about them too in between “The Age Of Steel” and “Army Of Ghosts”.

As of now, the Cybermen are content with holding London to a standstill and with five million of the lot roaming the streets, breaking into houses to convert the people that through the media they have told point blank that will be deprived of sex and other human desires, the odds are stacked against The Doctor.

As a matter of interest, who the hell is the leader of the Cybermen? Which person did he/she used to be? I got the impression it might have been John Lumic because the lead Cyberman had taunted The Doctor about his emotions being a crutch but seeing as Roger Lloyd Pack was uncredited and if memory serves correctly, Lumic looked paler compared to the other Cybermen, I’m stumped. Going back to another point – the odd are stacked against The Doctor? Who can help him?

Well not Rose and certainly not Ghostbusters, as logically enough, Jake and some of the reformed Preachers come through to this world and take The Doctor with them. I know The Doctor doesn’t like being told what to do (like anyone on Lost nowadays) but it was a little Pete Tyler telling him to be quiet. Well you have admit, virtually anyone from our previous Cybermen adventure could’ve came through and Pete’s endeared himself enough in my eyes to delight in his reappearance. It also helps that we’re provided with some more information about what happened last time we saw him too.

So since “The Age Of Steel”, Pete banded with Mickey and Jake to defeat the Cybermen and stop their spread but instead of killing them, which might have been the sensible thing to do, people from the parallel earth had debated long enough about to do with them, it’s no wonder the Cybermen got crafty enough to escape. You people should’ve just delighted them when you had the chance. Now they are in our world and killing anything in sight.

Of course, we’re also then warned of the consequences of the constant jumping back and forth between worlds as The Doctor tells both Jake and Pete that it’s causing the world to boil and rip. Given that the same thing was practically said last week as well when Yvonne and The Doctor argued over using the void at certain hours, this is hardly shock of the week material. Still important to know as it plays its part in the later stages of this story arc.

As for Yvonne, well as much as I enjoyed Tracy Ann Oberman, I think we all knew that she was going to be fodder to the carnage. Being a Torchwood employee in this world really did mean danger but at least Yvonne went out interestingly. She wasn’t just killed people, the Cybermen upgraded her (it was also interesting that it was her who told Jackie what “upgrade” meant in Cyberman speak). But the strange thing is that she as a Cyberman ended killing a few of her new kind. She even exhibited emotions too but given the ongoing battle, maybe she had only been semi-upgraded. It was a terrific sight to behold though. It also gave Jackie the chance to run for her life.

Although I loved the Cybermen bits, the more interesting interaction were with Rose and the Daleks. Reunions between enemies are grand and all but this one had quite a powerful bite to it. Last year, Rose got to be all smug because The Doctor was within reach of her in “Dalek” and “Bad Wolf”/“The Parting Of The Ways” but she didn’t have that luxury now, even if they were in the same building.

It still didn’t stop her though. When faced with an enemy as deadly as a Dalek, Rose’s reaction should’ve been fear. She was surrounded by four of them and in an old fashioned round of fisticuffs, I don’t think Rajesh would get very far. Even Mickey could have problems, given his lack of experience with the Daleks. Rose tossed her fear in use of a better emotion – righteousness and it worked. I was amazed with how vehemently she told the Black Dalek that she reduced the Dalek Emperor to dust, I even thought that she was a dead woman within this moment but whenever Rose has been around a Dalek, she has had a use for them. This time was no different.

Rajesh may have offered his life and knowledge of corrupt history (again, Torchwood employee becoming expendable), so his demise was expected. I found it impressive that Mickey had been kept alive too but delighted as I still love this character. In use of great twists everyone, the consequences of Rose’s DNA mix-up from “Dalek” meant that any time traveller could touch the mysterious Genesis Ark. I don’t remember seeing that last week and it’s not a Torchwood invention. In fact it’s not even a Dalek property and they desperately want it open, even if the Time Lords are responsible for it.

I was wondering during Rose’s understandable refusal to touch the Genesis Ark was she willing to sacrifice Mickey’s life as a result. The Daleks aren’t shy of killing to motivate and they would’ve done Mickey in without a care for Rose’s feelings. I got the impression Rose momentarily considered it but like The Doctor, she won’t sacrifice a life unless there was no other way. Thankfully for us, there was!

Although this episode was brilliant from start to finish and as much I liked the Daleks and Cybermen behaving like spoiled delinquents with them insulting each other when they weren’t bumping each other and when the Cybermen weren’t trying to regain control of Torchwood and London in the process, it’s just something better was around the corner than this battle of control.

That something was the meeting of Jackie and Pete Tyler. Yes, I know it came around a little too soap opera like but I couldn’t help but enjoy it nonetheless. For Jackie, Pete’s been dead for over twenty years and in Pete’s mind he lost his wife to the Cybermen but our “Jackie” and parallel “Pete” were fantastic. Camille Coduri and Shaun Dingwall are such good actors and they really showed their strengths as performers here with both Jackie and Pete trying to deny each other but failing miserably.

And Pete really did try to deny Rose and Jackie. Even before meeting up with them again. He used the logic of Jackie being “dead” and Rose “not his child” in order to get that point across but in the end when the Genesis Ark (thanks to Mickey – maybe a little of the idiot remains) opened to reveal millions of Daleks and The Doctor and company were forced to concede the best option would be to take everyone else into the parallel earth as The Doctor opened the void and sent both Daleks and Cybermen into hell, Pete changed his mind. Rose and Jackie really did matter to him. To state the obvious, Pete could’ve seen this as a second chance to do right and not financially.

But Rose is a stubborn girl and given the option between The Doctor and the life of danger an excitement and a life with both parents and ex-boyfriend in another, possibly more safer universe once the Cybermen and Daleks were defeated, Rose still chose The Doctor. Rose couldn’t have put it better when she told The Doctor that she chose him over everyone else a long time ago. In a way, isn’t that what this season has been about as a whole? Not just The Doctor and Rose protecting people but them as soul mates in a way unseen before with Doctor/Assistants in previous years.

Rose stayed behind to help The Doctor as Jackie resented Pete and even Mickey for dragging her into a world with her daughter. Again this shows the strength of the writing and the acting on this series. The Doctor and Rose pushed the lever and the Daleks and the Cybermen while attacking each other became powerless. They had no control over their defeat, they didn’t even see it coming and it made for a stunning moment as both races got sucked into the hell while The Doctor and Rose struggled to hold on.

I knew Rose’s departure was coming. I expected her to die in battle and to be devastated by it but thirty nine minutes into this episode and with Rose not being “deleted” or “exterminated”, I then thought “oh crap, she’s going to hell”. It would’ve been also appropriate given that Satan had told her she would die in battle but Rose lives. The kick in the backside is that it’s not with The Doctor.

Managing to escape death, the one thing Rose couldn’t escape from was parental love as Pete took one final time hop in order to grab his daughter and although I understood Pete’s motivations, like many viewers I imagine it made for a heartbreaking television moment. The greatest 21st Century team up on TV taken away from us. It also proves that you don’t have to kill off a character in order to make a TV departure feel like a real life one.

Proving that as actors, they are a deserving BAFTA winning lot both Billie Piper and David Tennant were phenomenal in how they portrayed The Doctor and Rose’s separation. They touched the walls on their opposite worlds like lovers and although Rose had an advantage that The Doctor didn’t – a family and ex-lover who care for her, her loss of The Doctor wasn’t underplayed.

In the parallel Earth, she had gotten a three months pregnant Jackie, Pete and Mickey to help her look for The Doctor and a dangerous holograph gave the two a chance to say their goodbyes, which Rose was in Norway. I couldn’t actually contain myself when I started crying during those scenes. This was actually some of the most heartbreaking piece of television up, that it’s now wonder people draw comparisons to Buffy with Doctor Who. Russell is dangerously becoming as masterful as Joss Whedon and unlike J.J. Abrams at least he doesn’t need to kill a regular off in order to ram home the drama.

The fade out of the holographic Doctor as Rose muses on how she “died” (translation – just that element of her life that played such a role for two years) didn’t help to calm me either. That single shed of tears from The Doctor was beautiful but the finale ended on the strange with a mysterious bride appearing inside the TARDIS. A mysterious bride also played by Catherine Tate. What the hell?

Also in “Doomsday”

Instead of a real “Previously On” as such, Rose kind of reiterated her “dying” speech. I already bloody miss her.

Rose (re Rajesh): “You didn’t need to kill him.”
Dalek: “Neither did we need him alive.”

Wasn’t it a bit risky of The Doctor to call Rose on her mobile? How many hostage situations has this guy been in already?

Cyberman (re being better): “What is that?”
Dalek: “You are better at dying.”

Rose (to a Dalek): “Five million Cybermen – easy. One Doctor, now you’re scared.”

Did anyone notice that Cyber Yvonne not only had her original voice but she was actually crying when she shot those other Cybermen? It was very effective.
Pete (re Rose): “She’s not mine. She’s the child of a dead man.”

Pete (re Jackie): “My wife died.”
The Doctor: “Her husband died. Good match.”

The four Daleks here were named Thay, Jast, Sec and Caan. They didn’t come from the Daleks we saw in “The Parting Of The Ways”. Logically this makes sense as even Captain Jack didn’t come through to this time, sadly.

The Doctor (to the Daleks): “From birth to death, locked inside a metal cage.”

Jackie: “I don’t care about that. How rich?”
Pete: “Very.”

What happened to Jake in this episode? As far as I could tell, he didn’t get sucked into hell, return to the alternate Earth or even die. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Jackie: “That’s twenty five floors up, I’ve tried them all.”
Jake: “We could try the lift.”

The 3D glasses revealed void stuff on everyone except Jackie and The Doctor wasn’t happy when he learned that Harriet Jones was President in Pete’s world. Oh and Rose was located in a place which translated into “Bad Wolf Bay”.

The Doctor (re Jackie): “You may never see her again. Your own mother.”
Rose: “I made my choice a long time ago and I’m never gonna leave you.”

Rose: “Here I am at last and this is the story of how I died.”

The Doctor was able to call Rose in her dreams. Is this similar to how he had communicated with Madame Du Pompadour as well?

The Doctor (to Rose): “Here you are, living a life day after day. The one adventure I can never have.”

Rose: “Am I ever gonna see you again?”
The Doctor: “You can’t.”

Standout music: Murray Gold excelled himself with that heart pounding and beautiful score as The Doctor and Rose were taken away from one another.

“Doomsday” certainly lived up to its promise. I don’t think I’ve seen anything so heartbreaking and brilliant this year and this excelled on every single level. I’m gonna miss Billie Piper and her performance here was heartbreakingly brilliant, you would have to be an incredibly soulless individual not to be moved by it. I look forward to Torchwood’s first season, the second Christmas special “The Runaway Bride” and to Season Three of Doctor Who with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Who could’ve ever thought a dodgy former pop singer could ever be so good? Billie is certainly going to be one hard act to follow.

Rating: 10 out of 10.