On “Journey’s End” and My Daft Theories

So, now I’ve seen it. Doctor Who. “Journey’s End.”

Last week I posted some theories. “The Stolen Earth,” the fourth season’s penultimate episode, posed a number of questions, and suggested certain possibilities, and I offered my thoughts on what everything meant, and where “Journey’s End” would likely go.

Much to my surprise, Jamie McCrimmon did not appear, and he did not die, sacrificing his life to save a Doctor he never knew.

Well, it really wasn’t a surprise, that. I don’t think anyone expected to see Jamie McCrimmon. 🙂

But what about my other theories? How did I do there?

Let’s take a look, shall we?

  1. No Eleventh Doctor. I called that one, but that was based entirely on knowing that David Tennant had already filmed the Christmas special (and there’s a trailer for it after “Journey’s End,” which shows him looking all concerned), and that he said he began filming the 2009 specials in January 2009. So, this one was a gimme.
  2. Francine Jones has the Master’s ring. There had to be, I thought, some reason that Francine appeared in “The Stolen Earth.” But what? I wondered. And then it came to me — Francine had the Master’s Ring (from “Last of the Time Lords”… and she was going to use it, channeling all the Master’s evil. Look at “Last of the Time Lords.” Look at how the Year That Never Was broke Francine’s spirit. She would have been a receptive vessel for the Master’s evil. And there’s no other viable candidate for picking up the Master’s ring — Lucy Saxon’s name is tossed around, but she would have been in prison, possibly its psyche ward; and who else is there that we’ve seen? So, Francine had the ring, she was going to become the Master, and… Well, Francine appeared in two scenes in “Journey’s End.” She cowered under a coffee table. She ran outside when the Earth was back. And the Master’s ring? Never turned up. Called that one completely wrong.
  3. Donna is the Heart of the TARDIS. Way off. Way, way off. Donna was an ordinary human, who gained the Doctor’s mind by accident.
  4. The “most faithful companion” is the TARDIS itself. The episode didn’t even answer this one. I suppose that Donna’s fate could be a metaphorical fulfillment of Dalek-Caan’s prophecy that “the most faithful companion will suffer everlasting death.” But that’s a fucking cop-out. We’ve already had that with Rose “This is the story of how I died” Tyler in “Army of Ghosts”/”Doomsday.” It could, in fact, be the TARDIS that Dalek-Caan meant, given that the Daleks attempted to immolate the TARDIS in the heart of the Crucible. Who fucking knows?
  5. Rose’s breaking through the walls between the worlds weakened reality enough for Dalek-Caan to free Davros from the timelocked Time War. Well, breaking through the walls did weaken reality, but there’s no indication that Rose’s actions led to Dalek-Caan’s breaking of the Time Lock. This one can go either way.
  6. The Darkness is unconnected to the Medusa Cascade. The episode didn’t address the Darkness. It was mentioned, but it didn’t seem to be related to anything. Except that it began once the cannon that sent people across the void was developed. So, it could be that Rose’s actions led to the Darkness. I have no idea, though. This one’s dangling.
  7. Donna still has one of the beetles on her back. Alas, no. Completely wrong here.
  8. Reset button. There needed to be one. There wasn’t. What happens is so ridiculous that it needs to be reset. The Earth? Towed through interstellar space by the TARDIS? And then everything’s fine? Nonsense.
  9. I hope we see Tish Jones. Nope. Dammit!

Did I get anything right?

Not enough to bother next time. I was expecting some big and cosmic and all Crisis on Infinite Earths. Instead, it was pretty stupid.


Well, there’s still the Christmas special coming! The Cybermen! Victorian England! It’s going to be a blast! 🙂

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Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

3 thoughts on “On “Journey’s End” and My Daft Theories

  1. It should be pointed out that Francine can’t possibly have been the person to pick up the Master’s ring, because the hand that picked up the Master’s ring was VERY obviously Caucasian…..

  2. I don’t understand what Wikipedia is saying about Tennant returning for the fifth series after the 2009 specials. -Have- they asked him to come back? -Has- he said yes?

    I don’t even really understand what the hell happened in this episode. Blah.

  3. On the subject of Tennant’s return, there’s a fair bit of noise about the offer the BBC has reputedly tendered for Tennant’s services in the 2010 season. It’s been reported in the media that they’ve offered him 1.5 million pounds. That could be a leak from his side. That could be a leak from the BBC’s side. Or, it could be someone making shit up that got picked up by the UK media.

    At a guess, I’d say that there have been some negotiations, at least tentatively. The fifth season is probably not a priority in Tennant’s mind at the moment, as the RSC is a bit more present for him.

    I could actually go either way on Tennant’s participation in the 2010 season. I can see reasons for his presence — or lack thereof. I get the feeling that Tennant loves being the Doctor and that he could do it for a long time to come. At the same time, I could see Steven Moffat wishing to make a break with Davies’ era in the same way that Davies made a break from what Philip Segal had done.

    (And then there’s the perspective that, if Tennant is so popular, then perhaps he could be the Doctor to launch a Doctor Who film franchise. In which case, the BBC might prefer to leave his era open-ended, thus making it easier to exploit in a different market.)

    As for what happened in “Journey’s End,” it was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    I didn’t like “The Stolen Earth,” but I was able to enjoy it on a visceral level, much the same way that I can watch Star Trek: Voyager. (The show was terrible, brain cells died in watching it, but I could enjoy it on a pure popcorn level. I think that’s why I don’t like the Voyager novels, because they’re missing the essential ingredient of the series — the stupid fun factor.) No, “The Stolen Earth” didn’t make any sense, but it put a lot of pieces on the table, and putting the puzzle together made it worthwhile.

    “Journey’s End,” by contrast, is a muddled mess. I think it needed a couple of rewrites, and it left so much unanswered that fanfic writers have probably written entire tomes already explaining its flaws. It simply didn’t make sense.

    What’s unfortunate is that the pieces were on the table. The theories I posed? They answer the questions that “The Stolen Earth” raised. Others have alternate theories about the meaning of events in “The Stolen Earth.” Their theories, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t, also answer the questions posed by “The Stolen Earth.” But “Journey’s End” doesn’t bother to answer any of the questions, except for “What does Rose want?” (answer: the Doctor) and “Why is Donna important?” (answer: Dalek-Caan manipulated time to bring her to the Doctor. The DoctorDonna bit wasn’t Dalek-Caan’s doing.)

    The thing is, a different answer to Rose answers a lot of other questions. Like how did Dalek-Caan save Davros. (Answer: By breaking through the walls of reality, Rose disturbed the Time Lock on the Time War.) Why did Rose have to return to Pete’s World. (Answer: Rose has to be punished for her narcissistic and destructive behavior in trying to get back to the Doctor.) Answers like those would have been intelligent storytelling. Answers “Journey’s End” gave us, however, were not intelligent.

    I think Russell T. Davies’ problem is that he writes setpieces, but they’re emotional setpieces rather than plot setpieces. He takes us from one emotional moment to the next, and he only gives us enough plot to give some bare justification for the emotional setpiece. (See “Doomsday” for a good example. Also, see Torchwood‘s “Exit Wounds” for the most egregious example.) Where “Journey’s End” failed was that the emotional setpieces weren’t given sufficient justification. The parting with Rose just happens, and the mindwipe of Donna is so abrupt that the actors can’t convey the emotional moment, resulting in an act that days later fandom is still wrestling with.

    I understand why what happened there had to happen. The Doctor had two choices. Leave Donna with the Doctor’s mind and watch her die in agony, or take the Doctor’s mind and memories out of Donna and let her live unaware of all the wonderful things she had seen and done. Given a choice, the Doctor would choose life, and it’s clear that the characters both know that. But they know that, they don’t say that, leaving the audience disconnected from the thinking of the characters. That’s why the scene feels so forced, because the audience isn’t allowed to participate in the characters’ thinking. The scene, as scripted, would work in prose, because we would have the Doctor’s inner thoughts, but on screen it needed the Doctor to explain what he was doing and why he was doing it out of love and concern for Donna.

    “Journey’s End” is, hands down, the worst finale of the RTD era, and it doubt it’s the note that he wanted to end his tenure on. (I realize he has the 2009 specials coming up, but “Journey’s End” feels like it’s the ending RTD had in mind to his masterplan, and it does clear the decks for the next producer by closing off a lot of threads.)

    It really was the end of an era.

    Here’s hoping there are brighter days in the future.

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