There’s an episode of Doctor Who during the old days that reminded me of the latest episode, The Five Doctors.
I won’t go into too much detail, but The Doctor in this episode has been “taken out of time” by an unknown baddie. The Time Lords, (still alive), in an act of desperation, call on the Master to help. This is back when the wonderful Anthony Ainley played the part. Whilst always enemies (The Doctor called him his “best enemy”), The Master comments – “A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about.”
Welcome to Turn Left. This is what this episode is all about.
Donna and The Doctor land on an Asian-styled planet which reminded me a little too much of Firefly/Serenity and Donna bumps into Chantho, this time in human form, as a fortune teller. Well, a futuristic fortune teller which manages (thanks to a terrible special effect beetle) to change the course of Donna’s life. She doesn’t meet the Doctor on that fateful Christmas and he doesn’t get out in time when destroying the Racnoss. What happens to the world now?
It’s a really well thought out and done episode, despite it being a “what if?” story. You know none of it is going to matter, but it’s still enjoyable anyway. The world gets worse and worse without The Doctor to save the day. The Titanic crashes into London destroying most of it, The Adipose move to America instead and eat all of their fat, and the the rest of the world continues to choke on Sontaren fumes. That’s not to say the world doesn’t have its fighters still – Jack and Torchwood perish saving the world during “The Poison Sky”, Sarah Jane, Luke and Martha die up on the Moon instead. They’re not included in the episode, just referenced. It’s nice to know these people wouldn’t sit by idly and let these things go down even without that Time Lord. We do get Rose again, though.
Rose. What to say? Maybe she was a little nervous? She lisps and mumbles through her scenes, and she just “looks” different. Hopefully next week will be better, but this time around she’s there in the background, helping Donna to realise that she needs to go back and set things right again. I have to say, this is all Donnas episode though. We do get a little of the annoying “Am I Bovvered?” Donna again but you can still tell she cares, she just doesn’t know what to do about it all, like the rest of the world. The moment at the end with her in the room of mirrors is probably one of Catherine Tate’s finest moments in this show. It’s pretty much confirmed she’s not returning next year, I’m glad she did join the TARDIS for that scene.
We also get a lot of supporting crew scenes in Donna’s family. Wilfred gets some damn fine scenes (there’s a moment where he says “it’s happening again” – I won’t spoil it, but it’s a beautiful moment) and he’s probably the main point of hope in this world gone wrong. Donna’s mother falls further into despair as the world tumbles and she’s also lost her husband. There’s one moment which I didn’t quite like. Donna says to her mother – “you always told me I was useless” and she replies with a single “yeah”. Whether she wasn’t listening or agreeing, it’s still cold.
Of course, everything is done right by end and the only big let downs for me are the beetle (which looked terrible), Rose and the climax. Knowing full well that Rose is coming back, having the big reveal for The Doctor didn’t excite me that much. Still, brilliant episode and judging by the sneak peeks online, the next two are only going to get better and better. 4 out of 5.