This episode here is a big one for David Tennant, and not because it has some big, monumental moment for the Doctor in it. To be sure, it does appear to have that, but the big moment came with the guest role given to actress Georgia Moffett as the Doctor’s clone daughter, and not just because she actually is the daughter of former Doctor Peter Davison.
No, it’s because this is where Tennant and Moffett met and started dating. They’re married today. That’s sweet.
But it sure didn’t look sweet at the start. The TARDIS got a mind of its own and zapped itself off to some planet where humans and fish-like aliens called the Hath are in some kind of war. They’ve been fighting for generations and don’t recall why it started. They live underground on a planet that isn’t all that friendly. And they have these cloning machines that pop out fresh soldiers rather regularly by taking some DNA, playing around with the order of the genes, and pop out new people with all the military knowledge already built in. The humans find the TARDIS as soon as everyone gets out. They grab the Doctor and make a daughter for him. Then the Hath show up, grab Martha, and an explosion cuts the Doctor and Donna off from both Martha and the TARDIS.
And Gendry is there to cause more trouble. Though this is the first time I’ve seen that actor in something where he wasn’t playing a blacksmith.
Like a good show should, the episode gives stuff to do for the Doctor, Donna, and Martha. Martha manages to befriend her captor when she fixes his dislocated shoulder. Donna sees numbered plaques all over the place and figures out what they mean. And the Doctor, locked up by the human commander with Donna and the genetic anomaly that is his daughter (Donna names her “Jenny” as a result) for the crime of pacifism or having genetics from a pacifist, has to both get used to the idea that she is his child–even if Jenny is an adult female–but also teach her to value peace over violence. Donna is helpful there too by pointing out first that, like a Time Lord, Jenny has two hearts.
That said, while Jenny takes to a lot of the Doctor’s ideas over time, I think the biggest moment for me came when the Doctor admitted to Donna that this isn’t his first time as a parent, and that seeing a child grow up has a melancholy feel for the man whose actions during the Time War probably wiped out whatever relatives he had on top of everything else. Still, Jenny’s growing excitement over the idea of exploring space is contagious. He does warm up to her as time passes.
Martha, meanwhile, goes with her onw Hath friend to the “temple” where everyone is converging over the planet’s surface, and her buddy dies saving her from some quicksand. She is not having a good time of it.
And then the ending: the war that has lasted generations is only a week old. When you produce new soldiers every day, new generations don’t last long. And the fighting was over nothing because the two races were supposed to be involved in a terraforming mission. Finishing the process should end the war, and for the most part it does.
Too bad that human commander decides to fire one more shot, hitting and killing Jenny.
She doesn’t regenerate either. The Doctor takes Martha home in the TARDIS. He’s down. She’s down. Donna, who figured out the numbers were dates and even offered to use her feminine wiles to seduce a guard (the Doctor shot that idea down gently), still wants to explore some more.
And so does Jenny, it turns out. She does regenerate…eventually, and even can keep her face. She could reappear on the show, but apparently, Georgia Moffett has only done some Big Finish work since then as Jenny. Still, she’s out there, and that was rather cool all things being equal.
Too bad that mopey Doctor doesn’t know that…