April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Doctor Who “Forest Of The Dead”

The Doctor and River Song continue to evade killer shadows as they work to solve the riddle of the Library.

Well, I may never go to a planet-sized library again.  That said, kudos to the show for making the guy who seemed like a evil rich guy in the first part actually turn out to be a decent human being after all once everything was revealed.

OK, so…Donna isn’t dead.

Yes, she’s a talking statue, but she isn’t dead.  She’s somewhere else, with a husband and children, where time passes but she doesn’t notice until the dead secretary shows up to point it out, and how Donna’s two kids are identical to every other child in the park.

Meanwhile, more and more of the Doctor’s allies du jour are picked off by the Vashta Nerada.  As threatening repeated sentences go, “Hey, who turned out the lights?” isn’t quite “Are you my mummy?” but it isn’t that far behind.

But as much as Donna’s story was kinda sweet, half-remembering the Doctor while getting a life she might actually want, the Doctor’s own story revolves around River Song, whoever she is.

Yes, cultural osmosis tells me exactly who she is, but the episode does nod in that direction without actually telling us, and I liked how it turned out.  River does seem like the kind of woman the Doctor would marry, someone who matches his spirit and can argue with him in a familiar way even as he has no idea who she is.  And, over time, the Doctor figures out what happened.  The Vastha Nerada are mostly a race of sentient shadows that hunt in forests.  How did they end up in the library?  Well, all the paper in those books had to come from somewhere.

How could all the missing patrons, including Donna, have been “saved” if they are nowhere to be seen?  Because a computer saves patterns.  The people are still alive, but they were uploaded to a computer core into a virtual simulation.  That’s where Donna and that little girl are.  So, as River insists the Doctor can get the TARDIS to open its doors with the snap of his fingers, something he has never done before but does by episode’s end, he’s really been quietly negotiating with the Vashta Nerada, and in the end, just being the Doctor is enough to get a 24 hour reprieve to rescue Donna and the others.

But the final piece comes from the rich guy who tells us the little girl isn’t just some computer program.  She was a real person.  He wasn’t there to save corporate ownership.  He was there to save her, his grandfather’s youngest daughter whose mind was saved to the computer system since she loved books before an untimely illness killed her.  The Doctor can fix that at the cost of his own life with a mind upload, but River turns around and beats him to it since he probably couldn’t regenerate from that, and that would be that.  A woman who whispered…something in his ear and apparently knew him very well, enough to give her his sonic screwdriver, is dead.

Until he realizes that pattern saver was in the screwdriver, and, even as he rescues everyone from the VR simulation, he is able to insert River and the people from her expedition into it so they don’t have to die and the rich guy can help everyone go somewhere safe as the negotiated day ends.  No problems there.

Well, Donna might have one if she noticed the man she married in the simulation was real and in the crowd, but she just missed him…