And so, it all came to a conclusion here (sort of).
Arguably, the day is saved, and not by the Doctor.
Yeah, from the looks of things, Donna Noble saved the universe, partially by being clumsy, and partially by being human.
Donna has, as a character, been presented as someone who wanted so badly to travel with the Doctor. Her life had been, up until then, as an office temp. She was someone who maybe didn’t think she mattered much. And yet, it is Donna who more than anyone else ends up saving the universe from a Dalek weapon that causes atoms to break apart, the plan being to broadcast it using the stolen planets in the exact right configuration to eliminate everything else in existence, leaving only the Daleks behind.
Well, Davros would be there too, but the Doctor more or less figured him as a pet.
Really, everybody tries. Martha gets a secret UNIT weapon to blow up the Earth. Sarah Jane, with Mickey and Jackie, find Captain Jack, and Sarah Jane has something that would blow up the Dalek ship. Either way would mean the deaths of a whole lot of people and would likewise the stop the Daleks. One missing planet would ruin the Dalek plan, as would obviously blowing up the Dalek ship.
But the Daleks use transmats to take all of these folks away. They had all decided, like the Doctor, to give the Daleks a chance to surrender.
So, their plans don’t work.
The Doctor surrendered after funneling his regeneration energy into that severed hand. Rose is with him. Sarah Jane surrendered at first to get up to the Dalek ship with Mickey and Jackie. And Donna was stuck in the TARDIS, something where the shielding was off and made the ship vulnerable to Dalek weapons.
So, the Daleks dropped it into their furnace to provide fuel for their massive time ship. The only thing that kept Donna alive was she managed to grab that severed hand, something that caused the hand to regrow a brand new Doctor. Let’s call him Doctor-2. He’s part human. One heart, and we learn later a normal human lifespan and aging process. No regenerations. But he has the Doctor’s brains and his personality. So, getting the TARDIS out is easy, and he can see Donna was brought along for a reason. Fate wanted it.
It turns out Donna can save the day. When Doctor-2 fails to stop Davros and gets himself caught, Donna tries with some kind of gizmo. It doesn’t work. Davros just knocks Donna towards a console.
And then Donna saves the day because that transfer of DNA or whatever to make Doctor-2 wasn’t one way, and Donna now has the brains of a Time Lord and the creativity of a human. That means making Daleks lose power, roll all over the place, and generally make a mess. Donna gets to be part Doctor. All the planets are returned…and Doctor-2 uses the Dalek weapon against the Daleks. That is genocide, and that has consequences because Doctor-2 is also part human and does things the original Doctor wouldn’t.
From there, the TARDIS has to tow the Earth home using the Cardiff Rift, operated by Torchwood, with Mr. Smith and K9 doing the calculations. Back on Earth where everyone belongs, Mickey opts to stay on his birthworld and wanders off with Martha and Captain Jack. Sarah Jane goes home to Luke. The Doctor returns Rose and Jackie to the alternate Earth and leaves Doctor-2 there with them. He’ll lead a normal human life with Rose as a necessary conscience.
This episode did have a lot of nice scenes like that. Little moments, like Rose and Martha meeting and approving of each other, or Captain Jack getting himself killed to temporarily escape the Daleks, or even just the acknowledgement that the reason the TARDIS never goes where it is supposed to is because it requires six people to fly it properly and the Doctor finally has that many inside. But this is the Tenth Doctor, and he’s the lonely one, so it has to end poorly. That mad Dalek did predict someone would die, and it would be Donna.
See, Donna’s mind wasn’t built to hold Time Lord knowledge, so it was killing her. The only way to save her life was to mind wipe all her time with the Doctor out. Essentially, Donna can never know what she’s done because if she did remember it, it would kill her. She even lets out an “I don’t want to go,” and I know that the Tenth’s last words. But he makes her forget, and she goes home. The Doctor chastises Sylvia for never telling Donna she was special often enough and gets some kind words from Wilfred about how, for a loner, he sure does make a lot of friends in the universe.
But it ends with the Tenth, crying in the TARDIS.
Considering this is not quite the end of the road, am I going to handle the last few one-off specials right away?
See, the Tenth did a guest shot on The Sarah Jane Adventures, so in order to get that done, I’ll be doing the next series of her show, then the third of Torchwood, then back to Sarah Jane, and then finishing off the Tenth Doctor.
Look, it makes sense in my head.
So, while the end for this Doctor is close, we aren’t quite there yet.