And oh my God. Seriously, it’s ALL I can think about. Especially the part with Rose & the two Doctors, and with Donna having to leave. Heart-wrenching. Especially since she was my favorite character. And as for Rose, sure, she got to keep the “Doctor,” that was nice and all. But he’s not the Doctor. He’s a replica. He walks, talks, and thinks like the Doctor. But he’s not the Doctor. She will have to either live with that or try to forget that, for the rest of her life.
And the Doctor, the real Doctor - oh dear God. Don’t even get me started. First of all, he watches himself be replicated into an old version of him that he hates. A man born of hatred and destruction. He watches as this man commits genocide… and we all know how strongly the Doctor stands against genocide. Then, when the fight has been fought and his companions are returning to their respectful homes, he has to figure out what to do with him. He can’t kill him - that’s murder. He’s a living being. He is who he used to be… before Rose. And then he realizes what he must do.
With a sharp twist of fate Rose and the Doctor were brought back together - in person this time, and she could have stayed with him! But instead, he knew he had to convince her to stay. He knew that she was the only person who could, and had!, turned this hateful, world-destroying man into a kind, compassionate, and forgiving being. So there they stood on the beach: the Doctor, his clone, and the love of his life. And he had to convince her to stay. To stay away from him, to leave him. After all they had been through, after being ripped apart from her once already, and thinking he’d lost her forever. Here he was trying to convince her to never see him again, forever, again. This time he had to willingly give up the love of his life. And so he watched while his Rose kissed another man, his Rose that he could now never kiss, could now never hold, could now never hear laugh again, could now never see. He watched her be pulled in by another man, and being able to stand it no longer, he turned away and flew off, leaving Rose stranded forever.
And then, to top it all off! Back in the TARDIS, Donna is excited to continue on as his companion. But even then, even before the effects started to take place, the Doctor knew what was about to happen. You could see it on his face! So sad, so lonely. He knew he was about to lose Donna, before the loss even happened.
And then it did. The mind of a Time Lord inside Donna’s head began to burn her up, it was eating away at her. How much longer did she have? Minutes, hours, days? The Doctor had to save her but it meant losing her forever, as well. He had just been forced to give up the love of his life, to make her stay away, and now he was required to do the same thing to one of his best friends. Donna Noble, the woman who saved the universe. And he had to reduce her to something much, much less… her old self. It was like watching his old self be recreated. But at least for Donna, it meant life. Granted, it meant a trivial and fickle life full of gossip, work, and simplicity, but it meant life nonetheless.
It’s interesting… in the episode, and within talk among Whovians on Tumblr, it is speculated that being with the Doctor changed Donna. It tries to show this when he brings her home. On the phone with her friend, already blathering on about who did this and who did that and clothes and drinks and blah blah blah. But that’s not who Donna really is. They show her this way because that’s what humans have to do. We know there is something bigger, so much wider than we’ve ever imagined out there… but we can’t find it. So we resort to filling our hours with simple things, trivial cares. And that’s what old Donna did. She did what any other tiny simple human with no knowledge of other worlds would do.
But I don’t think it’s the Doctor that changed Donna. I think Donna changed the Doctor. Maybe more than Rose did, I think. Rose started the process of changing him, calming him, soothing him, rounding out those sharp edges. But Donna completed it. The very first trip he took her on, they’d barely been together at all, and already Donna was showing so much compassion for the citizens of Pompeii. That was before she had barely any contact with the Doctor. He didn’t change her into a better person, she already was a great person. She just had to have the chance to exhibit it. It’s why Dalek Caan chose her, he saw how strong she was. Andshe convinced the Doctor to save the family in Pompeii. He had already left them behind and she convinced him to go back and get them. To risk both their lives and possibly history itself, and save that family. Donna did that. Not the Doctor. Donna. Donna completed the Doctor’s emotional regeneration. She finished the cycle that had already begun. She made him a better person. She saved him. And then he lost her.
And there the Doctor was again… alone.
Always, always alone.
My last analysis of the episode is of Dalek Caan’s final message, as the Doctor and his companions escaped the falling Dalek ship safely into the TARDIS, he shouted, “One still will die!” And yet, we lost none to death at the end of the episode. So what’s coming? Who do we lose? There’s a long list of companions that were involved in this scheme: Rose, Martha, Sarah Jane, Donna, Captain Jack, Mickey, Jackie. Who will die? Was Dalek Caan correct? Did he mean literal death? Will we lose someone else again? What could Dalek Caan have been alluding to?
If it’s been resolved in the recent seasons, I will find out soon. Eleventh doctor, here I come!