Monday, July 07, 2008

Dr. Who: Mourning Donna Noble

Note to Dr. Who Fans: Contains spoilers of the Season Four Finale.

Yesterday, we watched the season ender of the latest Dr. Who. Without giving too much away, in the process of saving the universes and time itself (you know, the usual), Donna has to lose all memory of her time with the Doctor, and he takes her back home to the life she had.

I found that the most tragic way to end a friendship with the Doctor, and it bugged me all day (still does.) I talked to Rob about it, in true geekdom fashion; he agreed. "She's been put back in the little box," he said.

For me, it's more than that, though. Sarah Jane got put into the little box; Martha Jones got put into the little back. Rose was trapped in a "little box" of an alternate universe. But they remembered the "big box," and all they were and what they did. What they were capable of doing. They took those experiences with them, and even if they regretted losing the life they'd had, they were better for it.

Donna never gets that. She's had all the incredible experiences, done things she never thought herself capable of, and she doesn’t remember. Never mind the phenomenal knowledge of the Doctor; there were times when her she used her own limited knowledge combined with unique insight, to do the extraordinary. Like Rose Tyler told her, "You've always been brilliant. You just needed the Doctor to show you."

But he didn't. He couldn't. And when he left her, she was back to her old, "Just a temp" ways, loud, narrow-minded and a little ditzy, probably afraid to push beyond her small box because she might fail. "For a moment, she was the most important person in the universe," the Doctor said. But she had to go back to believing she is a nobody.

In a way, it makes me think of what would happen if some brilliant person got Alzheimer's or a massive brain injury in the prime of his or her life. It's just tragic.

Yet, as the doctor told her family, because of Donna, there are worlds still shining, and people singing of Donna Noble. They know what she was, what she could be.

Why is it so important to me that she know as well?

Back to the trivial: Orphan Sock Blog Week starts next Monday! If you want to blog about those socks that mysteriously lose their partners, e-mail me with your blog address and I'll post it on my blog next week.


Myke said...

Wow, thanks for this review! It's written well and very informative thanks!

Susan said...

I like your question.

What I'm guessing is that Donna's tragedy is more for us viewers than for herself:
Perhaps now we can all look at ourselves, and no matter how restricted or dull or ordinary our lives *seem*, and we can now wonder 'what if'...who knows, maybe once upon a time I SAVED THE UNIVERSE! WOO HOO!! and dig deeper into ourselves for THAT person.

So I pitied her for a moment, but then thought ... no... those experiences are still part of her, even if they're not part of her consciousness now, and it's ok. It's almost like the end of Casablanca, where you're disappointed at the end because they didn't get together, then realise the story is somehow better with a bittersweet finish, instead of the big gooey dessert with the expected cherry on top.

I think this is a great discussion topic for writers, too--ok, this ending was not a neat little tied-up-with-a-bow package, but does that NOT make it better somehow? Or at least more/less intriguing? Which would 'stick' more with a viewer/reader? Which would lead to more discussion and wondering?

So, in the end, I'm good with it.

Thursday Next said...

It bugged me, too. The only thing I could get out of it is that hopefully Donna's mum will not always be pulling her down. It's like her family got her experience memories, rather than her.

Still, and this is important: the Trickster fortune teller was blown away by how strong Donna was. While full (and new) Time Lord consciousness was too much for her, she might grow into some of it. It's got to be still there, or what would it matter if her family reminded her?

And I wonder about the half time lord thing: does that only mean shared memories? Because that would be lame. None of that golden swirly mist came out of her when her memories were removed.

Not to mention, there's a huge plot opportunity in that sure, her family were told "don't tell her" but what about the other Children of Time? So they need something, or they just happen to see her at the grocery store. She might think they're nuts, but if telling her things is so dangerous, there's a good chance they'll trip a switch in her head somewhere. Here's hoping.

Anonymous said...

How he had to leave Donna is still bothering me today, actually. I genuinely LIKED Donna Noble. It would have been better, to me, if she had died saving the universe and the whole of time rather then going back to the self deprecating temp from Chiswick. :(

pjkane said...

I am still bothered at how Donna has been left!

But i've been thinking about the whole 'Turn Left' episode!

For Donna to become the Doctor/Donna and save the multiverse, the Donna that got ran over by the lorry in Turn Left may not have died? All she had to do was cause an effect for the other Donna to Turn right in her car. Are there two Donna's? Both Donna's not remembering their pasts (one because her memory was wiped by the Doc; one because she has amnesia after being ran over by a lorry!)

There are alot of possibilities for Donna to come back-why not.....!