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Doctor Who: Four horrible ways Russell T. Davies kicked us in the feels

Geekend contributor Jessica Mills shares some of her strong and critical feelings about four Doctor Who episodes written by Russell T. Davies.
If you're new to Doctor Who or haven't had a chance to start watching it yet (go watch it now... the TV show is amazing!), then beware this post is spoileriffic. Otherwise, read on.

A couple of weeks ago, Doctor Who viewers saw the end of well-loved companions Amy and Rory. This ending story was long dreaded by the fans, and there has been a lot of discussion about how their ending came about, how we feel about it, how many tears we all cried, and how much our feels hurt.

I think it is a good time to revisit Doctor Who of the recent past and remind ourselves of four times Russell T. Davies (former Who showrunner) kicked us in the feels, how much more awful those times were than Amy and Rory's departure, and how grateful I am that their departure was nothing like the tragedies listed below.

4: "The End of Time"

"The End of Time" post-Season 4 special is the 10th Doctor's last appearance and the 11th Doctor's introduction. "The End of Time" kicked us in the feels with two specific moments. (It's only fair to mention that Steven Moffat wrote the last scene but is uncredited.)

The first moment involved Donna's grandfather Wilf, who comes along to help the Doctor. (Donna was the companion for the 4th season as you should know unless you've been slacking on your Who viewing, in which case I'm not sure there's anything that can be done to help you other than force you to watch "Blink" and "The Girl in the Fireplace".) Near the end of the episode, Wilf gets trapped in a booth that will douse him with lethal levels of radiation unless the Doctor takes his place.

Dear, sweet, Wilf tells the Doctor to let him die. He says the Doctor is too important, and that he's just a man who has lived a long life. He wants to give his life for the Doctor, but the Doctor won't do it.

The performances by Bernard Cribbins (Wilf) and David Tennant (the 10th Doctor) in this episode are beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking. Wilf loves the Doctor, and is willing to die for him. And the Doctor, ancient, powerful, intelligent alien, can't bear to allow him to do it.

After this, the Doctor realizes he's dying and goes on a little pleasure trip. You have some time to recover from the last episode of aching feels until the very end when he goes to visit a young Rose before she ever met him. Rose... the girl he loved but could never be with.

It was so sad.

3: "The Waters of Mars"

"The Waters of Mars" is a special that takes place prior to "The End of Time." The Doctor shows up on Mars, and there's a virus killing everyone on the first Martian base. Even though this is the first episode with these characters, it's incredibly sad when the Doctor tells Adelaide (the leader of the crew) that this is a fixed point in time and he can't help them. Basically, he tells them they all must die, and then he leaves.

It's such a bummer that everyone is going to die, but we understand why. Then the Doctor changes his mind and comes back to save the three who are left. Adelaide realizes he changed time to save them and gets freaked out by his sudden massive ego trip (I think we all were a little freaked out by that, am I right?) and then kills herself to preserve the timeline.

Davies was basically Lucy from Charlie Brown. "Oh no, guys, it's cool. Happy ending. Yaaay, he saved some people!" and then he rips away the football shouting, "Ha, ha! Just kidding. It really is so sad after all!"

Harrumph.

(To be fair, Phil Ford is credited with cowriting "The Waters of Mars.")

Read about two more examples.

16 comments
tammy.gould
tammy.gould

I absolutely agree that "The End of Time" was one of the best Who episodes, but you missed one of the more poignant moments when the Doctor drops into the bar on some distant planet to say Good-bye to Captain Jack Harkness. By that time (caution: Torchwood spoiler coming), "The Children of Earth" episodes had aired and a distraught and grieving Captain Jack had foresaken Earth - his self-penitential wandering in the universe. The sight of him caught everyone by surprise, and then, hooking him up with Russell Tovey's character from the Titantic episode was priceless!

DarthVarda
DarthVarda

Doomsday is worst than The water of Mars and The end of time. Worst and sadest than Amy and Rory departure.. Davies made me cry!

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"[i]Adelaide realizes he changed time to save them and gets freaked out by his sudden massive ego trip (I think we all were a little freaked out by that, am I right?) and then kills herself to preserve the timeline.[/i]" Agreed that was a complete "WTF?" moment. The obvious (and sane) thing to do was to take her to the future or another planet. Alternatively, she could have become a companion

jelabarre
jelabarre

It's out of left field by itself, but the series has been touching on the potential dark side of The Doctor. In the recent seasons, the Doctor's companions have been admonishing him "don't travel alone". We've seen where after periods of solitary travel, he can start making very un-Doctor-like choices. Which has made me wonder if The Master was once much more like The Doctor when they both left Gallifrey. If The Master had decided to only travel alone, his own thoughts of Time Lord superiority took over. Could also be an explanation for the Time Lords deciding to practice a non-interventionist policy (being afraid of what they could become)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

considering the existence of "The Master". Indeed I've often wondered why "The Doctor" hasn't gone down that dark path more often. Didn't anyone think it odd that the TARDIS paradox warning system kicked in [b]after[/b] Adelaide kills herself? I mean really, you have a super-intelligent alien whose species invented time-travel and you think it odd he might state the obvious? I think it more odd that Adelaide took her own life as if she were in a position to judge that was the correct course of action.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Adelaide was just scared by the [b]Time Lord Victorious[/b] belief that the Doctor was sprouting where he began to believe he could do whatever he liked without consequences. ;) Col

geekyjessica
geekyjessica

His whole "I am the master of time, time bends to my will, muahahaha!" thing just seemed to come out of left field for me. I was really taken aback by it, and then her response...not to mention the fact that the reaction to a suicide would be much different to a reaction to her dying while stationed on Mars. I dunno, the whole thing just really didn't work for me at all.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

Don't forget that the new series retconned the Master. His behaviour was caused by Rassilon. "[i]Before the Doctor destroyed Gallifrey, however, Rassilon attempted to break Gallifrey out of the time lock that blocked the Last Great Time War from temporal manipulation, placing a drumming beat in the mind of the Master when the Master gazed into the Time Vortex through the Untempered Schism as a child (and thus making Rassilon ultimately responsible for the Master's evil).[/i]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rassilon

Starman Morrison
Starman Morrison

The Doctor briefly going mad with power is well-established by the original series. One episode - The Face of Evil - featured an AI based on The Fourth Doctor's personality eventually going mad and declaring itself a god. The Fourth Doctor himself becomes very Gollum-like during The Key to Time at the point when he has the complete key. Even if you ignore the old series, it makes perfect sense taking all of the specials into consideration as part of one glorious epic about The Doctor's hubris finally catching up with him. Run with me on this. The Next Doctor - The Doctor winds up getting thanks -substantial thanks, rather - for having stopped a giant steampunk cyberman from destroying London in a rather visible fashion. The ramifications of this regarding the timeline (i.e. cybermen tech introduced to Victorian London, existence of unusual beings becoming public) are readily ignored by everyone, including The Doctor. Planet of The Dead - The Doctor is given a warning that his end is coming soon, after breaking his usual moral code to help a wanted criminal escape capture just because he liked her. This is the first clue that in the wake of losing every companion he'd had in that incarnation, The Doctor's moral compass is starting to slip. If you go back through the classic series, there are numerous examples of The Doctor nearly giving in to the power he has until a companion convinces him otherwise. (i.e. Sarah Jane in Genesis of the Daleks, Rose in Dalek, Ramona in The Key of Time) Waters of Mars - The Doctor decides to chance something because he likes Adelaide. He ignores written history and his own senses in order regarding what the set continuity SHOULD be just to save her. And the fact that he is able to do so without any obvious immediate consequences causes him to briefly become drunk with power and ponder out loud "I can do this... what can't I do?", thinking - obviously - that now he can defy his own preordained death. At which point Adelaide kills herself, causes a whopping great pardox and The Doctor realizes very quickly that the rules still apply....

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

there could have been a better way for him to drop them off (including cover story + lifeboat wreckage) some time in the future post base destruction. But that would have been reasonable and considering what he had just accomplished he wasn't in a [i]reasonable[/i] state of mind thus it fit the story arc. You're right, it tore me up when she took her life like that.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I agree that it was weird and out of character (poor writing). I think I read some comment (by Davies?) saying that the Daleks weren't scary anymore. IMO, that is also due to poor writing. In the original series (60s - 80s) the Daleks always managed to kill quite a few "secondary" characters. In the new series, you'd be "hard pressed" to identify the Daleks as genocidal maniacs. They also made a big mistake in one of the most recent episodes. The Dalek nanomachines are the [b]ultimate weapon[/b] (a la the "Genesis Torpedo" in "Star Trek II TWOK").

Starman Morrison
Starman Morrison

Well, it depends on which faction of Daleks you're dealing with. Imperial or Renegade. Originally, all the Daleks were all about racial purity to the point that they killed their own creator, Davros, because was still a Kaled and had not undergone the process to become a Dalek. A side effect of The Doctor's intervention during Genesis of the Daleks was that Davros, informed that his creations would eventually turn on him, took precautions that put him into a hibernation state once attacked. Years later, Davros was dug up by a faction of Daleks who believed that Davros' genius was needed for The Daleks to be successful. This faction made Davros their leader and began plotting to build a vast empire, converting other species into Daleks to increase their numbers. They became known as the Imperial Daleks. The Daleks who refused to follow Davros, clinging to the ideals of exterminating everyone, became known as the Renegade Daleks. Supposedly, the two factions reconciled after the events of Remembrance of The Daleks and were united under one banner heading into The Time War. However, the existence of a new Dalek Emperor in Series One of the new series (i.e. the Daleks the The Ninth Doctor fought that Rose erased from time) indicates that the conflict started up again. Plus, there were "pure" Daleks locked away that were freed during the events of Victory of the Daleks.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

In the 60's movies (Peter Cushing) the Daleks used "static electricity" for their power source and as a result, they were trapped in the Kaled city. In "Death to the Daleks" (Jon Pertwee) the Daleks had internal power supplies for their energy weapons, but they moved using some form of Telekinesis (which is why the energy drain from the Exxilon city didn't effect them). It probably also explains how they were able to build machine-guns to replace their energy weapons. In "Genesis of the Daleks" (Tom Baker) Davros' Daleks were able to traverse the devastated landscape of Skaro (they had internal power supplies or Telekinesis). "[i]Sorry but the concept of converting every living thing on a planet to Darlek and then somehow latter coming along and providing Transport Devices seems unbelievable ...[/i]" The Daleks didn't supply the battle armour, the nanomachines made it. Presumably there were at least 2 types of nanomachines: - The 1st type performed genetic alteration. - The 2nd type [b]provided the battle armour[/b]. Note: It may have been only one type of nanomachine with both abilities. I only see 3 possible outcomes if the nanomachines are used as weapons: - Major lifeforms are converted to Daleks (Daleks win - no losses) - Major lifeforms die (Daleks win - no losses) - Nanomachines fail or are disabled (Daleks lose - no losses) In the 3rd outcome, the Daleks would simply concentrate their forces and obliterate those lifeforms (a la the Gou'ald strategy in Stargate SG-1). The end result would be that the Daleks would be the only surviving Major lifeforms. That's why I said it was a big mistake (time travel was another). :)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Originally needed to exterminate everything not Darlek. It was programed into their base DNA by Daveros and they had no space in the Universe for anything but Darleks. Converting other life forms to Darlek seems just wrong and a massive step away from what they where programed to be. Besides the Basic Conversion to a Darlek just how did they get their Transport Device? Remember that the Darlek is inside the Garbage Can it's not the actual metal casing on the outside. ;) The entire concept just doesn't make any sense to as converting to Darlek would leave them vulnerable to almost anything that came anywhere near them till they got their Transport Device which originally needed to run on a Metal Floor that had a Static Charge to allow movement. Somehow that was latter changed to not needing an external Power Source to allow movement though how the power was generated was never really explained. Sorry but the concept of converting every living thing on a planet to Darlek and then somehow latter coming along and providing Transport Devices seems unbelievable or even less likely allowing that entire planet of Darleks to die because they have no means of moving or feeding. Allowing Darlek Lifeforms to die is just as foreign to Darleks as having Mercy. Col

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"[i]Well when the Darleks ... Will convert other species to themselves as apposed to Exterminating them they became the Borg and where no longer scary.[/i]" Depends on what you consider the most frightening option to be: - Death - Being physically converted into something you despise/hate

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Will convert other species to themselves as apposed to Exterminating them they became the Borg and where no longer scary. The Script Writers messed up so badly with that one but I must admit to seeing a Darlek roll up to a flight of steps look around and then say Elevate was something completely unexpected. Col