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!”
(To be fair, Phil Ford is credited with cowriting “The Waters of Mars.”)
“Doomsday” is the second part of the Season 2 finale, and Rose’s last episode as a regular companion. Rose and the Doctor were flirty all through her time as his companion. Billie Piper and David Tennant had great chemistry and were very cute with each other. I’ll give you the short plot summary of this complicated episode, though none of it really matters in the end because Daleks and Cybermen together!
Rose almost gets stuck in the parallel Universe, then comes back and declares she’ll never leave the Doctor in spite of never seeing her mom or Mickey again. So there they are, saving the universe with stuff that involves big power levers and magnetic clamps, but we know that Rose and the Doctor will save the day and travel together foreve-
Ha, ha! Just kidding. Lucy snatches the football at the last minute, as Rose has to let go of her clamp in order to flip her lever back up (yeah, I know, bear with me) and almost dies until her dad who was dead but isn’t dead in the other universe (almost there, kids) grabs her and takes her back to the other universe where her mom (who was dead in that universe but not in the one they just left), and Mickey (who replaced his dead self that he met in that universe) are waiting. Rose breaks down crying (in a beautiful performance by Billie Piper), and then she and the Doctor both lean against the wall and touch it. It’s heartbreaking. It was all going to be okay, and then it wasn’t.
Somehow the Doctor projects himself into her dimension for one final goodbye where she tells him she loves him, and he says “Rose Tyler…” and disappears before he can finish what he was going to say.
For the love of all that is holy, that was just mean.
1: “Journey’s End”
“Journey’s End” from Season 4 is Donna’s last episode. This whole thing was really neat, because Torchwood and all the old companions (including Sarah Jane) come together to help the Doctor save the Universe, plus other Universes. It was super fun to watch, especially when, through a crazy thing involving Donna, the TARDIS, and a severed hand, a double of the Doctor is created, and Donna is given a Time Lord brain.
Hoo, buddy! Let me tell you… this situation was so bad that Torchwood, all companions, and the Doctor combined weren’t enough. It took two Doctors and a Doctor Donna. There’s a great moment when Doctor Donna solves a problem with human imagination combined with Time Lord brainpower, and it was so cool to watch, especially considering her character’s journey. She started out a shallow, loud, brassy woman with more than a few self esteem issues. Throughout her journey with the Doctor, she came to respect herself, believe in herself and, more than anything, demonstrated that her kind heart was her most powerful asset. Then she becomes, basically, a superhero.
But wait, kids. There goes that football again!! The Time Lord brain will burn her out and kill her unless the Doctor removes all memories of him and her time with him. She can never remember him, or she will die. Donna cries and begs him not to do it. She says she was going to travel with him forever. And then my feels shriveled up and died.
It wasn’t fair that the character who grew the most and in the most wonderful ways should have all that ripped from her. Martha got to come back. Mickey got to come back. Rose and Captain Jack and all the other companions got to come back. Donna will never ever be a companion again, and she loses all that growth and confidence. It broke my heart into a million pieces.
So there you have it, folks. Russell T. Davies. Feels kicker.