Donna Noble, You're the Most Important Woman in the Whole of Creation
You know, I really gotta start writing these things earlier in the day...
Let's talk about giant invisible psychic arthropods.
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Back in the day, Marvel Comics used to have a series called What If...? in which each month they would take a pivotal moment in the history of the Marvel Universe and imagine what would have happened if it had gone another way. What if Gwen Stacy hadn't died? What if someone besides Peter Parker had been bitten by the radio-active spider? That kind of thing. Well, today's viewing was exactly that kind of story: What if Donna Noble had never met the Doctor?
The Doctor and Donna are visiting some kind of Chinatown, when Donna gets talked into going inside a fortune teller's tent. Once inside, a Time Beetle attaches itself to her back and re-writes her reality with the most trivial of decisions -- turning right and going to a local job interview instead of turning left and going to the interview in London where she would wind up involved in the Racnoss Christmas invasion. Because she isn't there to talk him down, the Doctor dies in the final confrontation and then everything just goes to hell.
Because the Doctor isn't there when the Judoon transport the hospital to the moon in Smith and Jones, not only does Martha Jones end up dying but so does Sarah Jane Smith. Without the Doctor alive to halt the crash of the Starship Titanic, the south of England is destroyed in a nuclear fireball. Because of that, the Adipose babies from Partners in Crime are hatched in the United States instead of the U,K., killing sixty thousand people. And because the Doctor isn't there to stop the Sontarans from The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky, it is the Torchwood team that blows up the Sontaran satellite and ignites the atmosphere (killing Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones in the process). In the end, even the stars in the sky start going out because the Doctor isn't there to save the universe.
Catherine Tate gives a spectacular performance, watching the world crumble around her. Ultimately Rose Tyler appears to her and explains that the entire multiverse is collapsing without the Doctor there, and that Donna is "...the most important woman in the whole of creation." The Time Beetle is finally revealed to Donna, and she is given the chance to go back again and force her younger self to turn left like she is supposed to. Tragically, AlternateDonna has to sacrifice her life in order to make it happen. For a Doctor-Lite episode, this is grim and pivotal stuff.
The Time Beetle reminded me very much of the mutated spiders of Metabilis III from Planet of the Spiders from way back at the end of the Third Doctor era. It's the same notion of there being an invisible insect clinging to a person's back that nobody can see and which exerts control over its host. In this case there are numerous ultra-creepy scenes in which other people sense that there is something on Donna's back, but nobody can ever see it. It makes my neck crawl just to think about it.
This story showcases exactly why I firmly believe Donna Noble is far and away the best Tenth Doctor companion. Who would have thought that a shouty comedienne would end up being the most nuanced and complex modern companion? I am really gonna miss her when she's gone (which is in about two days). On the other hand, I am really excited that I am going to get to meet Catherine Tate in person in just a few weeks. So there's that, at least.
Companion(s): Donna Noble, Rose Tyler, Wilfred Mott
Episode(s): Turn Left
Steps Walked: 7,381 today, 2,936,482 total
Distance Walked: 3.87 miles today, 1,532.34 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 100 today, 3,214 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 929 total
Is the Doctor So, So Sorry?: This time it is Rose Tyler who is so, so sorry (what with the Doctor being dead and all)
Weight: 252.98 lbs (five day moving average), net change -54.32 lbs