The week is finally over and after last week’s start to the fourth season of the new Doctor Who the next episode is here! This week the Doctor and Donna are in Rome, or at least that’s where they wanted to be. Instead they’re finding themselves in the middle of Pompeii and of course it’s the day before the eruption of the Vesuv which, as history teaches us destroyed the city and killed all it’s inhabitants with it’s toxic lava and hot ash.
Many spoilers follow, do not carry on reading if you don’t want the story spoilt!
The sisters from the Sibylline sisterhood
The season opener had many surprises; Donna being less annoying than she was during ‘Runaway bride’ and of course the mysterious arrival or rather appearance of Rose who up until that point was believed to be stuck in an alternate universe. This caused some discussion in the comments of my post with a few theories, such as Rose being a hologram just like the Doctor was at the end of ‘Doomsday’. But I don’t suppose we will find out until the end of the series!
The high priestess has been changed into stone
Donna’s role has become clear though. She is more down to earth than Rose and Martha and does not have a problem standing up to the Doctor and criticise his decisions as she has previously done in the ‘Runaway Bride’. She is his moral consciousness trying to get him to show compassion and help others more than he would want as shown by him saving a family that would have otherwise died.
Who said a water pistol wasn’t useful?
Some things are fixed, some things are in a flux, and Pompeii is fixed…That’s how I see the universe. All the time every waking second: what is, what was, what could be, what must not. That’s the burden of a Time Lord, Donna.
A good reference to ‘The Parting of the Ways’; an indication of what is to come for the Doctor?
The TARDIS translation in action and explained.
One thing I am absolutely loving so far is the music. Murray Gold is an excellent composer and things like ‘Martha’s Quest’, ‘YANA’, ‘Rose’s Theme’ and ‘This is Gallifrey – Our Childhood, Our Home’ perfectly compliment the series. The new series so far has reused ‘Donna’s theme’ and excerpts of ‘YANA’ with this episode introducing a new violin based underlying theme and a suspenseful piano based one found in most of the episode. It’s taking a new direction away from the more playful ones in the previous seasons.
The episode itself feels a bit disjointed with many different adversaries and possibly too many characters that appear making it a very busy episode. It’s all about them stuck in Pompeii as they have yet again lost the TARDIS or rather it was sold to a marble merchant. His family consists of his wife, a daughter that has mysterious visions and a lazy son. Throughout the episode it is revealed that an alien race called the Pyrovilians has become stuck on Earth and are planning to destroy the entire planet. The Doctor is able to thwart their plans – by causing the eruption of the Vesuv thus killing 20000 people.
Donna pleading with the Doctor
And that is the central moral dilemma of the episode; is the life of a few worth sacrificing to ensure the survival of many? The Doctor and Donna struggle with the decision and she seems to be dealing with it a lot better than he does by helping him make it. She is also responsible for convincing him to show compassion by having him return to the house and saving the family and as much as I appreciate Donna’s bold move, I’m hoping there are no later repercussions.
“Come with me.”
Small things that caught my attention this episode:
- The Doctor seemed very annoyed at parts, especially in the beginning where he seemed quite short with Donna.
- It’s great to see how they finally explained the TARDIS translation system, something I was wondering about myself.
- There are many references to his past, him being the last of the Timelords and references to ‘The parting of the ways’ and him being able to see everything at the same time.
- The episode shows again what an influence the Doctor can have on people, such as the transformation of the son throughout the episode.
- The mentioning of the Shadow Proclamation again.
- Another planet gone or taken?
- It’s nice to see that there isn’t any sexual tension.
- Catherine Tate is a far better actress than I thought she would be.
The Doctor and Donna are now household Gods
Overall I wasn’t all too impressed, but the music saved it a bit – 6/10.
Next week: “Planet of the Ood”. The Ood are back!