Lurky McLurklurk (ionlylurkhere) wrote,
Lurky McLurklurk

Hopefully my last post on this, I apologise for the spam

There is a lot of debate going on about Donna's ending, so I am going to write the cleaned up version of my capslocking about it over at the anon meme and try and summarise the other arguments as well. My overarching point is, I think there are four issues that are sometimes being conflated:

  1. Contrivance. So, here's what happened:

    • Because she touched the hand, hand!Ten grew and Donna became the DoctorDonna, thus allowing her fantabulous day saving.
    • But her human brain can't cope with all that Time Lordiness.
    • And so the only way to save her is to remove ALL her memory of travelling with the Doctor.

    Let's not be confused, even given the real world constraints he was under (writing out Tate, etc.) all of those things were choices on RTD's part. Even if we accept the first two for the sake of argument, there are a hundred other ways that he could have resolved that and still written out Tate, from the fanfic staple of having the companion regenerate, which would actually have been perfectly plausible here for once (er, yes, I did just do an instafic version of that, and I hadn't realised quite how popular that meme is until the almost overwhelming response; thanks everyone I haven't got round to thanking individually yet) to removing the last few hours but not the whole of her time with the Doctor to simply saying that she'd be fine as long as she's well away from any Time Lords. The contrivance issue is not at all helped by the fact that on Confidential (apparently; I'm very glad I didn't watch this one) Rusty all but admitted to sitting down and trying to come up with the most tragic ending he could. Nor is it improved by the skeevy overtones that I'm fairly sure I'm not alone in detecting of Donna's inability to handle TimeLordiness being not just about her being human but also possibly a human woman.
  2. There should have been another way. As a corrollary (sp?) to the out-of-story "this is the only way" thing, it seems to me like the Doctor jumps very quickly to "this is the only solution and I must implement it now". Surely between him and the DoctorDonna they could have figured something else out. Incidentally, some fans seem to believe that this is what happened, pointing to the already-established chameleon arch technology and/or Donna's ring as somehow significant. This is perfectly fine as a bit of fanon IMO, but it's not what we're shown on screen, and the people who are claiming that it's obvious they did something like this and therefore people are wrong to be concerned over the ending are imposing their interpretation on things rather too much, I think.
  3. Consent. This is possibly the hottest button of all, given that the script and Tate's superb acting really sell us on the fact that Donna does not want this to happen. I don't think anyone found the scene anything other than hugely uncomfortable at best to watch. People seem to be falling on two sides of this: that it was an assault by the Doctor (and, ick, people on this side, please stop saying "mind rape", right fucking now) or that it was a life saving medical procedure performed by the Doctor on someone who could not really consent.
  4. The end result. And so, at the end of the episode, we're shown Donna back to her old, selfish, wilfully ignorant of the world around her self. (And worse, to save her life she has to remain ignorant and her family have been enlisted in a conspiracy to keep her that way.) Now, we know what Donna can be and we can believe if we want that Wilf (and Sylvia after her telling off from the Doctor) is going to help guide her back to that sans mentioning aliens ever, but as with so much else in RTD!Who, we don't get shown it. The debate here seems to be whether this constitutes death for the Donna we know (which Caan and the Doctor certainly seem to believe), a fate worse than death, or just a tragic ending. I think that in the middle of all this are everyone's largely unexamined assumptions about how the relationship between mind and body works and other major philosophical questions that only become other than abstract in SFnal scenarios like this one (my TNG thing about the Romulan commander who defects to the Enterprise, falls in love with Bev, but then has to go back to the Empire for the greater good and the only way to do it safely is to wipe his memory including of the whole love affair, don't let me show you it). I don't have the time/energy to try and disentangle these properly right now, but I suspect the fate-worse-than-death crowd are working off a more materialistic model than other people. (And, actually, although a lot of people over on this side of the fence laugh at some people's response to Reinette walking around in Ten's mind without explicit permission, there are huge privacy issues and so on involved, and this goes to point 3 as well.)

Now, most of the debate seems to have focused around 3 and 4, but the way I see it, that list is hierarchical and it's only worth getting into those once we've accepted 1 and 2, which I'm really not sure we should be doing quite so easily. And a lot of the argument (polite though it has generally been) seems to be coming about because people whose issues are at different points in the list are talking at cross purposes to each other.
Tags: doctor who, meta

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