In which the Doctor and Donna rush back to Earth, following the news that Rose Tyler has made contact. The Doctor fears that this may signify the breaking of the barriers between universes, which could mean the end of everything. However, all appears to be normal. A few moments later, however, the TARDIS is rocked by some external force. Returning to the doors, they see only space beyond. The ship has not moved, though. The Earth has gone...
Martha Jones is at UNIT's New York HQ when the shift occurs, and she sees that the sky is now full of alien planets. Sarah Jane Smith and her son Luke in Ealing, West London, witness the same phenomenon - as do Wilf Mott and Sylvia Noble in Chiswick, and the Torchwood team in Cardiff. Elsewhere in West London, Rose Tyler has arrived, crossing over from her parallel world.
The Doctor and Donna travel to the headquarters of the Shadow Proclamation to seek help in locating the missing planet. Here, the Shadow Architect informs them that the problem extends beyond the Earth. Other worlds have disappeared as well.
On Earth, a number of spaceships are identified approaching the planet. A message is picked up from them - revealing that they are Dalek ships. The craft begin to attack the planet, targeting military installations.
New York is hit. As UNIT HQ there comes under attack from ground troops, Martha's commander orders her to use Project Indigo to escape. This is a captured Sontaran teleport device. It takes Martha back to her mother's home in London. A communications signal is picked up at Torchwood, and at the homes of Sarah and Martha. Rose, meanwhile rescues Wilf and Sylvia when they are cornered by a Dalek. They had earlier seen many people being taken captive by the Daleks, with those failing to co-operate being exterminated. Rose goes to the Noble home, where they also pick up the communications signal. This is coming from ex-Prime Minister Harriet Jones - a special sub-wave network which had been developed by Mr Copper, whom the Doctor had encountered on the spaceship Titanic. It was designed to seek out everyone connected to the Doctor in the event of a scenario such as this. It allows all the parties to communicate with each other, although Wilf does not have a camera for his computer - so Rose can simply look on.
At the Shadow Proclamation, the Doctor is struggling to understand why these planets have been taken. Donna then reminds him that they have been hearing of other planets which have vanished - such as Pyrovillia. The Doctor adds in the planets which went missing in earlier times, and the assembled group of worlds combine to make a massive energy producing network. Finding them all is still a problem, but once again Donna comes up with the answer when she mentions the fact that bees have been disappearing. The Doctor tells her that many of these are actually extraterrestrial in origin. Sensing some impending catastrophe, they have gone home. Their trail can be followed, however. The Shadow Architect is talking about waging war against whoever is responsible, and wants the Doctor to lead the fight, but he and Donna rush off. The bee trail leads to the Medusa Cascade, but here the trail goes cold.
On Earth, Harriet and the Doctor's friends devise a means of broadcasting a call for his help. Sarah's super-computer Mr Smith will channel a signal to the Doctor's phone through all of the telephones on the planet, via the Torchwood Rift Manipulator. This will give away Harriet's location to the Daleks, so she transfers control over to Captain Jack at the Hub. On a massive space station at the heart of the cluster of planets, the Dalek Supreme orders units to attack the source of the sub-wave network. Harriet is killed. The plan works, however, as the TARDIS picks up the signal. The Doctor discovers that the planets have been hidden in a pocket of time, just out of synch with the rest of the universe.
The ship breaks through and materialises in London.
The Doctor is able to talk with his friends and learn what has been happening. However, someone else breaks into the conversation. The Doctor hopes it is Rose, but he is horrified to find that it is Davros, creator of the Daleks.
As well as the Project Indigo device, Martha had been given an Osterhagen Key. Harriet and Jack had forbidden her to use this, but Martha decides she must follow her commander's orders. She bids her mother goodbye and uses the teleport once again. This time she finds herself in a forest outside a castle in Germany. The custodian also knows of the Key, and tries to stop her using it.
In London, Sarah and Rose have taken to the streets in search of the TARDIS. Jack activates his Vortex manipulator to travel to the city, just as the Daleks locate the new source of the sub-wave network - the Torchwood Hub. Ianto and Gwen prepare for a Dalek attack. One of them overcomes the defences and breaks in.
The Doctor and Donna emerge from the TARDIS and see Rose. As he runs towards her, the Doctor fails to notice a Dalek which shoots him. Jack materialises and destroys it. Close by, Sarah finds herself confronted by a pair of Daleks. Jack, Rose and Donna take the Doctor into the TARDIS, where he begins to regenerate...
The Doctor uses the regeneration energy to heal his injuries, and siphons off the excess into his hand which had been cut off by the Sycorax leader, and which Jack had retained in a special container. Sarah is saved from the Daleks by the sudden arrival of Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler, who have followed Rose over from the parallel Earth. At the Hub, Ianto and Gwen discover that their late colleague Tosh had set up an extra line of defence - a time lock. The Dalek is frozen in time. It can't get in, but they can't get out. The Dalek Supreme orders the capture of the TARDIS, and it is transported to their space station. This is an artificial planetoid which they call the Crucible. Seeing the TARDIS teleported away, Sarah decides to allow herself to be captured - so Mickey and Jackie follow suit, so they will be taken to where the Doctor and Rose are.
In the Crucible, the Doctor and his companions are forced to leave the ship. Donna lags behind, as she has been troubled by a strange double heart beat sound recently. The ship's doors suddenly lock of their own accord, trapping her inside. The Supreme then orders the destruction of the TARDIS, dropping it into the Crucible's energy core. Donna is drawn towards the disembodied hand, as the ship begins to break up around her. Touching it, she is hit by a blast of regeneration energy. The container smashes, and the hand grows into a duplicate of the Doctor. The TARDIS then dematerialises and reappears elsewhere in the Cascade, but the real Doctor and his friends believe it - and Donna - destroyed.
Jack tricks the Daleks into exterminating him, so that he can revive after they have removed his body. The Doctor and Rose are taken to a vault where they meet Davros and Dalek Caan, now completely deranged, its casing torn open. It had re-entered the Time War and saved Davros, destroying its sanity in the process. It now has the gift of prophesy, and claims that one of the Doctor's companions will die. Davros tells the Doctor that he has created the ultimate weapon - the Reality Bomb - which breaks down all matter. The stolen planets are needed to generate its power. Elsewhere on the Crucible, Sarah, Mickey and Jackie find themselves about to be used as guinea-pigs to test the weapon. Sarah and Mickey manage to slip away, but Jackie stays to help someone. She has a device which can transport her, and uses it just before the Reality Bomb is used to disintegrate a number of captive humans. Jack joins them, having tracked their technology. Sarah has in her possession a warp star crystal, which harnesses incredible energies. If cracked open, it could destroy the Crucible.
Martha then contacts the Daleks from Germany, and tells them that she will deploy the Osterhagen Key. This operates a chain of nuclear devices buried across the planet - devised to prevent the Earth falling into hostile hands. Sarah and Jack also contact the Supreme and notify it of their weapon.
However, the Daleks simply transport Martha, Jack, Sarah, Mickey and Jackie to the vault, where they are all taken prisoner.
In the TARDIS, the new Doctor tells Donna that he was created partly from her making contact. He is half human, but she is now part Time Lord - a process known as meta-crisis. As Davros begins preparations to activate the Reality Bomb in earnest - which will wipe out all matter beyond the Medusa Cascade - the new Doctor and Donna take the TARDIS to the vault, armed with a device which should be effective against Daleks. Their arrival surprises everyone, not least the Doctor. Davros shoots them both down with electrical bolts from his hand before they can use their weapon. The shock activates the Time Lord half of Donna's new persona, and she starts to sabotage the Dalek systems. She sends them out of control. When the Supreme descends to the vault, Jack shoots it and destroys it, whilst Mickey holds Davros captive. Donna then helps to return the planets to their rightful times and places. The machine which does this then breaks down before the Earth can be returned. Donna and the new Doctor then decide between themselves to end the Dalek threat by self-destructing them - including the one which was threatening the Torchwood team. The Doctor is horrified by this, as it is an act of genocide. He ushers everyone into the TARDIS as the Crucible begins to break up. Davros refuses to go with them, and he curses Caan for not foreseeing this disaster. However, Caan had seen it, but thought that the Daleks did not deserve to survive. It again prophesies the death of one of the Doctor's friends. The TARDIS leaves just as the Crucible explodes.
The Doctor explains to everyone that the TARDIS has six sides to its control console as it should have six pilots. He has everyone operate a different section, then the ship drags the Earth back to its rightful place, using power from the Torchwood Rift Manipulator and from Mr Smith and K9 back at Sarah's home. Francine Jones, Wilf and Sylvia, and Ianto and Gwen find themselves back where they belong. The Doctor drops his friends off. Jack offers Martha a job with Torchwood, which she says she will think about, and Mickey decides to accompany them. There is nothing left for him on the parallel Earth, as his grandmother has now passed away. Sarah goes back home to her son.
The Doctor then takes the TARDIS back to Bad Wolf Bay on the parallel Earth. This is the last time it will ever be able to do so. Rose had wanted to stay with him, but he asks her to look after the new Doctor instead. As he is half human, he only has one heart and won't regenerate. They can grow old together. He reminds her that she once looked after him when he was battle scarred following the Time War, and she must do so again as the new Doctor was also born of war.
Once back in the TARDIS, Donna begins to act strangely. The Doctor tells her that the meta-crisis will kill her, as no human can sustain it. To save her life, he must remove the Time Lord part of her, but this will mean wiping all of her memories of him. She will become the person she was before she ever met him - and this is what Dalek Caan was alluding to. He takes her back to Chiswick and gives her over to the care of Wilf and her mother, warning them that she will die if she ever remembers her recent life. He then departs, travelling on alone once more...
The Stolen Earth / Journey's End was written by Russell T Davies, and was first broadcast on 28th June and 5th July, 2008. It marks the conclusion to Series 4, and the end of Donna Noble's adventures as a regular TARDIS travelling companion. The story is also the first crossover adventure, bringing in characters from The Sarah Jane Adventures and from Torchwood. Sarah is in her attic workroom when the Earth is moved, along with her son Luke (Tommy Knight). Her computer Mr Smith (voiced by Alexander Armstrong) features, and later we see a brief cameo from K9 (voiced as always by John Leeson). Mention is made of their young friends Clyde and Maria being away from London at the time. Captain Jack now only has Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) as colleagues, following the deaths of Tosh and Owen at the conclusion of Torchwood's second season.
The story doesn't just round off the story arc for the fourth series (with an explanation for the missing planets, vanishing bees and so on), it also acts as conclusion to certain story arc points which have existed since the very first episode of the revived series.
Reference is made to the half-human Doctor being similar to how Rose had first found the Ninth Doctor, bitter and full of rage against the Daleks. We finally get to see the Shadow Proclamation, who were first mentioned in Rose. They use the Judoon (Smith and Jones) as a police force.
All of the Doctor's companions created or employed since RTD took over are seen, as well as their family members. Martha visits her mother Francine (Adjoa Andoh) briefly. Rose encounters Donna's mother Sylvia (Jacqueline King) and her granddad Wilf (Bernard Cribbins). Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) isn't content to stay a home like the other parents, but comes along with Mickey (Noel Clarke), packing a huge gun. Only Pete Tyler is really missing from the party - left at home babysitting.
And let's face it, it is a party. This will be the final regular season episode written by RTD. He is about to move on, with only some special episodes planned for what will be David Tennant's last year as the Doctor. The story ends (almost) with everyone gathered round the TARDIS console, followed by a fireworks display. When the end finally does come for RTD, like Peter Jackson with LOTR: The Return of the King, he'll find it difficult to know when to say The End. (ROTK really, really should have closed on the ship sailing off into the Claude-like sunset). We get a foretaste of prolonged endings here as the Doctor has to say goodbye to all of the companions he has amassed through the course of the story.
Another arc ending is that of Dalek Caan of the Cult of Skaro, whom we first met back in Doomsday, which was the last time we visited Bad Wolf Bay as well. The big bad who is brought back from the classic series is Davros, now played excellently by Julian Bleach, who had impressed as the Rainmaker in From Out of the Rain, the series two Torchwood episode. He's first seen lurking in shadow, and only appears fully once he breaks into the sub-wave network - which reminds us that Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton) also ends her story here. For fans of the classic series, the moment of recognition between Davros and Sarah Jane Smith is one to treasure. She was there on Skaro when the Daleks were first born, and Davros remembers.
In the end, however, this is the story of how Donna Noble died. Catherine Tate has been excellent throughout this season, proving all of the nay-sayers wrong. The ending is truly heartbreaking, and I certainly shed a tear or two along with Wilf - and still do on rewatching this story. Steven Moffat will try the same trick with the Doctor forgetting Clara, but that was nowhere near as effective as Donna's reversion to her old life.
I've pretty much mentioned all the cast who need to be mentioned. The German castellan encountered by Martha is played by Valda Aviks. She was impressed with Nick Briggs' pronunciation for the German speaking Daleks at the readthrough, as seen in the full length DW Confidential for the second episode. The other person to mention is Michael Brandon, who plays General Sanchez of UNIT at their New York offices. He's best known in the UK for the crime drama Dempsey and Makepeace, and for Americans as the narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine (Thomas and Friends in the US).
Overall, it stands up pretty well. There was always a danger that a story containing so many guest characters might fall apart from its own weight, but RTD gets away with it. The main characters get plenty to do, and even the more peripheral ones get their moments. Yes, the TARDIS-towing-the-Earth sequence might be a little sickly sweet for some, but the music saves it. Some fans were unhappy that Rose's return undermined her moving departure at the end of Doomsday, but having her get her very own Doctor to play with does seem the right way to close her story.
Things you might like to know:
- Davros' appearance at first glance seems to go against established continuity (like that ever mattered in this programme). When last seen he had lost most of his body and was encased in a Dalek Emperor shell. The Time War easily reconciles this discrepancy. He has lost his organic hand (seen being shot off in Revelation of the Daleks), and it has been replaced with a metal gauntlet. We'll later see a younger, battle-ready Rassilon, much different from the jovial old bloke seen in The Five Doctors. The Time Lords obviously reincarnated their greatest leader from a time when he was at the peak of his powers. If the Daleks were going to bring back Davros then they would clearly go for the version who went to Skaro a prisoner then single-handedly (no pun intended) overthrew the Supreme Council and set himself up as Emperor - the one who had just lost his last hand and who could now fire energy bolts.
- Terry Molloy, who had played Davros in his last three TV appearances as well as on-going audio performances, was in the running to play the part again - only just missing out to Bleach.
- Had Torchwood gone to a third episodic series, it was planned that Mickey Smith would have joined the team on a regular basis.
- In keeping with the last two season finales, we have a couple of cameo guest appearances. This time we get chat show host, and one time Lily Savage, Paul O'Grady, and Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was married to Lalla Ward at the time (the second incarnation of Romana). It must be said that an evolutionary biologist would not be the obvious first choice to comment on astronomical matters. (But then again, maybe Patrick Moore couldn't make it into a TV studio what with all those Dalek spaceships attacking).
- Ward and Dawkins were very close friends of Douglas Adams (one-time script editor of Doctor Who and responsible for writing one of its greatest ever stories). Whilst it was a current news story at the time of writing these episodes, the disappearance of bees could also be said to be inspired by the departure of the dolphins from the doomed Earth in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
- Some other references to previous stories include one of the missing planets being Clom (from Love & Monsters). Then there is Callufrax Minor (another reference to Douglas Adams, and his story The Pirate Planet).
- The sub-wave network was created by the Mr Copper Foundation - the character played by Clive Swift from Voyage of the Damned.
- The Daleks attack and shoot down the Valiant - UNIT's flying aircraft carrier which was introduced in The Sound of Drums and was more recently seen in this season's Sontaran two-parter.
- Trying to work out who might have moved the Earth, the Doctor mentions that someone tried to do it before. This might be a reference to the Daleks in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, or it might equally refer to the Time Lords doing it (and renaming the planet Ravolox) in the first section of Trial of a Time Lord - the bit also known as The Mysterious Planet.
- A scene which never made it beyond the draft stage saw the Daleks exterminate the Prime Minister - one Aubrey Fairchild. Davies liked the name, and so used it in The Next Doctor.
- And one scene which was filmed, but was cut only after much deliberation (see RTD's The Writer's Tale book) was the throw forward to the Christmas Special, where some Cybermen appeared inside the TARDIS. It's on the DVD box-set.
- Another deleted scene has the Doctor give Rose and his half-human self a piece of coral-like material - with which to grow a new TARDIS.
- The apparent regeneration was withheld from preview copies of the first episode, so came as a huge surprise to everyone, and got people talking for the whole of the following week. Of course, those of us in the know knew that Tennant had already been seen filming scenes for The Next Doctor, so they were never going to spring a surprise new Doctor on us.
- "Osterhagen" also got people speculating - but it is just an anagram of Earths Gone.
- Davies originally intended for the Shadow Proclamation to be made up of various aliens previously seen in the series, including Adipose, Slitheen, Vespiforms, Krillitanes and, would you believe it, a Kroton. As it was, just a few Judoon featured.
- Originally Davies had intended the story to end with Donna hearing the TARDIS dematerialise, with a faint hint of recognition on her features (implying that the new Donna might still exist within her). However, exec-producer Julie Gardner pointed out that children might think that this recognition meant that, as the Doctor had warned, she was going to die.
- German versions of this story don't have the Daleks say "Exterminieren!"They dub the word "Vernichten!" instead - meaning "destroy".
- Right from when he had his hand chopped off in The Christmas Invasion, Davies had always intended that it would return at some point and grow into a second Doctor.