Doctor Who: But I don’t want David Tennant to go!

I watched the season 4 finale “The End of Time” last weekend, and I’m still mourning David Tennant’s departure.  It’s been difficult to enjoy the few Matt Smith episodes I’ve watched since then because there’s so much to process in the final Tennant arc.

Backing up a bit and borrowing from my exchange with my friend Jason in the comments section, I love the second half of season 3, starting with “Human Nature” (which is a lovely homage to the Robert Donat classic Goodbye, Mr. Chips).  The final arc of season 3 builds on the notion of the Doctor as Christ-figure – his temptation to live out an ordinary life with Joan in “Family of Blood,” his sacrifice at the hands of the Master in “The Sound of Drums,” and his resurrection, brought about by the collective power of faith.

The latter part of season 3 also boasts the amazing stand-alone episode “Blink,” which is one of the most scream-out-loud terrifying things I’ve ever watched. Carey Mulligan, joining Doctor Who’s roster of before-they-were-famous guest stars, anchors the episode beautifully.

Back to the collective power of faith, that theme is repeated in season 4’s “Journey’s End,” with the Doctor’s friends and allies calling his cell phone at the same time.  The combined strength of the phone signals reaches the Doctor like a beacon, enabling him to answer their collective prayer and validating their faith in him. The same notion is then inverted for a darker purpose in “The End of Time,” when all 6 billion versions of the Master reach out telepathically to find the Doctor in space.

David Tennant’s performance in “Journey’s End” and “The End of Time,” as the Doctor moves toward his inevitable regeneration, is, to borrow my friend Ashley’s word, heartbreaking. All the grief the Doctor has been carrying since “Journey’s End,” and actually for a couple years before that, closes in on him, so that, as much as I hate to see Tennant leave, it’s difficult to see how his Doctor can go on under the weight of all that grief and anger. What makes it even more heartbreaking is the revelation that regeneration is actually a death; this version of the Doctor dies and “a new man gets to walk away,” as Tennant’s Doctor says rather bitterly.  As much as he desires to continue living in this body, though, the Doctor chooses the final sacrifice to save a friend; his plaintive “I don’t want to go,” as his body disintegrates is almost too much to bear.

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10 Responses to Doctor Who: But I don’t want David Tennant to go!

  1. Ashley says:

    I am getting choked up just reading this post. It makes me want to go back and rewatch all the David Tennant episodes. I love his Doctor so much. And didn’t the Ood make you cry at the end? “The Ood will sing you to your rest.” *sniff*

    The *only* thing that bothers me about it, I think, is the Martha-Mickey ret-con. Completely unnecessary and silly.

    • popgoddess says:

      I’m tempted to buy The David Tennant Years box set! We’re caught up to the new episodes airing now on BBC; I think Matt Smith is entertaining, but I haven’t found any of his arcs to be as moving as David Tennant’s. Also, I find it a bit annoying that Steven Moffat relies more on switcheroos (Amy is actually fake liquid flesh Amy! The Doctor is a robot!) than on layered plot/character development.

      And the Ood make me cry practically anytime they show up; I’d love another Ood storyline.

  2. teenfangirl says:

    David Tennant was a tough act to follow. I want Tennant back, I’m not a huge Matt Smith fan.

  3. Ashley says:

    Oh, excellent heart pun 🙂

  4. Ashley says:

    Yes! The switcheroos! So annoying. I’m hoping he doesn’t pull something like that in the next season of Sherlock, but I don’t see how he could avoid it after that finale.

    • popgoddess says:

      I’m afraid I haven’t made it through an episode of Sherlock yet without falling asleep; I’m not bored, just not enamored yet.

      I have to admit that the Rory-Amy resolution in the middle of season 7 didn’t move me as much as it should. I’m worried that it’s partly because BBC America might shave off a few minutes of every episode to allow for commercials, making the episodes feel disjointed. I know they do that with the older episodes on demand and I HATE IT! (Seriously, have I ever gone all caps before?) Does anyone know whether this is actually the case with the new episodes as well?

  5. Pingback: BBC America Smorgasbord | Pop Goddess

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