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Step 28: The Runaway Bride

Number of episodes without Rose: 1
Sanity: Fully intact and better than ever!

See, episodes like this remind me why I swear fealty to Russell T. Davies and fear the coming of the Moffat.  The specific reasons that fandom-at-large has for and against them are too complex for my little brain to analyze, but all along I've clung one truth: RTD = fanboy; shipper-friendly.  Doctor/Rose arc = safe in his hands*.  Doomsday could have gone all to hell, but even though it permanently ripped out everyone's heart, it did so in the most exquisite and beautifully tragic way possible.  The subsequent episode had even more potential to go wrong, yet it came out even more perfectly.  My Doctor/Rose-saturated heart honestly cannot think of any room for improvement in this area.  Does that make sense?  I never know if I'm making sense - that something can be the saddest thing in the world, yet be a satisfying kind of ache.  As opposed to, you know, Harry Potter, where you are just BITTER FOREVER that Rowling goes about killing off two important characters in a throwaway sentence.  

And then on top of that, it turns out that Donna Noble is pretty much the best character ever, so you're set for life!  Or at least Christmas.

* = And I really hope season 4 doesn't shatter this theory, or the world will cease to have meaning

My history with Donna, because this is going to be one long-ass post, yes it is: when I first heard she was going to be the companion for s.4, my reaction was something along the lines of "...oh.  That seems unwise."  Not that I knew anything about her, really, it's just that much of the reaction I saw was something along the lines of "UGH, THAT HORRIBLE SHOUTY WOMAN!  DO NOT WANT," and she sounded like the kind of grating character who would get on my nerves immediately.  Then she started making appearances in the summary for Ten/Rose stories, and it kind of made me skip them.

Until!  I read this hilarious and wonderful one in which Donna produces a teddy bear and orders him to hold/talk to the bear whenever he misses Rose.  And I swear to you, that one fanfic turned around my entire outlook on Donna.  My opinion of her was much more open-minded and favorable after that, which only increased with every little clip I saw of her (or Catherine Tate, as in this hysterical video which I've watched about 56,000 times since.  [edit: And I really wish I hadn't felt compelled to mention that and link to it, because in the process of collecting that link I became vaguely spoiled in a huge way for the season 4 finale. GO SELF.])

And now, for actual episode discussion of 3x00:

General Overview/Preview
1. Jacob's reign o' recapping is over: starting today, we begin the era of RECAPIST RECAPS!  By the unequivocally fabulous Spy.  Which means there will be a lot less philosophy/the search for deeper meaning, and a lot more shallow squeeing, captioned pictures, and talk of smutfic (plus a solid summary).  Good times are had by all.

2. I also feel like I should state for the record that I adore the movie "Runaway Bride," just because I've heard too many people bash it in my lifetime.  /non-sequitur

3. Billie Piper's name is no longer in the credits and it huuuurts.

4. I honestly have almost no qualms with this episode, but it is always going to rankle me a bit that this is taking place right after the end of Doomsday.  Like, starting minutes after.  I have been somewhat placated by various dw_rewatch posts hypothesizing that that's actually a good thing, so that Rose is at the forefront of his mind and he doesn't have time to shut down and bury the memories, but still.  Name me one person who can watch Doomsday and TRB for the first time in one sitting.

Plotty Type Things in No Particular ORder
1. Is it bad that at my first sight of Lance, I wondered what point the show was trying to make about interracial relationships?  That's okay; I've figured out what it means: subtle foreshadowing to let us know that this Donna character, she'll be all right - not so very far from Rose.

2. SAXON.  Already less annoying than Torchwood, but not by much.  Sometimes I think actual product placement would be less intrusive/clunky than this whole thing they've got going with Secret Season Passwords.  (re: Saxon, I feel like I know all about what it means, but in actuality I pretty much just know what's in the season finale.  Although since I've seen about two thousand macros from said finale, I feel like that amount of knowledge is significant).

3. If there's one low point to the episode, it's the spider queen's completely laughable appearance. I mean, the episode is great, moving along at a nice clip, even suspenseful, and then you see her for the first time and it's like "...really?  That's your big bad supervillain of the holiday?"  Look, when you can't even properly play on my massive fear of arachnids, you're doing something wrong.

4. Has the Doctor really not said the word "Gallifrey" out loud yet? I guess not, since I now have to unlearn five months of pronouncing it "Gallifree."  Argh.  Proper pronunciation seems so obvious now that I think about it, but I swear it never once crossed my mind that I might be saying it wrong.

5. Random: 
-I love how childish his retort is when she demands to be taken to the church.  "Right!  Fine!  I don't want you here anyway!"
-Also: the annoyed mutter, "Backseat driver!"

Rose References (awesomely compiled in this video)
1. "That's my friend's."  You know, I kind of feel like even if this scene had been the only reference in the whole episode, it would have been enough.  That's how many layers of intense emotion he packs into it.  The instant switch from "what the hell are you yammering about?" to going dead still upon seeing the shirt, the dark stare, looking away on a subdued "I lost her," and best of all the even darker, warning look and silent refusal to elaborate on precisely what he meant by "lost."  

I lied, the best part is when he stalks over and snatches it out of her hands.  Angry and possessive!  Very good.  And this is all on top of the speculation you get to do about why the shirt is there at all.  That makes for endless varieties of pleasant scenarios.

2. I'm just going to go "guh" and whimper a little bit at all the battle of emotions playing across his face as Donna forcibly dredges up issues of Rose and trust in the middle of a high speed chase/rescue mission.  That, and I think there's just a slightly manic desperation in the insistence that she is "so alive," which makes me think he has to remind himself of this on a regular basis.

3. "I spent Christmas day just over there, at the Powell Estate!  With this -- ...family.  My friend, she had this family; well, they were... Still.  Gone now." I love how he just bubbles over at the memory, not even realizing until he's halfway through that this is territory he doesn't want to be in.  That's kind of how I feel whenever I recommend Doctor Who: "Yeah, it's this great show, blah blah exciting characters and you should watch it because [insert reasons] and -- OH WAIT, NO, SPARE YOURSELF THE HEARTBREAK WHILE YOU STILL CAN!"  And I love that for the second time in a row, he completely sidesteps Donna's questions about her.    

As an aside, Donna looks exceptionally pretty in this shot.   

4. Wedding reception!  (a/k/a the part where, initially, I thought my head was going to explode from sheer disbelief and joy.)    Since "Love Don't Roam" made it onto my playlist a few months ago, I'm fond of its inclusion here.  Now you combine that with the Doctor's increasingly miserable expression as he stares at nothing a random blonde in purple on the dance floor...AND SUDDENLY THERE IS AN ACTUAL ROSE FLASHBACK CLIP.  Oh, "New Earth."  Fantastic on so many levels.  And the struggle to keep his composure by the end there is a very, very nice touch.  

Plus, sample #1 of why recaps with Spy are fun: [The Doctor] goes back to staring at the happy couples dancing, stares at some pretty blondes and has a flashback of Rose. Considering the song playing in the background is all about someone tired of traveling and wants his “precious girl” who “stole his heart” I think it’s supposed to be the most unsubtle way ever to confirm that almost all 23905792398134 of the smutfics are true.

5. "Her name was Rose."  HIS VOICE.  A second ago he was cutely exasperated, but then you bring her up and suddenly it's all wobbly and close to breaking.  (and from there, it is my firm belief that he just lost the composure he kept at the wedding reception; no one shall convince me otherwise)  More on this scene later.

Donna Being Awesome
1. See episode (too broad?)
1. Pretty much from the second she starts hollering about the name of the TARDIS because "That's not even a proper word!", I fall for Donna and I fall hard, because I think she's hysterical. No, really, I keep rewinding this first scene because I cannot stop giggling.  She is just so INDIGNANTLY OUTRAGED.  Like, she's not even worried about the fact that she just disappeared and is now trapped in a room with a total stranger, she just demands to know why he isn't laying a silver platter of answers at her feet.  Very Ransom of Red Chief-ian.   

2. Plus she hauls off and slaps him when his babbling gets too manic.  BEST THING EVER - at least until she slaps him a second time later on.  *falls off chair laughing*  

3. Every time Donna latches onto the no-pockets-in-my-gown thing and finished by shouting "When I went to my fitting, the one thing I forgot to say was 'give me POCKETS!'", I burst out laughing.  Every single time.  The power of sarcasm, apparently, is the fastest way to get you near and dear to my heart.

4. "God, you're skinny.  This thing wouldn't fit a rat." <-- is possibly my favorite non-Rose-referencing line in the entire episode.  Poor Doctor, he was only trying to be a gentleman!  Though actually, I think this is where my first sense of "they would have an awesome and banter-filled partnership!" came into play.  

Well, that, and the "With this ring, I thee biodamp(p)."/"For better or for worse."  I couldn't help thinking that this exchange sounds a lot like one he might have had with Rose (and not even in a shippy context, I swear), and I think the grin-with-a-hint-of-sadness he gives her kind of reflects that.  Or at the very least, is the first moment where he thinks maybe she's not so bad after all.  

5. For as much as I hate people who drink to excess, the image of Donna being too hung over to notice a GIANT SPACESHIP OVER LONDON cracks me up.  And completely unaware of the Cybermen to boot?  Hee hee hee.  

6.   Doctor: It's weird; you're not special, you're not powerful.  You're not connected, you're not clever, you're not important -- 
Donna: This friend of yours, just before she left, did she punch you in the face?

7. Love the fake crying, and the surreptitious wink.  The Doctor's a little charmed by her in spite of himself.

8. And then (*skips over a large chunk*) she completely breaks my heart with the pathetic little "But I love you" after listening to her (fake) fiance insult her in every way possible.  And the Doctor tries so gently to cushion the blow... along with lots of dark and contemptuous looks at Lance.  I like tho 

9. Love her brave, if naive, attempt to defend him against the army of robots with guns.

10. My broken heart completely goes out to her when she starts crying in the TARDIS, back to him and all hunched over trying as hard as she can to stifle the sobs.  And I love the Doctor's reaction, too, compassionate but completely at a loss for how to respond.  So he tries to distract her with shiny things.  It's very cute in its ineptness, and a bit like a puppy. 

The Burninating Flood
I was slightly aware that this was coming in some capacity - there have been clips in videos - but I had no idea just how intense it was.  The Doctor's always been very good at instantaneous mood changes, but to go from from quippy ("Guess what I've got, Donna: pockets! ... They're bigger on the inside") to dark and eerily detached is, wow.  I am continually amazed by how scary David Tennant can get.  

I'm temporarily thrown out the story when I burst out laughing as he says "Gallifrey" and the spider queen FREAKS THE HELL OUT, flailing in a way that is supposed to convey fury, I think, but initially comes across as "OMG OMG OMG MOMMY!"

Then I sober up immediately as he repeats in that frighteningly flat tone, "I warned you.  You did this."    

Another fun Recapist quote: "As the fires and floods, accompanied by loud orchestral music, occur, and Donna realizes the Doctor’s just committed genocide, I start to get an inkling that perhaps Russell T. Davies is an atheist. I don’t know why, as the symbolism is too subtle for me."

The screaming of "My CHIIIIIIIIIIILDRENNNNNN!" goes on far too long, but sound is not necessary to be mesmerized by I'm-running-out-of-synonyms-for-scary expression on the Doctor's face as he just stands there, unmoved by the flames, screaming anguish, or mass murder extermination going on below (I'm sorry, I'm trying to embrace the morality questions springing forth, but they're spiders.  Sentient spiders need squishing even faster) - at least until Donna snaps him out of it.  And even then it's more of a gradual surfacing to awareness of what he's doing.  

I forgot what else I was going to say.  Am absorbed in watching this scene without sound.
  
Final Doctor/Donna scene
Eh-heh-heh, they are so good for each other, I cannot understand how an entire season passes between now and Donna being a Companion.  I mean, I do - she outlines her reasons very nicely, in a way that makes you think "Er, maybe Rose was a bit hasty to drop everything and run off in a spaceship" - but it's still disappointing.  

I mean, Rose is a tough act to follow.  But, surprise, Donna qualifies!  I love his very cautious, almost uncertain lead-up to the offer of coming with him.  We're not anywhere near over Rose, mind, and it's a bit sudden, but she's a good pick to have around, while you can still ask her.  It's all quite perfect and right, and then she says no. 

His immediate response is to shut down, clam up, and to hell with the whole reconnecting-with-humanity idea - except Donna doesn't let him do that either.  I love that for all they've made about her not seeing the bigger picture, she has a very realistic perception of overwhelming his world can be ("Do you live your life like that?"  "Not all the time."  For example, sometimes he's quite relaxed and laid back, cuddling with Rose.  Oh my, how did that thought slip out?).  

And I love that he's genuinely amazed she could have a taste of the fantastic and now want more, so she makes him confront some things, too ("And it's terrible.  That place was burning, and they were dying, and you stood there like a stranger.  ...And then you made it snow!  I mean, you scare me to death!").  I love that last sentence - because Rose was never afraid of him.  Tell me that's not what he's remembering right now.

Speaking of the being-good-for-each-other, "Find someone."  "I don't need anyone."  Poor, poor Doctor.  All stubborn and proud and oh so lonely.  I like him this way.  But she's right, he needs someone to stop him (and that very soft "Yeah" sounds like he knows it too), and so those are the only grounds on which I'm accepting Martha's existence.

Up next: ...I'm actually much less bitter (it's more like wistful disappointment) about season 3 now that I've seen the trailer, in which there appears to be a lot of cool stuff involving Shakespeare, among other things, but mostly I am delighted by the existence of humanoid creatures with rhino heads.  RHINOS!  Huge improvement over spider queens, I feel I can say that up front.
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Comments

rainbowstevie
Jul. 13th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Further proof that the internet at large is often crazypants. I AM SO EXCITED FOR SEASON FOUR, SERIOUSLY. And yes, you should watch this episode again. I am of the belief that it is not possible to watch it too many times.

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