As I expected, DOCTOR WHO kicked off with a bit of chicanery, as “The Doctor’s Daughter” was not exactly what she seemed to be. (But she was also more — see my note at the very end of this section.) To the show’s credit, it didn’t try to pretend “Jenny” was anything other than a sort of clone grown from the Doctor’s genetic material.
What happened was, the TARDIS delivered the crew to the planet Messaline, where a group of humans was locked in a generations-long war with the fish-like Hath. Both sides create instant soldiers via genetic manipulation. Martha gets separated and falls in with the Hath, while the Doctor and Donna are brought before General Cobb, the human leader with a curiously regal voice (which I quickly recognized as belonging to Nigel Terry, the man who played King Arthur in director John Boorman‘s magnificent Excalibur, the best-ever screen adaptation of the Arthur legend. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and add this grim, violent, majestic yarn to your Netflix queue). Cobb is determined to wipe out all the Hath, and if there’s one thing that gets the Doctor’s back up, it’s genocide.
Complicating things, the Doctor accidentally provides both sides with the location of the Source, which both sides of the war believe will give them ultimate victory. The race to the Source is on, and along the way the Doctor and Donna figure out that the humans are not living in deserted ruins, they are living in a new building that hasn’t been occupied yet because it’s too new. The genetic machines produced up to 20 generations and thousands of soldiers a day, so the “generations-long war” has been going on for only a week. The Doctor recognizes that the Source is a terraforming machine designed to make the harsh planet habitable, and unleashes its power so human and Hath can live together in peace. That really fraks off Cobb, who tries to shoot the Doctor, but Jenny takes the bullet for him. Despite having two hearts like a proper Gallifreyan, Jenny shows no signs of regenerating, and the Doctor leaves her for dead. After he leaves, however, Jenny does regenerate — though her appearance does not change, and she blasts off in a shuttle to adventure among the stars.
This episode continues the season-long theme addressing offspring/generational conflict, and asks important questions about family and what it means to be human (or, half-Gallifreyan, in the case of the Doctor/Jenny). Donna suggested Jenny wasn’t a “real” person, and the Doctor was slow to accept Jenny as a Time Lady, because being being a Time Lord represented “a shared code,” a “sum of knowledge” and “a shared suffering.” But all of that was “gone forever,” because “there was a war.” Cobb’s genocidal aspirations touched a nerve in the Doctor because of what he did in the Last Great Time War to destroy the Daleks and his own people. Jenny touched a nerve because she reminded him of the pain of losing his “real” family. “I’ve been a father before,” the Doctor confessed, admitting that Jenny reminds him of “the hole [his family] left and the pain that filled it. When they died, that part of me died with them.” Nevertheless, Donna egged the Doctor into accepting Jenny, only to have her die in his arms, just like the Master, who suppressed his own regeneration.
I’d like to take a moment to discuss Jenny’s regeneration crisis. The Doctor, perhaps unique among Time Lords, has consistently demonstrated no control over his regenerations, so Jenny apparently inherited his faulty proclivity. Last season, the Master refused to regenerate. During the Fourth Doctor’s tenure, Romana voluntarily regenerated and even chose her new appearance on a whim. And waaaaay back in the day, the High Council of Time Lords forced the Second Doctor to regenerate into his Third persona, so clearly some Time Lords have some control over the process. When the Seventh Doctor was shot, he was taken to a hospital in San Francisco, where physicians gave him an anesthetic that accidentally delayed his regeneration until after he had been sent to the morgue. His Eighth persona noted that the process had been delayed almost “too long.”
The design of the Hath was terrific; the execution, less so. I loved the little jar of fluid, but the limited movement of the mask made it look a little too fake. And I assume the producers avoided giving them translators because such devices figured prominently in the Ood story.
Yay, the Doctor is back to carrying toys in his pockets! The Fourth Doctor was partial to yo-yos, while the Fifth carried a cricket ball and the Seventh had jacks to pass the time.
Finally, Georgia Moffett, who portrayed Jenny, is the daughter of Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor — which means she truly is the Doctor’s daughter!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA did a little time-traveling of its own, showing us what happened to the rebel Cylon basestar while we viewers were with the fleet last week. It turned out that the hybrid did not kidnap Roslin, Baltar, et. al — she was pursuing the resurrection hub, according to plan.
During the various jumps, Roslin had visions of joining the late priestess Elosha on a deserted Galactica, where Roslin glimpses the future and sees herself dying with the devoted Bill Adama at her bedside. Elosha accuses Roslin of lacking empathy — and she’s not even around in the waking world, where a bloodthirsty Roslin plans to take out the resurrection hub and orders Helo to bring D’Anna directly to her, cutting out their Cylon allies. “I cannot afford to be sentimental,” she growled. Helo, meanwhile, ran into an Eight that had accessed Athena’s memories, and thus learned he likes back rubs. That freaked out Karl.
At the boxing facility, Cavil and Boomer awakened D’Anna and filled her in on the civil war she started. D’Anna commented on the fickle nature of Eights — the majority of whom are aligned against Cavil’s Ones. On cue, the rebel basestar appears, and when D’Anna realizes the rebels want to destroy the hub, she kills Cavil. Helo and Athena board the hub and capture D’Anna, so the rest of the combined Colonial/Cylon fleet nuke the hub in a spectacular battle. During the battle, Baltar received a nasty wound to his side. Roslin finds him and patches his wound with a medkit. Delirious, Baltar confesses, “I gave the access codes to the Cylons.” Horrified, Roslin removes the bandages and lets Baltar bleed while he begs for help. When the basestar jumps again, Elosha admonishes Roslin not to decide humanity’s fate on a case-by-case basis, so back in the real world Roslin tries to save the dying Baltar. Helo brings the hijacked D’Anna to Roslin, and we see the scene teased in the promos: D’Anna tells Roslin that she is one of the Final Five Cylons. Then D’Anna claimed to be frakking with Roslin’s head; she realizes that knowledge is the only thing keeping her alive, and it would be foolhardy to show her cards too soon — especially now that the resurrection hub has been destroyed (along with the boxing facility) and she is the last Model Three in the universe. She will name the Final Five only when they are back with the fleet. After the basestar returned to the rendezvous point, Adama came aboard and embraced Roslin, who told him she loves him. “About time,” he growled.
This episode carried on the theme of identity and dying that began earlier in the evening on DOCTOR WHO. Athena was heartbroken that Helo broke the bargain with the Cylons, especially after she made a stirring speech about trust and unity to the combined Colonial/Cylon fighting force: A sea of Sixes and Eights stood in flight suits, shoulder-to-shoulder with Colonial Viper pilots, as Athena pledged the Cylons would sacrifice their immortality both for the humans, and to give their lives meaning.
Was Boomer killed, or did she make it out of the boxing facility? She disappeared when D’Anna killed Cavil, and could have made it to a ship in time, but did she? I hope so.
And I hope you’ll be back for the next installment of Night Shift…
Originally posted on Soap Opera Weekly.com