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Godmoding against the end boss

Suddenly I hear the phrase "Deus ex Machina" everywhere. Even Sean Alexander at Behind the Sofa Again complains that "Parting of the Ways" contained not one, but two of them.
Overuse of Deus ex Machina resolutions (which is practically any use of them) has been a problem in the Doctor Who episodes that Russel T. Davies has written himself, but now people are seeing two where there were none, and this has to stop. Spoilers (and swearing) from here.

The two Deuses that Sean mentions are the use of the Heart of the Tardis by Rose, and the planned use of a destructive Delta Wave by the Doctor. The former has been mentioned a lot in fan criticism, but the latter was new to me. How can a device that the Doctor has to put together from bits found on the Satellite, which will destroy the Daleks at the cost of also destroying Earth, and is also not used at the last moment, counts as a Deus ex Machina is beyond me. "Plot device to set up the core moral dilemma", yes. "Deus ex Machina", no.

The Heart of the TARDIS thing is somewhat more like a Deus ex Machina, but ultimately it isn't one. Rose gives herself Godlike power through use of the Heart, but to do this she has to:
1) Know that it's there and understand its potential uses. It was revealed in the genuine Deus ending to "Boom Town" so that's no problem.
2) Make a decision to do what she must. That takes guts.
3) Convince her mother and her ex-boyfriend to help. This was hard work.
4) Scariest of all, actually stand in front of the exposed Heart and let it enter her head. She wasn't too keen on letting the TARDIS's translation matrix enter her head early in the series, so she can't have found it easy.

It looked to me like Rose earned her Godlike powers through her intelligence, hard work and determination. It wasn't "Oh, look, I can look into the Heart of the TARDIS, oops, now I'm omnipotent!" Even if Rose may have underestimated what her actions would do, it was still her deliberate actions that drove events. *)

Once Rose has got into Godmode, she gets to rid the space/time continuum of the series' end boss, the biggest, baddest motherfucker Dalek-kind has ever known....now that bit I had some trouble with. Not Rose's hypnotised demeanour or her handwaving the big dustbin to make it vanish; not even the closed time-loop set up by her informing all that she had planted the Bad Wolf Meme backwards in time from that moment in the future; what bothered me was the Emperor Dalek itself. The good thing about it was that it wasn't bloody Davros again; we could see that it was a gooy creature. But its encasing, a giant version of a regular Dalek, was cheesy. Generally, I found the Dalek ships a bit cheesy and fake looking, and the squads of Daleks flying through space in just their carapaces just didn't look right. Mind you, the way the spaceborn Daleks exterminated Lynda made up for a lot of that. Unconvincing though he looked, the Emperor Dalek was well-written as a deranged leader of a cult of impersonality, with his Dalek minions as the cult's fundamentalists.

Count me among those who liked seeing Rose reunited with her mother and Mickey, eating chips and talking before the Godmoding. It was a good contrast, but it was also astounding to see how much better the characters of Jackie Tyler and Mickey have become compared to the beginning of the series, and how much the actors playing them have grown into their roles. They were a bit dodgy to start with but in this last episode they were superb. I cried at Rose's tale of meeting her father, and Jackie's reaction to it. I'm a big sap, I'll admit it.

The deaths of the supporting characters, all the way up to Captain Jack Harkness, were well done too. Each went out their own way, in the best war movie tradition. And it was the female presenter who got to hit a Dalek in the eyestalk. And then its mates blasted her.

Somehow, though, the episode as a whole didn't fit together. It was a collection of great moments, but not a great story. I'll probably end up remembering the great moments so it's not a dead loss, and I did find the whole thing engaging, but again I have no idea what the story was that I just watched. A base-under-siege tale? A rescue-at-great-risk story? An alien invasion story? Too many plotlines for just 45 minutes.

And that regeneration? Another fine moment but it seemed tacked on to the story at the last moment. I'm sure I'll get used to David Tennant's Doctor, but the script went a bit wobbly in the final minutes.

I will watch the next season, probably quite avidly. I may not write about it on a weekly basis again though. These past 13 weeks have been an experiment in immersing myself in pop culture for the first time since I was a teenager. I didn't expect that the immersion would be so complete; that I'd come out of the process a Doctor Who anorak. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching the shows and blathering about it here and I hope you have as well. I have a few more things to say about the Who phenomenon but I'll get to that in my own sweet time. Until then, this will be it for coverage of the Tardis-jockey's journeys. Unless of course one of my blogmates wants to say a few words?

Mind you, this is just a nitpick to what is otherwise an excellent review. Do read it.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 20, 2005 7:52 PM.

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