Everything Ends: Comparing Companion Exit Stories
Was Amy and Rory’s exit story the best of new Who yet? Guest contributor Ben Strachan examines.
It’s all over: the era of the ponds. And I’m sure many will agree that it was a heartbreaking and fitting end. Was it the best final story of a companion? Were the others better? This is an article taking a look back to the episodes everyone dreaded and how the companions left. (Modern era only, as it would take too long for the classic and I haven’t seen many of them)
Rose Tyler – Doomsday
I started watching back in 2005, so like many, Rose was my first companion and the day she left was one I didn’t want to come. The character may have lost her way during Series 2, but after an amazing first series she was still a big part of the show, and still had some highlights in Series 2. Many people had high hopes. (I didn’t have the internet back then, so I had no clue the day she would leave was that one. It was a nice shock!)
I believed the episode would have lived up to the hype. It brought the Daleks and Cybermen together in one action packed, poignant episode, which wrapped up the series very well. My only problems were the way the Cybermen were neglected (They should of had a fighting chance), and the fact Rose would still pick the Doctor over her boyfriend, mother and the chance to have a father. Two scenes stood out, the heartbreaking and superb Bad Wolf Bay scene (Series 4 and Donna popping up ruined that.) and when the Cybermen and Daleks were sent back into the void, it was clever and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was 8; it was the first time I cried at watching TV or a film. Rose wasn’t the best companion, but her send off was fantastic; it would have been my favourite if it was the Series 1 finale and Rose had matured and realised family life is just as important as Doctor life.
Martha Jones – Last of the Time Lords
Martha’s final episode was another I didn’t know about. I’m glad, because I would have been disappointed if I hyped it up. I do believe it was one that really developed her character. Up until Utopia, she was filling the love sick puppy hole Rose left (this time it was on- sided though.) This finale made her the saviour of Earth, realise she has a life without the Doctor and that it is her duty to help protect the Earth. When she said she was ‘getting out,’ it was great.
This could have been the perfect final episode, but it was ruined by having the Doctor in a bird cage and a second deus ex machina resolution. My favourite part of the last episodes was the chemistry between David Tennant and John Barrowman. The Doctor being a wrinkling old dwarf created by not-very-good CGI got rid of that. The aging was a great idea, but it was taken too far, as was Martha travelling the Earth to spread the Doctor’s name. It was good until he got turned into Superman. What would have been a better was if telling everyone the Doctor’s name overloaded the Arch Angel network, destroying the paradox machine and allowing the Doctor to use the Laser Screwdriver. Other than those two problems, it was a great send off for Martha. It sent her off on the highest note possible.
Donna Noble – Journey’s End
For the first time, I knew the companion was leaving, and watching The Stolen Earth cliffhanger convinced me the Doctor was going too! I was really looking forward to this episode because at that time Donna was my favourite; her character needed a good send off. Fortunately it was! The way she left was so sad; it gave me butterflies. As soon as she couldn’t control her speech I knew this was the beginning of the end. Donna was the one who wanted and deserved to travel with the Doctor the most out of Rose and Martha, yet she couldn’t remember it, or ever try to. It was heartbreaking. All the maturing her character went through during Series 4 went out the window, making her being there pointless.
The episode is good, but could have been better. How the Doctor’s regeneration was sorted was clever, if rushed. Mickey and Jackie saving Sarah Jane, the time lock on Torchwood and there being a convenient button that could destroy the whole Dalek race brings the total of deus ex machina resolutions to 3 in an hour. If you can’t sort it, don’t write it. The scene when they pulled the Earth back to its original place was silly, but at least pleasant and uplifting, a relief before the storm. It’s ironic, my 2nd favourite companion’s final story wasn’t great, but my least favourites one was fantastic. Journey’s End wasn’t perfect, but how Donna left made me feel for her the most and sad about it, more than the other two, which is exactly what I want from a final story.
River Song – Forest of the Dead
River Song isn’t a full time companion, more of a regular character. I wanted to do her exit as well because it is the most intriguing: her introduction episode was her concluding one. As far as I know, this hadn’t been done before. She was Martha Jones reversed. Martha started off in Smith & Jones as a replacement for Rose, and then in Last of the Time Lords made her mark.
River Song when she died was a very comical, cool and caring character. In the Wedding of River Song she was annoying and selfish. As an exit for her, I didn’t like it. With every episode we saw her; she got better and better (except TWORS). But with every episode, it made me think that her mind being stuck in a computer with two fake children for all eternity didn’t seem fitting. She deserved a heroic poignant death (she nearly got it).
Forest of the Dead overall was one of those episodes you have to watch a few times to fully enjoy. I found it too complicated, much more than Day of the Moon, when it first aired. But it had good moments that really stood out, such as the “Why are there six?” scene. This type of scene is a trademark for Steven Moffat. I also like the way Donna would say about doing something and would end up doing it. It was a clever reflection on how dreams actually work. Once I started liking it, the story became one of my favourites, but as a send off for River Song, it could have been much better.
The Ponds – The Angels Take Manhattan
I began writing this literally minutes after the episode ended and without hesitation the words to describe this is, out of this world. My favourite companions got a fitting end, the wait was worth it. This episode finished off their story beautifully; they have matured so much. In The Eleventh Hour, Amy was embarrassed of Rory. Now, she would give up her life for him, and she did: the first companion death of New Who (on screen). Amy picks her husband over the Doctor, Rose picks the Doctor over her family; two opposites, but the first was the most effective.
The episode nearly got everything spot on. Filming the episode in New York added so much scope and atmosphere. The Weeping Angels were restored to their former glory, as well as Melody Malone (sorry Pond, sorry River Song). The scene with the detective, the rooftop jump scene and the final narration by Amy were written and directed to the very best.
However, I am not going to say this episode had no flaws, because it did. Why didn’t the Statue of Liberty Angel attack when they weren’t looking? In fact, how did it come to life with all the other statues? They were never explained, as well as the fact creating the paradox of Rory surviving killed the Angels, yet Rory still got sent back in time. But these niggles didn’t affect how much I enjoyed it, I didn’t even want to notice. There must have been a perception filter on it. The episode was fantastic, but I got the same feeling from their exit as with River, but not as bad. I think it would have been better if they died from the jump, and if the Doctor told Brian. It’s a shame, he will (probably) never know. This was the best final episode; it had the exit, story and character development right. Something no other has done in my opinion.
Overall, if Doctor Who TV did a poll, my order would go TATM, DD, FOTD, & then LOTTL. Please write your lists in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed reading this, as I will enjoy reading your opinions.