Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Daughter
(1 episode, s04e06, 2008)
It’s time to meet an impossible child.
The TARDIS topples wildly through time and space, tossing Martha and Donna about as the hand in a jar bubbles madly. As Donna learns about the hand’s origins and the time capsule comes to a halt, the team takes a look around before being captured. The Doctor’s hand is shoved into a device where a sample is taken.
His DNA is processed into a clone: The Doctor has a new daughter.
The humans are quickly overrun by an enemy called the Hath. The Doctor’s daughter blows up the tunnel, stopping the Hath advance, but not before Martha is taken by the beings. Donna chastises the Doctor’s daughter and the Doctor tries to find a way through, but the soldiers stop him at gunpoint. They’re headed to see the commander.
On the other side of the rubble, Martha offers medical assistance to a wounded Hath, gaining their trust through her compassion.
Donna and the Doctor find out that the daughter is pre-programmed with military knowledge and tactics, something that the Doctor calls a generated anomaly. From that, Donna offers the woman a name: Jenny.
Jenny likes it.
They arrive at a makeshift barracks, previously a theater, and meet General Cobb. Freedom of movement is restricted, but the Doctor wants to know more about the Hath. The general gives the team a quick briefing, although most of the history behind the place they call Messaline is lost to time. The general seeks something called the Source, a creation myth of sorts driven by a goddess. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to uncover a hidden layer of tunnels on the map, and the general gives his troops marching orders to explore them. The Doctor, meanwhile, is imprisoned with Donna and Jenny for his pacifism.
Meanwhile, Martha is taken to the Hath headquarters. She analyzes the same map and, when the new layers emerge, fears that she has started a war.
In their cell, the Doctor schemes while Jenny finds similarity in his every move to that of a soldier. He alters Donna’s phone to contact Martha, and they figure out that both armies are marching on the same location.
It’s a massacre in the making at the temple of the Source.
The Doctor refuses to allow Jenny to travel with them, but Donna uses a stethoscope to show the Doctor that Jenny is his progeny, a potential Time Lord though the Doctor refuses to admit it. As the Doctor’s theme runs under his sadness, he talks of the war, his part in it, and the destruction of his people. Jenny says that his situation then is pretty much their situation now.
Martha plots a path over the treacherous, radiation filled surface as Jenny wiles her way out of the cell. The Doctor’s team sneaks through the human base and Martha emerges on the desolate surface. As they move, Donna takes note of the random numbers scattered around.
The Doctor, Donna, and Jenny come to a tunnel filled with deadly lasers. The Doctor disables the laser net as Jenny considers her programming, finally using her rifle as a distraction. Unfortunately, the lasers turn back on, so Jenny tumbles her way through without a burn.
On the surface, Martha falls into a pit and is saved by her Hath companion’s sacrifice. The act devastates her, but she presses on to a large tower in the darkness.
Talking while walking, the Doctor offers to take Jenny on the TARDIS with him. Overjoyed, Jenny rushes ahead and the Doctor talks to Donna about his history as a father and the pain of losing all it. Donna believes that Jenny will help him heal, but the Doctor is skeptical.
Martha and the Doctor’s team enter the tower at the same time, discovering that it is a spaceship. Strangely, it’s still powered and functional. The Hath and the humans are not far behind. The Doctor finds a mission log that explains how the commander died of sickness and the crew divided into factions.
Donna discovers that the numbers are dates and that the war is only seven days old. Of course, the cloning machines can create twenty generations in a day. Martha reunites with the travelers and they continue their search for the source, coming across a giant arboretum along the way.
At the center is the Source, the matrix that terraforms planets.
The warring factions arrive simultaneously, and the Doctor offers them peace with the promise of a new world. He declares the war over with a crash of the terraforming matrix, and the factions lay down their arms in reply.
Unfortunately, Cobb wants none of it and takes aim on the Doctor. Jenny steps in front of the bullet to save her father, dying in his arms.
He begs his companions to wait for her regeneration, but Martha warns that it won’t come. Once again, he is the last of the Time Lords.
The Doctor’s fury rises as he picks up the general’s gun and holds it to the man’s head before shaking it, angrily telling Cobb that he never would. He begs the factions to make that their driving force: A society where a man never would.
The planet terraforms around them as the new civilization memorializes Jenny. She was an endless paradox, one that the TARDIS brought the Doctor to meet only to first create. The travelers return to Earth and Martha bids her friends farewell. Donna, on the other hand, wants to travel with the Doctor forever.
Back on Messaline, Jenny exhales with a golden-green energy – regeneration or the Source? – before waking up, taking a ship, and blasting into the sky.
She has lots of running to do.
There are a lot of things to love here, and those elements keep this otherwise by-the-numbers run-and-gun plot from falling into the just average pile. The subtle use of the TARDIS translation circuits as Martha drove her side of the plot was a nice narrative touch. I also loved that Donna had to teach the Doctor to accept his daughter as more than an anomaly, helping him to heal and declaratively find something to live for. After all, there’s always something to live for.
The fun part was seeing Jenny’s evolution as her nature overrode her programming (can we call it her nurture?). We don’t definitively know if the physical Time Lord traits carried over or not since Jenny’s resurrection wasn’t explicitly a regeneration – remember that not all Gallifreyans are granted regenerations – but if we consider recent events in Doctor Who lore, she might have had the power regardless.
I do love how this show keeps us guessing!
Finally, the Doctor’s adamance about warfare and destruction gave birth to this brilliant retort:
You need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up genocide. There’ll be a little picture of me there and the caption will read, “Over my dead body!”
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.