Doctor Who – Turn Left

by Alan Rapp on April 12, 2013

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Doctor Who – Turn Left
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“There’s something on your back.”

Doctor Who - Turn Left

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who we continue to look back at some old episodes of the series. “Turn Left” reminds us that our lives are defined by the choices we make, both large and small. Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant, choices that can have the largest impact. While traveling with The Doctor (David Tennant) to the planet Shan Shen, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) has her fortune read by a mysterious woman (Chipo Chung) who is far less interested in telling Donna’s future than changing her past to prevent Donna from ever meeting The Doctor.

Stopped at an intersection years before running into The Doctor on her wedding day, Donna is offered a simple choice between turning right and turning left. Whereas she originally chose to turn left at an intersection and accept a job as a temp, Donna’s path is changed completely when she turns right instead creating an entirely different timeline by choosing to accept a different job that doesn’t allow her path to cross that of the Time Lord. And then slowly the dominoes begin to fall.

The first big change is the death of  The Doctor at the hands of the Racnoss when Donna wasn’t there to pull him out of the fire in time. Without The Doctor to save her Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) dies on the moon and Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) dies shortly afterward as well. In the wake of the Titanic crashing into London, and the whole of southern England flooded with radiation, Donna and her parents (Bernard Cribbins, Jacqueline King) are relocated to Leeds along with thousands of others.

Throughout the alternate timeline several people comment on the fact that there is something on Donna’s back including a young blonde woman (Billie Piper) who keeps reappearing, always refusing to give her name, and seems to know far more about Donna than she lets on. As both Donna’s family and the situation in England hit rock bottom Rose Tyler reappears one more time with a message that every single universe is in danger. The darkness is coming and Donna Noble is the only one who can stop it. It’s only after Wilfred (Bernard Cribbins) sees the stars in the night sky beginning to go out one by one does Donna realize just how dire the situation has become.

Doctor Who - Turn Left

Joining Rose and her resistance fighters, Donna gets a tour of the TARDIS and her first good look at the Time Beetle, a creature in a state of temporal flux, living on Donna’s back  and manipulating her timeline and feeding on the energy. Despite her near breakdown at learning the truth, Donna agrees to let Rose send her back in time to make sure her younger self follows her original path and turns left instead of right – even at the cost of her own life.

Although I think the show worked a little too hard to keep bringing Rose back into the fold, in this episode Piper is used perfectly. The show ends on a great cliffhanger with Rose’s “two words,” but the best part of the episode is spent focusing on how much The Doctor needs a companion and how easily an entire timeline can be changed with a single innocuous choice between turning right or left. The episode also heavily foreshadows Donna’s importance in the season’s two-part finale (as well as the sacrifice she will have to make).

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

net ninja April 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

This could be my favorite Donna episode.

Great blog, BTW!

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