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The entire universe is in danger as the Daleks activate their master plan, and enslave 21st century Earth. The Doctor is helpless, and even the TARDIS faces destruction. The only hope lies with the Doctor's secret army of companions– but as they join forces to battle Davros himself, the prophecy declares that one of them will die.
Following on immediately from the end of "The Stolen Earth", The Doctor is regenerating inside the TARDIS while Donna Noble, Captain Jack Harkness and Rose Tyler watch in horror. However, the Doctor transfers his regenerative energy into the container which carries his severed hand. He has healed himself, but chosen not to change his appearance. The TARDIS is transported by the Daleks to the Crucible
and rendered powerless. The Doctor, Jack, and Rose leave it, but Donna
is distracted because she is hearing the sound of a heartbeat and while
looking back, the TARDIS door slams closed. Before the Doctor can free
her, the Daleks dump the TARDIS into a waste chute where it will be
destroyed in the centre-core of the Crucible.
As the TARDIS interior explodes around her, Donna collapses near the
severed hand, she hears the heartbeat again and while touching the
container energy flows between it and her. The hand bursts out of the
container, and forms as a new Doctor,
although this Doctor has only one heart and has picked up some of
Donna's mannerisms. With his help, the TARDIS escapes destruction and
gives the new Doctor and Donna time to come with a plan.
Aboard the Crucible, Jack creates a distraction by shooting the Supreme Dalek (Red Dalek)
with his revolver, but is shot by the Daleks; as the Doctor and Rose
are taken to the Vault where Davros is held, Jack's immortality allows
him to escape. With the Doctor and Rose contained, Davros explains that
the 27 planets form an energy pattern that is then amplified into a "reality bomb",
able to break apart the forces holding everything together. Mickey,
Jackie, and Sarah Jane escape a test chamber where this effect is shown
to the Doctor just in time. Jack finds his way to the three, and with a
from Sarah Jane, creates a device that will implode the Crucible.
Meanwhile, Martha makes contact with two other bases in China and
Liberia. The Chinese counterpart wants to get it over and done with,
but Martha, knowing the Doctor, first broadcasts a signal to the
Crucible to give them (probably both Earth and the Daleks) a second
chance, promising to use the Ostenhagen key to detonate 25 nuclear
warheads under the Earth's
crust to destroy it and disable the reality bomb. However, the Daleks
manage to lock onto their positions and beam Martha, Jack, Mickey,
Jackie, and Sarah Jane, with the Transmat to the Vault where the Doctor and Rose are too being held captive.
The Daleks prepare to activate the reality bomb that will wipe out
all matter in this and every parallel universe through the rifts in the
but the new Doctor and Donna arrive in the TARDIS. Both, however, are
stunned by shots from Davros. The reality bomb countdown reaches zero,
but nothing happens; Donna has manipulated the controls to disable it.
The Doctor recognises that the creation of the new Doctor has had an
unintended side effect: Donna is now half Time Lord herself, sharing
the Doctor's intellect. Donna and the new Doctor free the others, and
with the help of the original Doctor, disable the Daleks and start to
send the planets back to their proper time and space. Before Earth can
be sent, the machinery is destroyed by the Supreme Dalek, who is then
destroyed by Captain Jack. The original Doctor races into the TARDIS to
replace the functionality of the broken machine. Realising that Dalek Caan
has seen the end of the Dalek race and has been manipulating time to
achieve this, the new Doctor (probably not kept back by guilt due to
the influence of Donna's personality) uses the remaining machinery to
destroy all of the Daleks and their fleet. The rest of the companions
flee to the TARDIS, and while the Doctor offers to save Davros, but he refuses, calling the Doctor the "Destroyer of Worlds". The Crucible is destroyed.
The Doctor enlists the help of the other companions, making contact with the base Torchwood and with Luke Smith, Mr. Smith and K-9,
to help use the TARDIS return the Earth to its proper place. Sarah Jane
says her goodbyes, as well as Jack, Martha, and Mickey, who has decided
to stay in this universe. Using a retroactively closing rift, the
Doctor returns Rose and Jackie to the alternate dimension
and leaves the new Doctor with her, as he will now grow old with Rose,
no longer able to regenerate due to the human influence. The human
doctor, having the same memories and feeling as the proper Doctor,
whispers into Rose's ear (most likely telling her that he loves her),
and they kiss.
Returning to their universe, Donna finds she begins to have
trouble thinking; the Doctor explains that the human mind cannot take
in the Time Lord mental abilities. To save her, he wipes her mind of
all her encounters with the Doctor, returning her home and explaining
to her family, Sylvia Noble and Wilfred Mott,
that she must never be reminded of her time with the Doctor or else she
will die. As Donna recovers consciousness, she shows no interest in the
Doctor; he leaves, though Wilfred promises he will look out for the
Doctor every night while he looks at the sky. The Doctor then returns
to the TARDIS, alone once again. Waiting for his next adventure........
Rose and Mickey, who previously had an on again, off again
relationship, appear to have drifted apart. They do not look at each
other, speak to each other, or interact at all, even when they are in
the TARDIS together. Mickey does not say goodbye to her (though he does
say goodbye to Jackie saying he'll miss her "more than anyone") and he
tells the Doctor there's nothing for him in the parallel world,
"certainly not Rose".
Just before the Doctor is forced to erase her memory, Donna expresses a desire to meet Charlie Chaplin.
This is the second finale in a row to have a character state a desire
to meet a famous 20th century personality; previously the Doctor told
Martha he wanted to meet Agatha Christie (DW: Last of the Time Lords); Christie subsequently appeared in The Unicorn and the Wasp; it remains to be seen if Donna's reference also serves a foreshadowing.
This is the first episode where the TARDIS is fully-staffed
with six pilots, and the first time it is noted definitively that it
was designed for six, after various mentions about it being made for
more than a single Time Lord.
The purpose of the Osterhagen key
is revealed in this episode. Martha's key is one of several required to
set off a network of nuclear weapons buried deep beneath the Earth's
surface. If detonated, these weapons would trigger the explosion of the
Earth. Each key must be inserted into a control panel at an "Osterhagen
station". There are apparently five around the world, but only three
need to be manned with a key to initiate the detonation. Locations seen
on screen are Germany, Liberia and China. The "Oserhagen Project" appears to have been in place for decades, according to the German woman
who supplied food to the guards at the German station. Given the age of
the German woman, and her claim that she knew of the Osterhagen key
when she was in London during her youth, the "Osterhagen Project"
likely dates to the days when the Brigadier was in charge of the British arm of UNIT.
The technology used to emplace the nuclear weapons at the
Earth's crust could therefore be linked to the drilling project
featured in DW: Inferno.
The "three Doctors" send the planets back to their original
position through the use of a "magnetron". It is unclear if this is an
intentional reference to the magnetrons seen previously in the original series (DW: Day of the Daleks, The Mysterious Planet), or just a general reference to real life magnetrons, used to power microwaves, radar screens and televisions.
This was the longest series finale at 65 minutes long, longer even than most of the Christmas specials, except for Voyage of the Damned, which was 71 minutes.
Dalek Caan refers to the Doctor as a 'threefold man'. The
meaning becomes clear in this episode with both the copy of the Doctor
This episode marks the first series finale to show a preview of the upcoming Christmas Special (2008). After the credits the Cybermen
are said to return in the episode. However the episode is unique for
being the only series finale in the Russell T Davies era which doesn't
end on a cliffhanger. It also breaks the pattern set by the previous
two series by not having the Doctor exclaiming "What? What? What?" at
the end. In fact it is the only finale scene of the Davies era in which
no dialogue is spoken at all.
Mickey, Jackie and Sarah hide from the Daleks in a shot that demonstrates an effect nicknamed the "Harper treatment".
penchant for including a distorted image of a main character is present
in this story. Though not included in every single story he's directed
for BBC Wales,
it's seen often enough to be considered something of a directorial
"signature". Similar distortion is achieved through the use of
magnifying glasses in Army of Ghosts, The Unicorn and the Wasp, and Utopia, and with mirrors in Turn Left. This time, it's Mickey, Jackie and Sarah Jane that get "the Harper treatment" under a curved window.
This episode tells us that Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister, actually died in the previous episode.
Davros named the Doctor 'The Destroyer of Worlds' and maybe a
reference to Fires of Pompeii when it was said the Doctors name was
sealed in the Cascade of Medusa herself or to the Doctor being the Ka Faraq Gatri.
The Osterhagen key would destroy the Earth. The word, Osterhagen, is an anagram of the phrase, Earth's gone.
This story augments the notion that Time Lords have some measure of control over the regenerative process. as seen in Last of the Time Lords.
In truth, most regenerations have added at least a little to the
general mythos about the process. From the notion that a particular
physiognomy could be imposed upon the Second Doctor in The War Games,
details have been added about how the process works almost every time
one has been depicted. In this case, writer Russell T Davies builds
upon his earlier idea that a Time Lord can re-grow whole body parts
during "the first 15 hours" following a regeneration (The Christmas Invasion)
Here he suggests that a Time Lord can stop the process prior to
entering the final stage, provided that he has a matching genetic
receptacle into which he can store the energy.
When the newly created Doctor discovers he's "part Time
Lord, part human" he is shocked and refuses to admit it. This is likely
a reference to the 1996 movie and fan outrage at it. It might also
suggest that the Doctor was never half-human due "Human-Time Lord
The scene where the Daleks are speaking German is possibly a
tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Terry Nation based the
Daleks on the Nazis.
The story elements surrounding the destruction of the universe have some casual similarity to ideas found in Life, the Universe and Everything, a Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Universe sequel penned by former Doctor Whoscript editor, Douglas Adams. Everything was in turn based on an abandoned Fourth Doctor television serial had written, called Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen.
The recap of the previous episode uses different footage of
Jack stating "you know what happens next" in the leadup to the
regeneration. In The Stolen Earth he utters the line off-camera, but in the recap he is seen saying it.
The Doctor and Mickey perform a "fist bump" in lieu of a
handshake when Mickey departs. This mirrors the way they greeted each
other in Doomsday.
The week between the cliffhanger ending of The Stolen Earth and the broadcast of Journey's End
included some of the most intense fan speculation and media attention
in franchise history. The significance of the cliffhanger, which
appeared to show the Doctor regenerating, along with previously
reported speculation regarding Donna and other characters led to many
speculations being circulated on fan discussion boards and the media.
Among some of the most notable:
That David Tennant was in fact leaving the series, and
that leaked photos and other information regarding him being in the
2008 Christmas special (as well as media reports the preceding week
that he was negotiating to return in 2010) were either a "red herring"
or that the Christmas special was to include a flashback.
The true nature of Donna was the subject of much speculation, with some fans suggesting her to actually be The Rani or Romana living under the influence of a Chameleon Arch, or a manifestation of the Master.
Concerning Donna's ring, at the end of the season 4 finale,
when the Doctor says good-bye to her it glimmers briefly into the
camera. Some fans theorise that the ring is a possible Chamelon Arch
containing Donna's memories of her time with the Doctor. It has also
been suggested that the ring resembles a ring worn by The Master in a
previous episode. Others theorise that the ring is just large, black,
and very shiny.
And the prediction that a companion would die led some to
believe Donna, Martha or Rose would be the ones destined to die (since
it had already been reported that John Barrowman would be returning to Torchwood and Elisabeth Sladen to The Sarah Jane Adventures, ruling out their characters' demise.)
The appearance of K-9
was a surprise to many as it had been previously reported that the
character would not be appearing in the episode, given the fact the
rights to the character are currently held by another party for the
planned K-9 television series.
There is a possibility that either The Doctor or his twin left behind on Pete's World will eventually manfiest into The Valeyard due to the escalation of pain and abandoment felt each by the other for different reasons
If the TARDIS's power has gone, how does the monitor screen work? Strictly speaking, its power wasn't "gone"; the TARDIS was merely in a temporal prison. While this shut down most power, it clearly didn't cut everything
Wouldn't the nuclear warheads placed under the crust have melted? UNIT would most likely have thought about this, and provided some sort of way to protect them.
Why did Martha have to travel to Germany to activate the
Osterhagen key when the other soldiers were in pods in their home
countries? The main pod was in Germany - Martha states that she is in Osterhagen 1.
The moon remained in position when the Earth had moved. The
moon should have locked onto the strongest gravitational force (the
Sun) and been pulled towards it. There is no indication one way or the other as to the moon's position.
If the act of temporal shifting back to the Time War showed
Dalek Caan the entire history of the Dalek race and led him to conclude
the Daleks should be destroyed, why didn't he just let Davros die in
the war and then kill himself? Caan was driven insane after saving
Davros, therefore he had only seen the whole of time after Davros was
already safe. He then began setting the course of events that would
lead to the fall of the New Dalek Empire.
If any mention of the Doctor or the TARDIS would cause the
Time Lord consciousness within Donna to reawaken and burn up her mind,
isn't the Doctor taking a tremendous risk by letting Donna see him in
the Nobles' house? The Doctor wishes to test the effectiveness of
the memory wipe and also determine whether there are any negative
effects on her.
Why were the controls put in the Vault where Davros could access them and destroy the Daleks as the Doctor-Donna did? It was Donna's skill that allowed this.
The second humanoid woman aboard the Shadow Proclamation
ship/station told Donna there was "something on your back". There was
no explanation concerning the cryptic phrase by the climax of Journey's
End. The albino woman spoke in the past tense saying there "was something on your back"
If Mickey Smith was allowed to stay on the normal Earth, why
did Rose and Jackie have to go back? After all, the Doctor could have
brought Pete back as well, and their child. The Doctor wanted to
keep the second Doctor sealed off in the parallel world where he
couldn't cause any trouble, and wanted Rose to look after him.
With all of her memories since The Runaway Bride erased,
wouldn't Donna realise that she has lost about a year and a half of of
her life, and shouldn't she think it's her wedding day? The exact nature of the mind wipe is never specified.
Why do some Daleks have special 'cogs' instead of suckers on their right arms? The "sucker" may well be the standard right limb for a Dalek, but it has never been the only possible limb. At least as far back as DW: The Daleks' Master Plan, other appendages, like flame-throwers, have been seen.
When Jack got Gwen's name wrong — he said her surname was Cooper rather than Williams — why didn't she correct him? There is no definitive indication in Torchwood that Gwen took Rhys' surname after marriage.
If the Osterhagen key and its associated doomsday device had been around for years, why wasn't it activated during the events of Doomsday or, more to the point, The Year That Never Was (DW: Last of the Time Lords)? The
Master used the anrchangel network to crush resistance. It's also
probable that as the Master not only became Prime Minister, but also
was involved with the top-secret weapon deployed against the Sycorax, that he was aware of the Key and took steps to prevent its use.
When the Doctor sees Gwen Cooper
for the first time, he asks if she comes from a long line of family
from Cardiff. This is because of the similarity between Gwen and Gwyneth (DW: The Unquiet Dead), both of whom are played by Eve Myles. The Doctor and Rose both recognise the uncanny family resemblance.
This is the third time a Doctor has been depicted in a way to suggest he was unclothed. The first time was in Spearhead from Space in which a newly regenerated Third Doctor took a shower. The second was during the regeneration from the Seventh to the Eighth Doctor, where he was merely covered by a sheet. The Ninth Doctor appeared shirtless during the torture scene in Dalek
Gallifrey is mentioned again and the first time it has been mentioned in an episode with Rose Tyler .