Saturday, June 7, 2008

Review of Series 4, Episode 9: "Forest of the Dead"

Okay, so Professor River Song wasn't Romana.  Well, probably not, anyway.  I suppose it could still be revealed later down the line that she was Romana.  After all, that white dress she wore at the end was very Mary Tamm's Romana 1....  Okay, I'll give it up.

But, even without a big, continuity-heavy reveal, the second half of the "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" two-parter wrapped up in a fairly satisfying manner.  It wasn't great mind, you, but it was good.  Yes, the fact that Cal was going to wind up being the computer -- for all intents and purposes, anyway -- and that she had saved the missing humans onto the "largest hard drive in the universe" (aka The Matrix) was patently obvious from the start of last episode (rendering that episode's cliffhanger rather toothless).  Still, the emotional content of the episode elevated the pedestrian plot.  When Donna wailed in anguish when her children disappeared, I felt genuinely sad for her.  The dream of being a happy wife and mother really seemed to fit with her character.  Can you imagine Rose or Martha giving such a believable performance as a grief-stricken mother?  I think not!  Katherine Tate continues to impress as a slightly more mature companion, one who is a true equal to The Doctor instead of a protege.  Also, kudos must go out to Eve Newton, the little girl who played Cal.  She impressed me last episode with her subdued yet believable performance, but she really shone in part 2.  The scene when she collapsed to the floor, crying, tugged at my usually nonexistent heart strings.

As for the ending - meh.  Can't The Doctor just let people die every once in a while?  I found the idea that Cal was trapped in the computer system by her "loving" father as a way of staving off death to be horrific.  I assumed The Doctor would agree with me and free her from her cycle of torment.  But no.  The good Doctor actually traps several other people - including his own future wife - inside the computer as well, condemning them to an endless simulated half-life as well.  What ever happened to ethics?

1 comment:

Beck said...

I also thought it was a halfway decent episode. Kind of let down from the first half. I was really sad that Donna actually didn't dream up her ideal mate, as we saw him being transported off the show :( Oh well, poor Donna.

Totally agree with you that child's new life as a giant computer was bit sucky. Who'd want that really? And why did the Doctor think it was great to "save" River that way? Hmmph.