G.I. Jenny

(Spoilers for The Doctor's Daughter and the whole of Series 4 ahead.)Snell was pointing out last week in the Sontaran comments section that the theme of the Doctor inadvertently creating soldiers ran through Series 4, pretty much from the point where Donna comments about Martha's new vocation. Since militarism is pretty much anathema to him, he then spends the rest of that story grumbling at military types and asking them not to salute or point guns, all the while ordering them about the place. It's one of the character's central paradoxes.

This theme is made manifest in The Doctor's Daughter, when a sample of his DNA is used to literally create a soldier from thin air. Let's talk a little here about Georgia Moffett's role as Jenny (which should really have been Genny, based on the name's "generated" roots). How perfect is that casting? For those who didn't know, she's Peter Davison's daughter, so she really IS the (or a) Doctor's daughter. I don't think she particularly looks like her father, but there's sometimes a sense of it in both appearance (they made her blond, for example) and attitude (her energy). And it makes sense that a Time Lord would have super-DNA coded with all his selves, and that a clone-child might take after any of its parthenogenetic "parents".
But the Doctor doesn't want to acknowledge this child, in part because he can't quite respect the way she was created, seeing her as a bastardization of the lost Time Lord race, in part because she's a soldier, though she never actually "chose" that career path. The tension in the piece doesn't really come from the frankly silly plot, but from the Doctor's moral paradox. Jenny calls him on his bull, and he has real trouble justifying his actions as "non-fighting". While he is haunted by what he has produced (and the guilt from his actions in the Time War), we must remember his influence on the characters. Jenny sees a greater purpose by the end of the episode, and though Martha seems essentially wasted in this story, perhaps she's there as a mirror for Jenny. Though a soldier in The Sontaran Stratagem, The Doctor's Daughter shows Martha as a peacemaker.
In fact, she's the Doctor's stand-in on the Hath side of the story, showing the same kind of leadership, and even goes through a guilt-inducing event (the death of the Hath). The point is that there are good reasons for fighting, honorable ways of going about it, and proper moral ways to feel about it (the lesson Jenny learns). And when, in Journey's End, Davros needles the Doctor with the Children of Time stuff, we best remember that (as the Doctor should).

So what happens to Jenny? On first watching, I thought the energy coming out of her mouth at the end was a delayed kind of regeneration, using the same kind of energy we see seeping out of the Doctor in The Christmas Invasion. But on rewatching it, I notice the energy is the same greenish color as the terraforming energies of the "source". Jenny is actually resurrected by the same process that rejuvenates the planet's ecosystem (like the Genesis Planet in The Search for Spock). In the Messaline myth, the source is called the breath of life and God's sigh, so it was all foreshadowed.
Now she's travelling the universe in whatever time period she's in, and hopefully we'll see her again. I'd love it if she was the companion for one of this year's specials. Bottom line, my appreciation for this story comes down to the moving acting from all four principals and the effective exploration of the series' themes.

Things to watch out for
Donna's Destiny: Tragedy is in the making as Donna boldly states that she will never, like Martha, get to a point where she doesn't want to travel with the Doctor anymore.
Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey: The first instance in Series 4 of the TARDIS being drawn to a point just before a Time Lord (or Time Lord-like being) could be created (this last happened in Utopia). The ship spins out of control, lands right next to a cloning machine with no explanation? Is it hard-wired to try and recreate the race that spawned it, you think?
They call it foreshadowing: The hand makes an appearance, just to remind you it's there.
Are you my mummy?: There is no better example of a character born from a single parent, and seeing as this is all building to the creation of the Doctor Donna, there is particular meaning to the creation of a character that's part-Doctor here.
The reference section: "Seriously, there's an outrageous amount of running involved." The Troughton legacy. The Doctor mentions he's been a father before (Susan's parent). How this can be reconciled with the New Adventures' "looming" idea isn't clear, since the books' idea of Time Lord reproduction is a lot closer to the cloning machine seen in this episode than anything resembling human parenting.
A few production design note about Jenny's shuttle - roundels!!
Next week: Murder Week Addendum!


Sea-of-Green said...

Gosh darn it, THIS EPISODE MADE ME CRY!!! I mean, yes, Jenny survived, but I STILL CRIED.

Actually, I've cried at quite a few of the modern Doctor Who episodes. Doctor Who didn't used to be able to do that to me. It's a credit to the writers. Really.

I had no idea Georgia Moffett is Peter Davison's daughter. COOL!

And, YES, I would like to see Jenny return. SOON.

Dorian said...

You just HAD to go and mention "looming" didn't you?

Siskoid said...

Yes. Yes I did. I'm evil like that.

Jack Norris said...

I'd go for a halfway approach to the whole regeneration thing - that it may be the local energy she's using rather than Time Lord regen energy, but she wouldn't be able to use it for that particular purpose if not for the Gallifreyan genes.
Also, I hope they do contradict the tie-in books if that means ditching some silly-ass convoluted attempt to rule out the remotest possibility that the Doctor has ever reproduced in the way familiar to us, out of some silly conviction that to allow the possibility would "make the whole thing about sex." I actually saw this very argument used on a Who message board a while back, which just about made me pull my hair out: right, having evidence of a family situation or children without explicitly stating that this wasn't arrived at in the traditional way makes the whole show "about sex" just like that filthy show, the Waltons...

Siskoid said...

I'll buy that argument Jeff. After all, we didn't see a few dozen "generation" zombying it up.

As for the looms, I prefer to think of it as an attempt to make the Time Lords more alien. I'd have to read up, but I'd be surprised if Marc Platt did it for the "no hanky panky in the TARDIS" fan rule.

Anonymous said...

If I recall the commentary for the e-book on the website correctly, they were going to use the loom in the show itself. Maybe the cancellation has it's merits after all.

Then again, I'm the only Whovian in the multiverse who wanted to see someone do something with the "half human" movie "revelation" besides retcon it out somehow. So what do I know?

Jayunderscorezero said...

I'm getting deja vu, so I may have mentioned this before, but I love how - in an interview - Georgia mentioned how she also went to school with Tom Baker's daughter, so she just kind of "assumed that everyone's dad was Doctor Who."

wv: "alaking"

Jeff R. said...

Well, the looms were dead a couple seasons ago with "I was a father, once" (even presuming they could have ever withstood three seconds worth of consideration of Susan.) And I thought they weren't montivated by either anti-sex or extra-alienness but rather a fankwanky explanation of the extra past doctor face(s) and the odd use of 'we' in a late mention of Timelord Origin Mythology...


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