Friday, November 16, 2012

A Companion's Guide: Donna Noble

Name: Donna Noble
Portrayed by: Catherine Tate
Number of episode as a companion: 14
Home Planet: Earth
Doctor: 10th Doctor

First Impressions
We meet Donna Noble, the loudest loud mouth in London, even before we meet Martha on the day of Donna's wedding. After finding out that her husband to be set her up and never loved her and he ends up dying, the Doctor offers Donna a chance to travel with him and she turns him down. When we meet Donna again, we end up finding out that she's regretted that decision ever since and has been searching for the Doctor by investigating any weird things going on in hopes of finding him.

As with every companion before her, Donna bothered me the first time we ever met her because she had a big mouth and a lot of little minded opinions. I felt like she lacked substance. But after we meet her again and find out how much she regretted turning the Doctor down, I was interested. What really intrigued me about Donna was her dynamic with the Doctor. After the past two companions wanting something romantic, it's was a breath of fresh air for Donna not to view him romantically at all. Instead they work at building an equal partnership and gain a mutual respect for each that blossoms into friendship.

Finding Her Way Back
Donna decides to investigate this new weight loss pill that seems suspicious in "Partners In Crime". During the entire episode, we see the Doctor and Donna walking the same streets, checking on the same leads just a few paces behind each other. But they don't actually find each other until they are both looking in on the bad guy at opposite ends of the room. The Doctor is outside looking on a window and Donna is looking in through a door. They see each other and what follows is probably one of the funniest scenes to date and sets up their relationship. Take a gander if you'd like:

After they save the day, the Doctor offers Donna a second chance to travel with him which she happily accepts though he makes it very clear that he's only looking for a mate (a friend). Of course, Donna hears "to mate" and they have a funny little conversation about that in which they both make it clear that they are not romantically interested in each other. As I mentioned above, this made me very invested in their relationship because it was something different than what we've seen before.

Challeging Decisions
From the moment Donna begins traveling with the Doctor she refuses to put up with his crap. They end up in Pompeii on their first adventure together and Donna wants to tell everyone to get out though the Doctor patiently and then unpatiently tells her that he cannot change fixed points in time. Donna refuses to believe this and befirends the family they go to speak to. The Doctor becomes intrigued and begins investigating what is happening there but refuses to save anyone from Pompeii. As the volcano erupts, the Doctor watches as the family that took them in and helped them huddle in the corner waiting to die. Donna begs the Doctor to save them and he finally agrees.

Donna's willingness to challenge the Doctor's decisions pushes them both to grow. The Doctor has allowed himself to get cold after losing Rose and it is Donna's insistence on doing the right thing that pushes the Doctor into a better person. If Donna had been timid or refused to stand up to the Doctor then the family would have died and the doctor would have continued down his current path and been a harder person for doing so.

Donna again shows this compassion and willingness to fight for what she believes in in "Planet of the Ood" where she and the Doctor find the creatures that were possessed in a previous episode. The ood are being lobotomized into slaves and though Donna doesn't have to convince the Doctor to fight for their cause, she is horrified and willing to die trying to help them.

Becoming More
Donna has always been smart but it's her ability to notice details that help the Doctor and others understand what's happening in "The Doctor's Daughter". Donna is the only one bothered by all the numbers on the wall and keeps track of them as they walk deeper into the facilty. It is because of this that the Doctor is able to string together what happened there and fix the problem.

I think that around this episode is when the Doctor and Donna truly become friends. The Doctor completely disregaurds the fact that Jenny is his daughter but it is through Donna's urging that he begins to reconsider. Though it does lead to heartbreak, it shows a lot of growth in their relationship that the Doctor is willing to listen to Donna when he believes that he usually knows best. For me, this is the first time that I realized that these two weren't just funny but that they were friends. With the previous companions, they;ve always been taken away from the Doctor in some form so he can realize that he cares for them but this has yet to happen with Donna so I never realized how much they cared for each other until he took such a small thing into consideration and listened to her. Almost as if she was his equal. It's a level I hadn't ever seen a companion reach so quickly with this current form of the Doctor.

Losing Donna
The Doctor gets his first taste of what life after Donna might be like in the episodes "Silence in the Library" and "Forests of the Dead". In this episode Donna gets transported into a computer world right under the Doctor's nose and he is faced with the possiblity that he might not be able to get her back. He becomes absolutely desperate to help her.

It is during Donna's stay in this computer world that is like paradise that we see exactly how far Donna has grown throughout her time with the Doctor. When we first met her she was single minded and refused to question any thing. But in this reality, Donna begins to notice that things are skipping around and as much as she wants everything to just be okay, she can't stop herself from digging deeper She finally meets one of the people from River Song's exploration team who wasn't processed right and though she tries not to hear what she's saying, she starts to question reality which makes hers break.

The Donna pre-Doctor would have never even thought to question the skips in her life. As long as it was neat and pretty, it would have never bothered her that it skipped because it was everything she ever wanted. Now that Donna has been exploring and growing, she can't help but question her reality the way she would with the Doctor which causes the program to break down. As everything is going white she holds onto the man she married there Lee and though the Doctor succeeds in saving them, they are not able to find each other in life.

Turning Left
Prehaps the most intestering episode with Donna is the life she would have had if she'd just chosen a different path and never come into contact with the Doctor to begin with. As I'd mentioned above, Donna always seemed shallow to me which is why I wasn't thrilled to find out she'd be a companion this season. The only look we got of her was as a narrow minded, big mouthed bride. So in "Turn Left" when she decided not to take the job that would eventually lead to her wedding and meeting the Doctor we get to see how her life would have been different.

The Doctor dies while facing the alien that she helps him defeat in her first episode "The Runaway Bride" which results in Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith's death at the hospital on the moon and an airborn Titantic taking out most of England since the Doctor was the one who saved both of these events. Donna gets many of the things she always wanted including a raise and a decent job but her life always feels sort of off and the world decays into chaos since the Doctor is no longer alive to save it. Rose Tyler helps her throughout this portion of her life and convinces Donna to change it back. But without having the Doctor there to show her danger and help her face it, she is so terrified that she almost refuses to right the past.

Donna again shows her courage and compassion, this time for a dying world, by agreeing to time travel though she doesn't know what will happen and giving her life to cause a traffic jam that makes her former self turn left and setting her back on a crash course to the Doctor. If there is a single episode that truly shows Donna how important she is, it's this one. The entire time Donna has been struggling with her importance because of her mother's nagging and because she has always felt little. This episode shows Donna not only the importance of companions but her direct role in how she influences not only the Doctor but the world. It is this episode that gives Donna a reason. She has saved the world before and her family knows it but now she starts realize that fact herself and it shapes her for the rest of the time she has left.

Doctor Donna
Anybody that has seen Season 4 doesn't look upon this nickname with happiness. In "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" many characters get their happy ending but it is Donna that suffers one of the most heartbreaking things I've yet to see happen on Doctor Who. In the episode, Donna DNA mixes with the Doctor's cause her to become part Time Lord. Her mind begins to grow and she starts injecting into the Doctor's rants, seeing the world the way he does. It's both funny and charming and sets up a worl d of possiblites for next season. The Doctor drops off all of his former companions and goes with Donna back onto the Tardis.

There he explains to Donna that she will go mad with all the knowledge of a Time Lord. The moment Donna thinks of it, she knows exactly what he is going to do and begs him not to take her memories. But the Doctor is left with no choice and is forced to wipe her minfd of every trace of him. He then explains to her family that she can never see him again and they can never tell her about what she did or her mind will explode. Her family realizes that their Donna Noble saved the world several times and she will never be able to know. She'll be forced to go one from day to day, talking about the lastest gossip never knowing how important she was and the Doctor has lost one of the best friends he's ever had.

Donna's departure is painful for everyone but Donna. Every time the Doctor Who universe goes back to her, we see how normal her life is, how little she cares about most things and we know how glorious she was when she had changed. It hurts the Doctor and it hurts us as an audience. But the beauty about such a bittersweet ending is that Donna is happy because she doesn't know any better. She may not have all the memories of saving the world, she may never know how vital she was but she is happy in the life she does have. It's sad for us because we've seen her reach her full potential and you get a feeling from the way she chooses to live her life that she'll never reach it again. But sometimes ignorance is bliss. We've seen how hard it can be to lose the Doctor from both Rose and Sarah Jane Smith so you have to ask yourself the question, is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? In Donna's case, it might have been.

It is Donna's fire and passion that made her an awesome companion and it is the way she went out that makes her unforgettable. Her stubbornness and uncompromising ability to always do what's right shaped the Doctor into someone we can all love and her ultimate sacrifice to save the world and not even remember it breaks my heart. It is for all these reasons that Donna Noble might have been the most important companion for our Doctor because she did what no one else could do... she made him into a friend.

Great Donna Noble episodes:
  • Partners In Crime
  • The Fires of Pompeii
  • Planet of the Ood
  • The Unicorn and the Wasp
  • Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead
  • Turn Left
  • The Stolen Earth and Journey's End
So what were your thoughts on Donna Noble? Love her or hate her?


  1. I love Donna! I wish there were more episodes with her because she was hilarious, even if some of her episodes were sad.

  2. Donna!!! <3 She's my absolute favorite of the companions! :)


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