Bringing together key story components from the current series, a raft of former companions and a villain that hasn't been seen since an encounter with 'unlimited rice pudding' in 1988, 'The Stolen Earth' does a fine job in weaving these elements together. It's almost physically impossible to stifle yelps of delight as Captain Jack, Ianto, Gwen, Sarah Jane and Luke pop up in quick succession. All that was missing was K-9 to trundle into view and cock his leg on Davros's chair.
Almost immediately though, our spines are bombarded with an onslaught of shivers courtesy of the simple yet effective cry of "exterminate" that resonates through Torchwood and Sarah Jane's attic after Mr. Smith picks up an incoming message. This scene, stark in its simplicity, is very effectively directed by Graeme Harper and generates massive tension. In many ways, Harper's work in this episode is worthy of the big screen in terms of its breathtaking visual elements.
Julian Bleach absolutely nails Davros. The mask may look more impressive in some shots than others, but Bleach's controlled, sinister vocals wonderfully evoke the brilliant but deranged mindset of the Dalek creator. Nick Briggs also does a superb job with Dalek Caan's crazy dialect, stemming from a very inventive and bold move by writer Russell T. Davies to make this Dalek go doolally and do something new with the monsters.
As for the mindboggling twist ending after The Doctor is exterminated as he runs to greet Rose... what can we possibly say?
Well, very little in fact because the BBC cut the final scenes from the preview DVDs they distributed! Dear reader, grab your violins and imagine us dripping with tears at the sheer beauty of Rose and The Doctor bounding towards each other in Baywatch style slow-mo - only to have the screen fade to grey once the Dalek unleashes its death ray onto the Time Lord. It's quite clearly made us go a bit Caan...
Anyway, Russell T. Davies is an expert at delivering jaw-dropping finales that give each season a sense of cohesion and up the stakes to almost unbearable levels. Can he possibly match this week's joyous celebration of the show with the fourth season's final episode next Saturday? It's gonna be a tough task for sure...
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