Doctor Who: looking ahead to the rest of season four

The back end of Doctor Who's fourth series starts on Saturday - and we've taken a lightly spoiler-tinged look at what lies ahead...

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Episode eight of Doctor Who season four is, for the ardent Who fan, surely the point where things get serious. Because episode eight is where, for the first time since the revived show’s maiden season, Steven Moffat gets his quill on a two-parter. His first try at this brought us scary little kids in gas masks, and the early signs are that he’s delivered once more. And while you can’t help but wonder if the weight of expectation on the story is borderline unnatural, this is surely the one we’ve all been waiting for since the series started.

Sure, there’s Davros, sure there are Daleks round the corner, but Moffat’s genius has been in finding simple things that scare the bejesus out of us, and then writing a cracking tale around them. Shadows in a big library? That sounds bang on from where I’m sitting, and things kick off with Silence In The Library, where the Doctor and Donna arrive at the biggest library in the Universe. Concluded by Forest Of The Dead, the two-parter is also set to ramp up the path to Rose Tyler’s return to the series.

Our money is strongly on Moffat to deliver here, before he starts his new job as the man in the Doctor Who hot seat for series five. It’s also the point in the series where the rest of it gets turned over to the pen of Russell T Davies, who thus far has only contributed one episode to the show (the series opener). And he has, it seems, plenty in store.

For it’s not just Rose who’s coming back, of course. It’s going to be a packed back four episodes, given the number of characters who are popping up. Martha Jones is set to reappear, along with Rose’s on-off boyfriend Mickey and her mother, Jackie. More interestingly, we also get the return of Sarah-Jane (yay!) and Captain Jack. You can keep your own score chart as to how many of those are trying to get into the Doctor’s pants come the end of June.

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Episode ten – Midnight – is likely to be handed over to the assistants, as we understand the plotline centres around the disappearance of Donna. By this point, Rose, Martha and Sarah-Jane are all expected to be in the Tardis, incidentally, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the interplay between them is handled.

And then, things get really interesting. Last year, we had three episodes that effectively concluded the series, and with the latest trailer doing the rounds pretty much confirming the worst-kept secret that Davros would be returning (it’s widely reported across the web now that Julian Bleach is the man in the chair this time round), the last three episodes of regular Who with RTD at the helm are looking very exciting indeed.

The episode titles are Turn Left (which will feature Rose, but not much of the Doctor), War On Skaro (speculated title) and Journey’s End, and we’re promised some quite explosive thrills and spills. Expect to learn a lot more of the Time War, to meet K9 again, one or two faces from Torchwood and generally witness a big mashing together of plenty of Who faces in one place. It could be brilliant. It could be a disaster. It’ll definitely be interesting.

And it’ll definitely feature lots of Daleks, and hopefully some kind of explanation as to what Skaro is potentially doing in an episode name, given that we distinctly remember it being destroyed back in the Sylvester McCoy era.

We don’t want to spoil the plotline, of course, but from what we’ve uncovered thus far this does seem to wrap up many elements of the show’s story arc from the last few years. And, of course, it could well be that the revival of Davros – in line with the policy of reviving just one major villain per season – could prove to be a masterstroke. Because as things stand at the moment, there’s just one Dalek left in existence, which means their creator has a chance to mutate them in hopefully more successful ways than was managed last year, with the human/Dalek hybrid (replete with phalluses coming out of his face).

The back end of each of the three series of Doctor Who since 2005 have each delivered in different ways. If you discount the season finale last year, the third series nonetheless boasted four very strong episodes in a run, and there’s the real potential here for that to be repeated again. Plus, the ingredients at the very least are in place for the most ambitious season wrap-up to date. This, theoretically, is where Russell T Davies could really deliver, as by nature the story looks far darker (figuratively and literally) and doom-laden than before, and that should be a very good thing indeed. Our suspicion is that he may just pull this one off…

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Still to come:

Episode 8: Silence In The Library by Steven Moffat (31st May)Episode 9: Forest Of The Dead by Steven Moffat (7th June)Episode 10: Midnight by Russell T Davies (14th June)Episode 11: Turn Left by Russell T Davies (21st June)Episode 12: War On Skaro (speculated name) or The Stolen Earth (further speculated name)  by Russell T Davies (28th June)Episode 13: Journey’s End by Russell T Davies (5th July)