Monday, September 23, 2013

Whatever Happened to Jenny and Susan?

Scientists have confirmed that Georgia Moffet is the most attractive woman in the world.
Five years ago, the episode "The Doctor's Daughter" opened up some exciting and amazing possibilities, none of which have been fulfilled.  The Doctor, the "Last of the Time Lords," is no longer the last.  Technically, Jenny is also a Time Lady, and she is still out there somewhere in the Universe.

In the episode, in case you don't remember, the Doctor's DNA was stolen and, through a process called progeneration (which sounds scientifically impossible, but then again, I'm not a hard scientist), some soldiers on the planet Messaline created a soldier that is technically the Doctor's daughter, with the Doctor's genes making up both parents (which I don't think is scientifically possible, but I'm not a hard scientist).  In the end of the episode the Doctor's new daughter, Jenny, is shot.  The Doctor watches her die in his arms, and says that she won't be able to regenerate.  It is not until the Doctor leaves that Jenny proves him wrong by sort of regenerating (although not changing her appearance somehow) and leaves in a stolen spaceship, meaning that she's still alive out there somewhere.

It's been said that Steven Moffat t was the reason that Jenny didn't die at the end of the episode.  Even though he didn't write the episode, Moffat supposedly knew he was going to be taking over the show soon, and he asked the writer, Stephen Greenhorn, to bring her back to life, as he thought he might like to use her after he's taken over.  Yet, to date, in the three whole seasons Moffat has been in charge, he has never used her.

When the epsiode "A Good Man Goes to War" was coming up, I was tricked into thinking Jenny was coming back.  On the Doctor Who Wiki, it was reported that Jenny would return in this episode.  The source this came from was actually the actress, Catrin Stewart's, official website.  On it, it listed upcoming roles she was going to play.  One of them said "Jenny" in the episode "A Good Man Goes to War."  Jenny is a Time Lady, and therefore should be able regenerate.  Therefore, literally any woman in the world could, theoretically, play her.

When the episode aired, myself and many who thought they knew what was coming, were sadly disappointed, as Catrin Stewart was not playing the Doctor's daughter, Jenny, but an unrelated character named Jenny Flint.  In the episode, Jenny Flint's character's name was not spoken in such a way that it really drew my attention to it, so I kept looking at Lorna Bucket, hoping she was going to be a regeneration of Jenny.  She didn't turn out to be a regeneration of Jenny in the end (although she did seem to be suspiciously set-up to be a future character, and she has yet to come back either).

At the time, I was slightly worried that a main character who was also named Jenny would prevent Moffat from being back the Doctor's daughter Jenny.  Writers rarely use multiple characters with the same first name.  While it would be more realistic, as, in real life, we often encounter people with the same first name as ourselves.  However, it's far too confusing in fiction to keep track of people with the same first name.  So this is generally avoided, unless the name needs to be used for two different characters for reasons integral to the plot (think Heathers).  But, happily, Jenny Flint seemed pretty inconsequential.  She was Madame Vastra's lesbian lover/assistant/ass-kicking sidekick.  I didn't think she'd be coming back.  However, Moffat later decided he loved Jenny, Vastra, and Strax so much, he wanted to make a spin-off about them.  It never happened because he was too busy with Sherlock, so he decided to bring them back instead!  Now, Jenny Flint is a significant character, having appeared in 3 episodes in the latter half of the season.  You can tell Moffat is really interested in the characters becoming very central as he let another writer write for them.  Special characters like River, Dorium, the Silence, the Weeping Angels, or Madame Kovarian are reserved solely for Moffat-written episodes.  He doesn't seem to let anyone else write about them.  But he once allowed the sadly inconsistent Mark Gatiss to use the very funny yet lamely named "Victorian Trio" in his episode "The Crimson Horror."  Special recurring characters are Moffat's, but real, full time companions can generally be handed over to someone else.

So now, with the addition of Jenny Flint as an important recurring semi-companion, the other Jenny's reappearance becomes much more unlikely.  Why on Earth would Moffat name another character Jenny?  What was he thinking?  He could have used any other female name in the world.  Why Jenny?  Is it possible he knew what he was doing?  Possible, yes.  But not likely.

Of course it's possible that Jenny Flint is secretly a regeneration of the Doctor's daughter, but it's not likely.  I don't know why Moffat would wait so long to reveal something like that.  I don't understand why the Doctor wouldn't have figured it out by now.  The Doctor is supposed to be able to recognize his own kind when he sees them.  It seems difficult to believe that, in all this time, he failed to recognize his daughter.

Then there's the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan.  My friend Victor Infante told me that he wrote an essay once called "The Susan Foreman Problem" about Susan "illuminating" everything to come in the series, especially in the new series where they're willing to admit she exists.

Susan will stab you like you're a lounge chair.
In the audio adventures, which are mostly considered cannon, the 8th Doctor actually reunites with Susan and her son, the Doctor's great grandson.  If we're to believe that this is cannon and happens in the same exact reality as the TV show, then Susan was, at the very least, still on Earth before the Time War.  However, it was established that only two Time Lords survived the Tie War:  The Doctor and The Master.  The Time Lord This doesn't necessarily mean that Jenny is dead.  Even though the "Visionary" said that the Master and the Doctor would be the last of the Time Lords, it was because they were the only ones to survive the Time War. Her prophesy didn't seem to apply to Time Lords (or Ladies) who somehow managed to be born after the Time Lords were wiped out in the Time War.

But the prophesy should apply to Susan.  The Visionary said only two Time Lords would survive the Time War, which means Susan must have returned to Gallifrey to help defend her people in some way.  The only way she could be alive is if somehow the Visionary was wrong.

Ending, burning, falling, all of it falling, the black and pitch and screaming fire, and bizarre vague crazy shit!

I always hated The Visionary in "The End of Time" for two reasons:

1)  Doctor Who doesn't take place in a magical universe.  The scientific explanations may be thin, but there is almost always a scientific explanation, with the notable exception of "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit," and even that was left ambiguous.  At the same time, it's true that, in the Doctor Who universe, there are psychics and even people with precognition, but there's a certain science behind it in this universe.  So there is plenty of precedence for someone like "The Visionary" to exist, but everything about her just reeked of magic.  She just seemed out of place in the Doctor Who universe.  Even the term "Visionary" sounds like something the Time Lords would have turned down their noses at.

2)  Her prophesy presents a problem that future writers are going to have to deal with one way or another.  We all know that, sooner or later, another Time Lord is going to have to come back.  Whether it's Susan or the Rani or Omega or someone we haven't met yet, some writer some day will want to bring back a Time Lord.  The show can, theoretically, go on forever.  You're not going to tell me that nobody is going to want to bring back a Time Lord at some point.  Davies really shat the bed on this one.

So now, for Susan to be anywhere out there, the Visionary has to have been wrong somehow.  Who knows if the narrative will even bother to address what the Visionary said.  Maybe, much like the "I'm half human on my mother's side" comment, they'll simply ignore it.

The spot of hope comes from the fact that the Doctor's status as a father and a grandfather has been coming up a lot more often in the past few seasons.  The Doctor, in "The Doctor's Daughter," mentioned his former family for the first time since the 1st Doctor era.  In "The Beast Below," Amy asks if he's a parent, and he suspiciously dodges the question.  In "A Good Man Goes to War," he brings out a cot from his TARDIS to let Amy and Rory put Melody in, and says that it was his cot from when he was a baby.  However, in Doctor Who Confidential, Alex Kingston (River Song) said that we should be asking "Who else slept in that cot?"  Something about the Doctor's role as a father or as a grandfather is coming up very soon.  I don't know how or in what way, but it's definitely coming.

Whether it's about Susan or Jenny or someone else entirely is a huge mystery, but it has to come up very soon.

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