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Doctor Who Season 4.11 “Turn Left” Summary and Analysis SPOILERS

Posted by Mister Random on June 22, 2008

Warning this post contains detailed spoilers for the tenth episode of the new Doctor Who “Turn Left”

One Sentence Review

Not as good as last seasons finale set up episode but a fine episode nonetheless

Episode Summary

We start off with Donna and the Doctor exploring an unidentified market on a planet which appeared to be Far Eastern in style. Donna and the Doctor get separated briefly and a woman offers to give her a free fortune telling reading, and as she does so asks Donna about key turning points in her life, as she does so a creature that looks like a “Giant Beetle” approaches Donna’s back and latches on. Under pressure for the fortune teller Donna makes a decision to “Turn Right” rather than “Turn Left” which means she never meets the Doctor and a parallel universe is formed

We then jump to the time of the events of “The Runaway Bride” except that because the Doctor takes on the Racnoss by himself, he ends up dying and being unable to regenerate. Donna then meets Rose Tyler and after a brief conversation Rose disappears.

We then jump to the time of the episode “Smith and Jones” and as before the hospital dissapears. Without the doctor to save them however while the hospital soon returns only one medical student survives. Martha, Sarah Jane Smith and Luke Smith die by running out of oxygen trying to save everyone, along with Maria Jackson and Clyde Langer (Sarah Jane Adventures childrens spin off show). Donna meets up with Rose again who warns Donna to leave London at Christmas and Donna asks Rose why people keep staring at her back (people can sometimes see/hear the Space Beetle).

We then jump to the time of “Voyage of the Damned” and Donna and her family is out of London due to winning a raffle. As before the RMS Titanic falls on London but without the Doctor to stop it, it hits and London is destroyed and the South of London contaminated with Radiation. Due to the destruction of London, Donna and family are forced to move to Leeds as refugees where they are forced to share a small house with a lot of other people. There is then a news report of millions of Americans turning into Adipose (Partners in Crime).

We then jump to the events of “The Sontaran Strategy/The Poison Sky” and the ATMOS cars start the transformation of Earth as before. This time around the Torchwood team manage to stop the Sontarans, however Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones are killed and Captain Jack Harkness transported to Sontar. Donna meets Rose again and they discuss The Doctor, this time Rose asks Donna to come with her but she refuses, but Rose says that it doesnt matter as she will come with her in three weeks and that when Donna comes with her it will be to die.

Time jumps forward a few weeks and the foreign family that Donna is sharing a house with is sent to a “Labour Camp” and Donnas grandfather mentions that they were called “labour camps” before. Later as Donna and her Grandfather stargaze, they find out that the stars are going out Donna then turns around and agrees to go with Rose.

Rose then takes Donna to a unit facility which has the TARDIS (which appears to be dying) and reveals the “Space Beetle” to Donna. She tells Donna that both she (Donna) and The Doctor are required if the darkness is to be defeated. Rose and Unit then transport Donna back to a few minutes before and half a mile away from where she decided to “Turn Right” with the mission to make past Donna Turn Left. As alternate Donna realises she wont make it she sees a truck approaching along the road Donna will need to travel, she decides to jump infront of the Truck which runs her over, this causes a traffic jam and makes past Donna “Turn Left”. Rose then approaches the dying alternate Donna and whispers two words into her ear and tells her to tell The Doctor.

We then jump to the Market Planet and the beetle falls off her back and dies and the fortune teller cowers in fear and asks Donna “what are you, what will you be”. The Doctor then identifies the beetle as one of “The Tricksters Brigade” (possible Sarah Jane Adventures reference), and the Doctor remarks that there may be a bit too much coincidence around Donna. As they discuss what had happened the Doctor realises the woman Donna was talking too was Rose and finds out the words Rose whispered were Bad Wolf. The Doctor then rushes out into the market and finds the words Bad Wolf written everywhere including on the Tardis. He enters the Tardis and finds it bathed in a red light (like when the Master turned it into a Paradox machine) and the cloister bell ringing. Donna asks the Doctor what Bad Wolf means and he responds “the end of the universe”   

Bad Wolf

My Thoughts

I find that its rare to find an “average” What If? episode, they tend to be either very good or very bad and I found this episode to be no exception and to be one of the very good. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Doctor Who, and while you knew would be set right by the end, the inclusion of Rose meant you knew there would be some lasting impact at the end of the episode, and raises some questions about Rose’s foreknowledge of events to come.

In terms of the alternate timeline created by the Doctors “death”, it seemed fairly accurate, and given that most of the alien incursions on Earth were stopped by alternate means in Donna’s present by killing off virtually everyone of note who had travelled with the Doctor in the Russell T Davies created series and the spin offs!. It also served as a way to briefly introduce these characters to viewers unfamilar with the spinoffs to these characters as it appears from the trailer they appear in next weeks episode. While there are some possible continuity errors in that events that occured pre 21st century that the Doctor with Donna or Martha influenced (Daleks in New York, Pompeii etc) could have prevented the present day from occuring, this can be excused as it would also cause a paradox and given the similarity in timelines shown as all the major present day events occured roughly similar to how they occured before it can be theorised that something happened to ensure that Donna was in position to make her choice.

There was again suggestions that something bad will happen to Donna in the finale as while Rose’s comments and expressions could be interpreted to be limited to alternate Donna, into is most likely to be referring to “real” Donna. 

Going back to the episode I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not really notice the Doctors abscence from the majority of the episode which was ironic as the episode highlighted how much the Doctor matters, and how much he has done for the Earth. Despite this the highlight of the episode was the ending and the Bad Wolf reveal. Next week cant come soon enough.


  • The continuity was more or less spot on
  • That everything was dealt with apart from the Titanic but with worse consquences
  • Rose is back
  • The Donna Rose interaction
  • The Stars are going out


  • Labour Camps – a bit OTT

Episode Rating


Next Episode


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