Okay but the scene in “Journey’s End” where Ten wipes Donna’s memory…it’s ugly, and awful, and painful, but it’s not simple and painting it as such is doing it an injustice.
Donna doesn’t want her memory wiped. She doesn’t want to go back. But her mind is burning up and she has Shaun to look forward to, and maybe kids, and years with her granddad. I’m sure Ten didn’t want to violate her mind ever, let alone in the way he did, but she was dying and she was his best friend.
Maybe it was the wrong decision. Maybe it was unforgivable. But—if your best friend was dying, slowly and scared and in pain—would you let them die if you had a way to practically guarantee them a happy, normal life?
That scene is awful and it rips me up inside every time. The moment when Ten advances on Donna, unstoppable even as she pleads for her memories—it’s a horrific action.
But I can’t say Donna wouldn’t have done the same to him, if their situations were reversed. And to be honest, I’m not certain I wouldn’t have done what Ten did either. What if it was my sister, dying like that? My little cousin? My best friend?
Davies is rarely interested in what the “right” thing to do is, in his stories—he’s interested in the human thing. And this scene is Ten at his most human, in all his messy complexity, even as he performs an inhuman act of cruelty.
There’s nothing nice about this story. But to unambiguously condemn Ten’s actions is to disregard the questions about human nature raised by “Journey’s End,” and Doctor Who has never been a show to ignore hard questions.