Doctor Who: Looking Back At Death's Deal - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Looking Back At Death's Deal

Chris Morley goes mining.
Notes of The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos abound in Death's Deal, the penultimate entry in the Destiny Of The Doctor audio series. The TARDIS lands on the titular planet in response to long-faded distress calls for those brave or stupid enough to go to what's branded as the deadliest planet in the galaxy. Just as she did in The Fires Of Pompeii, Donna Noble acts as the voice of conscience to persuade the Doctor to save anyone they can.

And so unfolds the tale of a tourist ship foolhardy enough to land on the surface of a world where there's normally little hope of a rescue as its actually quite illegal to be there! Among the passengers is space pirate Tad Groogan, tracking the Howling Jupiter, a crashed vessel which may hold the key as to why the planet is so off limits and it's broadcasting a Morse code signal of Allons-y!

Now, who could have sent such a come & get me plea of sorts? Well, not so much of a come & get me as come & sort out a rather big problem - slaughter crystals! Used to fuel weapons, as the name might suggest, they're dangerous and yet the Wraith Mining Cartel wants them and is making its way to the least hospitable corner of the universe post-haste.

There is someone who can stop this, though. Professor Merritt Erskine has proof that they lie under the surface and must get that to the authorities so proper action can be taken. One problem though - nobody knows where he is. His daughter has been searching for him for six years and come's along for the ride as a sort of temporary third companion in this adventure, narrated by Catherine Tate and published in 2013 to celebrate Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.

As to what's happened to Lyric Erskine's dear old dad? As a planetary surveyor he often found himself fighting against the interests of companies like Wraith, who are the reason for his presumed death after having tricked him into making the trip in the first place then making sure he stayed there. Years of solitude have changed him, though, and now after so long with only the native animal population for company he doesn't exactly take kindly to having visitors...

There is though one shining moment of clarity in which he looks at a locket containing his daughter's picture, throwing it to her before he falls. The Doctor's mission to save Erskine is apparently doomed, but not quite once she opens her father's final gift which contains a microdrive with exactly what needs to be sent to the right people - survey results for the slaughter crystals.

Once they get where they need to be, Death's Deal can be rendered safe. It turns out the electricity from all those distress signals was the cause of the disturbance to the planet & its attendant wildlife. There will be no more mining interests either, as the Doctor is able to destroy three unmanned vessels before they can sabotage the restoration of life as normal to the place. And in so doing set's up the events of The Time Machine, the final story in the Destiny of The Doctor series.
We might also conclude that the Tenth has learnt the lessons of Pompeii, long before one who could have been among those lost to the eruption would return again in a roundabout manner to hold him to the mark. Just as Donna once did in proving to him that he needed someone to stop him, possibly Catherine Tate's greatest performance as Ms Noble & certainly worthy of note as the first time a companion really spoke directly to those two hearts.
DONNA: You can't just leave them!
DOCTOR: Don't you think I've done enough? History's back in place and everyone dies.
DONNA: You've got to go back. Doctor, I am telling you, take this thing back. It's not fair.
DOCTOR: No, it's not.
DONNA: But your own planet. It burned.
DOCTOR: That's just it. Don't you see, Donna? Can't you understand? If I could go back and save them, then I would. But I can't. I can never go back. I can't. I just can't, I can't.
DONNA: Just someone. Please. Not the whole town. Just save someone.
Just save someone. A simple sentiment so emotively spoken that in that moment you just wish Russell T Davies had made more of the Doctor-Donna, giving her more of a journey than just one brief shining moment before its end – or maybe that was the point? Either way, we should be grateful for her chance to take it, a prayer to the man who once claimed emphatically that he was not a god to do what deep down he always had without thanks. He does at least admit one crucial thing, though.

You were right. Sometimes I need someone.

As do we all. Though we, like he, can be loathe to admit it.

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