By Grace Schulman
First day of spring and winter can't let go.
I can't let go, through dread, of silver maybes:
of black that glows, as a cowbird's sheen,
of gray dawns when, mud-colored, slow,
the river to the west gurgles hosannas.
Now near the end of the middle of my life,
all I want is more wakings like this one,
to watch day break, hear the trash truck growl,
glance at my love's body, shadowy
under bed linen, shaping a luminous question.
I’ll have a pale sun strike the air conditioner,
turn its ice particles into asterisks,
and wake a bewitched maple that will bloom
despite the park's tossed soda cans, dope fumes,
dog piss, rat poison, banal conversation —
green as on the first day of Creation.
After breakfast at the Rahway hotel buffet and an early-morning viewing of last night's Doctor Who (more on that later), we went back into Brooklyn to see my uncle, who still looks tired but better than the day before. They still don't have a full diagnosis let alone a prediction on when he will be released from the ICU but he's awake and talking and complaining that he can't have anything to drink, which is a good sign. We stopped for fish & chips on the New Jersey Turnpike -- all the Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs stands on I-95 have Arthur Treacher's attached now -- then came home to drop off the minivan to make sure it has all its filters, fluids, etc. in order before we drive it across the country. The kids were wonderful considering the number of hours we had them in a car or sitting waiting in a hospital lobby in the past two days.
Here you can see the town's water tower and some of the local ducks.
Along Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.
Marine Major Eugene T. McCarthy Triangle off Avenue N.
This giant pineapple is on the roof of a building called Victor Graphics in Baltimore.
You can easily see it from I-95 driving between Baltimore and Washington, DC.
A pirate cruise in Baltimore Harbor.
In the evening we put on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I enjoyed much more than I was expecting given my relative apathy about Harry Potter since Deathly Hallows...I think the messianic overtones bother me less than they did because they're even more flamboyant on Doctor Who, where I keep finding myself irritated by both delusions of godhood and equally frustrating sexual politics. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying the performances and storytelling, but the story itself seems like such an endless cycle of the same self-sacrificial ideology that it's gone from just not moving to me actively annoying me.
So in "Turn Left" we have yet another noble sacrifice -- that is, another dead woman -- which makes three weeks in a row, and because River and the hostess did it, it feels less remarkable than expected when Donna does it. I mean, can you imagine if she spent a lot of time agonizing over death when the other two accepted it so selflessly? Especially with an Asian alien bug on her back? It's like a ritual, a test everyone must pass to be deemed worthy for the Doctor; it's why River had to die before he even knew her!
Jack already died for him once, so Jack must be exiled instead. While I love the reunion aspects, seeing Sarah Jane's little group and Torchwood in cameo, it irritates me that they flash onscreen only to be killed off heroically. More noble dying than Noble dying. Does everyone really go off to death with dignity as their primary concern, without a scream of outrage as they're carted off to concentration camps or the Sontaran homeworld? No righteous fury except from Donna? I wanted her and her grandfather both to do something!
Speaking of which, we get yet another fictional life for Donna, and yet again I can't reconcile the largely passive, husband-desperate woman with the resourceful one who investigated Adipose Industries after she decided that she'd rather see the universe with the Doctor than go to Egypt with tourists. I know that losing one's father and never having the respect of one's mother can erode one's confidence, but come on already -- Donna can't be simultaneously flaccid and the force that moves the universe. And I loathe the idea that only contact with the Doctor could have transformed her, but it's either that or believe that her fiance's insults about her provincial attitudes opened her eyes. In either case, the implication is that she changed because of a man rather than finding something that was always inside her.
There are lots of great moments. Rose's newly tough yet still sensitive persona, and her refusal to answer Donna's question about whether she and the Doctor were involved. The new perspectives on events we've seen previously (no Master, I suppose because without the Doctor he'd have remained trapped as an amnesiac Derek Jacobi). "Bohemian Rhapsody" as an anthem of comfort. Donna's "No way!" when she enters the TARDIS. Donna's fearlessness when she realizes what she has to do to divert her own car. Rose running to the dying Donna the way Rose ran to her own father when he died to set another timeline right. The Doctor telling Donna that they must have been meant to find each other. Bad Wolf everywhere. Finding out it's Daleks returning almost seems a letdown after that creepiness.
As much as I want to look forward to next week's even more inclusive reunion episode, with Jack, Gwen and Ianto, plus Sarah Jane, Maria and Luke, plus Rose, Martha and Donna, possibly all together, how many more sacrifices or would-be sacrifices are we going to be subjected to? The again-and-again deaths make me feel less and less. Or rather, what I do feel is that I'm being manipulated, oh the poor Doctor, the humanity, the angst, woe, admiration, grief! It would have been fine with me if they'd left him dead a while longer and shown us the others saving the world and occasionally themselves in the process.