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Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder ending explained

What was in the Wild Blue Yonder, and how did the Doctor and Donna fare?

Promotional image featuring the Doctor and Donna on a spaceship
Image credit: BBC

Doctor Who is back, back again with the second 60th Anniversary special, 'Wild Blue Yonder,' hitting the small screen all around the world (you can watch it on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK, or Disney+ if you're not). At the end of 'The Star Beast,' we saw the Doctor and Donna in a sticky situation after Donna spilled her coffee on the TARDIS console. In 'Wild Blue Yonder,' we see where the coffee-shocked TARDIS takes Donna and the Doctor... and what they have to face to get out of it.

So here's what happened in Wild Blue Yonder in case you've seen it and missed something, or just want to know what happened.

Spoilers ahead for Wild Blue Yonder

David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who special The Star Beast
Image credit: BBC

What happens at the end of Wild Blue Yonder?

Still image from Wild Blue Yonder
Image credit: BBC

In 'Wild Blue Yonder,' the Doctor and Donna find themselves stranded at a spaceship at the end of reality, and there are a lot of questions to answer: Why was an airlock opened and then closed? Why is there a robot moving very slowly? Who are these mysterious aliens who are trying to become the Doctor and Donna (and can also access their memories)? Also, what the heck is that clanging noise?

Now, while these mysterious aliens are not ever fully explained, we do find that they are trying to become the Doctor and Donna because they know the TARDIS will come back for them and they want to escape the ship. As for the the clanging noise, the Doctor soon finds out that it is the body of the ship's captain, who had ejected herself from the airlock after creating a plan to stop the aliens escaping and killed herself to keep them from reading her mind and finding out what she's done. What she has done is set the robot to move very slowly and eventually trigger the ship's autodestruct, and kill the aliens.

Once the Doctor and Donna figure this out, the aliens also figure it out - because they are the Doctor and Donna, to a certain extent - and the real Doctor and Donna have to chase them down to stop them from stopping the slow robot's sequence. During this scuffle, the Doctor loses track of which Donna is his, and after asking a question about an anecdote Donna had told him, accidentally chooses the wrong Donna to pull into the TARDIS. As they fly away though, the Doctor notices that Donna's arm is just a tiny bit too long, and ejects her from the TARDIS, returning just in time to rescue the real Donna from the explosion.

After the Doctor and Donna escape, they return to Earth, just a little while after they left. Instead of Rose, Donna's husband, and Donna's mother waiting then, we see Wilf, who is brought to happy tears when he sees Donna and the Doctor. "I never lost faith. I said, 'He'll never let us down. He'll come back and save us.'" The Doctor replies, "Save us from what?" We then look around and see people all around fighting. We see an explosion, then a plane crash. Wilf tells the Doctor that it's the end of the world. And... that's the end of the episode. We'll have to wait til the next special to see what happens next.

Who are the aliens in Wild Blue Yonder?

Still image from Wild Blue Yonder
Image credit: BBC

The aliens never get a formal name, though they are "nothing" as opposed to Donna and the Doctor's "something"-ness. They are able to not only shapeshift, but also take on the memories and thoughts and intelligence of the beings they're trying to copy. In this episode, they take on the form of the Doctor and Donna, but consistently fail to get away with it, as their "arms are too long," or too big, and they expand to ginormous sizes. As for why they are filled with such malice, they tell the Doctor and Donna that they learned it from listening to the rest of existence, all of the wars and hate. One of these aliens almost just escapes a fiery demise, but at the last minute, the Doctor cottons on and ejects her back into the ship and saves the real Donna.

What is the Flux in Doctor Who?

Still image from Wild Blue Yonder
Image credit: BBC

One interesting thing brought up by the alien impersonating Donna (who is able to share The Doctor's memories, even in times after they parted) is the mention of The Flux. Now what is the Flux? The Flux was a wave of destruction that was used by a Time Lord organization to tear apart half of the universe. We learn about it first in Doctor Who: Flux, a series-long arc (aka series 13) featuring the thirteenth Doctor.

Over the course of the series, we (alongside the Doctor) find that a central part of the Doctor's history as we understood it was actually incorrect. The Doctor was not a Time Lord from Gallifrey, but instead another sort of alien with regeneration powers from elsewhere. 'Wild Blue Yonder' calls back to the Flux by having the imposter Donna bring it up to the Doctor, and us learning that 1) the Flux is still canon (sorry for those who wanted otherwise) and 2) the Doctor has still not fixed the Flux, and that the destruction was massive (and the Doctor's guilt immense).

Is Bernard Cribbins in Wild Blue Yonder?

Still image from Wild Blue Yonder
Image credit: BBC

Yes, Bernard Cribbins reprises his beloved role as Wilf at the end of Wild Blue Yonder. Though there were plans for Wilf to appear in more scenes, Cribbins sadly passed away in 2022, before those scenes were filmed. This special was in fact dedicated to the wonderful Bernard Cribbins.

Doctor Who: "The Star Beast" really is based on a 1970s comic book drawn by Watchmen's Dave Gibbons

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Tiffany Babb avatar

Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.