In the series 4 episode "Forest of the Dead", Donna is in the fake world and experiences time jumps. For example, quickly going from feeding ducks, going fishing, getting married and having children, and she starts to realise this. But shouldn’t everyone in the simulation realise this, not just Donna, so why is Donna’s husband surprised to find out that the whole world isn’t real?

  • Surely, he was just an artifact of the simulation, so he would "remember" the skipped time. – Daniel Roseman Oct 19 '19 at 19:29
  • Yes I suppose, but Donna specifically points out when talking to Dr Moon about how he mentioned ducks and then they were by a river, showing some understanding, whereas we don’t see that from him. – Jamminermit Oct 19 '19 at 19:46
  • He was a real person because he saw her in the library after they got out. We can only assume he had this happen too. – DJ Spicy Deluxe Oct 20 '19 at 1:12

The simulation is designed to make those inside it believe it, and 'Doctor Moon' seems to be an artefact of the program designed to smooth over any disbelief. Donna appears to accept it, at least for a while. If the "jumps" disorientate her, she manages to dismiss them. When Lee, reads Donna the letter saying "the world is wrong", Donna calls the sender a "nutter" (British slang for insane, crazy person).

Donna's realisation that she is inside an artificial reality is rather like 'lucid dreaming' - that is, once she is aware of her dreamlike state she is able to influence it and do something about it. Evidently, Lee did not come to that realisation, and everything the simulation is designed to do continued to work on him, as it did everybody else inside it.

Donna may only have been aware of the jumps in time because of her semi-lucid state. Alternatively, the jumps in continuity may only have occurred while the simulation (under the guidance of the doctor moon) was adjusting to suit Donna's dreams and desires. Once it had found the perfect simulated utopia for each individual, it may have settled down.

Really there is no reason that Lee, or anyone else from the library, should have become aware of their condition. Donna was exceptional in this regard.

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    This is absolutely wrong. Lee appears at the end of the episode being transported out of the library but he can't call Donna because he stutters. He IS real. He is not part of the simulation. – TheFreaky Oct 24 '19 at 14:33
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    @TheFreaky is 100% correct. He is definitely not part of the simulation, he is clearly shown at the end of the episode, and recognising Donna further demonstrates it is him. – Ongo Oct 24 '19 at 22:08
  • @TheFreaky You're quite right, thank you for pointing this out. I refreshed my memory of the episode by consulting a transcript and the downside of that is that visual storytelling doesn't come over. Actually my original answer had this as a secondary point and I was encouraged to make it the main point. I've rolled back and made some changes. – Astralbee Oct 25 '19 at 8:09
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    @ongo Corrected. – Astralbee Oct 25 '19 at 8:10

The only reason Donna is able to "wake up" is because she has the help of Miss Evangelista, who points to her the simulation mistakes (repeated children in the park). Otherwise, she would never realize the truth, same as her husband Lee.

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