In the twelfth episode of the third series of Doctor Who, HOW ON EARTH ARE THEY POSSIBLY GOING TO RESOLVE THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
This honestly keeps getting better and better.
I’m still in shock over how far the story has evolved in just a single episode, how so many questions I’ve been asking for the past three season were answered in poetically powerful ways, and how Russell T Davies was willing to write a script that puts all of the main characters in extremely uncomfortable and damaging situations.
To put things in perspective: there is no way I am even the slightest way prepared for “Last of the Time Lords.” At all.
As the Doctor, Martha, and Jack all escape the year 100 trillion using Jack’s newly repaired Vortex Manipulator, Davies wastes literally no time in allowing the pieces to fall together: Martha realizes she recognized the Master’s voice because HE IS MR. SAXON. THE MASTER IS HAROLD SAXON, WHO JUST GOT VOTED INTO THE OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER.
My god. SAXON.
I don’t think there is a single quiet moment in this entire episode. It seems our friends are always running or shouting or the Master and his wife are doing some of the creepiest shit ever. Ok, so let’s talk about the Master, right? WHAT THE FUCK. I was under the impression that the Time Lords had a very specific set of ethics/morals and yet the Master seems opposed to any of that. In this episode, he may actually cause the most murder we’ve ever seen in any episode of Doctor Who yet. (Well, for me. I’m not counting classic Who.) He spies on citizens. He bombs Martha’s flat. We find out he’s behind the people monitoring Martha’s family in an attempt to also monitor the Doctor.
What makes the Master so terrifying is how open and direct he is about his actions. The conversation he initially has with Martha is chilling because he gets off on teasing people with the impossibility of the situation. He has Martha’s family. He teases the Doctor with the knowledge that he is no longer alone in the universe, that there finally is one last remaining Time Lord other than himself, and yet this Time Lord is choosing to do everything in his power to destroy earth. To destroy the Doctor’s friends. To get involved, and in a manner that is tyrannical and destructive.
And yet, through all this, Davies continues to blow my mind. In hiding, the Doctor begins to piece together how exactly the Master was able to return to the 21st century and install himself as Harold Saxon. How was he able to trick so many people into not questioning who he was?
It was the sound of the drums. The same drumming that, FOR DECADES, existed in the very theme song of the show, that acted as a method to subliminally suggest the election of Harold Saxon. A perception filter. IT’S A PERCEPTION FILTER. (omg was i tricked into watching this show through ~subliminal mind control~ omg) Leave it to the brilliant Doctor to devise three Tardis keys that act as perception filters, using the Master’s technology to keep themselves hidden. However, the key-making is not quite the most important scene inside the abandoned building, as we FINALLY get the most amazing backstory on the Doctor, as I get the VERY FIRST LOOK AT GALLIFREY. Oh my god, I have chills right now just thinking about it. We get to see other Time Lords. And the palace. AND THE FUCKING VORTEX. You guys, I have been begging for this moment for so long and RUSSELL T DAVIES TOTALLY BROUGHT IT. a;sofa;sdhf a;sdfh a;sdhfa;slkdj;
But it is the last moment of hope that we see for the rest of this episode. I’ve made it clear that I love stories that take risks. I tend to gravitate toward ideas and stories that are bleak, dystopian, depressing, and “dark,” for the lack of a better word. I guess that’s strange because over the years, I’ve gotten pretty decent at coping with my depression, and my outward appearance is regularly fairly cheery and social. People don’t expect it. That’s ok. I don’t find that to be weird or rude. I spent at least a decade of my life with an eternal frown on my face. I’m perfectly fine not doing that anymore.
Maybe there’s something more to my desire to feel bad things. I mean, who actively seeks out movies that will make them cry? Perhaps I’m just used to it at this point, and there’s a comfort to it that’s hard to put into words. I don’t think I’ve ever given it much thought before now, to be honest with you all. I was trying to explain to someone this morning why this episode was so good (they don’t watch Doctor Who omg the tragedy), and I was ending my sentence with, “â€¦.AND THEN THESE THINGS CAME OUT OF THE TIME RIFT AND STARTED ANNIHILIATING EARTH AND EVERYONE IS BASICALLY DEAD AND THE DOCTOR GOT AGED 100 YEARS AND SHIT IS SO FUCKED UP ANDâ€¦â€¦oh my god what am I saying.”
So let’s talk about the awful, awful, horrifying scene on board the Valiant, which is an aircraft carrier IN THE GODDAMN SKY. SHIT YEAH. But there shall be no more happy moments. I didn’t really know what a Paradox Machine did when it was first introduced (create a paradox, I assume?), but I was not excited that the TARDIS was no longer the Doctor’s. THE MASTER, WHERE IS YOUR TARDIS. USE YOUR OWN, YOU BULLY.
The thing that makes this episode so terrifying is the insistence that the events onboard the Valiant be aired live on television. I mean, think about it: You’re watching the news. We are making contact with an alien species. And then the Prime Minister HAS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES EXECUTED ON LIVE TELEVISION. Horrifying? Utterly, unbelievably so. Another reason I adore this show: these atrocities are not committed in the secrecy of labs or behind theoretical science plots or in front of a couple people. Doctor Who doesn’t hide its horrors. They are all out in the open, for mass consumption; the show is routinely concerned with how societies adapt and deal with these things, and how the public consciousness is affected by the absurd.
And this episode ends on the absurd: the Master, using the exact technology from “The Lazarus Experiment,” and the severed hand from “The Christmas Invasion,” builds his own laser screwdriver and uses it to age the Doctor 100 years in just a few seconds. As the Doctor remains helpless on the floor, and Captain Jack nearly useless from the same screwdriver, Jack gives Martha his vortex manipulator. There is no way to defeat the Master. It’s time for her to leave. Her family is brought into the room and she faces a terrifying choice: stay and fight, surely leading to her death, or escape and try to find a way out.
I want to know what the Doctor whispers to Martha.
The rift above the Valiant opens and we’re treated to one of the scariest and greatest visual effects the show has ever given us: the Paradox Machine has allowed SIX BILLION Toclafane to come pouring onto earth. The eradication begins immediately as one-tenth of the planet is destroyed. Martha is back on earth, headed to some unknown place. The Doctor and Jack are of know help. The Master has won.
How on earth are they possibly going to resolve this?
- John Simm is PERFECT as The Master, injecting just enough goofy humor to make him even creepier than we could imagine.
- Poor Vivien Rook.
- Ok, so Martha’s brother, Leo, was not captured. I’m betting that’s significant. But why?
- “Oh! I know what it’s like. It’s like when you fancy someone, and they don’t even know you exist. That’s what it’s like.” UGH DOCTOR WHY
- “You too, huh?” HASDFLJKHASDFJHKJKLHS OH JACK. It’s a triangle of unreciprocated love.
- “And so it came to pass that the human race fell, and the Earth was no more. And I looked down upon my new dominion as Master of all; and I thought it good.” Absolutely chilling.
- Does the Master’s wife count as his companion? I say yes.
- OH GOD THERE IS STILL ANOTHER PART.