In the finale of the third series of Doctor Who, Martha Jones is left to fend for the entire world by herself. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
As the words “One Year Later” scrolled across the screen, I assumed we’d be treated to a familiar storytelling technique: a scene from the future, and then an episode leading up to that moment, giving it a new context. Sometimes, this works well. It can be an exciting way to tell a story if the answer is given first. Other times (I’M LOOKING STRAIGHT AT YOU, STEPHENIE MEYER), it can be one of the more contrived and pointless forms of writing. No, seriously, Stephenie Meyer, you couldn’t even make that exciting.
I watched Martha Jones run to meet Thomas Milligan back on Britain. She’d been traveling the world for a year. A year. She was seeking the help of a Professor Docherty and then it hit me: this episode wasn’t flashing back. A year had passed. We were not traveling back in time to discover what had brought Martha here. Unlike any story arc we’d seen, the plot just jumped ahead a year. Which means…the world has been under the power of the Master for a year.
Wait. That means….millions of people have died. Possibly a billion. OH. OH MY GOD.
But it’s so much worse than that. The Master is not just content on conquering earth; he’s intent on BUILDING ANOTHER GALLIFREY. He means to go to war with the universe, to establish the Time Lord Empire. The horror of that idea resonated more with me because of what it means to The Doctor. The Doctor is sort of responsible for this happening. He had to destroy Gallifrey in order to win the Time War. If The Master had had a Gallifrey to return to, I think it stands to reason that he wouldn’t have created the Troclafane or used the Archangel angel network to convince the world that he was Harold Saxon or changed the TARDIS into a Paradox Machine or AGED THE DOCTOR UNTIL HE LOOKED LIKE A HYBRID OF DOBBY AND YODA AND GOLLUM. Oh my god that made me so sad.
Let’s talk about those details, actually, because even those were completely surprising to me. The Toclafane were part of a myth on Gallifrey and I was excited for Martha when she was taken to Professor Docherty to hopefully capture one of the spheres. I hadn’t really commented on them in the past review, but I wondered why The Master had such an affinity for them. Once the rebels captured a sphere and the story switched between them dissecting the sphere and the Master telling the Doctor what they were, I guessed what they were: evolved Daleks. It made sense. It was what the Doctor was so fond of, as the Master said. I assumed he was being sarcastic. As the camera peeked over Prof. Docherty’s shoulder, I saw some sort of creature that was the same color as the Dalek. It’s settled. But how did that one remaining Dalek end up being cloned or bred to become the Toclafane?
Except once the camera reveals the full creature…wait. What? What is that? That’s not a Dalek. What the fuck is that thing?
Humans. THE HUMANS FROM THE ROCKET THAT WAS SENT TO UTOPIA. HOLY FUCKING SHIT OH MY GOD HUMANS HAVE RETURNED TO THE PAST TO EXTERMINATE THEMSELVES. The Paradox Machine. Utopia. The Toclafane. IT WAS ALL TIED TOGETHER. I had completely forgotten about the rocket to Utopia. Oh my god, RUSSELL T DAVIES, YOU GENIUS.
This episode, more than anything, is about the ascension of Martha Jones from companion to hero, from someone who pines after the Doctor to someone who accepts herself as independent from him and does whatever she can to save the world. In hindsight, it’s easy to see how she was able to travel the world for a year, telling everyone the story of the Doctor and spreading the plan to use the Master’s countdown against him. But in terms of character development, I was incredibly satisfied with Davies’ focus on Martha, entirely separate from the Doctor. In that sense, when she says good bye to him at the end of the episode, it’s not bittersweet. It’s her way of insisting that the Doctor take her seriously as someone more than her companion, more than someone who just travels around and assists the Doctor. What Martha pulls off in “Last of the Time Lords” is immense in scope and courageous in execution. After saving the whole world, what else can you do but spend time with those you love?
Watching the Doctor transform back to his regular form was an emotional moment, but it compared to nothing to the scene following this on board the Valiant. The Paradox Machine is destroyed and time is reversed to correct the paradox. The Doctor, now clearly in control, informs the Master that he’ll essentially be imprisoned inside the TARDIS, since no one can trust him. Despite it being an uncomfortable reality, you can see the joy in the Doctor’s eyes. He’s no longer alone.
But that lone gunshot from Lucy Saxon ruins the Doctor’s plans. He doesn’t expect what the Master does next: refuse to regenerate. The Master would rather die than be imprisoned for life with the Doctor. As the Master dies in the Doctor’s arms, we’re reminded yet again of the solitary life of the Doctor. He was so close to having someone with him, but he is now alone. Again. Unsurprisingly, though, David Tennant knocks it out of the park in this scene, conveying the grief and terror of losing the only remaining Time Lord in existence.
This episode does give us two unbelievable moments towards the end. Besides the not-as-depressing-as-expected departure of Martha Jones, the Doctor and Martha also bid goodbye to Captain Jack Harkness, who denies yet another request by the Doctor to be his companion. Torchwood is too important to him. As he reflects on the fact that he can’t die, he mentions that his good looks earned him a nickname back on his home in the Boeshane Peninsula.
The Face of Boe.
NO. NO!!!! YOU ARE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!!!! HOLY SHITA;LKSDJFASDF;LJ;ASDKL
As if that isn’t mind-blowing enough, the Doctor reluctantly returns to the TARDIS, alone this time, uncertain where he’ll go. Martha has admitted that the Doctor cannot return the love she feels for him and that it’s time for her to move on. The Time Lord is alone again.
OH WAIT THEN THE FUCKING TITANIC BREAKS INTO THE TARDIS
My god, I love this show so much.
- The Master dancing to the Scissor Sisters. Perfection.
- SOMEONE TOOK THE MASTER’S RING. dun dun dun
- “Say hello, Gandalf.” HAHAHA My god. The Master is the most enjoyable villain ever. I’m sad he’s gone. 🙁
- I don’t really have an interest in ranking companions at this point. I liked Martha Jones a whole lot. I thought we’d get a peak at the next companion, but I guess it’s the Titanic. That’s a pretty good trade-off, I suppose.
- No more Reggie Yates. 🙁
- I don’t know if I could have handled two depressing series finales in a row, so I’m glad this one ended on a much more positive note.
All right, scheduling! Tomorrow, I’ll be doing “Voyage of the Damned.” After that, I’ll be delving into classic Who with “The Caves of Androzani,” which is apparently rated even higher than “Blink” and that’s basically impossible so I am very excited to watch it.
This time around, I PROMISE to post another voting post so you can choose what I watch after I’m done series 4. Deal? DEAL.