Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: The Waters of Mars

In the second Doctor Who special of 2009, the Doctor is wandering on Mars when he is taken aboard Bowie Base One, where his morality and conscience are tested in a terrifying predicament: Without the Time Lords to stop him, can he change a fixed point in time? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

I don’t know what to say about this episode. I mean….SO MUCH JUST HAPPENED. If I hadn’t seen the opening credits, I would have guessed that Steven Moffat had written this special. I don’t think I could have ever imagined that someone could make mere water so terrifying, but here it is. Water is FUCKING SCARY.

I suppose I also assumed that, like the last episode, we’d be given a story that in the grand scheme of things was pretty disposable to canon. I thought that maybe the final moments would hint towards a greater story, like Carmen’s words at the end of “Planet of the Dead.” I believed it until the end of “The Waters of Mars,” and then Russell T Davies and Phil Ford PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE WITH ONE OF THE BEST SCENES OF THE ENTIRE SERIES.

Ok. I’ll get there. I promise.

Like the previous special, I was initially blown away by the sheer size of the set (which looked digital this time around) and the dramatic jump in presentation and quality. I feel like the showrunners got an extra million dollars to work with or something, because virtually every special effect in “The Waters of Mars” looked like it was ready-made for a summer blockbuster. It’s a good thing, though, that practically none of this makes the story. That burden lays entirely on the writers, who craft a terrifying story with a heavy moral quandary.

Upon being taken aboard the Bowie Base One (GET IT GET IT DAVID BOWIE GET IT), the Doctor meets Captain Adelaide Brooke and her crew, the first humans to on Mars. The Doctor’s joy at realizing who they are was infectious, but I did not initially understand why images of online news articles kept flashing on the screen. (That took me until the end of the special to understand, for the record.) But that moment of joy is short-lived because the Doctor is a Time Lord. He can see into the Time Vortex and this is one of those times where a fixed event in time that we don’t actually know about happens: On that very day, in 2051, Captain Adelaide Brooke and her crew died in an explosion that obliterated the base. This point is fixed in time because of what it causes: it’s the catalyst for the whole of human exploration. As the Doctor later explains it, Brooke’s granddaughter is inspired to follow in her footsteps and it’s because of Brooke’s death that humans fly out into the stars to make peaceful contact with other alien races.

It’s a fixed moment in time. It’s “The Fires of Pompeii” all over again. Immediately, the Doctor knows that this time around, he simply cannot get involved. He’s seen what happened in the past for him. If anything, it’s time for him to learn from his mistakes and do right by these people. But the Doctor wasn’t going to get out of this that easily, right?

My first thought about the “water” infection is that, aside from a few ridiculous moments, it’s one of the creepiest things that this show has ever done. Like Moffat’s general idea for his “scary” episodes, “The Waters of Mars” takes water and makes it sinister. WATER! Great, now I will never NOT think of this episode when I take a shower. Additionally, the unbelievable make-up and prosthetic work in this special is really what sells it for me. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for these actors to be rigged with a constant supply of water pouring out of their mouths and jackets. Ugh…I can seriously hear the sound of the water pouring out of those black mouths and FUCKING HELL. It creeps me out so much.

From here on out, “The Waters of Mars” is one of the most stressful, tense, and uncomfortable Doctor Who stories yet. The main conflict is set up: Should the Doctor intervene to save any of those on Bowie Base One or does he allow history to unfold? For the most part, he chooses the route of painful indifference. It’s so awful to see the hurt in the Doctor’s eyes when he knows that these people will die. Captain Adelaide Brooke (played by Lindsey Duncan, who will probably be my favorite guest actress so far) begins to put the pieces together, as she sense the Doctor has been lying to her. But what can you do? This is one of those situations where I can’t begin to pretend I would even remotely know what to do. I don’t. It’s such a torturous gray area. It’s a fixed point in time!!! What can the Doctor do???

Like “Planet of the Dead,” there’s a little bit of postulating as to exactly what this organism is that is infecting the crew of the base, but the answer is still left up in the air. I love when Doctor Who tackles concepts that exist in our world (like when water was discovered on Mars) and puts a unique twist/theory on to it. The Doctor makes reference to a Martian race and I assume that’s from the classic series, yes? (You can answer that.) So, in this history, perhaps those Martian Ice Warriors purposely froze whatever being is doing this.

But knowing what that THING is isn’t important to the story. It’s what Doctor Who can do very, very well. The pieces to this complex moment in time fall into place, as we learn that there’s a self-destruct mechanism onboard that can be triggered by the Captain in the event of an emergency, so it seems their fate is now explained. The base wasn’t blown up by accident at all. The Captain did it. It was hard to single out one moment that best represent why this story was so phenomenal to me, but the quiet moment where the Doctor explains to the Captain why she is so important nearly set me into sobs. Can you even conceive of having to tell someone that you know they’re going to die, but yet you can do nothing about it?

That’s when the Doctor truly realizes what’s happened here: as the infection spreads closer to the center of the base, he knows it’s “The Fires of Pompeii” all over again. The bomb goes off because of him. It’s a fixed point in time because he exists and because he traveled there. One of the most depressing things on the entire run of this show is watching the Doctor walk away from the base and listening to the crew become infected, one by one. It is a futile, hopeless moment, one full of the dread of the inevitable, and it’s filmed beautifully, cutting between the Doctor and the radio transmissions and images of chaos on the base. There’s nothing he can do. The path of time is inevitable.

EXCEPT IT’S NOT. Because the Doctor has seen so much death and destruction and has stood aside while cities crumbled and burned, as his companions have been left in parallel worlds or in a haze of permanent amnesia and HE IS DONE TAKING YOUR SHIT. He is the last of his kind. THERE IS NO ONE TO STOP HIM. No companions, no Time Lords, no laws of Time, no celestial being or governmental force. Nothing at all. And by god, he is going to SAVE THE SHIT OUT OF THESE PEOPLE.

But that isn’t what happens. Good fucking god, that doesn’t happen. Instead, we see the Doctor out of his element. He’s worried. He’s unconnected to what’s happening. He’s desperate, trying his best to bend time to his will. Even worse, Captain Adelaide has already resolved herself to accept her fate. She is about to die. And even when the Doctor sends out that irritating little robot to get his TARDIS, she activates the final self-destruction sequence.

The real shock for me was when the bombs went off and the TARDIS appeared on earth. I expected the Doctor to step out of the TARDIS alone, having failed to save the three remaining survivors of the bomb blast. But when Mia, Yuri, and Adelaide followed the Doctor out of the TARDIS, I…..what? WHAT???!?!?! HOW IS THAT AT ALL FUCKING POSSIBLE. How can the Doctor change a fixed point in time?

“For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I’m not. I’m the winner. That’s who I am. A Time Lord Victorious.”

I will admit that the character transformation is quick, but it’s astounding. Here is the Doctor without a companion and without anything or anyone to stop him. He believes he is doing right, but what he’s done is frightening. I’m reminded of Mr. Copper’s words to the Doctor, about holding the power of life and death over people. And now we see that acted out to its horrifying conclusion.

Adelaide has every right to feel as upset as she does. How does the Doctor know what he’s done? How does he know how it will effect the rest of history? I can’t believe I am saying this, but this is the only time I have ever feared the Doctor, to look into his eyes and see a being who knows that he has absolute power over everything.

The last couple minutes of this episode are truly horrifying, more so than anything else, more than those water creatures, more than the thought of the overarching mortality of it all. Adelaide kills herself in her flat, and time unravels. The Doctor changed nothing. NOTHING. The details were different, but Adelaide still died, the bomb still went off, human history proceeded on course. The Ood shows up (!!!!) and the Doctor knows he has done something truly, truly awful. It’s time. It’s the end. Time is catching up with him and his song is arriving.



  • Seriously, GADGET was annoying.
  • Seriously, get some bikes! They’re awesome!
  • Seriously, when Andy was knocking on the security door, I almost peed myself. I thought he was going to knock four times. GOOD GOD.
  • What was that bell at the end of the episode? The one the Doctor seemed to run from.
  • “State your name, rank, and intention.” “The Doctor, doctor, and fun.”
  • “Imagine…Imagine you knew something. Imagine you found yourself somewhere. I don’t know, Pompeii. Imagine you were in Pompeii. And you tried to save them. But in doing so, you make it happen. Everything I do, just makes it happen.”
  • perpetually unprepared.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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575 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: The Waters of Mars

  1. kaybee42 says:

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    I love this episode. I think it’s brilliant. I loved it on my first watch, I loved it on re watch, and I loved it even more on my re watch today. First- the general story. Love. Special effects were great. Mars was pretty.
    Great moment: “Yeah well, dogs, that’s different…” lolololol! Yeah Ten, funny robots?! Hypocrite 😛

    Yuri and Steffi and Roman (was that his name?) and the other guy whose name I’ve forgotten, not because he was unimportant, just because I’m rubbish with names. They were AMAZING characters. Brilliant writing. Oh the tears when Steffi went! And the horror when the (Australian?) guy whose name I’ve forgotten went!
    There, that’s done, now I’ll talk about the Doctor.

    OHMYGOD THE DOCTOR HAS LITERALLY GONE INSANE. He was terrifying. So terrifying. I watched it begging him not to do it. Timelord Victorious-no! Just NO, doctor! WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOCTOR?!
    All the tragedy you’ve seen, everything you’ve had to do, everyone you lost…of *course* you did it. If only Donna was there. Or even if she wasn’t there, but you hadn’t lost her like you did. Oh ten, your arrogance and your attitude, normally your actions just about let me accept it, your companions humanise you and drag you back. But not this time. I think that was horrific and terrifying and just plain old brilliant. *Actual* character development for the Tenth Doctor. And the Doctor, he can’t get more and more brilliant. It’s boring and frustrating. So…they took him in a completely different direction. I loved it! I mean, I hated it ‘in universe’, but I loved my favourite programme for having the balls/ovaries to do that.

    The moments in the hub when he’s running around saying he’s fighting time? I know I’m using this word a lot, but terrifying.

    Paraphrasing: “I thought I was just a survivor. It’s taken me all these years to realise I’m not. I’m the winner. Timelord Victorious!” SHDGSFHSKJKD! Scare me anymore Ten?!?! Also, vaguely reminds me of Charlie Sheen… #tigerblood…#winning… #timelordvictorious …

    “Isn’t anyone going to thank me?” AGHFJKSDFJK! Makes me furious every time! His arrogance in that scene is so much worse than it’s ever been, and after you’ve just changed the future, not knowing what will happen- probably for the worse? URGH!

    “I’ve done this before Adelaide. In small ways, saved some little people. But no one as important as you before…Ooh I’m good!” “*Little*people? People like Yuri and Mia, you mean? What gives you the right to say who’s important and who’s not?!” YES ADELAIDE! Doctor- where have you gone?! Everyone is important! “There’s a person alive in the world that shouldn’t be, that’s the most important thing in the world!” That was you, back as 9! What happened 10?! Oh yeah. All that tragedy. 🙁

    “He’s lost his signal. Doesn’t know where he is.” Oh I see what you did there Rusty!

    The last conversation between the Doctor and Adelaide-fantastic. You wonder why she didn’t punch him. The first time I watched it I thought she was going to shoot *him*. And I wouldn’t have blamed her. In fact I’d have cheered her on, thanked her. Ten needed to be stopped.

    Oh and- OH HAI OOD SIGMA!

    Ten realising he’d gone too far… there was a lot of relief for me in that moment.A lot of sadness to. Where is he going?!

    Oh, Doctor. You shouldn’t be alone. Donna told you that. Way back when you met her. “Find someone” she said. And “Sometimes, I think you need someone to stop you.”
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  2. Spugsy says:

    Such an epic and awesome episode, and then you get to the end and it's just head-asplode.

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    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


    • flamingpie says:

      Okay, on a more serious note… this episode. this episode.

      I didn't have time to rewatch it so I just watched the last twenty minutes and it was such a mix of HORROR and crying all the tears.

      I've always listed it as third place in my top five, after midnight and turn left, but I don't know. The more I think about it, the more I think that it might just fill that number one slot.

      On a side note, one of the actresses in this episode was also in an episode of sherlock, so that's a bit distracting to me now.

      • __Jen__ says:

        The second episode? THAT is where I recognized her from. Thank you!

        • flamingpie says:

          yep! when I watched sherlock I was like WHY DO I KNOW YOU *imdb*

          • Vicki_Louise says:

            She's also in Secret Diary of a Call Girl with Billie Piper. She wears a lot of ……erm………interesting outfits, mainly of the rubber variety. 😉

      • _thirty2flavors says:

        YES YOU HAVE A FLAWLESS TOP 3. Mine is Waters of Mars, Turn Left and then Human Nature/FOB but Midnight is way up there too.

        Adelaide was in the new Alice in Wonderland movie, which was basically the highlight of that movie for me lol. (That and serious hair envy over Mia …Whatsername.)

        • flamingpie says:

          she was?? HOW DID I NOT NOTICE THAT. I always notice and get intensely distracted when people from Who are in things. like when I watched cemetery junction and Owen from torchwood was a cop.

          • _thirty2flavors says:

            She plays Alice's mom!

            OMG BRITISH ACTOR BINGO IS MY FAVOURITE GAME. I saw Lost in Austen a while ago and it was hilarious, there was Tish Jones, River Song, Nancy from TEC/TDD, Lindsay Duncan and I think one more I'm forgetting.

            • flamingpie says:


              It really is the best game ever.

              • _thirty2flavors says:

                I saw the "retold" version of Much Ado About Nothing that the BBC did in like 2004, and three of the four lead women had a) been in Doctor Who and also b) played David Tennant's love interest at some point (Billie Piper, Sarah Parish and… the lady from Fear Her and Casanova). Plus there was Sir Robert from Tooth & Claw. OH BRITAIN.

          • swimmingtrunks says:

            DUDE. AND ROSS JENKINS. But Owen was much more distracting.

            • flamingpie says:


              …I'm okay.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        For some reason that didn't distract me as much as I expected it to. Probably because I didn't pay much attention to the second episode of Sherlock. I do remember being distracted by the fact that the taxi driver from "A Study in Pink" played Lucius Dextrus (Phil Davis, I think?) and the actress who played Sergeant Sally Donovan was part of the crew in "42," though.

  3. _thirty2flavors says:

    Oh god Waters of Mars, favourite episode of ALL THE EPISODES??? I THINK SO

    Ugh I just love everything this episode chooses to be. I think it's actually pretty divisive in fandom, in my experience people either LOVE it or HATE it, but I absolutely love it and think it deserves all the props forever and ever. When the specials were airing, "Waters of Mars" was the one no one really paid any attention to, and I remember making jokes about how "LOL MAYBE WATERS OF MARS WILL BE UNEXPECTEDLY AMAZING". And then it was. Omg.

    What makes it so brilliant for me is that this has been being set up since the very first time we saw Ten, back in that Children in Need clip; he gleefully tells Rose "I can't stop myself!" and then again in Christmas Invasion itself, "I don't know when to stop!" And then throughout the last three seasons we've seen that reinforced again and again — that the Doctor, or Ten at least, travels with people not just for fun but because he needs them there, just like Donna says back in Runaway Bride. He needs someone to stop him and reign him in, and when they don't he ends up drowning himself like in "Turn Left" or calling himself ~The Time Lord Victorious~. I LOVE that the role of companion is given this much importance. If they're just there to ask "what is it, Doctor?" they're not filling the role properly. They have to complement him somehow, and for Ten at least, that means telling him when to stop. But even though he knows that, he can't bring himself to travel with anyone because it always turns to shit, so THIS HAPPENS. Oh Ten, your life is an endless tragedy.

    Plus, I love how this episode bookends "Fires of Pompeii". (EVEN IN THE TITLES har har we c wut u did thar) That moment where he and Adelaide talk through that screen and he mentions Pompeii is just so powerful. In Pompeii we see Donna and the Doctor struggle to do the right thing even though it is very, very difficult. In "Waters of Mars", on his own, without Donna's tempering force, he can't manage it — so he winds up doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. And I think that is brilliant, too; we get to see the Doctor dark and unhinged and totally unabalanced, but he's still motivated by the same things as always — he's still trying to save lives. But the acting/directing/writing/whatever is great, and so that moment when the Doctor comes back to save them, even though we've seen that last-minute rescue scene dozens of times before, it feels wrong right away.

    Also, props forever to Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke. By the time WOM was airing, I was tired of the one-off companions — I found Jackson dull and Lady Christina annoying, and wasn't particularly impressed with Michelle Ryan as an actress. But Lindsay Duncan brings it, and Adelaide is a great character. Her interaction with Ten is great, and Lindsay Duncan and David Tennant play off each other so well — I LOVE the bit where they talk to each other over the intercomm. I like that for once she's a one-off character who isn't impressed by the Doctor and at no point is there the question of "gee, how will they write her out so that she doesn't get to travel with him?" Adelaide has her own thing going on, she's the first woman on Mars, she's not interested in the weird guy who just trespassed on her Mars base, tyvm. She questions him in a way that feels organic rather than forced for conflict and she holds her own and is willing to make sacrifices for the ~greater good. Plus her parents got killed by Daleks and that inspired her to go out into space but not for revenge, Adelaide you are the best.

    I could probably go on tbh but I will stop myself. Basically PROPS TO THIS EPISODE FOREVER. I did not expect the show to ever go "there", but it did, and I am so glad it did because it feels honest to the character. Bad things happen a lot in RTD's Who, but what I love about the show is that those things are never swept under the rug. I love that the Doctor can't just brush off thing after thing after thing, and that we see him grieve and bend and crack under the pressure, because that makes him believable and relatable to me. I can accept that not everyone wants that from their television, but for me it is basically everything I didn't realize I wanted. A+ with a crown and a wand.

    Also — LOL "Bowie Base One".

    • flamingpie says:


      Just had to say that.

      • _thirty2flavors says:

        😀 I AM GLAD

        I don't think I've stopped fangirling this episode since it aired in 2009 lolol.

    • Karen says:


      And I love that you brought out out two things that I didn't mention even in my epically long comment. The first being that this episode shows just why Ten needs companions and it highlights just what RTD did for the role of companion when he rebooted the show. He turned them into necessary characters in their own right.

      And you brought up how awesome it is that Adelaide's reaction to the Daleks was not to be afraid, but instead it inspired her to journey to the stars.

      • _thirty2flavors says:

        I love love love the role of companion in New Who. I can't really comment on its role in Classic Who because I haven't seen enough, but I looove what they do with it in New Who. I think it's also in part why I'm not super psyched by the idea of the Doctor hypothetically regenerating into a woman. Among other things, I just think it's not really necessary because the companions are so awesome anyway. The Doctor is the smartest character in the room, but that doesn't automatically make him the strongest. Rose, Martha, Donna et al bring something to the table that is absolutely crucial and in their own right they are just as important to the narrative. I remember being pretty disappointed when we learned that David Tennant's last episodes would be without a proper companion, and I do think it influenced my enjoyment of TND and POTD, but it was basically worth it in my eyes for this episode

        THE WOMAN WITH ~STARLIGHT IN HER SOUL~ I love Adelaide. I'm doing a companion picspam and I almost included the one-offs just for an excuse to include Adelaide. But lol idgaf about Christina or Astrid.

        • LittleCaity says:

          Ah, the companion in Old Who. For a long, long time, the men were there to be badasses (Oh Jamie I will love you forever and cannot wait for Mark to watch The Mind Robber) and the women were there to be cute and scream a lot. There were a few exceptions in the midrun – Zoe, Liz and Sarah Jane spring to mind <3 – but it was that way for quite a long time.

          That's actually why I enjoy Ace so much as a companion, she was strong and ballsy and reckless and the Doctor would have been lost without her sometimes. In an odd way, she kind of parallelled Donna…

          • _thirty2flavors says:

            I have the special companion…book… magazine thing RadioTimes did this year, and flipping through it and reading quotes from a lot of the Classic Who actresses was really depressing. Many of them said they left the show because the role was so limited, because all they were asked to do was stand around screaming and looking hot. Even Mary Tamm had a quote about how Romana was designed to be an equal to the Doctor, but ultimately wasn't because the plot demanded that someone ask questions. I can't say I'm surprised by any of that, given the time period especially, but it is sort of disheartening. It's nice to know there was a sort of progression as the show went on (and as time went on), and by New Who I think they've basically resolved that issue.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Oh man, I totally forgot about Adelaide and the Daleks. Such an awesome moment in the special.

    • lacunaz says:


      Waters of Mars is beautiful, flawless, still makes me anxious in all the right ways when I watch it, etc.

      You make a really good point about the role of the companion here, which I think people often downplay despite the fact that it is text at this point. We've seen what happens when the Doctor is left to his own devices — he drowns without Donna, he changes a fixed point in time — and it's become very obvious that he needs people with him.

      It's a good thing he has the whole "come see the universe and go on adventures with me" sales pitch working for him. I doubt he'd have as many companions if he was upfront about it — "come with me so you can stop me from genociding species and changing history".

      • _thirty2flavors says:

        OF COURSE! Waters of Mars stanning is my bat signal.

        I think it does get downplayed, and I get really irritated with the implication that the companion is or should be a replaceable part because the text says the exact opposite and if that was true I wouldn't like the show. I like that as much as the Doctor needs someone along because he's lonely and he's already listened to his Snow Patrol DVDs over and over, he needs someone on a more practical level so he doesn't FUCK SHIT UP. I have other things to say but I think they might veer into spoiler territory so I'll stop. But yes I absolutely love that he really needs people, he doesn't just like having someone along.

        LOL IKR? No wonder Donna rejects him in Runaway Bride, he was acting like a crazy person.

    • Yes. All of this exactly. Thank you!

  4. __Jen__ says:

    I don’t have much time to write this out, but yay! Waters of Mars- my favorite special!

    The alien/monster in this episode is CREEPY AS FUCK. The body horror of the mouth and skin and everything….*shudders*. If Martians do exist, please please please let them not be anything like that at all. The poor people just wanted a bit of veg. 🙁

    Adelaide is a BAMF now and forever. Lindsay Duncan is a fantastic actress and a seriously beautiful woman.

    Ten, you sir, are the cakiest of crazies or the craziest of cakes. IDK WHICH. What I do know is this:

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    • arctic_hare says:

      Lindsay Duncan is a fantastic actress and a seriously beautiful woman.

      Yes, yes she is! <3

  5. Karen says:

    WELCOME TO ONE OF MY FAVORITE EPISODES EVER. This is going to be long-winded because I have so many thoughts and feelings about this episode. If you don’t like it…

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    This episode is so much of what I love about RTD and his tenure as show runner of Doctor Who. For him, this isn’t just a show about adventures in time and space. Instead, he uses the format of the show as a means to explore his characters and bigger themes about life and humanity and philosophical issues. This episode isn’t about an event that takes place on Mars. It’s jumping off from where “Fires of Pompeii” started and is exploring exactly what a fixed point in history is. It’s looking at what exactly that means to the Doctor, and how all the losses that he has suffered have affected him.

    There is a lot of deep stuff going on here, but to get this review started on a more light-hearted note, I’m going to recap some of the more amusing bits of the episode.

    Adelaide: State your name, rank, and intention.
    Doctor: The Doctor. Doctor. Fun.

    LULZ. Oh Doctor.

    And that moment where the Doctor complains about how people make robots look like humans but then gets defensive about robotic dogs makes me smile too. K-9/Doctor BBFS FOREVER.

    Gadget: Gadget-gadget!
    The Doctor: I hate robots. Did I say?
    Roman Groom: Yeah, and he's not too fond of you. What's wrong with robots?
    The Doctor: It's not the robots, it's the people. Dressing them up and giving them silly voices. You're reducing them.
    Roman Groom: Yeah. Friend of mine, she made her domestic robot look like a dog.
    The Doctor: Ah, well, dogs. That's different.

    But other than that, this episode is full of deep and dark stuff.

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    I do think that the water zombies are legitimately scary. But I also like that it’s not really a malevolent villain. It’s just a parasite/virus doing what it does which kind of reminds me of that episode from Fringe where Peter and Olivia are put under quarantine in that office building. And the fact that it spreads by water is so terrifying for some reason. That moment where Stephy is trapped and she can’t avoid the water is so upsetting because the water winning just seems so inevitable. I love the idea of water being patient and waiting. Because it’s true. Water works slowly but surely. I mean, look at the Grand Canyon. Water made that. Sure it took thousands of years, but that was all water. Or look at Yosemite Valley. The water might have been frozen, but sure enough it was water that carved those breathtaking cliffs. Water is powerful. So because of that, the creatures actually give me a sense of dread and inevitability. Water is patient and strong, and no matter how long it takes, it will win. So in that sense, the water zombies are actually pretty scary.

    I think that this episode is framed brilliantly. Less than 10 minutes in, we know that they are all supposed to die, so in a lot of ways there are immediate parallels to The Fires of Pompeii even before the Doctor explicitly references it. So we know from the start that this episode is going to be about fixed points in history and an exploration of that. And I think it’s a pretty brilliant take on the idea. This isn’t an idea that is foreign to time travel stories, but by setting it in the near future (instead of our past where we know the outcome), there is a lot more tension as to whether the Doctor will change this supposedly fixed point or if it will self-correct or if something else will happen. And really this is all so brilliant because since we KNOW that mucking around with fixed points like that is very serious and bad, that moment when the Doctor goes back to save the crew just feels WRONG, even though saving people is something that he does on a regular basis. This isn’t a triumph, like it normal is, even though he’s saving lives. Gah. This is just such a brilliant piece of storytelling.

    • Karen says:

      The companion of sorts for this episode is Adelaide, and Adelaide is really a fabulous character. She and the Doctor have tons of chemistry (not in the romantic sense, just in the general… intensity sense). I love that RTD has created this character who is an older woman who is also strong, a true leader, and determined- not really a character that you see much on TV. She also challenges the Doctor which always makes for a good character, especially when the Doctor is in the kind of place that he’s in right now.

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      Adelaide: And there's no one to stop you?
      The Doctor: No.
      Adelaide: [Noticeably angry] This is wrong, Doctor! I don't care who you are! The Time Lord victorious is wrong!

      And then in the end, she has to take matter into her own hands to fix the Doctor’s mistakes and it’s awful.

      But really the star of the episode is the Doctor. Ten’s story has been all about loss. This regeneration he started out as a new man who was learning to love people again after losing everything in the Time War. He’d found a family and happiness again with Rose, only to lose it all during “Doomsday”. Then in series 3, we get the Doctor in a pretty bad place. He would have died in “The Runaway Bride” if Donna hadn’t been there, and he spends most of series 3 with his head so far up his own ass missing Rose that he’s a jerk to Martha. Also, in series 3, we see that the Doctor is so desperate to save SOMETHING that he even tries to redeem the Daleks and the Master. By series 4 though, it seems like the Doctor can be happy again, traveling with his BFF Donna and being reunited with Rose. But this too won’t last. Donna has to have her memories wiped to save her life, and he sends Rose to live in the other universe with a man who looks like him, but still isn’t him. The Doctor has lost everything all over again and is alone once more. This is the moment where he decides that he can’t lose anything else. He sees these humans fighting to live, and he just can’t stand around and watch them die. What’s the point of being a Time Lord if he just has to do nothing while people die? He’s sick of losing.

      The actual execution of this moment is brilliant. The music, the cinematography, the acting, the sound mixing- everything combines so that the audience feels the horror of what the Doctor is witnessing. We hear, as the Doctor hears, the crew’s panicked cries as they try to escape from the inescapable water.

      <img src=""&gt;
      <img src=""&gt;
      And when Steffi is watching the video of her daughter once she realizes that this is the end for her? HEART BREAKING. And the way that poor, sweet Roman realizes that he’s been contaminated? And the way that Ed used his last moments as himself to destroy the shuttle and save everyone else? I couldn’t deal with it either. There’s just this feeling of utter hopelessness. I don’t blame the Doctor for saying “fuck it” and going off the deep end.

      The Time Lords are all dead. There’s just the Doctor now. All alone. There’s no one to stop him. He’s done losing people and watching them die. Time can go fuck itself. It hasn’t really done anything for him lately. And so the Doctor decides he’s going to take matters into his own hands, and it’s terrifying. Even as the Doctor has come back to save the crew, that crazy look in his eyes makes them a bit apprehensive. They’re scared. And they should be.

      • Karen says:

        The Doctor: No, someone told me just recently, they said I was going to die, they said, he will knock four times. And I know what that means, it doesn't mean right here, right now, cause I don't hear anyone knocking, do you?
        [Andy knocks on the metal door three times]
        The Doctor: Three knocks is all you're getting!

        His death has been prophesied, but he’s not going to lay down and take it. He’s angry and he’s fighting.

        <img src=""&gt;
        <img src=""&gt;

        The Doctor: Yes, because there are laws. There are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? *Me!* It's taken me all these years to realize that the laws of time are *mine* and they will obey me!

        <img src=""&gt;
        <img src=""&gt;

        <img src=""&gt;
        At the end, he’s so confident and pleased with himself. He’s won. He’s gotten rid of the rules. He’s made himself the sole authority. I firmly believe that humanity’s base instinct is to be its own master, and Ten is SO human. That’s probably why he’s my favorite Doctor. He experiences emotions and he experiences them intensely. He isn’t detached from the world, but that’s why it has the power to hurt him so much, and why he can go off the deep end like he does here. But I love that RTD doesn’t shy away from exploring the Doctor’s darker emotions of grief and rage, even though he’s supposed to be the hero of the story.

        The Doctor: For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I'm not. I'm the winner. That's who I am. A Time Lord victorious.

        <img src=""&gt;

        <img src=""&gt;
        In the end, it takes Adelaide’s death to shock him back to reality. He can’t just muck around with history like that. He realizes that he’s gone too far and then he sees the Ood and assumes this is his death. But he’s not ready to give up just yet.


        • xpanasonicyouthx says:


        • _thirty2flavors says:


          ugh this episode is so perfect/stunning/flawless

          I also like what you said abut Ten being human because I love that too. I often see it used as a complaint or an explanation why he's the ~worst Doctor~ or whatever but idgaf that is precisely why I like him best.

          <img src=>

          I don't think I'd be nearly so invested in this show if the Doctor just kind of shrugged and moved on every time awful things happen. Especially since awful things happen ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. And I like that there is no rock bottom of grief, and that each additional loss hits him harder and harder rather than everything being reduced to the same two-second 🙁 face before the story skips along. Nothing annoys me more than a show failing to acknowledge when characters/actors leave (SECRET DIARY WHAT HAVE YOU DONE) and in a show like Doctor Who, with a perpetually rotating cast, this is absolutely key for me. As the audience, I don't forget those characters, so I don't want the Doctor to do that, either.

          I am not sure I'm even talking about WOM anymore BUT YES WHATEVER BEST EPISODE.

          And Steffi's death is so great… except my German friend told me the kid's German in the video is totally, totally awful and now I can't not think about it when I listen rofl

          • Karen says:

            RIGHT? Ten's humanity is what makes him such a fascinating character to watch.


            • _thirty2flavors says:

              Totally. Sadly I am not an untouchable Time Lord, so I cannot relate to a character who acts like one. But Ten's humanity in spite of himself was great to watch.

              I flounced so hard from Secret Diary tbh, I haven't watched in like 3 weeks. WHATEVER. WHERE IS BAMBI. Omg in the first episode when Belle was all BEN YOU'RE MY ONLY FRIEND I was like AIFJLSJDOETO EXCEPT FOR HBIC BAMBI WHY HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN HER SHE SHOT DOWN A DOOR FOR YOUUUU. I think part of me was hoping Belle and Bambi would run away together.

              • Karen says:

                I've been watching, but I've been disappointed tbh. I'm mostly just watching because I love Billie so much. YOU HAVE LIKE 2 EPISODES TO TURN YOURSELF AROUND, SHOW.

                DO IT.

                • _thirty2flavors says:

                  IKR I will suffer through a lot to see Billie be fabulous but the creepy rapist cop was too much and I have heard only negative things so I haven't come back. brb marathoning s3 to wipe this travesty from my brain

                  But seriously, I am so sad because she has been the only Who alum whose career I've been able to really follow because I actually liked her show/she did not ~return to the theatre~ like a Proper British Actress, and THEN THIS HAPPENS NOO WHYYY 🙁

              • oh god really? I've been saving up Secret Diary, haven't had a chance to watch it yet. *SAD FACES*

                Billie Piper is great, and hot, and frankly I could watch her flounce about in her little cocktail dresses forever, but then again the more the show diverges from real Belle's life the less I find it interesting. (As a sex worker myself I'm all in favor of a show that shows how sex work can be an empowering part of a woman's life, but Brooke Magnanti as a real person is darker and stranger and more interesting than anything tv can create…)

            • drippingmercury says:


            • mkjcaylor says:

              SAME. Ten is my favorite Doctor because he is so human and to me that makes him the most interesting.

              • _thirty2flavors says:

                Yeah, the fact that he is so flawed but I can see where all those flaws come from makes me very fond of him. I don't need characters to react to situations the way I would, but I do need to understand why they're acting the way they're acting, and I always feel like I know where Ten's coming from. IDK, everything about his arc/characterization just kind of clicked for me — even when I wasn't expecting something (like I wasn't expecting the last 20 minutes of WOM), once I had seen it I was always like "right, that makes complete sense".

          • who_cares86 says:

            Hmm I don't know about your friend but the German sounds perfectly fine to me. Taking this from a guy who spent some of his childhood in Germany watched a lot of German television and is currently about 15 kilometres away from the German border. A native speaker may see faults in it but I don't hear it. It's certainly doesn't sound like someone just reading foreign words not knowing how it's pronounced.

            • _thirty2flavors says:

              If I remember correctly her complaint was that the kid just wasn't very good, like she may have been pronouncing things correctly but the prosody and the emotion and stuff was off and she sounded really stiff/not natural.

              But I don't speak a word of German so I can't say either way, lol.

              • who_cares86 says:

                Yeah I suppose she's a bit stiff but that's more to do with bad acting than bad German phonetically the pronunciation is correct as far as I can tell and I'm the kind of guy who groans when they screw it up.

            • Mustikas says:

              I'm German. I haven't watched the Episode since it first aired but I still remember that the German ruined the emotional impact of the scene for me. Not that it was totally bad, but you could just hear that it wasn't a native German speaking and like the other commenter said it just didn't sound natural.
              Martha's scenes in Journey's End were much worse though because they were so cliché: An old woman that looks like she's from the 1930s in a dark castle: Yep, that's totally how we protect our super secret weapons here.

          • mildlyconfused says:

            Oh hai, token german here!

            The little girl's german was just off…. very… off. Halting and with weird rythms and off emotional display as relating to the words being said. A bit like a a zombie dalek with no prioir knowledge of the language or ever having heard so much as a crummy recorded tape that has been chilling inside a washing machine for the past decade reading the words. In pink children's clothing. And pigtails.
            Though, nowhere near as bad as the Martha-Osterhagen key Hausfrau Security Lady conversation.

            Totally ruined the emotional impact for me. Because I'm a picky bitch.

            • _thirty2flavors says:

              That's a shame. It would bother me too if I spoke the language — especially since I live under this delusion that everyone in Europe is a polyglot who speaks 9 languages, so I am like "COME ON BBC YOU COULDN'T FIND A GERMAN KID ANYWHERE???" But not speaking German I do have the luxury of ignoring it.

              LOL THE MARTHA STUFF MUST BE AWFUL especially because there is no logical reason it was in the episode at all. CBC cut JE from 60 minutes to 45, and that was just about the only cut where I was like "good call, CBC, no one needs to see that".

        • Starsea28 says:

          How can anyone hate this episode? I have my issues with RTD but this is his BEST! The Doctor completely goes off the deep end because he confronts something that isn't even evil, it's just trying to exist (which is very Moffat), so he doesn't have a reason to fight it and that rips open all his old scars about losing people for no good reason…

        • MowerOfLorn says:


          Are there even haters that can go to the left? I mean, I find it difficult to find anything in this episode to outright hate. The monster is creepy on Moffat levels, which incredibly realistic costumes (I watched the confidential. They had great info on that), awesome dialog and characters, and some amazing acting from Tennant which really highlighted the amazing character change in the Doctor. It was brilliant, through and through.

          • LittleCaity says:

            Unfortunately, even epic win such as Waters of Mars has haters because SOME PETTY PEOPLE JUST WANNA HATE.

            *sends money to Kaspar* Haters, please familiarise yourself with the left-handed evacuation procedure.

        • ldwy says:

          I loved this episode, and I love this comment. And I don't know Doctor Who as well as you, Karen, so I will just say this.
          YES to everything you posted. It's everything I would want to say myself, said so beautifully.
          Love love love love love.

        • YES. Ten's my favorite Doctor for this reason too. I think I might also characterize him as super-human, as in, he's so human that he's MORE THAN human. He's JUST THAT INTENSE.

          But hey. I love intense. I eat intense for breakfast.

      • that Billie Piper gif is WIN FOREVER. (right click, SAVE.)

    • flamingpie says:

      that GIF.

      I can't look away.

    • leighzzz31 says:

      That is the single most awesome gif of Billie I have ever seen.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        my god it is amazing.

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          Spekaing of Billie Piper! I completely forgot to mention this after last week's Turn Left review, but the day before I was in town, parked my car at the shopping centre, and it took me a few seconds to identify the song that was being piped through the chopping centre speakers. Then I realised…it was Billie Piper – Day and Night!

          I haven't heard that in public for YEARS!


    • Openattheclose says:

      I love that Billie Piper gif!

  6. E.L.S.O.S says:

    Oh snap, Ten! Shit has gone and hit the fan!

    So there you are, all "Oh noes! They iz all gonna die and I cant do anythin' 'bout it!" crying like a little boy 'cause your Daddy told you not to mess with history and you ain't never gone against your Daddy's word before. But then what did you do? You manned up, Ten! Took charge. Became a Time Playa! You shouted to the world "STFU Daddy! I'm a man now! I don't have to listen to your rules anymore!" And you went and SAVED those people. Why? Because you could, mothafukker!

    But then that space lady was all "Bitch please! You are not fukken with the history of the human race while I'm around!" and went and SHOT herself! Damn, girl! You show that Time Lord what-for!

    So there's little Tenny all alone with the cops on the way, and you know what?

    <img src="; alt="LOL">

  7. elusivebreath says:

    Another episode that I didn’t remember liking that much, but again I was wrong, lol. Maybe I like these more now that I know what’s coming? Anyway, it’s always fun to watch the Doctor meet people from the past he admires, but not so much when they are going to die.

    This episode was really interesting in its conclusion, when the Doctor decides that since he is the last Time Lord, the rules no longer apply to him. To me this really highlighted the Doctor’s need for a companion, because he really seemed to lose his cool for a bit there, just like with the Racnoss all the way back in the Runaway Bride.

    In the end, though, I think he recognized that the “Time Lord Victorious” was wrong, just as Adelaide said (and how tragic was her end?), and then we have the Ood adding just as much WTF as Carmen did at the end of Planet of the Dead. Also, after the episode there was the preview for the next episode and can we SPOILERY much? Holy crap, if I hadn’t seen it before I would have been really pissed off!

  8. arctic_hare says:

    LINDSAY DUNCAN. I spent the entirety of this episode fangirling over her, because she is FANTASTIC. I'm a big fan of HBO's Rome, you see, and she was utterly brilliant in that, a standout even in a cast full of brilliant actors and actresses, and I loved her character. I miss the show so very, very badly, so to see her here being amazing and wonderful and thoroughly awesome as Adelaide Brooke was an incredibly sweet treat. The plot may have gotten a bit tedious for me at times, what with Ten yammering on about how he really should go often enough that I started muttering "SO GO ALREADY" at the screen, but I forgave it for the chance to watch her in action. By which I mean, I kind of ignored most stuff that wasn't her. Whoopsie! 😀 Oh well. So, I haven't really many strong opinions on it either way aside from those things, and that the "Time Lord Victorious" thing resulted in me saying "K, Ten, all right. Time for you to go, you've had your fun, now go regenerate already. I AM READY EVEN IF YOU AREN'T."

    Still… though… I guess I should be fair and try to understand where he's coming from. After all –

    <img src=""/&gt;


    And again, in honor of those who might not be around to post it themselves for this review:

    <img src=""/&gt;

    <img src=""/&gt;

    <img src=""/&gt;

    I love you all. <3 Truly.

  9. Fusionman29 says:

    That bell is called the Cloister Bell. If SHIT IS GOING DOWN WITH TIME it rings. Bascially the TARDIS is like “DOCTOR YOU FUCKED UP.”

    A. This story was initially envisaged as a Christmas special, several festive references remain, such as the crew on Mars preparing for Christmas dinner, and it snowing when the Doctor arrives back on Earth as he exclaims how he likes snow.

    B. This story was originally entitled Red Christmas.

    C. The episode ends with a dedication to Barry Letts. The former Doctor Who producer and writer had died several weeks before the broadcast.

    D. When initially sketching out the story, Davies considered Helen Mirren as a potential actress to play the character that eventually became Adelaide. In an early draft, the character that became Adelaide was Russian, but this was changed when, still thinking of Mirren as a potential guest star, Davies felt it would have been too close to the character played by Mirren in the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

    Anything else?

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Cloister Bell! That is a cool name. Thanks for pointing that out. SHIT IS GOING DOWN WITH TIME.

      • Fusionman29 says:

        Someone may need to back me up but I think this isn't its first appearance in Doctor Who.

        • anobium says:

          I know it sounded in the Fourth Doctor story "Logopolis" — I shall refrain from mentioning why, because there are people reading who may want to watch that some day — and I'm pretty sure that was the first time it was named as the "cloister bell", because that was the first story where we got to see the TARDIS cloisters.

          DOCTOR: Well, it's a sort of communications device reserved for wild catastrophes and sudden calls to man the battle stations.
          ADRIC: But the Tardis doesn't have battle stations.
          DOCTOR: No.

        • xiri says:

          Time Crash (Children in Need 2007). It shows up around the 5:00 mark.

        • radiantbaby1 says:

          IIRC, it was also in new!Who at the end of 'Turn Left' after the whole Bad Wolf thing.

        • Maddi says:

          It's also in the TV movie.

    • rabbitape says:

      Bascially the TARDIS is like "DOCTOR YOU FUCKED UP."

      A hundred million upvotes for this.

      • ThreeBooks says:

        That is the BEST EXPLANATION for the Cloister Bell in the history of all the things.

        • Fusionman29 says:

          It's the only real one to explain it in this case. Normally it's just SHIT HAS GONE DOWN WITH TIME in this though the TARDIS is pissed at the Doctor.

    • See, now I just want Helen Mirren on Doctor Who, period. I love her. In fact, get her and Colin Firth. Or better yet, her and Colin Firth in the SAME EPISODE. Of course, now that they're Oscar winners they'd probably be too expensive to hire for the show but I can dream, right?

      • NB2000 says:

        THIS! That would be amazing.

      • Stephanie says:

        It would probably end up being an episode like Midnight, because they'd be using all the budget on the two of them, so they can't buy much else. BUT WHO'S REALLY COMPLAINING ABOUT ANOTHER EPISODE LIKE THAT? Amirite?

    • Claire says:

      E. The biodome was filmed in the glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, which is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world, measuring 110m by 60m. Loads of tame birds live in the glasshouse, and when Doctor Who came to film, the lights woke the birds up. Instead of trying to film around them, they incorporated the idea into the script with the lines about using birds to keep the insect population down.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      Helen Mirren on Doctor Who? Talk about Missed Moment of Awesome!

    • Vicki_Louise says:

      F. The bugdet for the specials was running out (and was already a lot less than the budget for a full series) and there was talk of one of the episodes not not being made, TWOM was in the firing line. Julie Gardner used her ~womanly wiles~ to get some extra budget and the *best episode ever* was made.

      *Not strictly fact. Unless you happen to live in my brain.

    • Pea Pie says:

      The actor who eats the carrot and turns into "The Flood" first, is Alan Ruscoe. He previously played a Slitheen and the Anne Droid in series 1.

      The first two "Flood" conversions have contact lenses, but from Maggie onwards they don't. RTD decided it was too scary in the face to face scene with Maggie in the medical bay. So she didn't wear contacts. He theorised it as "The Flood" gradually becoming more human.

      The test runs of "The Flood" were apparently soul destroying as the production team tried to find a way of achieving the effect without it looking silly, without the actors getting constant water in their eyes or feeling too much discomfort, etc. etc… RTD and Julie Gardner tell tales of polar opposites in the practical effect test runs… either hilarity or sheer despair… nothing in between.

      They were never named on screen as "The Flood", it was declared by the posessed Maggie but the moment ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor… So The Doctor's use of their name seems inspired!

      Oh… QUARRY!!! btw.

      Caves of Androzani Graeme Harper…
      That chap who also did The Unicorn and the Wasp…!
      You know… the chap who directed Utopia…
      And The Stolen Earth… And Journey's End… Oh yeah and Turn Left as well!!!
      Oh did he direct Planet of the Ood too? Yeah HIM!!!
      (and 42)
      AND all the Cyberman caboodle in series 3…
      And Revelation of the Daleks!

      AND… Time Crash!
      Yes. THAT Graeme Harper.

    • trash_addict says:

      Damn, this would be a *bleak* Christmas special.

      • LittleCaity says:

        Strangely, I rather approve of the idea of a bleak and dark Christmas special. Maybe it's just cause I am Sick To Death of getting loaded down with sugary sweet happy happy joy joy at the time of year, but…

        It would win, dammit. Especially after the latest Christmas special, jeez. About the only New!Who I simply cannot stand.

  10. echinodermata says:

    Waters of Mars. I feel like Ten in School Reunion when he just starts repeating "physics" a lot because he doesn't know where to start.

    I loved this bit:
    "State your name, rank and intention."
    "The Doctor. Doctor. Fun."

    Also, "I’m sorry with all of my hearts" <3 <3.

    <img src=""&gt;

    But I'm not particularly fond of this episode, to be honest. I don't personally find the water creatures that scary for the most part. I think the makeup is good, but the dripping/spraying water thing is iffy, though especially the spraying. And where the hell is all that water coming from? I mean, I get that they're creating water, but from what? We should be seeing something else getting depleted if they're making so much water that they can break down doors and walls and stuff.

    Also, on rewatch, Ten being all 'I should leave' and 'I can't help' is so frustrating to watch for me. He doesn't leave, he does end up helping, so I'm just like 'get on with it, aleady' for the first 45 minutes or so.

    Plus, the ending of this episode is sort of a summary of what I dislike about Ten. I think the "Time Lord, Victorious" stuff is interesting, and I am genuinely glad the show went there, but it's been too long a time coming after all the positive portrayals of Ten deification in the past. So Ten being entirely egotistical and megalomaniacal is suiting his character, I think, and a logical progression of his character, but is really unpleasant for me to watch and not in the good, intended sort of unpleasant since I'm so fed up with his character by this point that I just want to fast-forward through it. And I feel little sympathy for him at the end since he brought it upon himself.

    However, I was never fond of the "fixed point" stuff anyway (it's a show about time travel – I want everything to be possible), so I'm at least glad the show decided to say outright that "fixed points" aren't as "fixed" as they made it sound in the past.

    Finally, I hate that Adelaide kills herself basically to get back at Ten. She dies for Ten's angst, apparently.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Well said. When I stop and think about this episode beyond my fangirling over the amazing guest actress and my lulz over our gif meme, this is how I feel about it too.

    • leighzzz31 says:

      Your comment sums up my feelings on this episode really well since I couldn't bring myself to rewatch it. Especially the part about Ten.

      So Ten being entirely egotistical and megalomaniacal is suiting his character, I think, and a logical progression of his character, but is really unpleasant for me to watch and not in the good, intended sort of unpleasant since I'm so fed up with his character by this point that I just want to fast-forward through it. And I feel little sympathy for him at the end since he brought it upon himself.

      THIS. Everything that may have annoyed me or outright made me dislike him is in full view in WoM. It makes sense that the darker side of his character would come out at some point but it wasn't easy to watch.

    • @widerspruch says:

      All of this. This is why I ended up disliking Ten so much.

    • Avit says:

      I didn't really get the feeling that she did it to get back at Ten — although, of course, it is possible that my memory has let slip some vital cue or implication. My assumption was more that it was a response to having suffered such trauma and loss, compounded with survivor's guilt.

      • Anon says:

        I thought she killed herself so she could put time back the way it should be, Ten did say her death inspired her granddaughter to fly out into the stars.

      • echinodermata says:

        Okay, so I'm a Doylist by nature, so I'm not really that interested in the character's motivation, but rather the events the writers choose to place in the story. So that line of mine was a reaction to seeing an awesome older female character die (and there are very few heroic older women who get to live in S1-4), and cut to how it affects the Doctor.

        • __Jen__ says:

          I have to agree with this POV, especially as part of the larger picture of the series. It makes sense for the character to behave this way and it is genuinely tragic, but I'm frustrated that the writers went this route.

    • psycicflower says:

      This to your whole comment. It's basically what I would've said only you put it much better than I could've.

  11. Randomcheeses says:

    Oh great. Thank you Doctor Who, now I can never take a bath again.

    Also: The Time Lord Victorious? Fucking creepy and repulsively arrogant. David Tennant, I salute your acting. But please, please never play the Doctor like that again. Ever.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      Oh great. Thank you Doctor Who, now I can never take a bath again.

      How many ordinary things has Doctor Who made scary now? Let's see…
      Gas masks (which were terrifying already, now they're even worse)
      Bendy straws
      The dark (again, already scary to some but now terrifying)

      Thanks, Doctor Who. Thanks so much.

  12. PeterRabid says:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">

    There are no words. But I think the gif speaks for itself. XD

    I think this calls for another plug to the Handlebars vid, because that can never be recced enough:

    Yep, the Ice Warriors were a classic villain, mostly from the Second and Third Doctors' runs. The bell at the end was the cloister bell (I think), which is the TARDIS's alarm system. The cloister bell chimes, shit is about to go down.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Waters of Mars,angst,Ten">

  13. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    That I THINK HE MIGHT BE FEELING JUST A BIT DOWN gif has been posted like 40 times.

    you all, i love you. forever.

    • arctic_hare says:


      • flamingpie says:

        god how long has it been? AT LEAST a few weeks.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:


          • PeterRabid says:

            I've tracked down our original discussion. It was on February 23rd. XP

            • kaybee42 says:

              seriously?! I've been trying to remember who it was and what was said for ages! Awesomeeee!

              • PeterRabid says:

                Yep, it started in swimmingtrunks's comment thread. Link to the spoiler blog DO NOT CLICK IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN UNSPOILED.

                • flamingpie says:

                  lmfao yes. I'm so proud that I made the comment that inspired it (which is probably indicative of the fact that I need a life).

                  for anyone that doesn't want to go to the spoiler page, basically, fantasylover12001 commented that ten during the specials was "slightly down in the dumps" and what with waters of mars I thought that was the most hilarious understatement ever. and then the awesome that is swimmingtrunks made the gif. XD

                  • swimmingtrunks says:

                    I'm so proud of that gif. Can we all just take this moment to give ourselves a pat on the back?

                    • MowerOfLorn says:

                      *gives us all a pat on the back* Consider it done.

                    • Hypatia_ says:

                      We're just that awesome over on Mark Spoils. And swimmingtrunks wins all things for making that gif. We're quite pleased with how well our nefarious gifspamming plan worked out. ::golf clap::

                  • Yes, I'm so proud for partially being responsible for this awesome GIF, even though I didn't even make it 😉 Kudos are to be given to swimmingtrunks for that.

                  • Openattheclose says:

                    And then I said I was just going to post it over and over for this review, and Hypatia said we should all do it. I love how much of a collaboration it was.

    • flamingpie says:

      I guess we're just REALLY DETERMINED TO START A TREND, okay.

    • __Jen__ says:


    • Openattheclose says:

      You’ve noticed our evil little plan 🙂

  14. NB2000 says:

    I can't really form coherent thoughts about this episode (mostly because once I again I forgot to rewatch this afternoon) but my general thought during this episode is usually OH MY GOD WHY IS EVERYTHING AWFUL!?

    Adelaide Brooke is <3 though, she has to make some really tought choices throughout this episode and handles the situation beautifully. Love her.

    "I don't hear anyone knocking do you?!" Ten seriously, you're the one who lectured on not tempting fate like that back in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit.

    "What was that bell at the end of the episode? The one the Doctor seemed to run from."

    That's the TARDIS' Cloister Bell, it was also chiming at the end of Turn Left when the interior was all red. Basically, it's the TARDIS' way of saying OH CRAP, BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

    Oh and:
    <img src=""&gt;

  15. Stephen_M says:

    You know, I really liked this when I first saw it but now… now it feels like it's a wasted opportunity. And it's all down to that last 10 – 15 minutes.

    Yes, Ten is even more of an arrogant git than usual but it's not a million miles from what we've seen before. If you're going to show the Doctor going off the deep end it needs to be a full on double twist with pike from the highest board, not a hop into the pool from the side. And I think it comes down to two things:

    1) There's not enough time with Dark Doctor. It feels a bit rushed and resolves WAY too easily.

    2) Fighting time itself seems an awful lot like every other big explosion filled RTD ending. Remember waaaaay back in The End of the World where Nine effectively slowed time (or sped up his own reactions) to get through the fans? THAT'S what I wanted to see, the Doctor failing to beat the countdown, the TARDIS materializing too late, the Doctor looking around at those about to die…. and everything freezing around them. Time basically standing still as the Time Lord Victorious takes control of it. It's not out of cannon (and nowhere near as ridiculous as some endings we could mention….), would have shown just how far he'd go with his A God Am I kick and been really different.

    Frustrating really, this could have been an epic, genuinely classic episode. As it is we get a very good idea which feels somehow… unsatisfying.

    • Avit says:

      I agree that the ending is a bit rushed — when I first watched this ep, I definitely remember getting a bit "but it could have been better!" Of course, the real question in my mind was whether this arc would be sufficiently followed through in the next specials, something which I felt would make or break this newly highlighted element of the Doctor.

      To retrospectively answer that, of course, would be to spoil.

      • who_cares86 says:

        "Yes, Ten is even more of an arrogant git than usual but it's not a million miles from what we've seen before."

        but that's the whole point. It's entirely in character. The fact that the timelord victorious isn't that different from the doctor is what makes it so scary.

    • Jessica says:

      I definitely agree that the "Dark Doctor" thing was too great a character change, and not enough time is spent on it.

    • swimmingtrunks says:

      Ahh, I should read comments before I post, mine seems now like it could have been summed up by replying to yours with "IAWTC!"

      THAT'S what I wanted to see, the Doctor failing to beat the countdown, the TARDIS materializing too late, the Doctor looking around at those about to die…. and everything freezing around them. Time basically standing still as the Time Lord Victorious takes control of it. It's not out of cannon (and nowhere near as ridiculous as some endings we could mention….), would have shown just how far he'd go with his A God Am I kick and been really different.

      That would have been AWESOME!! Seriously, RTD, where are your TinkerbellJesus Doctor effects when we actually want them!

    • radiantbaby1 says:

      I always have a soft-spot of sorts for a 'Dark Doctor' (maybe because 'my' Doctor growing up was Seven), so when the end of the episode turned toward actually IN TEXT saying how screwed up Ten could be, I cheered a bit. Ten was heading for that moment ever since the whole thing with Harriet Jones in 'The Christmas Invasion', but I was admittedly surprised that 'The Tenth Doctor can do no wrong' RTD actually WENT THERE and had the show call the Doctor on his issues. But, yeah, the problem was that it resolved itself almost as soon as it happened. I thought it could've been a great exploration of the Doctor's personality, but it just sort of…fizzled.

  16. Openattheclose says:

    Adelaide Brooke is a BAMF.

    As for the Doctor,
    I think he really needs his Donna. 🙁

  17. vermillioncity says:

    One of the most depressing things on the entire run of this show is watching the Doctor walk away from the base and listening to the crew become infected, one by one.
    SO TRAUMATIC. I was in tears, and I wasn't even particularly invested in the characters.

    People have complained about the Doctor's sudden switches at the end of this, but in the context – which, obviously you're watching these day by day, but these four specials were over the course of a whole year for us, and it's implied much longer for the Doctor himself – I think it truly fits with what's going on in his head. We KNOW the Doctor needs a companion to keep him "human" and grounded (as we saw in Turn Left), and he's been wandering around by himself for a long time; he's incredibly aware both of his own loneliness, and of being alone in the universe (post-Master) – and he's been alone way too long, by this point. There is nobody to influence or control him anymore, and I think he's really struggling, psychologically. I do wish they'd drawn this out a little longer – carrying the 'Time Lord Victorious' into the next episode could've been really quite unnerving – but I do think these wild mood swings are totally fitting here.


    • Karen says:


    • elusivebreath says:

      lol, I know, right! I generally try to read Mark's review before I start writing my comment, lol.

      • nanceoir says:


        I mean, sometimes there are specific things I want to say, but I like to read what Mark's reaction was, so I can respond to even just the vibe of it, if not something specific.

        Unless I'm posting a gif request thread; then, I'll post it right off before reading. But I haven't done one of those in a while.

  18. pica_scribit says:

    THIS is how you do drama. THIS is how you do a one-off ensemble cast. I lost count of the number of times I choked up during this episode. Oh, and when she reaches for the laser gun at the end? I was almost positive she was going to shoot the Doctor, causing to him regenerate into Eleven. Can you imagine him regenerating in that state of mind? Talk about a new Doctor! So very excited for all the awesome scheduled for next week!

  19. Albion19 says:

    OMG I love this episode so bloody much! Forget the water, forget the weeping angels, nothing is scarier then the Doctor when he's in batshit mode!

    There's something I desperately want to mention from Classic Who serial called Trial of a Time Lord that's to do with this scary matter but I don't know if I should…it doesn't spoil for any future episodes but I want to be sure.

    • anobium says:

      If you're talking about what I think you are, I don't think you should. It's not a spoiler for any future future episodes, but "Trial of a Time Lord" is still in the future for Mark, and if he watches it one day I think he'll want to find that thing out for himself.

      • Albion19 says:

        I considered that but it's sooo long. If he does tackle it then all the points to him.

        • LittleCaity says:

          Maybe just That Speech? It's quite chilling and effective even out of context.

          A truly classic Who moment.

  20. Annemette says:

    The bell at the end (if I remember correctly) is the cloister bells that warns him.

    Oh and I love this special!

  21. Selthia says:

    The bell was the Cloister Bell, which is sort of an alarm within the TARDIS that goes off only in the most dire emergencies (anything that might put even the TARDIS itself in danger, as well as the people inside or the Doctor). I think.

    If I remember correctly, it went off during Turn Left. when Ten first regenerated, Time Crash and the Master special. Definitely more than those though. I don't think it's necessarily because of a paradox, just to signal Serious Shit Is Going Down.

    Ten's meltdown was FANTASTIC. Frightening, messed up, and frankly very fascinating to watch. Personally, I'd love to see more of this sort of thing, of the Doctor just losing it and going down places he shouldn't. Ten claiming that he needs to leave constantly and yet sticking around is due to that huge blaring weakness about him, and that's the fact that his curiosity is going to win out at the end despite knowing better.

    So much love for the water zombies and Brook. I could have done without the Gadget gags (they fell flat) and the newspaper spam For. Every. Single. Crewmember, but overall, this episode is definitely one of my favorites. Compared to the last one-off companion, I found Brook far more interesting and far better acted.

  22. Bobcat says:

    Ooh, almost forgot. My VERY favourite bit about this episode is the massive ambiguity.

    When the Doctor starts to save the day, we are absolutely thrilled. We know it's wrong – everything about it is wrong – but I was rooting for him despite myself. It's not until Adelaide (AMAZING character, by the way) starts asking him to stop that I start questioning it, and not until they land that it becomes genuinely intimidating. For me, at any rate. I never realised how bad he was making things until he was too far gone. Sublime storytelling.

  23. diane says:

    Specifically, the cloister bell is an alarm for a time paradox. The bell rings, and the inside of the TARDIS goes all red. This is the third time in nu Who – Turn Left, and also the "Paradox Machine" that the Master built for the Last of the Time Lords.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Got it! I don't know why I didn't pick up on it before.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Actually, it also rings in Time Crash. Basically, the Cloister Bell is the highest level alarm the TARDIS has.

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        It was also heard in the original airing of the first Children in Need scene in 2005, but it changed to just a random doorbell or something in the DVD version and I would guess online, too, but don't quote me on that. I always watch my off-air recording for this very reason.

  24. Caroline says:

    You know, your reviews are going to make re-watching SO AWESOME. I first saw the specials online. I now have the DVDs, but I haven't rewatched them. I intend to do so this weekend. Thanks, Mark, for making a great thing even better! 😉


  25. illusclaire says:

    I feel like the moral of the tenth Doctor's arc is "Don't make it all about you (..because your head will become so swelled it will weigh you down and trip you over)". Which is interesting in a meta-way, NuWho.

    It's a brave path to take with the hero of a story, and I think they were very lucky that the majority of watchers found Tennant charismatic and watchable to soften the blow of self-involvedness.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      That's the thing, Ten is really charismatic, which is partly why he's able to get away with doing crazy stuff all the time and generally being rude and not ginger. And this time, his charisma and awesome Time Lordyness backfired on him.

      • illusclaire says:

        See, I don't agree. I find him obnoxious and irritating to the highest degree! Which made my watching his tenure (my little sister's a big fan) about as fun as pulling teeth.

        Mark Watches has been interesting and fun for me because it's allowed to to consider the writing of the show and the larger themes without having to sit there saying "stop shouting, please stop shouting, stop shouting for ONE GODDAMN BLOODY MINUTE" and tearing out my hair. Which has been really nice! Because I respect the love that people have for the show, and I find DW really fascinating as a cultural phenomenon, and I enjoy reading the Classic Who novels. And those animated shorts with Ten and Martha were pretty great, the art design was lush. And.. I just really enjoy meta, especially meta about a show that's so meaningful to so many people.

        I confess the most enjoyment I got out of this episode (apart from the cool water zombie design) was a vindictive sort of 'oh, now you're revealed as I always saw you, jackass!'.

        ..I like Eleven! I'm not a TOTAL antifan!

        • Hypatia_ says:

          I see where you're coming from, because I don't like Ten either much of the time. Nine's my Doctor. However, I do see him as charismatic, just with the kind of mad charisma that causes trouble and creates enormous arrogance. I don't see finding him charismatic and somehow not liking him much of the time mutually exclusive. Not sure if that makes sense, but it works in my head.

          • illusclaire says:

            No, I can see that, good point.

            I find him enormously tiring, and I think if we were to meet I would much rather just close my eyes and let him pass by. I'm not sure if that counts as finding him uncharismatic. But my instincts definitely turn to "ignore him" rather than "follow him".

            ..Despite the fact that I am talking about him on the internet right now. Hah. Really though.

          • exbestfriend says:

            That makes total sense. In fact, that whole "charismatic and somehow not liking him much of the time" describes about 2/3 of the dudes I hooked up with in college.

            Sometimes I think it's weird the amount of totally random personal knowledge I dump on this site, but then again
            <img src=""&gt;

        • Starsea28 says:

          I'm sort of in the middle. I could see why OTHER people found Ten charismatic but I personally felt that his charisma meant a lot of his faults were glossed over or excused by the text. This episode is one of the few times where I felt the text actually took a good look at the Doctor's flaws and didn't sugarcoat the consequences or soften the punches.

  26. naive_wanderer says:

    I love how the Doctor has his meltdown and then immediately regrets it as soon as he really sees what he's done. He's got enough problems to justify that sort of scary reaction, I think, sudden as it was. He needed to have that moment of thinking he was the "winner" before it could really be driven home that he wasn't. Brilliant writing.

    And I just. I cannot wait for you to keep watching, omg.

  27. who_cares86 says:

    The Waters of Mars by far the best Tenth Doctor episode. Fuck blink, the doctor isn't even in it that much. This is all about the doctor and really delivers on what has been simmering in the background since day one. Remember new earth. "If you want to take it to a higher authority then there isn't one. It ends with me."

    You're waiting for the Doctor to do something to safe these people and when he does it's glorious but oh so wrong. This is the Doctor at his most heroic and his most evil. It really shows you the power and the rage of a timelord at the height of his power and arrogance and suddenly you understand a whole lot better how the Master ended up like this. All that power for the taking and how do you resist it. It's clear that Donna was right a timelord needs someone to stop him.

    Troughout the story the staff ends up infected one by one. Steffi's death is bad enough as it is but it's ten times worse if you actually know what her daughter is saying. Basically she's been told that she can't see her mother and she doesn't understand why they can't just take the train to Mars so she asks if Steffi could tell dad to take them on the train. Sadness forever.

  28. jennywildcat says:

    I am convinced that every time someone watches this episode (whether for the first time or as a repeat), RTD is somewhere laughing maniacally.

    The first time I saw this, I sobbed through the entire scene where the Doctor was walking away from the base, hearing the crew scream out to one another (I just accept that he can hear them through some Time-Lordy-thing they all can do that we just don't see all the time). It just wasn't FAIR!! I wanted SO BAD for him to be able to go back and save them, but he can't or time will be screwed up.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">

    But then he does go back. And he looks absolutely unhinged.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    Even his usual cheery-yet-heroic demeanor comes off as arrogant and devious. The idea to use Gadget to bring the TARDIS to the base – which normally would be a brilliant move that we all would be cheering about – is awful and terrible and we're all left thinking "How Could You Do That??" The scene at the end where the Doctor laughs and grins at how he's cheated death and Adelaide, Mia and Yuri look on in horror is so chilling. I even felt bad that I had cried before and I started crying for a whole new reason.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    You know, we have the likes of the Daleks and other villains giving the Doctor names like "The Oncoming Storm" and "The Destroyer of Worlds" – they're all genuinely scared of him. Maybe in this story, we get a small glimpse of what they are so scared of. When you stop and think about it, what the Doctor can do (saving random people, deciding who lives and who dies) is truly frightening. No wonder the Time Lords had all those rules about time and what can and can't be done.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="WoM Time Lord Victorious">

    Donna was right – he needs someone.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    There are no more good things in this world.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">

    You know what's makes this even worse? YOU ARE STILL NOT PREPARED!!

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">

    • Jessica says:

      Helga Pataki!

    • Hypatia_ says:

      The scene at the end where the Doctor laughs and grins at how he's cheated death and Adelaide, Mia and Yuri look on in horror is so chilling.

      Also creepy is how Mia says the standard "It's bigger on the inside!" which new people on the TARDIS tend to say with wonder and delight, but she says it with horror. Yet another measure of how dark both the Doctor and the show had become.

    • anobium says:

      I just accept that he can hear them through some Time-Lordy-thing they all can do that we just don't see all the time

      I always just assumed he was listening to them talk to each other over the radio. Your idea is more interesting, though.

      • jennywildcat says:

        See, I wasn't sure if his helmet would be tapped into their radio signals, so at first I thought it was odd that he could hear them as he was walking away. Then I just figured he could hear them because they're the only people on the planet or his Time Lord ears are really good at picking up panicked voices or something like that (these are things that I think about – my brain goes off on wild tangents sometimes).

  29. Kaci says:

    I've only seen this episode once because, while I appreciate it in the context of Ten's arc and I certainly don't think it's a bad episode (I actually think it's quite good), it serves to amplify every bad tendency Ten has. For me, it's basically a continuation of what Davros pointed out to Ten–"Here's what you do to people." I feel like for a few seasons, we mostly saw the best of Ten, mixed in with his flaws, whereas I feel this episode is a giant, "HERE'S TEN'S FLAWS! LOOK AT THEM! DIDN'T THINK THEY WERE ALL THAT IMPORTANT BEFORE? WELL, THEY ARE." And it's just…not a side of the Doctor I enjoy watching. So I've only seen it the once. (But again, I don't think it's a bad episode! It's just not something I can stomach watching more than once.)

    I agree with you about being terrified of the Doctor at the end. The Time Lord Victorious was terrifying and yes, it did happen a little quickly but I don't mind that. It's valid and Tennant sells it with everything he's got.

  30. samarkand_ says:


    Well, actually this and Midnight sort of stand astride the #1 spot like a colossus.

    One of the many things I love about this episode is that it approaches what could be a pretty hackneyed trope: Our Main Character Goes Crazy! from an angle that I just could not have predicted. Plenty of shows have their main character(s) enter some altered personality state through the Power of McGuffins. From the couple seasons of Farscape that I saw, that is basically the plot of every episode of that show ever. Evil Space Pollen/Fungus/Mind Control happens and suddenly everyone is acting all ~funny, temporarily. And then the pollen/fungus/mind control is solved and everyone goes back to normal. And they could have approached a "The Doctor Goes Maaaaad!" story that way. It's a science fictional universe, so you can make up whatever random thingamabob you like to suddenly make your character do unusual, shocking things.

    But they don't take that easy route. They take the hard route: Ten's madness grows organically from the story, he goes crazy in a very in-character way (SAVING THE SHIT OUT OF THESE MOTHERFUCKERS, WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT!), and it's not just random and temporary. It's something that has been simmering in him for a long time and it's got very real consequences.

    Meanwhile, the way he expresses his madness is also kept totally in character. I wouldn't buy a story in which the Doctor goes nuts (for-real nuts, not space-pollen-nuts) and starts, like, killing people (hey Six, I am looking at you). Instead, his unhinged mental state is expressed through him doing the right things, for all the wrong reasons. When he enters the base again and takes his helmet off, I had this moment of starting to go "Hooray! The Doctor will save them!" but as soon as you see the look in his eye, that is not a hooray moment at all. That is a terrifying, gut wrenching moment of dread.

    Anyway, OMFG LOVE IT and all that. Team Crazypants forever.

    • Anon says:

      I agree with all of this. Ten's need to save people led him here, watching it you want him to save them as well its the natural thing to do, even if its a fixed point in time. It was incredibly brave of the writers to take the show there and take the character there, and it just goes to show what a great actor Tennant is for pulling it off.

    • who_cares86 says:

      This. There's no tricks here. The Doctor just genuinely loses it in this episode.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      "Ten's madness grows organically from the story, he goes crazy in a very in-character way (SAVING THE SHIT OUT OF THESE MOTHERFUCKERS, WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT!), and it's not just random and temporary. It's something that has been simmering in him for a long time and it's got very real consequences."

      Ten is totally space Hamlet.

      • Hypatia_ says:

        OMG, this is actually what I was thinking when I was watching this episode today! In "Hamlet", you spend the whole play mentally screaming "JUST KILL CLAUDIUS ALREADY, GOOD GOD MAN, STOP DITHERING" and in this episode you spend the whole thing screaming (possibly aloud, because it's a TV show and the actors can't hear you) "JUST LEAVE ALREADY, DOCTOR, DEAR GOD JUST LEAVE."

  31. nanceoir says:

    I remember when this aired, my initial reaction was something like, "Did they just go there? I… I think they did. I didn't know you could do that."

    Basically, I was stunned, in all the right ways.

    There's something so chilling about Tennant's performance in the final act — well, really, from when the Doctor decides to go back and save people. Just… no, that's not how I like to see the Doctor (or Tennant, for that matter). Great performance, if unsettling.

    I don't know that I can add much to what's been said, but I will say that watching this so close to seeing coverage of the tsunamis was rather disturbing. "Water always wins." *shudder*

  32. grlgoddess says:

    Before it aired, this episode was hyped as being the SCARIEST EPISODE EVER. I was sceptical, of course. How could you top Blink or Midnight? And as I was watching, I thought, okay, these water monster things are pretty scary, but they're still no Weeping Angels. And then I realised there was still, like, 20 minutes left. And then the Doctor snapped. And then I realised this really is the SCARIEST EPISODE EVER. Because nothing's scarier than the Doctor when he's completely aware of the power he can have.

  33. Inseriousity. says:

    Aww when that woman listens to her children before she's infected makes me cry everytime. I can't remember her name, I have no idea what the children are saying but it's so heartbreaking 🙁

    I really like this episode. I rewatched it yesterday. "Water always wins" then I wake up and find out about the tsunami. RIP anyone who died 🙁

  34. taciturn1 says:

    The images are not exactly subtle at some points, but otherwise I think this is a great and very brave special. Like Mark said, the scary water could be Moffat's and the finale takes the tenth Doctor's character in a very interesting place.

    Adelaide's suicide was a late addition by the way, while her words "I don't care who you are – the Time Lord Victorious is wrong" had already been in place before. Both RTD and Julie Gardner realized independently that the end wasn't working without her death and the script was changed.

  35. thefancytruth says:

    Mark, I don't know if you're into fanfic at all, but there's a great post-Waters of Mars/X-Files season 9 story by onpaperfirst called Two Planets. Ten meets Mulder, and it's pretty amazing. The author says: "Fox Mulder and the Tenth Doctor? They've both got 99 problems but their hair ain't one."

    Here's a link:

  36. Matthew says:

    I'm babysitting so no login for this.

    They made him make Adelaide's gun a ray gun. In the original script it was an ordinary pistol, as this isn't too far in the future, but the BBC thought that was two realistic.

    My neice and nephew, five and seven at the time, took it all in their stride.

  37. potlid007 says:

    Oh, you know, some water, no big deal.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="misfits_IDGAF Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Nathan, Misfits GIF Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

  38. Starsea28 says:

    Ah yes, the Time Lord Victorious. I think this is my favourite episode by Russell T. Davies. He doesn't shy away or pull his punches. He allows events to speak for themselves and for this particular Doctor. Harry Potter may have a 'saving people thing', but the Tenth Doctor has a 'saving people' mania. It's always been a weakness of his and the loss of Rose only exacerbated his grief over the Time War. He attempted to save the Daleks, he even attempted to save the Master. But when Davros taunted him about all the people whom he couldn't save? He decided that he had to save Donna, even if it meant wiping her memory and exiling her from the TARDIS and from the whole 'library' of knowledge it contains. And losing Donna tipped him over the edge. Now there's nothing to stop him, no conscience.

    I'm not surprised you were scared, Mark, because the Time Lord Victorious is only an inch away from the Master. Remember in The Last of the Time Lords when the Doctor pleaded with the Master that by doing what he was doing, he was changing human history? The Master said, "I'm a Time Lord, I have that right!" And the Doctor didn't disagree with him.

    It takes a monumental sacrifice to get the Doctor back on course. It takes a woman as brave as Donna, as defiant as Harriet Jones. Yes, Ten, you have indeed lived too long. Captain Adelaide Brooke, I salute you.

    • CJBadwolf says:

      "It takes a woman as brave as Donna, as defiant as Harriet Jones."
      Oooooh. That's nicely put. Chills, even.

      • Starsea28 says:

        Thanks. And it's because they're both victims in their different ways of what happens when the Doctor decides he knows best.

  39. Claire says:

    My granddad died a couple of weeks before WOM aired. I drove for two and a half hours to my grandma's bungalow after having been in university for two 8 hour days while in a very emotional state, so I was very tired, very sad, and in a house where I don't feel comfortable (I hate sleeping on the ground floor). I picked up the Radio Times (a TV listings magazine in the UK) and opened it to any random page and


    I actually jumped out of my skin! I had to close the magazine, put it underneath something else, read something warm and fuzzy, then I slept with the light on 🙂

    Also, the biodome is filmed in the glasshouse of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. After his death, my family (who is from the area where Doctor Who is filmed) decided to get a bench at the National Botanic dedicated to my granddad because he loved gardening, so I've been there quite a few times over the last couple of years. Every time we go we always go to the glasshouse and I'm always thinking to myself, "Don't touch the water. Not one drop." Gets me every time.

  40. Jessica says:

    As much as I loved this episode, I could not get over that Adelaide was born in 1999. MY LITTLE BROTHER WAS BORN IN 1999. I know it's set in the future, but it's so hard for me to get my head around people born in 1999 being 50.

  41. RocketDarkness says:

    This episode was the second episode I've ever seen (the first was Blink), and even without knowing much about the show, I deeply enjoyed it. And I still do. Creepy, dramatic, and entertaining. It's good that RTD finally decided to admit that 10's actually got problems, as it's a nice change from the usual messiah complex he's toting about without notice. I can only hope that 10's final episode builds on this revelation.

    And for once, you actually get to watch a finale without a pesky weekend splitting them up. And then oh my god Series 5 I can't wait. =D

  42. Hotaru-hime says:

    In the last post, I mentioned how bitterly disappointed I was in Planet of the Dead.
    Then Waters of Mars happened.
    If I could have shat a brick, I would have done it.
    Such a brilliant episode!! So marvelous! I loved it from the moment they said Bowie Base One and Adelaide! Oh Adelaide! Such a strong character, never mind that she's a woman! And older! An older woman being just as, if not more, badass than the Doctor. FUCKING BRILLIANT.
    The end threw me for a loop- how could the Doctor act like that? But then, of course, he's gone off the deep end, got too lonely. It makes you wish the TARDIS could talk, if only to give him company.
    But yeah, best line in the series: “State your name, rank, and intention.” “The Doctor, doctor, and fun.”

  43. Treasure Cat says:

    Oh god Ive been holding this comment in and now I can say it…
    At the end of Mockingjay when you said 'Fire beats roses', in my head I immediately added 'But water always wins.'
    And then I flailed because I knew you were coming to this episode and you were totally unprepard.

  44. Danielle says:

    The Cloister Bell is the TARDIS's way of letting you know that shit has just got extremely real, and the universe is probably going to end.

  45. Mr.Fahrenheit says:

    "The laws of time are mine, and they will obey me!"
    That certainly reminds me of someone old catchphrase;
    "I am the Master, and you will obey me!"

  46. giddyant says:

    It's amazing timing that you are watching this so close to Genesis of the Daleks. It's a hell of a jump from "Have I the right?" to ''Timelord Victorious!" Mind you, it's even much the same jump from Father's Day to this. The Doctor has, especially as Ten, always had the "I'm a Timelord, I get to make the important decisions" attitude about him. But it really comes home to roost here. It's been building through the last two series. Look at River. I think I'm not alone in thinking that her end in the Library is not a happy one. However, I think I am alone in thinking it's not meant to be happy. It's a subtle signpost to what happens here. The Doctor wants to save someone regardless of whether it's what they would want or what should happen. (Yes, I know Future Doctor provided the means for the saving, but we don't know why yet. Perhaps he will learn to regret doing it, but has to anyway so history happens as it should). River is stuck, possibly for eternity, in the computer and the Doctor sods off all 'Yay, I saved her'.
    He said to River "History can be rewritten." And in this episode we see what happens when it is. Massive tragedy.
    I appreciated this episode an awful lot, but I don't know if I can say I would watch it again. It's hard going.

  47. Tauriel_ says:

    I'm soooo hoping that when we finally make it to Mars, the actual first base will be called Bowie Base One. Wouldn't that be absolutely brilliant? 😀

    Also, this episode is AWESOME. Can't post more, because I'm in a hurry, but IMHO it's easily the best 2009 special.

    • who_cares86 says:

      Time to start that petition. Hey it worked for trekkies.

    • darth_eowyn says:

      Ha. Ha. After this episode, if they named the first base on Mars Bowie Base One, do you thing they could get ANYONE to go on the mission?

      • Hypatia_ says:

        Yeah, that would be kind of like naming the first ever space freighter the Nostromo. Let's not tempt fate, eh?

  48. prideofportree says:

    Hihi. Another Lost in Austen actor. Yay.

  49. buyn says:

    I showed a group of friends this episode… I had forgotten one of them hadn't seen any other episodes. Fortunately he wasn't scared off of DW. Oh well. Also yes I get it. Bowie Base, David Bowie, he sang Life on Mars, to which the answer here, is YES. YES THERE IS LIFE ON MARS.

  50. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    If I'm taking an episode in isolation, that I'd probably have to agree that this my favourite of the Specials so far. However, I'm a great believer in context, and in the context of the series, I still say Planet of the Dead is my favourite. This episode just serves to reinforce that opinion because it yet another dark and creepy episode. Nothing wrong with that, don't get me wrong – as I say, I really enjoy this episode in of itself. It's just that `in context` we've had so many. From Steven Moffatt's library 2-parter through to Journey's End, and now this…and I don't think it's spoilerish to suggest that the End of Time is unlikely to be filled with fluffy bunnies and daffodils, butterflies and cake.

    For me, Doctor Who should never lose its variety and range, and for me, around the time of this episode, I felt like the show was spending too much time in the dark without giving us enough of a contrast.

    Still, putting that aside to think about the episode itself, this is a really strong idea. I'm a big fan of the `fixed points in time` concept to explain why the Doctor can't tamper with established history and yet seems to interfere at will in other times and places. The Fires of Pompeii was the clearest illustration of this and worked brilliantly.

    The Waters of Mars reminds us that what to us are future events, is still history from the Doctor's perspective. People from 2060 onwards, in the Whoniverse, the Mars Base disaster will be part of Earth history, It happend. It will happen. It must always happen. Out of that tragedy, comes the inspiration for the human exploration of the galaxy, beginning with Adelaide Brooke's granddaughter.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      The episode doesn't waste any time building the tension. 5 mins in, the first victim succumbs to `the flood` and it's pretty relentless from there. At first, the Doctor is a captive because his spacesuit is confiscated, but later, he becomes a captive due to his own curiosity and instinct to help, even though he knows he can't. Above all, of course, he has to ensure that not one drop of this water gets to Earth, so he doesn't actually attempt to leave until things have got irretrievably bad and he *knows* history is going to play out the way it should. The way it must.

      The frenetic action of Adelade and her crew isn't heroic, as it would normally be in this situation, because this isn't a story about how a group space base pioneers overcome all the odds. This is a story about how they *don't*. Because they can't. Their efforts are futile. Nothing can save them. Not even the Doctor.

      He walks away, hearing these brave people doing all they can, fighting for their lives, and it's heartbreaking. It's against his every instinct to walk away like this, but he keeps going until the shuttle blows up, throwing him to the ground. With that, the humans' link to Earth snaps and something in the Doctor's mind snaps, too. There's been too much loss, He's seen too much. He's the last of the Time Lords. The ultimate authority in the Universe. He can do anything. He answers to no-one…not even Time!In any other story, the Doctor appearing in the doorway and taking control would be a moment of joy. The Doctor's going to save the day with his dazzling brilliance. But here it's terrifying. No Doctor! You can't! You can't change this! But he does. The Time Lord Victorious saves Adelade and her remaining 2 crew members.

      But Adelide listened to what the Doctor had said earlier. She knows how crucial this moment is in terms of human history and her own granddaughter. If Adelade lived, there's no telling how she might affect her future development. There's no way she could avoid having *some* effect, simply because she's alive.

      There's only one thing she can do to get things back on track. She has to die. She has to kill herself. To save her granddaughter. To save the future.

      The Doctor realises what he's done. He's shocked at his own actions. And there in the snow stands Ood Sigma, calling him across space and time. The TARDIS Cloister Bell rings to man the proverbial battle stations. Wild catastrophie. The End of Time approaches.

  51. Hypatia_ says:

    This episode is, in so many ways, just an ordinary episode of Doctor Who. It’s got all the usual components: an alien menace, humans in peril, and the clever Doctor turning up to dramatically and heroically save the day. But this time, the premise is tweaked a bit: the destruction of Bowie Base One is a fixed point, and the Doctor knows he can do nothing to change that. While unusual, we’ve seen that happen before too, at Pompeii. There, the Doctor had Donna with him, his voice of reason, so he could do what he had to in order to keep time in order.

    This time he snaps. His inherent arrogance (you should really never applaud a Time Lord, Jackson Lake and UNIT) combined with is utter despair and depression, make him something far scarier than any foe he’s ever faced. He’s mad god with essentially infinite power. The whole scenario turns the show’s usual premise on its head: the Doctor’s the monster now. And then, when Adelaide shoots herself to keep the timeline right, the Doctor knows it. As he says, he’s gone too far. The Doctor’s been breaking down for quite some time now, but it’s at the moment he sees Ood Sigma that, I think, he breaks. The person he’s always been is gone, and he did the betraying himself.

    And of course
    <img src=>
    I had to.

    • The Doctor’s been breaking down for quite some time now, but it’s at the moment he sees Ood Sigma that, I think, he breaks. The person he’s always been is gone, and he did the betraying himself.

      So so right, and ow. Ow. Ow. It really hurts, especially when one thinks back along the whole RTD arc. Starting with a broken Doctor, and then, by WOM… broken again. The Doctor is sort of the ultimate woobie.

  52. @nessalh says:



  53. ravendaine says:

    This episode is just…incredible. The acting is amazing, the plot watertight (get it? cuz, water…get it?), the effects are wonderful. So much emotion and moral questioning and, yes, some laughs. ("The Doctor…doctor…" Gets me every time.) The "monster" is terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying as the Doctor becomes. With no one to rein him in, his power is absolute. He gets a bit crazy-drunk with his own heroism. And then the Tragic Fall.

    It's perfection.

    • You Are Not Alone says:

      That's so cute! Where is it from? It looks like there's more.

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        They're from the `Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Special` by Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett (regular contributors to Doctor Who Magazine at the time). I've been posting channed pages over the past week and there will be more in the coming week.

    • anobium says:

      The really funny one is the Dalek invasion force composed of off-the-shelf Dalek toys — because that actually happened.

  54. jackiep says:

    The THING which swaggered out of the Tardis at the end demanding to be thanked was just so not the Doctor which we knew and loved and yet so was. We'd spent the entire episode being conditioned to accept that the Doctor couldn't change history that the bit with the heroic swagger and the Doctor turning up to save the day was wrong. The brilliance is, that had always been there in the Tenth Doctor's characterisation. Brittle bonhomie over total darkness.

    As family entertainment goes, explaining why there was that blue flash at the end must have helped a lot!

    Great stuff. And if we wondered why Ten had to die, this episode showed why. He went mad.

  55. PeacockDawson says:

    "I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for these actors to be rigged with a constant supply of water pouring out of their mouths and jackets."

    Apparently it was freezing while they were filming this. Like, literally freezing.

    • kaybee42 says:

      Yeah, you can see their breath in loads of scenes! When I watch the episode, but don't pay too much attention, I always feel really bad for them! Thank you,actors and actresses, for freezing your butts of for our enjoyment 🙂

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        Plus, the water had to be kept cold for Health and Saftey reasons, not allowing nasty bugs to grow.

        I literally couldn't do that. My hands would drop off.

  56. roguebelle says:

    Mark, I just want you to know that it's your fault I had to watch this episode during a cascading, blasting, flood-watch-inducing DOWNPOUR. I hadn't watched this since the first time it aired, not because it's not amazing, but because I'm terribly aquaphobic so this thing is literally painful for me to watch. But I had to be refreshed for your review! So, yeah, really poor timing for the weather here.

    Lindsey Duncan is amazing. It's a testament to her skill that while I thought, "Oh hey, Servilia!" at first, I did not think that again at any point during the episode.

    I love the look on Ten's face when he realizes he's gone too far. I remember some people really not liking what he does in this episode, but to me it's a perfectly natural reaction to everything that's happened to him lately. (Especially losing Donna). He lashes out in the way that only the last of the Time Lords could.

  57. Vicki_Louise says:

    Just seen the picture of Mark wearing a bow tie on tumblr, very dashing SIR! 🙂

    I got a free bow tie in a special Doctor Who edition of SFX magazine. When Matt Smith finally makes his appearance i shall wear my bow tie with pride.
    I heart bow ties. And Matt Smith. And Matt Smith in a bow tie.

  58. Angie says:

    I haven't seen The Waters of Mars since the original airing. My abiding memories of the episode: Wonderful guest star; viva David Bowie; water zombies; how blunderful; and Doctor, thy name is suddenly Hubris.

    Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide was easily the best feature of the episode.

    I'm sorry, lovers of this episode, it just didn't work for me. I remember feeling frustrated. It felt forced, to me, like someone pounding Play-Doh through those holes in a child's workbench. (You know, the ones with the square, circle, or triangle-shaped holes that have the correspondingly-shaped pegs). It seemed to lack subtlety and honest and genuine development and had a whole lot of "LOOK AT HOW TOTALLY MUCH THE DOCTOR NEEDS A COMPANION WITH HIM AT ALL TIMES IN ORDER TO DO THE RIGHT THING!! HE HAS GONE THROUGH SOOOOO MUCH!!! LOOK HOW CRAZY HE GOES! (Of course, that partial regeneration thing didn't help his sanity.)

    My sentiments toward this episode are certainly colored with my feelings at the time of the original airing, so my perceptions of this episode may be way different upon rewatching, and I DO owe it a re-watch, just not any time soon.

    The Waters of Mars is alongside Midnight and The Girl in the Fireplace on my "not-favorite" list. Which all happen to be episodes everybody else seems to ~love~.

    I can't freaking wait until next week.

  59. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    Random comment: If I were 12 years old watching this, I would now be demanding to have pyjamas just like Little Adelaide's. There were so cute and I had a thing for puff sleeves when I was a little girl. 🙂

  60. exbestfriend says:

    This episode explains so much about why I love David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor above all the others, while still hating *this* Doctor so much. And even then it isn't like I hate Ten, he just has some flaws the size of the Grand Canyon. He is arrogant and does not appreciate the people around him as much as he should and by the time he gets to the point in this episode where he says " It's taken me all these years to realize that the laws of time are *mine* and they will obey me!" I am terrified about what he has allowed himself to become. However, David Tennant portrays it in a way that it seems organic and this audacity, this imperiousness has always been there under the surface. It shows from the way he took down Harriet Jones, from the way he was obtuse to the point of cruelty towards Martha, from the way he allowed himself to fall in love with Rose knowing that he would never be able to share his life with her the way she would share her life with him. He lets himself get so self involved he is able to walk back and ask Joan Redfern to travel with him without any regard to her feelings for John Smith and what that kind of question would do to her. There are so many more examples.

    He sees the earth and admires the humans, but in a way it is like a kid looking at ants with a magnifying glass. All he has to do is tilt the glass and he will burn them alive.

    • However, David Tennant portrays it in a way that it seems organic and this audacity, this imperiousness has always been there under the surface. It shows from the way he took down Harriet Jones, from the way he was obtuse to the point of cruelty towards Martha, from the way he allowed himself to fall in love with Rose knowing that he would never be able to share his life with her the way she would share her life with him.

      YES this is what I love about Tennant in the role. The Doctor is such a mess of contradictions and Tennant really integrated them into an organic whole. It's not his fault really that, as an organic whole, the Doctor is totally mad. Usually he's a beneficent force of madness but sometimes….

  61. Oh man, I love this episode. Like "The Impossible Planet" and "42" before it, it shows that Doctor Who pretty much rules at these horror stories in compressed spaces. Then cross it with "Fires of Pompeii" to show that Doctor Who pretty much rules at these time travel stories with moral dilemmas.

    I can’t believe I am saying this, but this is the only time I have ever feared the Doctor, to look into his eyes and see a being who knows that he has absolute power over everything.
    Yes. Exactly. You may have picked up on the fact that a lot of people really hate Ten, and this is one of those moments where I could see that aspect of his character, and it's also a very good reminder of why he needs a Companion. Time Lord Victorious? More like Time Lord Unchecked. It's chilling. It's terrifying.

    He can ride his bike with no handlebars.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Wait, are there really that many people who hate Ten? But Tennant is so good. 🙁

      • arctic_hare says:

        I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not really a fan of Ten myself, HOWEVER. That has nothing to do with Tennant himself, I think he's a very good actor (even if he does chew the scenery in ways that make me wince sometimes) and comes off in interviews and Confidentials as a genuinely nice person. It's the writing I tend to take issue with.

        • echinodermata says:

          Agreed. Also wish to add that for me, this re-watching experience has turned me off Ten more than I ever originally was. So the fact that I'm retrospecting on his character and that I can connect the end of S1 to S2, all the way through these specials, and to S5, means I'm viewing Ten a lot by what comes before and after him, as well as his own stories. And I think that's made a big difference in how I view him now as opposed to how I originally did.

          I've often made negative remarks towards Ten's character (including on this blog post), but his character was the one that made me fall in love with this show in the first place. So my reaction to Ten is complex, and I don't think anyone who hasn't seen what's to come, and hasn't gone through and looked back at all the old episodes (especially when we're not even done with Ten yet), can really understand how I got to this point.

          But my dislike has always been in spite of my love for Tennant.

      • Anon says:

        There are people who don't like him as with every Doctor really. They are in the minority though the Tenth Doctor usually wins the polls for everyone's favorite Doctor, he's the only one that's ever beaten Tom Baker who won them before Ten.

        • Anon says:

          By polls i mean the ones ran by Doctor Who magazine. Tennant also won a couple of National Television awards for most popular actor in the UK which are voted on by the public. I

      • sabra_n says:

        I really, really disliked him by the time we were well into S3 and it was clear he was going to be a dick to Martha the entire season. Donna's season was the only time I liked Ten, and even that collapsed at the end. 🙁

        Tennant himself seems like a perfectly nice guy. The writing for his Doctor was just…not as nice. "The Waters of Mars" was a relief for me, in a way – like the show was finally admitting all the things I'd known and hated about Ten all along.

        There are several Ten episodes I adore, and as I said, for most of S4 I quite liked him. But overall I'm just…not terribly fond of that Doctor. 🙁 Which believe me, doesn't bring me any pleasure. The show is way more enjoyable when you like the main character.

      • I honestly don't know what percentage of general fandom or even the general population disliked Ten, but I know several people who hated him from the minute he said, "Don't you think she looks tired?" and stopped watching right then and there. For the people who continued watching, it was, as sabra_n points out below, his continued hubris and hypocrisy they weren't so fond of. Tennant and Ten were and are insanely popular, no doubt, but there's also a vocal minority, which I didn't encounter with Nine and haven't really encountered with Eleven. I didn't watch Nine in real-time, however, and I'm sure people will hate Eleven too eventually. These things happen.

  62. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    I just want you all to know I am feeling rather full of feelings and I want to say I love you all so much. These comments and this community RULES ALL THE SCHOOLS.

    I'm so glad that even when I catch up the show in real time, I will still have weekly posts with all of you as this show continues into the future. LOVE.

  63. fakehepburn says:

    So, in this episode, a lot of stuff went down and the Doctor had an ego trip and thought he could change a fixed point, and some people died and water was scary and — IT'S DOESN'T EVEN MATTER BECAUSE DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR(ISH) FUTURE?


    Did I miss anything?

  64. RJM says:

    The Tenth Doctor scares me.

    And now you know why.

  65. Hello I was around for Mark reads Harry Potter,i haven't commented in awhile, now This special was the very first bit of Doctor who i ever watched, not really knowing anything about the show,so Completely blind, I found the "Time lord Victorious scene" AWESOME, I have no idea why, i realize why it's so horrifying now,but Still it got me into Doctor who..followed by the fifth series :),my two cents

  66. Openattheclose says:

    "Like Moffat’s general idea for his “scary” episodes, “The Waters of Mars” takes water and makes it sinister. WATER! Great, now I will never NOT think of this episode when I take a shower.
    OMG I KNOW. I could reasonably avoid angel statues, gas masks, and my own shadow. It's pretty impossible to avoid water, since we like need it to live.

    And this is very late, but I can post it now!
    <img src= >

  67. anobium says:

    This. Especially after all the speeches he's given, in "Father's Day" and elsewhere, about how the 'little' people are just as important as everybody else.

  68. klmnumbers says:

    I LOVED this episode. I agree that it was terrifying as hell. I also enjoyed the bit where the Doctor spoke Ancient Martian or whatever. I agree that Adelaide was probably one of the best guest actresses on the show.

    This episode cemented my belief that 10 had to go though. He crossed a line and let the power of his race overtake the laws that were put in place for a reason. Your song is ending soon, Doctor – and now, you have to realize why.

    I still miss 9. I can't help it. =(

  69. lastyearswishes says:

    omg this special. It's the first time EVER that I've been truly creeped out by an episode of Doctor Who.

    Well done, Davies, well done.

    ;akds;ldkf;ldfgk;lgh The End of Time is next a;slddfllgh

  70. anobium says:

    Speaking of Steven Moffat, there's an old Doctor Who spoof he did called "Continuity Errors", which not many people (out of the millions who watch NewWho) got to read, so every now and then he recycles good bits out of it into his new episodes. (For instance: it's set in a library that covers an entire planet and contains every book ever written.)

    There is, however, one bit of witty dialogue he seems to have left alone, and I'm glad he has. Because, although it is witty, if you picture the Doctor saying it not-as-a-joke and consider the implications, it's utterly terrifying. And the end of "The Waters of Mars" demonstrates why.

    The exchange begins with that old familiar question: just what is the Doctor a doctor of? This time, he says he's a doctor of history.
    "You mean you study it."
    "I mean I make it better."

    • Bobcat says:

      That would've fit so well into the Waters of Mars. Would've been totally out of character for any of the base-dwellers to ask precisely what he was a Doctor of while he was saving them, but that would've been the moment you knew shit was getting real.

  71. sabra_n says:

    "The Waters of Mars" was the moment when finally, finally, RTD admitted Ten's hubris and let all his bullshit hang out there, flapping in the wind. And that alone made it a very memorable and much-appreciated episode for me. Let's face it – Ten has had his god complex going pretty much from the moment he regenerated. This is just the first time it wasn't glorified (lonely angel!) or ignored, but instead displayed in all its ugliness.

    I adore Lindsay Duncan's Adelaide – that driven, professional, fantastic bitch who kept her crew in line and never hesitated to make a hard choice. Unlike poor Donna, she didn't have her agency taken away from her – no, she held onto it. Her life was her own all the way to the bitter end, and oh, how bitter it was. But I loved that – her refusal to give in to the Doctor's power, her insistence on living and dying on her own terms. Not to mention the way she called him out for his attitude about "little people". The Doctor wasn't the hero of this story; she was. And Duncan's acting was simply sensational from beginning to end.

    That said, everything that didn't involve Adelaide did get a bit…erm, wonky. The monster really made no sense, and the whole "evacuate the crew in the TARDIS" solution was kind of staring us in the face the entire time, making the base under siege story less compelling than it could have been. Also, what was the point of making the base's self-destruct a nuclear bomb? Seriously, why irradiate the planet's surface? Are simple incendiaries not good enough anymore?

    Adelaide and Ten talking to each other, in the airlock scene especially, was top-flight RTD character study goodness. Everything else was…kind of a mixed bag. And it was pretty infuriating that it took four freaking years for the text to finally admit outright that yes, Ten is a hubristic douche sometimes and this is not a good thing. But the shock and power of Adelaide's last actions are undeniable. This episode, more than just about any other in New Who, is one I'd really hesitate to show to a child. (Can you imagine families with small kids watching this special together? Yikes.)

    • Bobcat says:

      "Evacuate the crew in the TARDIS" was never a solution. He had to leave them there – history dictated. The Doctor dearly wanted to. He came up with the idea right from the start, that's half the reason he was so torn about leaving. He was wondering what happened, sure, but he was wrestling with the idea of saving them with it across the length and breadth of the entire episode.

      The TARDIS was just there. Waiting to be used as an escape pod.

      "I should really… REALLY go."

      • sabra_n says:

        History only dictated that the base blew up and the crew was presumed dead and never seen again. With their consent, he could have easily taken them to another time or planet where they could live out their lives without causing a paradox – not an ideal solution by any means, of course, but it was way too obvious the whole time, which prevented the Doctor's decision-making process from being as agonizing as it was meant to be.

    • illusclaire says:

      let all his bullshit hang out there, flapping in the wind

      That's an evocative way to put it..!

      • sabra_n says:

        Okay, now it looks all pervy. I'll have you know I was picturing a line of dirty laundry when I wrote that. 😛

  72. trash_addict says:

    It was a big old wait between Planet of the Dead and this – from Easter to November. Having been disappointed by the last ep I was a bit reluctant about this one, but HOLY SHIT AWESOME. I was so alarmed at what the Doctor had become by the end of this, and so highly anticipating what would happen next…luckily we got the next one for Christmas!

  73. Loz says:


  74. Bryce says:

    Amazing episode.

    Can anyone believe that this was originally intended to be the Christmas Special? With THAT ending? That would be the worst Christmas present ever.

    Has anyone mentioned that this was directed by Graeme Harper of Cave of Androzani fame (and Utopia, 42 and Turn Left). I decree that Graham Harper is the Steven Spielberg of Doctor Who directors.

    Not quite sure how anyone would find Adelaide's suicide inspirational….

  75. michelle says:

    TIME LORD VICTORIOUS IS THE SCARIEST THING IN THE UNIVERSE. Yeah, I can see why they'd call him The Oncoming Storm.

    I love this episode, it's freaky and amazing.

  76. Annie says:

    This is easily my favourite of Tennant's specials. The writing is brilliant and the speech the Doctor gives Adelaide makes me cry every. time. And I was genuinely scared of the Doctor by the end of the episode and to make people scared of an otherwise pacifist protagonist is a extremely difficult thing to do. Bravo.
    One small complaint: As always, the German in Doctor Who is ridiculous. It was even worse than in the series 3 finale, because I couldn't understand a single word the two girls were saying. And I'm German. Still, Steffi's death/transformation is so sad.
    Anyway, I'm so excited for you to watch series 5!

  77. Scott says:

    I wouldn't say that the character development in the end was totally out of left field, but actually something that had been simmering since the latter years of the classic series that had finally boiled over. The Doctor has known for a long time just what he can be capable of, morality and ethics aside.

    He had been put on trial by the Time Lords twice for intervening, as the 2nd and 6th Doctors respectively, and his 7th form had remarked that he was "More than just another Time Lord".

    • Reddi says:

      I agree. This wasn't "Ten's hubris"- this is the Doctor.
      It's not his only side, but it's something that's always simmering in there.

  78. qwopisinthemailbox says:

    Being my first FULL episode of Doctor Who, i was scared of/disliked the Doctor by the end. i had no real previous experience of him, so i though he was just crazy and slightly scary. this changed by the next episode, but hey.

  79. Silvertongue says:

    I know you've been linked to this before, but if you haven't watched this fanvid yet, definitely do it now.

    They made this before this special (before the last episode of Series 4, even), and I think they saw the dark side of the Doctor and predicted how it could go so, so well.

    • Silvertongue says:

      Aaand I just realized there was a link to that on the first page as well. But I suppose it bears repeating!

      • Reddi says:

        I didn't see this on page one, I'm glad you reposted it. 'Handlebars' is definitely a song for the doctor, especially (though not exclusively) as Ten.

  80. meeoow says:

    When I first watched series four of Doctor Who, I somehow missed this special, so this was actually my first time seeing it.

    And ever since I was little and could watch horror movies, the scenes in the bathroom always haunted my imagination the most afterward. Combined with all the Bloody Mary stories and other similar stories that take place in a bathroom, you know, where the taps start running blood instead of water, or stuff comes up the drain, my bathroom phobia knows no bounds.

    And now, thanks to the Water of Mars, it's only gotten worse. I am now terrified to go take a shower. Yay.

    Not to mention, the Doctor thinking he was the Time Lord Victorious was horrific.

  81. Beci says:


    imagine mark, imagine you had to wait for weeks and weeks before seeing these episodes, not all in a row.
    Those are long waits.

  82. Ashley says:

    I really wasn't afraid of the water creatures because I'd seen the preview several times. Most of the two hours were kind of boring.

    Until the last ten minutes.

    They were some of the most riveting up till that point. I was going "AHHHH!!! OH MY GOSH DOCTOR WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!??? AHHHH!!!" I was terrified of him too, and David Tennant's "crazed" expressions really enhanced it—he's really good at subtle and at over the top. He's a great actor period.

    Also: I love the Ood! There's something so wonderful about the way they presented them—both terrifying at times, but utterly calm and peaceful in others. Just…fun. And weird. And cool.

  83. Cheryl says:

    Ten going all Time Lord Victorious scared me because he reminded of the Master, with all the arrogance and refusal to listen to anyone else and the power to seriously screw things up–he was just scary. And his breakdown at the end? Is there anything David Tennant can't act the hell out of? I thought Uncle Rusty wrote this eppy, but I should've known it was Moffat because he's the king of making the ordinary terrifying.

  84. syntheticjesso says:

    Okay, so I already have a weird sort of phobia about water monsters/monsters in water/water that is somehow bad/etc, so this episode was pretty much guaranteed to scare the crap out of me. I was so unprepared for this episode. My showers were ridiculously fast for a long time afterwards.

    After the first watching, I didn't really understand the ending. I had been so busy being terrified of the creepy-as-hell water that I guess I missed bits of explanatory dialogue. On rewatching, it makes a bit more sense. Ten is doing the teenager's "NO ONE IS THE BOSS OF ME, I CAN DO WHAT I WANT" thing, and then after goes "oh snap, that was a bad idea, huh?"

  85. thebubblysoprano says:

    RTD actually does scary!Doctor very, very well– this and Midnight? RTD understands the lines between utterly charming!Ten and utterly terrifying!Ten like no other. This, Midnight, and Smith and Jones are all *so* tight, and it's such an interesting parallel: in Smith and Jones, Ten is at, perhaps, his most charming (he's got to, man! woo the med student out of her exams!), and in Waters of Mars, he's at his scariest. Great spectrum.

  86. Reddi says:

    "I will admit that the character transformation is quick, but it’s astounding. Here is the Doctor without a companion and without anything or anyone to stop him. He believes he is doing right, but what he’s done is frightening. I’m reminded of Mr. Copper’s words to the Doctor, about holding the power of life and death over people. And now we see that acted out to its horrifying conclusion."

    Oh, this is IT. I've been biting my tongue (or typing fingers) as you went thru all these eps, but now I can say it. It's all ONE STORY from "Rose" thru this one… it's a character Arc for the Doctor, and dang, it really starts earlier than this one. "Have I the right?" he asks in Genesis of the Daleks.

    What is incredible is the WAY the doctor turned scary. I was taught in long ago sunday school classes that evil does not start by wanting to do evil.. it wants to do 'good on it's own terms'. And THIS is how t he doctor fell. He's no Master, wanting terrible things. He wants GOOD things but HE is the one who decides what is good and what is right and there is NO ONE TO STOP HIM and he becomes more frightening than the deranged Master ever was. He is made up of good motives TWISTED.

    He broke, and did not even realize it.

    He's not always strong on social cues, always trying to fit in but never quite doing it, even though he's quite likeable in all his 'differentness'. But here.. he had no idea they were all so frightened of him.

    Davies built up this almost god Like Doctor and has been doing it for some time. Some fans were irritated by this 'take' on the doctor, but look what Davies did with it. This guy is NOT a god. He's an alien, a powerful one, but when he finally 'accepts' the godhood, he becomes something just awful.

    This is one of the most (if not THE most) powerful Doctor Who ep in NuWho and probably in ALL Who.
    I don't think anyone but Davies could have pulled it off, either. Because what makes this work is we KNOW the doctor as a character, we know and understand how he got to this place, and we also came to know and care about all those one time characters on the base. Davies does character stuff SO well. So incredibly well. And that is needed for a show like this to work.

    And the sound was the Cloister Bell int he TARDIS, which you heard in "Time Crash" where the fifth and tenth Doctor met– you also heard it in the little special before Christmas Invasion. It's a warning from the TARDIS that awful destructive things are coming and she's in danger.

  87. Cyna says:

    One thing I never got about this series: if the Captain's heroic death was such a big factor in supposedly inspiring her granddaughter to go off into space & etc, how does her surviving the situation *and then committing suicide in her own flat* keep that motivation intact? If it was just her actions during that situation that the remaining crew related to the media, then she really shouldn't have needed to kill herself, right? And if it was the fact that she died heroically, well, I wouldn't call needless suicide very heroic.

    That always bothered me :/ I get the need to show the Doctor the drastic consequences of him overstepping himself, but I feel like the wrote themselves into a bit of dramatic corner with that bit.

  88. Commenting laaaaaaaaaate but. I put off watching the specials for a long time and didn't even watch them until a little bit ago (because I wanted to get there before Mark!) The whole prospect of death coming for the Doctor and the changes that had already been announced to the series had me feeling like I didn't even want to watch them or S5, because in continuity terms, for me, it was going to be a totally different show. It was only after a lot of friends convinced me that I was missing good things, could I bring myself to watch them.

    And OK honestly I feel like I could probably have skipped Planet of the Dead and the Next Doctor because The Waters of Mars is where it's ALL AT in terms of character development etc. Ten has had this moment where his hubris is too much coming for a LONG time. Probably since The Christmas Invasion.

    The first time I realised the Doctor was a scary motherfucker was when he first showed up as The Oncoming Storm in Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (probably somewhere around here.) What does it mean for a show when the protagonist can defeat all the monsters… because he's scarier than all of them, at the end of the day?

    It's something to ponder, so THANK YOU RTD for giving us The Waters of Mars and making us think about it, and the nasty reality of what that means, both in human terms and dramatic terms.

  89. ninjac8 says:

    Every time I see this episode I go through the same emotional train. I'm 'Doot di doo' enjoying the show. Then I'm all 'but you can save them-just like in Pompeii!' And when Ten comes in all BAMF I'm all 'YEAH! You save them you MF!!!' Then it clicks, and I realize why he's saving them and I try and hide behind the couch because I am afraid of the Doctor. And I'm crying 'No. No. Don't do it. Please.' Then I just want to hug Ten and say 'shh. Just let them go. Please. It will be alright. But you have to let them go.' And then I'm just a crying horrified mess until I get to the final moments of the end of Ten's run.

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