It must be Christmas… British script writer RT. Davis has me sniffling again. It was bound to happen … these are, after all, the final two episodes for David Tennant in the popular BBC “programme,” Doctor Who. It’s also the last time Davis takes the helm before Moffat steers the show in a new and original direction. However you feel about that, there’s one thing we can all say about Davis: when he’s good, he’s really good… and when he stinks, he really stinks. That’s why at the end of this particular installment, I had a “MERLIN’S BEARD!” moment, followed by, “… is he going to muck this up??”
Spoilers lie within. You be warned. (For those getting it through a feed, if you don’t want to know, scroll on by and come back later, because some of this stuff will blow your mind.)
The Doctor knows the end is coming, so he’s been taking his sweet time in getting back to the Ood after being summoned, but when he does turn up they show him a disturbing image of the future — that the end of time is approaching. The Master will return along with a new and incredible peril and the Doctor will die. The Doctor rushes back to Planet Earth too late to prevent the Master’s rebirth but soon unites with Donna’s grandfather, Wilf, to save the day… if he can.
Everything here is good. It’s heartbreaking watching the Doctor approach what he believes is the genuine end of his life — his meltdown in the cafe brought tears to my eyes (I blame it on sentimentality and knowing of David’s impending departure), even as his brief glimpse of Donna brought a smile to both our faces. Introducing the Master again is wonderful, since it allows for a nuanced (you never thought I’d say that, right? about this performance?) depiction of a truly insane Time Lord. I’m sorry his wife was gone so swiftly, though, as I loved her brief stint in earlier episodes — although her end was appropriately tragic and triumphant at the same time… too bad it was all for nothing. I never have had much of a soft spot for Wilf but he is growing on me. I thought the green aliens were a fun touch, as is the magnetic gate, which was a bad idea for humanity from the start… honestly, do they never think about the potential evil that something like that could be used for?
The Master… where do I even start? I love his demented laugh and the last couple of minutes of the episode cracked me up, in a horrible sort of way. Watching a million variations of him stand up and applaud in all different kinds of clothing, flashing one another thumb’s up and peace signs… brilliant. I also thought the initial exchange between him and the Doctor was marvelous… beating out the drum sounding in his head. (Although in my paranoia, when he hit the Doctor with that burst of energy I literally screamed and scared my poor cat halfway across the house. Sorry, Mina!)
The ending twist I did not see coming, but I am glad they threw it in there to shock the audience and prepare us for the second half. I was wondering why the narrative and that brought a neat revelation to the ever-present voice (of Timothy Dalton, no less… I keep remembering him in that ghastly miniseries of Scarlett that I have long tried to forget). So… the time lords have returned? Oh, that opens up an entire can of worms…
… which is about the same time that I started thinking, can Davis pull this off or will he screw it up? Last Christmas, he botched things by introducing too many of the old characters all at once and then having them do non-important things. It was one giant happy fest of characters he invented or thought were brilliant, sort of a self-pat on the back that accomplished nothing in terms of the fandom except a little wink to the long-term viewers. Rose and the “other” Doctor? Bad idea. Why was Martha there again? No clue. How about Jack? So he could die and regenerate a few more times? Been there, done that. Which means that either Davis has just thrown himself off a proverbial cliff in taking this particular plot twist, or he’s come up with something brilliant.
How brilliant? Depends on why Billie Piper is back. If it’s for another ghastly, tearful farewell scene with lots of angst and whimpering, it’s going to be overkill for the third time. (Honestly? The best Rose ending was the original, with them eternally separated. It was terribly moving and sad. It takes away that sadness when they meet up again later, multiple times. Leave her in the alternate reality! … having said that, if her appearance is with the Alternative Doctor in an alternate timeline, perhaps the plot can be saved.) It also depends on where Moffat wants to take this series, as to whether or not the Time Lords are back for good. There’s a sense of sadness in having him be the last of his kind, but at the same time — he’s been alone for so long, it might be nice to know there are others out there like him in the universe.
I guess we will have to wait and see.