Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "The Family of Blood"
Posted 19 October 2009 in Doctor Who by Catriona
The more I see of Triple J TV, the more irritated I become with absolutely everyone involved in it.
Sigh. I suppose I’m just not the Triple J demographic any more, am I?
Good thing I never listened to Triple J, or I’d be really depressed by now.
And I’m fairly sure everyone knows this already, but it’s worth repeating: even if you’re a rock star, wearing your sunglasses inside just makes you look like a prat. (Unless you’re blind, of course.)
In today’s Wii Fit news, as we await the second part of the Doctor Who two-parter, the chirpy balance board told me today that I’m 32, though it still suspects that I trip over a lot while walking.
I am 32, of course, so I’m quite stocked by this—especially since it estimated my Wii Fit age as 44 yesterday.
Ah, here we are with a brief recap of the first part of the two parter, with the Doctor explaining how he became human. And Lattimer explaining his precognition. And we end up in the dance hall, with Baines threatening Martha and the Matron, and leaving the Doctor a difficult choice.
The Doctor, struggling to make his decision, is spotted by Lattimer, who opens the watch, just enough to distract the the Family (spoiler!), enough for Martha to grab the gun and to take Jenny (Mother-of-mine) hostage. Baines thinks Martha won’t pull the trigger, but she’s scary enough that they let Matron go, and Martha tells the Doctor to get everyone out of the hall.
He hesitates a little over Martha, but Martha tells him to take his lady friend home.
He sees Lattimer outside, but Lattimer tells him to stay away, that he’s as bad as the Family. He runs.
Martha backs away, but a scarecrow grabs and disarms her: she runs out, telling the Doctor, still lingering outside, to run: “You’re rubbish as a human!” she tells him.
The Family spilt up: the farmer (Mr Clarke) to follow Martha’s scent to the west to find what she was hiding (the TARDIS) and the others to the school, where the Doctor has sounded the alarm.
Martha objects to the Doctor arming the students, but he says that they’re cadets, trained to protect king and country. The Headmaster objects to the boys taking up arms, but only because he didn’t order it: as the Doctor and Matron explain that Baines and the others are coming here, the Headmaster agrees to arm the boys, but heads out himself to find out what is happening.
Martha objects, but, of course, she’s only a servant, so he doesn’t listen.
Sister of Mine (the balloon girl) skips through the school, to find a way in.
The Headmaster heads out to talk to Baines, and Baines is terribly creepy in this scene, mimicking a schoolboy—at least until he asks for “Mr John Smith and whatever he has done with his Time Lord consciousness.”
Baines says that they are the Family of Blood, but he’s not frightened of the “tin soldiers”: he asks the Headmaster what he knows about the future, whether he thinks his boys, dying in the mud in World War One, will thank him for teaching them that it was glorious.
Then Baines shoots Mr Phillips, the Headmaster’s companion, and sends the Headmaster scurrying into the school to arm his boys.
The upperclassman we saw tormenting Lattimer in the first part is directing the boys to barricade the house, and he pulls Lattimer out of his hiding place, calling him a coward and telling him to do his duty with the others.
The scarecrows advance.
But then the red-balloon girl tells her Family to hold the soldiers back, that the Time Lord is playing some kind of trick. Her Family tell her to locate him.
Martha, meanwhile, is searching frantically for the watch, and explaining to Matron that the Doctor is actually an alien.
MATRON: And “alien” means not from abroad, I take it?
Matron asks some delicate questions about Martha’s relationship to the Doctor, but she really loses faith in Martha’s story when Martha tells her about training to be a Doctor. Not someone of her colour, says Matron, to which Martha responds, “You think?”
Matron says that she may not be a doctor, but she’s still the boys’ nurse: she heads out to help them. The Doctor tries to stop her, but she challenges him to tell her about Nottingham, where he grew up, but all he can tell her are facts that sound as though he read them in an encyclopaedia.
Mr Clarke finds the TARDIS. Whoops.
The upperclassman tells Lattimer that what they’re doing may be the difference between life and death for them, but Lattimer says not for them: he’s seen them, together, in battle. Not this battle: another one. So he knows that they will survive this. And he wonders whether he’s been given the watch for a reason—and he runs.
Upstairs, he is confronted by the red-balloon girl, but he frightens her off by showing her the Doctor inside the watch. Unfortunately, the Family now know that all they need to find is the watch and the boy.
And this sequence is insanely hard to watch: the boys—they’re only babies, these boys!—are shaking and crying as they wait for the scarecrows to break down the gates, and we watch these children shooting the scarecrows from behind their sandbag barricades as the boys’ choir (from the opening shot of the school) swells behind them.
But the scarecrows are only straw, and the boys are thoroughly relieved that they’ve killed no one.
But the red-balloon girl shows up, and despite being told that she was with the Family in the village, the Headmaster invites her into the school. She shoots him.
The Doctor, who has been increasingly uncertain through the attack of the scarecrows, orders the boys to put their guns down. And the Family take the school, working through the students one by one to find Lattimer. They’re planning to kill the ones who don’t have the watch when Lattimer, hidden upstairs, opens it and distracts them.
Martha, Matron, and the Doctor escape.
Outside the school, Mr Clarke calls for the Doctor, using the TARDIS as bait. Martha says to him, “You recognise it, don’t you?” But he says that he’s never seen it before in his life. Martha prompts him to remember its name, and Matron—who really wants him to be John Smith, not the Doctor—says that she’s sorry, but he does know it: he wrote about it, the blue box.
But the Doctor breaks down. He doesn’t want to be the Doctor: he wants to be John Smith, with his name, and his job, and his love. Why can’t he be? he asks. Isn’t John Smith a good man? He is, says Matron, but Martha says that they need the Doctor.
Matron takes the other two to a cottage—the Cartwrights’ cottage, she says. The red-balloon girl has taken Lucy Cartwright’s form, and Matron assumes that she came home this afternoon . . .
Sure enough, the tea things are cold.
The Doctor still resists becoming the Doctor. He asks Martha what she did for the Doctor, why he needed her, and she says because he’s lonely.
“And you want me to become that?” he asks.
At that point, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s Lattimer with the watch. Matron asks why he kept it all this time, and says because it was waiting—and because he was scared of the Doctor. Because he’d seen the Doctor and, in a speech that I’d love the transcribe if I could type faster, he says that the Doctor is terrible and wonderful.
The Family start bombing the village.
The Doctor holding the watch, starts talking like the Doctor again, and it frightens him half to death. But he won’t become the Doctor again—he doesn’t understand why Martha couldn’t stop him from courting Matron, and she says she didn’t know how to stop it. The Doctor left a list of instructions for her, she says, and that wasn’t on it.
What kind of man is that? asks the Doctor. That falling in love doesn’t even occur to him?
Martha tells him why the Doctor is so important, why she loves him—and how she hopes he won’t remember her saying this.
Why can’t he give them the watch? he asks. Why can’t he stay as he is?
But Matron, flipping to the end of the journal, says that the Family would multiply and destroy everything. She asks Martha and Lattimer to go outside, while she tells the Doctor that he needs to do this.
She holds the watch, and says it’s silent for her. The Doctor puts his hand over hers, and their whole potential life flashes before them: their marriage, their children, their grandchildren, down to the Doctor’s death in bed as an old man.
The Matron says that the Doctor is the stuff of legend, but he could never have a life like that.
But he could, says the Doctor.
And the Doctor comes to the Family, babbling and frightened, and he hands the watch to them, telling them that he doesn’t understand, but he’ll give them the watch anyway.
They push him away, and he slaps a series of buttons as he falls. And when they open the watch, it’s empty—which is the Doctor’s cue for some seriously fabulous technobabble.
He tells them that if there’s the one thing they shouldn’t have done, they shouldn’t have let him push all those buttons.
Nick says if there’s one thing they shouldn’t have done, they shouldn’t have pissed him off.
And then we cut to Baines’s voiceover about the cold, cold fury of the Doctor.
He wrapped Father-of-mine in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star.
He tricked Mother-of-mine into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, to be trapped there forever.
He still visits Sister-of-mine once a year, every year. He trapped her inside a mirror, every mirror. If you ever think you see something out of the corner of your eye looking into a mirror, Baines says, that’s her.
And Baines he trapped in time and put to work standing over the fields of England as their protector, for ever—in the guise of a scarecrow.
He ends, “We wanted to live forever, so the Doctor made sure that we did.”
And I can’t transcribe the next scene, between the Doctor and Matron—wow, this is a hard episode to live blog. So complex!
But she asks him where John Smith is, and he says somewhere inside him. She asks if he could change back, and he says he could. So she asks if he will, and he says no. And she tells him that John Smith was a better man than he is, because he choose to change, but John Smith chose to die.
He asks her to travel with him, but she says she won’t—because John Smith is dead, and the Doctor looks like him.
As he leaves, she asks him one question: if the Doctor had never hidden here, had never come to this village on a whim, would people have died?
As Martha and the Doctor head to the TARDIS, Lattimer comes up to them, still carrying the weight of what he saw in the watch, which the Doctor presents to him, now that it is only a watch again.
Lattimer watches the TARDIS dematerialise—and we cut forward to World War I, as the Doctor gives us a brief (very brief!) account of the causes of the war, and Lattimer tells Hutchinson (the upperclassman) that now is the time, as he pushes Hutchinson to one side to avoid the incoming bomb, and then thanks the Doctor.
I would say that this scene makes me a little tingly, but it makes me feel too much like a Tory.
Then we cut forward again, as Martha and the Doctor, wearing poppies in their lapels, come back to our time, and watch Lattimer, an old man, still holding his watch, attend a Remembrance Day ceremony.
Next week: “Blink.” Oh, yes.