by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who: "The End of Time Part One"

Posted 14 February 2010 in by Catriona

All set for the live-blogging, though I am on my second bottle of wine as we speak. I haven’t drunk them all on my own, I add. Michelle and Heather are joining us for the live-blogging again.

We’re currently debating which SBS newsreader is hotter, until we got to the SBS weather:

HEATHER: Oh, my god! Did you see that? The universe just did something really [redacted] up right then!
ME: I think that was a gap in the radar image.
HEATHER: No kidding. That was [redacted] up right then.

Okay, I just posted that article twice. What on earth is happening?!

Okay, we’re back on track now. I shall pause now and put my hair up.


Shush, Treena. No spoilers!

We zoom in on the Earth, with the voiceover telling us that in the last days of planet Earth, everyone had bad dreams. But in the pagan rites celebrating Christmas, everyone forgot their nightmares.

Everyone except Donna’s grandfather Wilf, that is.

Wilf wanders into a church, where a choir is singing. But all Wilf can see is a stained-glass window where, in the bottom right-hand window, we see a strange icon.

As Wilf is looking at it, a woman appears behind him, to tell him that the church is positioned on the site of an old convent, where a demon appeared, only to be smote by the “sainted physician.” Then she disappears, as Wilf notices that the icon in the bottom left corner is the TARDIS.


Now the Doctor, carrying on from the end of “Waters of Mars,” ends up on the Ood planet, insisting that Good Queen Bess’s nickname is no longer . . . well, we all get the point. This is the Doctor at his most hedonistic and deliberately obtuse.

Michelle says that the second Ood episode, the one with Donna, is her most memorable episode ever, which, she says, is counter to her distaste for Muppets.

The Doctor says the Oods’ level of development is too fast for the hundred years of development that the Ood say have passed since he left. But the Ood are having nightmares, and they suggest that the Doctor joins with the Ood in the dreaming.

He does, and hears the Master laugh.

“That man is dead,” says the Doctor, but the Ood say he appears in their dreams every night. And there’s more, they say. They point out that Wilf is scared, that “the king is in his counting house” [“Eh?” says Michelle, but the Doctor says he doesn’t know who that man and his daughter are, either], and there’s another, the lonely one.

That’s Lucy Saxon, formally the Master’s wife.

The Ood don’t know who she is, so the Doctor briefly recaps the end of season three.

He says that the Master is dead, but the Ood do their own recapping of the end of season three, showing the hand picking up the ring from the Master’s ashes.

The Ood, going red-eye again, tell him that the Master is only part of a broader plan, that what is coming is no less than the end of time.

The Doctor runs back to the TARDIS (and he does the beepy car joke again, but I’m ignoring it for the second time), as, cut with this, we see Lucy Saxon drawn from her prison cell by the new governor of her prison—the old governor having met with an accident that “took a long time to arrange.”

These people, apparently, are part of the Master’s long-drawn out plan to resurrect himself if something happened to him. Lucy, who has been made to kneel by this point, is horrified by this.

Wilf looks out at the coming storm.

Apparently, Lucy, as Saxon’s wife, “bore his imprint,” which means they press a tissue to her lips.

HEATHER: What, has she not washed?
NICK: Yeah, apparently that was . . .
HEATHER: So does he have super-sticky DNA?

Either way, the Master—as Nick points out, naked—comes back to life thanks to the sacrifice of his cult, as the TARDIS explodes around the Doctor.

The Master, still surrounded by waves of light, reaches out to Lucy, telling her that he can hear the drumbeats louder than ever before. He says he’s missed them. But Lucy says that no one knew him better than her, and while his disciples prepared for his return, so did she. For all the “secret books of Saxon” told of the “potions of life,” her people had enough money to prepare the counter-potion.

After all, she did go to Roedean.

And the Doctor materialises in front of a prison that has clearly suffered a serious explosion.

But the man we saw earlier as “the king in his counting house” says to his daughter that someone escaped the inferno, and he cancels Christmas for all his employees.

Wilf, saying that he and his reindeer headband are heading down to the pub for a quick snifter, actually jumps on a bus full of old-age pensioners—including June Whitfield—and asks them all to look out for the Doctor. June calls them the “silver cloak.”

In a wasteland, a man and his young friend buy hamburgers from a mobile food van, but the next customer is the Master, complete with his peroxided hair, who asks for “everything.” He says he’s “so hungry.”

And, in fact, he suddenly appears next to the man and his friend, saying he’s “starving,” and bolting the hamburger.

The man tells his friend that he shouldn’t bolt his hamburger all at once, because if he takes it slowly, he can make it last all day. The man says they should leave, but the friend says that the Master looks like the old Prime Minister, the one who went mad.

Isn’t that funny? asks the Master. Stuck looking like the old Prime Minister. Unable to escape.

And, as he talks, his face flashes into a skull, and back.

The man and his friend Ginger run, but they seek help at the food wagon, and all that they see there is two corpses, fried to skeletons. They baulk, but the Master, screeching “Dinner time!”, leaps up in the air and on them.

In a wasteland, the Doctor and the Master run towards one another. This is useful, because it gives us time to remind Michelle about the end of season three.

ME: Nobody on earth remembers anything about what happened at the end of season three.
MICHELLE: Bloody oath.

Just as the Doctor manages to catch up to the Master, the Silver Cloak find him, thanks to a neighbour of June’s.

Wilf explains briefly to the Doctor that he only told his friends that the Doctor was a doctor, before the Silver Cloak insist on having their photographs taken with the Doctor.

Then we disembark from the Silver Cloak’s bus, and stop in at a cafe for some exposition.

DOCTOR: I’m going to die.
WILF: Well, so am I, some day.
DOCTOR: Don’t you dare.

Oh, I admit it: I whimpered a little at that.

The Doctor explains that he can die, or that regeneration can feel like dying.

I’m going to rant here, briefly: this is not canonical! There are no grounds for thinking that the Doctor interprets regeneration as dying. Why would he? It’s an essential part of his biology.

My rant is interrupted by Donna turning up in the street outside the cafe. Wilf tells the Doctor that she’s earning minimum wage and her fiance is earning tuppence, so they can only afford a tiny flat. (What’s the difference between “minimum wage” and “tuppence”?) He asks the Doctor if he can bring Donna’s memory back, but the Doctor says that if she remembers her brain will burn and she will die.

Both men are crying by this point.

The voiceover returns, telling us that the “idiots and fools” (the king in his castle and his daughter) dream of a brighter future, while the citizens in their sleep dream bad dreams.

Then we finally see who is doing the voiceover, having told Michelle all episode that “she would see” who it was.

MICHELLE: Nope, don’t know who that is.
MICHELLE: Oh, James Bond.

So we’re all on the same page, here.

The Master and the Doctor meet in a wasteland, and the Doctor gets the worst of it.

NICK: Nothing more manly than walking away from an explosion without looking behind you.
HEATHER: Oh, just kiss.

While the Doctor is lying on the ground, the Master reminds him of the time when they used to run across the red grass of the Master’s father’s lands, looking up at the sky. I whimper, because mention of Gallifrey always makes me cry a little.

Wow, this is going to be a long recap. Sorry!

The Master says that he’s the returning thing of which the Ood warned, but the Doctor says it’s something else, the “end of time.” But the Master starts ranting about the sound of drums again, and, for once, the Doctor can hear it.

Both the Doctor and the Master are amazed that he can hear it—the Doctor always thought that the Master was mad and, frankly, so did the Master. He takes off, thanks to some Iron-Man-style repulsor beams in his palms, but is picked up by some masked men in black (and a helicopter), who smack the Doctor on the back of the head with a pistol.

And now it’s Christmas morning in the Noble household. Donna has made margueritas, with oranges because she couldn’t get lemons, and has bought her mother a blouse—“Oh, it’s lovely,” says Mrs Noble. “Did you keep the receipt?”

She’s bought her grandfather a copy of Joshua Naismith’s biography—Joshua is the king in his counting house. She can’t tell why she bought it, just that it seemed like a good idea.

And, when Wilf watches the queen’s speech, Claire Bloom (as the unnamed woman in white, who turned up in the church), appears on the television, telling him to help the Doctor, and to do it armed.

This is convenient, because the Doctor has just turned up in the street outside Donna’s house, asking Wilf if he’s seen anything weird. And Wilf tells him Donna had a funny moment about the book this morning.

But as Wilf and the Doctor are chatting in the back yard, Mrs Noble turns up, telling the Doctor he has to leave, before Donna sees him and remembers.

Though she’s seen him once before and didn’t remember.

Donna, following them out into the street, finds her mother shouting at thin air, as Wilf disappears into the TARDIS.

Wilf asks why the Doctor can’t just pop back to yesterday, but the Doctor says that it’s forbidden to go back on your own timeline.

ME: Except for cheap tricks!

The Master, in Naismith’s home, recognises that his technology is not from Earth, but Naismith simply says, “And neither are you. A perfect combination, don’t you think?” Naismith sends a female technician off to get some readings.

The female technician, and her male companion, are, as it turns out, not human. They’re spiky cactus people, who think that Saxon might be exactly what they’re looking for.

Naismith tells the Master that the technology was found buried at the foot of Mount Snowdon, and fell into the hands of Torchwood. When Torchwood fell—after the Battle of Canary Wharf, we decide—Naismith gained control of it.

The Master is ravening in this scene. There’s no other appropriate verb: this is not eating, it’s ravening.

Naismith says that the “Immortality Gate,” as he calls it, repairs the body at the cellular level. So what he’s seeking is immortality—not for himself (NICK: Why not for himself? His motivation makes no sense!) but for his daughter.

As Wilf and the Doctor materialise in the stables, the Master gets to work on the machine. Cactus Woman is just talking about what a genius he is, and how he might be looking for someone just like him, as the Doctor appears and reveals that he knows she’s an alien.

But just then the Master repairs the Immortality Gate. Naismith orders the Master restrained, which is a good idea, because his resurrection didn’t work so well, and his body is eating itself.

The Cactus People tell the Doctor that they’re a salvage team, and that the gate is a medical device. It repairs bodies, that’s all. The Doctor says there must be something more than that, and, just then, Wilf asks why it’s so big.

That’s a good question, the Doctor says. But the Cactus People say it doesn’t just mend one person: it transmits the medical template across the entire planet.

And, at that point, we cut to Barack Obama. No, seriously. But, more importantly, the Master throws off his straitjacket, and leaps into the Immortality Gate.

Now everyone in the room (and President Obama) can see the Master’s face in their mind. The Doctor throws Wilf into a radiation-shielded room, which blocks the Master from his mind. But for everyone else, it’s close to zero hour.

Donna, though, is not affected. Not affected at all.


The Doctor has no idea what’s going to happen—he’s asking the Master if it’s a form of mind control. Oh, not as simple as that, Doctor. As the Master says, they’re not going to think like him, they’re going to become him.

And, sure enough, everyone on Earth is now the Master. And, for Donna, watching her mother and her fiance become the Master, this is a trigger to memory—she starts thinking of the kind of things that used to happen, particularly Sontarans.

Heather points out that Donna never knew the Master, but I guess the weirdness of it all is enough.

MASTER: The human race used to be your favourite, Doctor. But, now, there is no human race. There is only . . . the Master race.

Oh, and isn’t the Master delighted by what he’s wrought?


VOICEOVER: And so it came to pass, on Christmas Day, that the human race did cease to exist.

But, the voice continues, the Master had no idea what role he played in the broader scheme of things.

This, he says, is the day the Time Lords returned.

The camera scans past Timothy Dalton, and we see some men (and two women with their hands over their faces) in very, very, very familiar collars.

Time Lords! Time Lords!


See you here next week for the second half? Of course we will!

Share your thoughts [12]


Matthew Smith wrote at Feb 14, 11:12 am

I didn’t even know this was on, I am so out of the loop. Thankyou Catriona and guests for an entertaining recap. Don’t worry Michelle, I was really confused by the voiceover too – but I didn’t know James Bond was a timelord!


Catriona wrote at Feb 14, 11:16 am

Of course James Bond is a Time Lord, Matt! How do you suppose he changes from Sean Connery to George Lazenby to Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig?


Wendy wrote at Feb 14, 09:04 pm

How am I supposed to wait a whole week?! that’s torture.


Tim wrote at Feb 15, 05:48 am

> I’m going to rant here, briefly: this is not canonical!

Well, it is now.


Leigh wrote at Feb 15, 07:06 am

James Bond is a time lord? nice one :)


Catriona wrote at Feb 15, 09:37 am

The fact that it’s canonical now doesn’t negate my feelings of irritation with it initially, though, Tim.

However, what I failed to consider during the exigencies of the live-blogging is that this regeneration is spiritually analogous to the regeneration from the Fourth Doctor to the Fifth Doctor in “Logopolis.”

We know that Time Lords react differently to regeneration. We know it’s not a fixed process: we know the Master, for example, found a way to circumvent the fixed number of regenerations when he stole Nyssa’s father’s body in “Keeper of Traken,” and we know that Romana, when she regenerated at the beginning of “Destiny of the Daleks,” was able to choose between possible forms.

We can be fairly sure that the Doctor can’t do that because, excepting the regeneration from the Second Doctor to the Third Doctor, all his regenerations take place on-screen (even including the fudging of the regeneration from the Sixth to the Seventh Doctor), and there’s no sign of any conscious selection of form in any of them.

But then all of those regenerations have been traumatic ones: the First Doctor’s body wore out at the end of his original’s body’s natural life span; the Second Doctor had his regeneration forced upon him by the Time Lords; the Third Doctor was poisoned; the Fourth Doctor suffered a fall; the Fifth Doctor was poisoned (again); the Sixth Doctor suffered a blow to the head; the Seventh Doctor was shot (and I still haven’t forgiven them for that); and the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration is a mystery, but probably took place at the conclusion of the Time War.

None of these injuries came with any kind of warning.

Except for the Fourth Doctor, in “Logopolis.”

And, as I should have realised while live-blogging, the Fourth Doctor, with his premonitions of the coming regeneration, did fight against it, which creates that lovely, slow, elegiac feeling to the story.

So I qualify my statement somewhat. But I still became irritated by the Tenth Doctor’s complaining.


Tim wrote at Feb 15, 12:05 pm

It irritated me too. The two of them really do their best to sell that scene, though.


Catriona wrote at Feb 15, 12:31 pm

Once they both start tearing up, I get a little whimpery, I admit. But that’s mostly because I want to give Wilf a big hug every time I see him.

It was one of the touches in this episode that I liked—we’ve had three episodes before this that all (to a greater or lesser degree) show the Doctor’s struggle with what he had to do to Donna. But this episode shows that Wilf (and Donna’s mother) are constantly dealing with the consequences of that action, too.


Tim wrote at Feb 16, 01:25 am

You’d think the Doctor could have left his phone number with Wilfred or something. Y’know, ‘If Donna looks like her head is about to explode, call me.’ (I thought there actually was something like that in ‘Journey’s End’, but I must have misremembered.)


Catriona wrote at Feb 16, 01:43 am

Well, there seems to be some degree of inconsistency in this, in that the Doctor says if Donna ever sees him, she’ll remember and her head will explode.

But she saw him at the end of season four, after the lobotomy, and nothing exploded.

I guess it’s a shorthand for “sees me in context.”


Tim wrote at Feb 21, 12:54 am

You wanted more comments, right? :)

I hated the script. Why does the narrator describe Christmas as ‘pagan rites’? That cultural reference makes no sense from his perspective. And the auxiliary ‘did’ sounds like a child’s attempt to make it sound important.

I didn’t find the green-filtered closeups of the Master at all impressive, and they just kept coming.

The Master’s plan doesn’t make sense, though maybe some of this is clarified in the second part. (How does the woman get to the future to recover his ring, for example? And why didn’t he just leave a DNA sample in a safe somewhere instead of assuming his wife wouldn’t wash her lips for a year?)

Lucy’s emoting doesn’t seem to make sense either. If she’s prepared for this moment, there’s no need for her to look surprised or scared. (If it’s meant to be an act to convince the cultists, there should have been more of a cue for the audience.)

The Master turning into crazy hobo/Gallifreyan-cyborg Iron Man is silly, but kind of fitting for New Who, and it does allow for several minutes to be taken up with running around industrial wasteland that might otherwise be spent making sense. It made his capture by Naismith’s men implausible, though.

The ‘Silver Cloak’ thing seemed like a setup that didn’t quite pay off.

Nice to see DC Danny Glaze, if only briefly.

Also: Joshua Naismith is an idiot. The Obama references are embarrassing. The human-Master conversion has a cringingly laughable effect and goes on far too long.


Tim wrote at Feb 22, 02:36 am

A couple of amusing thoughts about this part from one of the bloggers at Behind the Sofa that I wanted to share:

‘We are also led to believe that immediately after the closing moments of The Waters of Mars, when the cloister bell was tolling and the Doctor gritted his teeth and proclaimed a defiant “No!” to the laws of the universe, he immediately nipped back in time so he could shag Elizabeth I. How very heroic.’

‘Actually, if you extrapolate from what we are shown on screen (an entire housing estate populated by John Simm) then your mind will be left with some really weird images that may take some time to dislodge: John Simm discovering himself shagging himself; John Simm as a Victoria’s Secret model in the middle of a calendar shoot; John Simm as Gwen and Rhys’s baby. My head was shaking just as fast as everyone elses, believe me.’

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