by Catriona Mills

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

Posted 21 February 2010 in by Catriona

So here we are for the end of the Tenth Doctor’s reign. Does that count as a spoiler? Nah, don’t think so.

I would like to go on the record at this point to say I really, really hate the tendency that’s cropped up online to refer to the Doctor just be the number of his regeneration: Nine or Ten, usually. I blame the recapper from Television Without Pity, though I can’t honestly say he started it. Either way, I really, really hate it.

I was listening to the news but not watching the telly when the newsreader said, “Next, a rejected rooster makes his debut as a cowboy.” If you don’t know that those are football teams, that’s a seriously weird statement.

Sadly, I was watching the television when they reported on the funeral of that Georgian luger—I really wish they’d told us in advance that it was an open coffin. I didn’t entirely want to see him being carried through the streets in an open coffin.

Heather is joining us again for this episode, but Michelle is not, sadly.

Oh, look: the advert for Doctor Who just gave away a massive spoiler.

But here we are with the episode, recapping what happened last episode, with the red-eyed Ood and Donna’s freakout and the “Master” race and Timothy Dalton’s voiceover.

We open with a shot of Gallifrey, an amazing shot with Dalek saucers crashed and burning in the foreground and, behind them, the dome over the Time Lord city, with a hole smashed in it and the city beyond burning.

So we come to a Time Lord council meeting, where the seeress tells them that this is the last day of the Time Lords. The Doctor has vanished, but he still has “the moment” and will use it to destroy Time Lords and Daleks alike.

The council’s token woman suggests that maybe it’s time to end it: that though this is only the far edge of the Time War, people are dying in blood and terror across the universe, and time itself is unravelling. But Timothy Dalton disagrees, and burns her alive with his magic glove.

He will not die, he says.

So another council member, who doesn’t want to die either, tells Timothy Dalton (who I shall call The Narrator) that there will be two children of Gallifrey remaining, whose eternal enmity will come to a final conclusion on Earth.

On Earth, the Master has tied both Wilf and the Doctor to chairs.

NICK: The Master would have waited about thirty seconds and then started plotting against himself.

As the Master is plotting, Wilf’s phone rings, which the Master says is impossible, because he’s not ringing Wilf, so who would be?

Wilf explains about the meta-crisis, and the Master says, “Oh, he loves playing with Earth girls.”

Wilf shouts to Donna to run, but Donna’s trapped by Master clones, and stuck to one place by her reviving memories of her life with the Doctor—which then cause a blinding golden light to flash down the alleyway, taking out the Master clones and causing Donna to faint.

The Doctor’s grinning, and Heather says “What a bastard!”

But when the Master strips the Doctor’s gag off, the Doctor just says, “Do you really think I’d leave my best friend without a defense?”

He tells Wilf that Donna’s fine: she’ll just sleep. But, Doctor, you said if she remembered you her brain would burn and she’d die! Now I’m bewildered.

The Master asks for the Doctor’s TARDIS, but the Doctor just tells him, “You could be so magnificent.” He wants the Master to travel the universe with him, saying that he doesn’t need to own the universe, just see it.

Then the Master tells, again, the story of how he first heard the drumbeat in his head after he was taken, as an initiation, to stare into the Untempered Schism.

And we cut to The Narrator, saying the drumbeat is the mark of a warrior. One of the other council members, who clearly has a death wish, says that it’s a sign of insanity, but The Narrator says no: “It’s the heartbeat of a Time Lord.”

Because it’s four beats. I wonder if that’s significant?

What the Master realises now, though, is that six billion people on Earth have the same drumbeat in their heads, so he can triangulate its original location.

Demanding to know the location of the TARDIS, the Master orders one of his heavily helmeted guards to kill Wilf. But the Doctor says that even after all this time, the Master is still incredibly stupid.

Because that guard is one inch too tall.

Because it’s not a Master clone, it’s one of the Cactus People.

WILF: God bless the cactuses.
DOCTOR: That’s cacti.
CACTUS: That’s racist.

After some frenetic running through the corridors—during which the Doctor is still tied to his chair, and declares it to be the “worst rescue ever”—the female Cactus Person teleports them all to their ship, which Heather declares the cutest spaceship ever.

Wilf is amazed that he’s in space, but the Doctor needs the engine room. The Cactus Woman says that they’re safe in space, but the Doctor points out that the Master has control of every missile on Earth.

So he kills the engines, so that the ship gives no sign of life whatsoever.

Just to be on the safe side, the Master (in the guise of a soldier) destroys the Earth-end of the teleport technology, so that the Doctor is stranded.

The Cactus People are furious, because they’re stranded in orbit with no way down. Wilf says he’s sure that the Doctor has something up his sleeve, but, as it turns out, he doesn’t.

We pan back from the Cutest Spaceship Ever, now drifting dead and dark with the Earth below it.

The Master demands that all of him—all six billion of him—just concentrate on the signal, on that Time Lord heartbeat beating in his head. When they do, he says, “The sound is tangible. Someone could only have designed this. But who?”

Oh, who indeed?

The Time Lords, that’s who. Sending the signal back through time from a moment just before they are locked in the Time Bubble, after the end of the Time War.

I’m typing “Time” with a capital T a great deal in this live-blog.

But the Time Lords need something tangible to attach to the signal—and, sure enough, there’s the appropriate object on the end of The Narrator’s staff. Whatever it is, it comes streaming down to Earth: the Doctor sees it pass from the Cutest Spaceship Ever, and the Master sends his men out to find it.

And they do. It’s a diamond. But not just any diamond: it’s a white point star.

This news delights the Master, who starts laughing hysterically—as though the Master could laugh any other way.

Back on the Cutest Spaceship Ever, Wilf is wandering around, calling for the Doctor and declaring himself lost.

“And yet you were found,” says Claire Bloom, popping up behind him in her white suit.

She asks Wilf if he armed himself, and he shows his gun. She says that at the end of his life, the Doctor will need to take up arms or he will fail.

When Wilf finds the Doctor, the latter is trying to fix the heating in the Cutest Spaceship Ever. Wilf’s rather delighted: “I’m an astronaut!” he says, slapping his thighs. But when he spots Earth, he worries, first, that he might never be able to visit his wife’s grave again, and, second, that the Master might have turned even the dead into his own clones.

Wilf starts talking about his war experience, but cuts himself off, saying that the Doctor doesn’t want to hear an old man’s stories.

DOCTOR: I’m older than you.
WILF: Get away.
DOCTOR: I’m 906.

Wilf finds this staggering, as you would.

WILF: We must look like insects to you.
DOCTOR: I think you look like giants.

Wilf tries to hand his gun to the Doctor, but the Doctor steadfastly refuses it, pointing out that Wilf had the gun on him in Naismith’s manor but didn’t shoot the Master.

DOCTOR: I would be proud.
WILF: What?
DOCTOR: If you were my father.

Wilf asks what happens if the Master is killed. The Doctor says that the template will snap, and they will revert to their original forms.

WILF: Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare put him above them. You take this gun. That’s an order. You take this gun, and you save your life. And don’t you die.

But at this point, the Master begins an open broadcast, telling the Doctor about the white point star.

This freaks the Doctor out. He tells the anxious Wilf that white point stars are only found on Galifrey, so this means “it’s the Time Lords. The Time Lords are returning.”

Wilf says that’s a good thing, surely. He says, “They’re your people.”

But the Doctor takes the gun, and he runs.

Using the white point star, the Master reverses the signal, opening a pathway.

The Narrator walks into something that looks rather like the senate from the Star Wars prequels. (Thought Nick calls it the panopticon.) The Narrator says that this is the time when Gallifrey falls or Gallifrey rises—and the Time Lords chant “Gallifrey rises! Gallifrey rises!”

On the Cutest Spaceship Ever, the Doctor explains that the entire Time War was time-locked, and nothing can get out. Except for something that was already there.

The signal! says Wilf. Since the Master was a child!

Man, time paradoxes give me a headache.

The Doctor, saying “Allons-y!”, sends the Cutest Spaceship Ever (now with restored power) flying straight back to Earth at an insane speed, while Wilf and the Cactus Man re-enact that scene from Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon is escaping the Death Star.

Now, just remember: don’t get cocky.

I would think that causing a cruise missile to blow up this close to the Cutest Spaceship Ever would actually cause the ship to blow anyway, but then I’m not actually a scientist.

The Master knows that the Doctor is coming to Naismith manor, but he says it’s too late—and, sure enough, The Narrator says that only two voted against the plan for the Time Lords’ return. We see those two, one a woman and one perhaps not, standing behind The Narrator with their hands covering their faces.

Then The Narrator raises his staff, and opens a glowing passage, as the Doctor launches himself from the spaceship and—as Nick coughs “Bullshit!” into his hand—falls through the skylight onto the ground in Naismith manor.

But, though he raises the gun, it’s only to see The Narrator and his companions standing in front of him.

The Master tells The Narrator, whom he addresses as “Mr President,” that he intends to transplant himself into all the Time Lords, as well. But the President merely raises his glowing glove, and reverses the Master’s process, turning everyone back into themselves.

The Doctor’s not really paying attention, though, because the Time Lords never really meant to just bring themselves back.

DOCTOR: Don’t you ever listen? “Something is returning.” Not someone, something. It’s Gallifrey.

And it certainly is—right on top of Earth, throwing our planet out of orbit.

NICK: Oh, I think the Elgin Marbles are gone for good this time.

People flee, just as Wilf makes it into Naismith manor. Wilf sees a man trapped in one of those radiation-proof booths, and runs to let him out (which he can only do by locking himself in the other booth).

The Master still thinks that the return of Gallifrey is a good thing, but Doctor says that the Master wasn’t there at the end. He didn’t see what Gallifrey became, and what monstrosities arose—monstrosities like the Nightmare Child, who could have been king, with his army of meanwhiles and neverweres.

I love that description.

But the President says that the Time Lords will ascend to beings of pure consciousness, ripping time apart in the process.

That, says the Doctor, is what they were planning in the final days of the war.

So the Doctor stands and draws his gun, training it on the President. The Master eggs him on, but the Doctor spins around, to train the gun on the Master because, after all, the link is in the Master’s head. Then he spins back to the President.

But before he can decide, the woman behind the President drops her hands from her face. It’s Claire Bloom, and she’s weeping.

So the Doctor spins again, and tells the Master to get out of the way. Instead of shooting the Master, he shoots the machine, breaking the link.

“Back into hell, Rassilon,” he says.

Wait, what? Rassilon? That’s Rassilon?

Damn.

Then, as the Time Lords fade away, the Master realises that these are the people who drove him mad for their own purposes. And he shoots Rassilon with the lasers from his hands.

I’ll just say that again, shall I?

The Master shoots Rassilon with the lasers from his hands.

Gallifrey withdraws from the sky, and the Earth settles down. The Doctor takes a deep breath.

And then Wilf, trapped in his booth, knocks four times on the glass.

Four times.

The Doctor knows what this means. The Master left the “nuclear bolt” running, so the machine is going into overload. And it’s gone critical. So if the Doctor touches one control, the booth will flood with radiation.

Wilf knows what this means.

WILF: All right, then. Just leave me.
DOCTOR: All right, then, I will. Because you had to go in there. You had to go and get yourself stuck, didn’t you? Because that’s who you are. Waiting for me all this time.
WILF: Seriously, leave me. I’m an old man.
DOCTOR: Exactly. Look at you. Not remotely important. But me: I could do so much more.

Look, Doctor? You know I love you. I have loved you for my entire life, and will love you for the rest of my life. But you’re really trying my patience right now.

But, of course, he steps into the booth, and releases Wilf, taking the fatal dose of radiation himself.

DOCTOR: Wilf, it would be my honour.
ME: Just ignore all that abuse I just levelled at you about how much less important than me you are.

But the Doctor doesn’t die and he doesn’t regenerate. He tells Wilf that the system is dead, that he absorbed all the radiation. Wilf says, “Well, here we are, then. Safe and sound.”

He points out that the Doctor is carrying some battle scars, but the Doctor runs his hands over his face, and the cuts disappear.

We know what that means: we’ve seen him regrow his hand, remember?

He tells Wilf that “it’s started,” and Wilf falls into the Doctor’s arms.

Donna, in her mother’s home, comes back to consciousness as we hear the TARDIS materialise in the street. She says, “What happened? Did I miss something, again?” And it seems to me that this suggests she is not quite the same Donna, because the old Donna didn’t care if she missed things.

Wilf asks where the Doctor is going, and he says, “To get my reward.”

And we cut to Martha, running through a wasteland towards Mickey, while being fired on by a Sontaran.

MICKEY: And this is no place for a married woman.
MARTHA: Well, then, you shouldn’t have married me.

Wait, what? The hell?

The Doctor pops up behind the Sontaran, kills him, and stands dramatically on the platform just long enough for Martha and Mickey to see him.

Then we cut to Sarah Jane Smith’s son, wandering along the road chatting on his phone, failing to see a car—though the Doctor knocks him out of the way and saves his life. Sarah knows what’s happening: she was there when the Third Doctor regenerated in “Planet of the Spiders.”

Then we’re in the cantina on Mos Eisley—or, as Heather suggests, the restaurant at the end of the universe—where a post-Children of Earth Jack is drowning his sorrows. He slips Jack a note, allowing Jack to pick up Alonzo from “Voyage of the Damned” with a quick “Going my way?”

Then we’re back on Earth, where Verity Newman, grand-daughter of Joan the matron in “Human Nature”/“Family of Blood” is signing copies of the book she wrote based on her grandmother’s memories. He asks if Joan was happy, and Verity says “Yes, she was. Were you?”

He walks away.

We’re at the church with Donna on her wedding day. The Doctor watches from outside the church gate, and Sylvia and Wilf head over to greet him.

Wilf’s delighted, because the Doctor has the “same old face.” So he thinks everything is going to be all right.

Wilf says, “There’s one thing you never told me, Doctor. That woman: who was she?”

The Doctor says nothing, but glances over at Donna.

He hands them an envelope, saying he wanted to drop by a wedding present. But he never has any money, so he borrowed a pound from a lovely man: Geoffrey Noble.

Sylvia weeps.

When Donna opens the envelope, she says a lottery ticket is a “cheap wedding present” but you never know: it’s the treble rollover the week and she might get lucky.

Sylvia and Wilf grab each others’ hands and grin.

But when the Doctor turns his back and we hear the TARDIS dematerialise, Wilf watches him leave and weeps.

I whimper a little, because Bernard Cribbens weeping always makes me wants to weep, too.

And that would be Rose’s theme rising in the background, and Rose and Jackie walk across the estate. Jackie leaves, and Rose sees the Doctor, staggering and shaking in the background.

She assumes he’s had too much to drink, especially when he asks what year it is.

It’s January 1, 2005.

The Doctor tells Rose that she’s going to have a great year, and she offers him the same wish, before walking away.

The Doctor is shaking and moaning. He falls to his knees in the snow—and an Ood appears before him, saying, “We will sing to you, Doctor. The universe will sing you to your sleep.”

A lovely choral melody arises, as we see the Oods in their city linking hands.

OOD SIGMA: This song is ending. But the story never ends.

Much like this live-blogging, then.

The Doctor makes it back into the TARDIS, and as his hands begin to glow, I realise that I have no idea what happened to the Master. Does anyone know? Did I just miss it in the live-blogging frenzy, or was it skimmed over?

The TARDIS leaves Earth, and the Tenth Doctor takes a long, shuddering breath, saying, “I don’t want to go.”

But he has no choice: the regeneration process has started.

And this time, apparently, it sets fire to the TARDIS, and blows out its windows. I guess that’s a function of the radiation?

And here’s the Eleventh Doctor. For the first time, the Doctor is younger than me.

Of course, the TARDIS is on fire, but he seems more concerned with wondering whether he’s a girl or not, and whether he’s finally ginger.

But no: he realises that he’s crashing, just in time to shout “Geronimo!” into the closing credits.

And thus ends the reign of the Tenth Doctor.

Share your thoughts [27]

1

Matthew Smith wrote at Feb 21, 10:47 AM

Great live blogging as always but what did you do with Heather? Not a single [redacted] comment tonight! I guess she’s more of a Torchwood fan. I thought this whole thing got pretty overblown and the suspension on my disbelief was really bottoming out but Tennant has been so popular, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t go out without a long Rose-esque flash-backy sentimental montage scene. The bit where he rants at Wilf was just to show off his Shakespearian monologue skills. I think Matt Smith and co are going to be hard pressed to follow his act so I’m guessing they are wisely going to take it in a completely new direction so as to avoid the “He’s no David Tenant” syndrome.

2

Leigh wrote at Feb 21, 11:04 AM

OOD SIGMA: This song is ending. But the story never ends.

Much like this live-blogging, then.”

Hehehe

3

Catriona wrote at Feb 21, 11:30 AM

Matt, there were some [REDACTED] comments, but I didn’t have time to transcribe them, because I was too busy saying, “Did you see that the Master just shot Rassilon with lasers from his hands? Did that actually happen?”

I wasn’t a big fan of this episode. I do get that Tennant is dearly beloved, and I liked him myself. I had some serious reservations about the direction in which they took the Tenth Doctor—mostly to do with his Messiah complex and selective memory loss—but they were to do with the writing, not with David Tennant himself.

For me, though, there’ll never be a trauma to match the Fourth Doctor’s regeneration. I mentioned last week that there are shades in “The End of Time” of “Logopolis,” but the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration just didn’t destroy me the way that the Fourth Doctor’s did.

I have some serious problems with this episode, but I’ll wait and see what other commenters think first.

I imagine Tim will have something to say, but I also imagine it’s too difficult for him to type right now, what with his hands being clenched into fists.

4

Tim wrote at Feb 21, 12:22 PM

What was that shit?

5

Quintus Sertorius wrote at Feb 21, 01:33 PM

It really was a case of Russell T. Davies not being able to help himself. He ticked all the boxes:

* Make sure absolutely every companion or semi-companion, all the way back to day zero, makes an appearance.

* Throw in some implausible plot twists and wacky stunts, because we all know that the more of that that you cram in an episode, the better it will be…

* Insert lots of random dodgy technobabble (Lucy Saxon’s attempt to derail the Master’s resurrection being the worst example of many).

* Cheese cheese and more cheese.

Rassilon? NO. NO And again, NO. RTD even managed to squeeze in references to both Star Wars and Star Trek (Wrath of Khan, death of Spock)… At least it was better than The Next Doctor. Cyber King?? Ugh. And don’t get me started on the putrid Love and Monsters.

This episode even managed to piss off Mrs Sertorius, and you don’t want to do THAT unless you have a loyal cohort or two of well-armed legionnaires in front of you.

Someone should tell RTD: Less is More. Hopefully he’s got it all out of his system now and can concentrate on Torchwood.

6

Catriona wrote at Feb 21, 01:42 PM

Tim, congratulations on being able to type with your knuckles! I’m assuming you haven’t actually managed to unclench your fists yet.

Yep, the first time I watched this, I thought, “Oh, man, Tim is going to hate this.” I’m not glad to be proved right on that, but I’m not surprised that I was.

Quintus Sertorius, I almost entirely agree with you, except that I don’t want Russell T. Davies to concentrate on Torchwood unless he’s definitely got it all out of his system.

I admit, I didn’t spot the Wrath of Khan references, though I should have, because I love that film. But the Star Wars references came thick and fast, didn’t they? I could have forgiven the cantina scene and even the senate scene, but the Millennium Falcon’s escape from the Death Star was a bit much for my usually willing suspension of disbelief.

And do you know what annoyed me the most about Rassilon? It was so cheap.

PROGRAMME: Take that, Rassilon!
AUDIENCE: Who?
PROGRAMME: Never mind now. He’s dead and we’re not giving you a back story anyway.

You can’t just throw in Rassilon as a one-liner, and leave him at that. You just can’t.

7

Heather wrote at Feb 21, 08:37 PM

Just popping in to say there was SO many [REDACTED] comments flying from my mouth-a lot of “WHAT THE F!@$* WAS THAT?!?!?!”-but Treena was too busy a) typing and b) agreeing.

I think RTD just threw up onto a page and said “Here…this looks good…make sure you throw in ‘radiation’ and ‘Rassilon’. OOOH OOH! And ‘Regeneration’. All the “R“s people! ALL THE “R“s!”.

That was a totally shite (yes…SHITE) episode. All that whinging about dying and then it taking FOR-EV-ER…by the time the Doctor got to Rose I was like “GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!”. (PS Rose is looking so un-Rose-like in that scene, too skinny or too much eyebrows or not enough bum or something). Also, WTF with the Regeneration causing the TARDIS to turn into the blazing inferno? SERIOUSLY? WTF?!?!? Was it the RADIATION, Russell??

Anyway, all around a big let-down and not a really fitting way to say good-bye to David Tennant’s Doctor.

8

Catriona wrote at Feb 21, 09:12 PM

You know, I’m really surprised that no one’s said, “How the hell did Martha end up married to Mickey?”

9

Wendy wrote at Feb 21, 09:24 PM

That was going to be my first question actually!! Plus what was going on with Rose’s hair…way too long and straight. Being a Doctor Who newbie fan I had no idea who or what Rassilon might be which was a bit annoying. And I agree David Tennant got to ham up his “serious” actor skills with some soliloquilising (that’s probably not a word..or if it is i’ve spelt it incorrectly). Someone on twitter described Mr Tennant’s performance as “face-scrunching”.
Plus why did it take so long for him to re-generate. He had time to go back and revisit all those companions etc??
And yes where is the Master now?
There seemed to be a lot of time wasting…yakking on about time vortexes and codes and locks that I didn’t understand. It could have all been over in one episode I reckon.
I don’t know much about Star Trek but the Star Wars scenes really actually annoyed me.
And what about Donna’s brain? How come it didn’t explode? Or did I miss that in the gabble.
All that being said I liked David Tennant a lot and this new young fella didn’t really impress me on first sight.

10

Catriona wrote at Feb 21, 10:11 PM

Wendy, the failure to give Rassilon some sort of back story is highly frustrating: it seems a strange move to me, since fans of the original series are going to be irritated by Rassilon’s use as, essentially, a one-liner, and fans (exclusively) of the new series are going to be confused as to why this character is suddenly being called Rassilon.

Rassilon (and to some extent his friend and colleague, Omega) is the founder of Time Lord society, the man who created the time travel technology that made them Time Lords. He has appeared in prior episodes of the show, most notably (in my opinion, anyway) “The Five Doctors.”

He’s rather a shadowy figure: since he was the first Lord President of Gallifrey, he’s originally said to be a benevolent figure, in keeping with the idea of the man who set up the guardians of Time. But there are hints that he was cruel and opportunistic, and may in fact have been deposed by the Time Lords.

It doesn’t help that Rassilon’s tower (or tomb) stands in the centre of the Death Zone, where Time Lords used to force captured aliens to fight in gladiatorial contests, in the Dark Time.

So there’s an odd, complicated back story there that either Davies expected everyone to have at their fingertips or, he felt, didn’t matter in the slightest. And if it doesn’t matter in the slightest, then why name The Narrator Rassilon at all? May as well call him “President Borusa” and let people Google it if they want.

I suppose we could be grateful that it wasn’t Romana.

Oh, and the Donna thing? That really annoyed. Really annoyed me. So Donna comes back into the show, with the culmination of the threats about what remembering the Doctor will do to her, and what?

Nothing! Nothing happened to her!

I didn’t want her to die, but we were explicitly told that she would die. And apparently not: instead, she has some kind of mystical defense shield.

11

Deb wrote at Feb 22, 12:54 AM

Hated it. I thought it was a load of self-indulgent twaddle. Not a fan of Tennant-lite either (Matt Smith).

12

Tim wrote at Feb 22, 01:29 AM

> You know, I’m really surprised that no one’s said, “How the hell did Martha end up married to Mickey?”

That was pretty high on my list of WTF moments too.

> NICK: The Master would have waited about thirty seconds and then started plotting against himself.

Indeed. I couldn’t understand why his copies were all taking orders from him so readily. We can perhaps hypothesise that he implanted some sort of command override when he programmed the Gate, but it would still seem daft.

I also think he should have been less surprised at the phone ringing, as we know there are heaps of aliens visiting Earth all the time. But he is mad, admittedly.

> He tells Wilf that Donna’s fine: she’ll just sleep. But, Doctor, you said if she remembered you her brain would burn and she’d die! Now I’m bewildered.

Donna didn’t remember him, though; just some other stuff. Yeah, yeah, I know. (And hey, I thought Sarah Jane was his best friend!)

> monstrosities like the Nightmare Child, who could have been king, with his army of meanwhiles and neverweres.

Easy to miss, but these are separate: ‘The Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his army of meanwhiles and neverwheres’. (Also note the Nightmare Child was referred to in ‘Journey’s End’.)

> But before he can decide, the woman behind the President drops her hands from her face. It’s Claire Bloom, and she’s weeping.

Why does the President drag along the two dissenting voters, I wonder? And why do they stand there for several minutes holding their hands in front of their faces? There must be an answer other than ‘cheap theatricality’, mustn’t there?

Much as I loathe the whole thing, I think the episode could have been almost bearable if there’d been more action in that confrontation. As they’d gone with Iron Man Master in part I, why not have him throw down with SuperRassilon, smashing each other through walls, tearing apart the mansion, while MasterClones exchange gunfire with the Chancellery Guard? Or just something more than the President and the Master standing there ranting at each other while the Doctor tries to remember what he can use Chekhov’s Wilf’s gun on.

> And then Wilf, trapped in his booth, knocks four times on the glass.

This was one of the few moments in the episode that actually worked for me. Not even the excessive contrivance required to get the Doctor into the booth (‘touch one control, it floods’) spoiled it.

> borrowed a dollar from a lovely man: Geoffrey Noble.

To nitpick: a pound. :)

> The Doctor makes it back into the TARDIS, and as his hands begin to glow, I realise that I have no idea what happened to the Master. Does anyone know? Did I just miss it in the live-blogging frenzy, or was it skimmed over?

IIRC, he vanishes into the whiteness along with the other Time Lords as he’s blasting the President.

> And this time, apparently, it sets fire to the TARDIS, and blows out its windows. I guess that’s a function of the radiation?

The script suggests that the damage in the control room is caused by excess regeneration energy (though why that didn’t happen last time is anyone’s guess).

> Of course, the TARDIS is on fire, but he seems more concerned with wondering whether he’s a girl or not…

Urgh. They went there, really? The Doctor thinks he might be a girl just because he has long hair? Really?

13

Catriona wrote at Feb 22, 02:00 AM

Deb, if you hated it, you’re in good company here. The thing that gets me (well, one of the things that gets me) is that we’re all big, big fans here. We’re not uncritical fans, but we’re big fans. And we all disliked it.

Tim, on the subject of the phone ringing and aliens visiting the Earth all the time, I was surprised we didn’t see any evidence of that. Were we supposed to think that the Master, the Doctor, and the Cactus People were the only aliens on Earth at the time? What about the weevils running nuts in Cardiff? Maybe we’re just supposed to assume there wasn’t enough time to show the reactions of Earth’s alien population.

>Donna didn’t remember him, though; just some other stuff. Yeah, yeah, I know.

I was thinking myself that Donna didn’t exactly remember the Doctor, but you and I both know that’s just sophistry (as you indicated). And, for all she’s his best friend, we never actually got any explanation of what the hell was going on with Donna or why her brain didn’t boil, despite the repeated warnings about what would happen.

>Why does the President drag along the two dissenting voters, I wonder? And why do they stand there for several minutes holding their hands in front of their faces? There must be an answer other than ‘cheap theatricality’, mustn’t there?

Rassilon made some passing reference to “the lonely angels of old” or the “weeping angels” or something along those lines, which made me wonder if it was tied into “Blink” or simply borrowing the same terminology. But I didn’t have time to address it in the live-blogging.

On the same note, I’m seriously annoyed that Claire Bloom is, apparently, the Doctor’s mother (and that Russell T. Davies has confirmed this, instead of, as he originally said he was going to do, leaving it up to viewer interpretation). The Doctor’s mother has never been a significant part of the mythos: I don’t recall hearing her mentioned, though I’m sure she has been. For me, that moment would have had emotional resonance if the woman had been Susan. But making it the Doctor’s mother seems like cheap sentimentality.

>Easy to miss, but these are separate: ‘The Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his army of meanwhiles and neverwheres’. (Also note the Nightmare Child was referred to in ‘Journey’s End’.)

I did note the reference to the Nightmare Child in “Journey’s End”—that’s what destroyed Davros’s command carrier, yes? But thanks for the other correction: I had no idea those were separate entities. I still love that description, though. Davies can do telling details nicely when he wants to. I won’t correct it in the live-blogging, though: sometimes these mistakes just happen, and this was a difficult blog.

(And is it never wheres? Or never weres? I thought I heard time over place, if that makes sense.)

>To nitpick: a pound. :)

This I will correct!

>This was one of the few moments in the episode that actually worked for me. Not even the excessive contrivance required to get the Doctor into the booth (‘touch one control, it floods’) spoiled it.

Yes, me too. There were some moments with Wilf that struck me as lovely: when he weeps as the Doctor turns away from Donna’s wedding is another one. But most of the Wilf-moments I liked had to do with Bernard Cribbens’s acting, not the script. This was, I admit, a nice script moment.

>The script suggests that the damage in the control room is caused by excess regeneration energy (though why that didn’t happen last time is anyone’s guess).

Anyone’s guess or just another gaping hole in either the plot or the continuity?

>Urgh. They went there, really? The Doctor thinks he might be a girl just because he has long hair? Really?

Yeah. If I’d had any energy left at that point, I would have ranted a bit about that. But my fingers were about to fall off.

Plus, what about the First Doctor and the Eighth Doctor? Frankly, none of the Doctors have exactly had short-back-and-sides, except for the Ninth Doctor. Even the Tenth Doctor’s New Romantic pompadour got out of control half the time.

Really, at this stage I’m just clinging on to my memories of “Midnight”—and that barely by my fingernails. Davies can do better than this. Just so, so disappointing.

14

Tim wrote at Feb 22, 02:30 AM

> Rassilon made some passing reference to “the lonely angels of old” or the “weeping angels” or something along those lines, which made me wonder if it was tied into “Blink” or simply borrowing the same terminology. But I didn’t have time to address it in the live-blogging.

Oh, good point. ‘The vote is taken. Only two stand against. And will stand as monument to their shame, like the Weeping Angels of old.’ Which does make at least some effort to justify dragging them along, and is, as you say, suggestive of ‘Blink’.

> (And is it never wheres? Or never weres? I thought I heard time over place, if that makes sense.)

Oh, sorry, my typo; should be ‘neverweres’. (Maybe I was thinking about the news that Neil Gaiman will be writing an episode. ;))

Thinking about it some more, I think what really killed this story for me was (a) the recasting of the Time Lords as psychopaths and (b) the tediously sentimental drawnout farewells.

15

Matthew Smith wrote at Feb 22, 03:08 AM

According to IMDB, Claire Bloom’s character is just The Woman. What was going on there? I thought it might be someone from The Doctor’s history but apparently not?

16

John wrote at Feb 22, 04:30 AM

Yes, agree with all of the above, especially the Rassilon stuff.

But occasionally something special shines through:

WILF: We must look like insects to you.
DOCTOR: I think you look like giants.

Damn! Got me again (glad we watched it in a dark room). Because we know the Doctor is sincere about this. He has said similar things previously—remember his speech to Nancy in either The Empty Child or The Doctor Dances.

Forget the ranting when Wilf is locked in the chamber—we know the Doctor will let him out. The Doctor knows he will let him out. After all that, it’s such a stupid way to die! I’d rant too.

17

Catriona wrote at Feb 22, 06:27 AM

But, John, it’s not a stupid way to die! How is it any stupider than the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration in “The Caves of Androzani,” when he died for Peri (and I think for Adric, a little)?

Why should Wilf have to carry, for the rest of his life, the burden that he killed the Doctor and the Doctor resented it? That would haunt me at 3 a.m. for the rest of my life, if I were him.

Now, the Sixth Doctor, his regeneration was a stupid way to die.

Matt, The Woman is apparently identified by Russell T. Davies as the Doctor’s mother in the latest edition of The Writer’s Tale. I did a bit of Googling, and according to this site, what he actually said was

I like leaving it open, because then you can imagine what you want. I think the fans will say it’s Romana. Or even the Rani. Some might say that it’s Susan’s mother, I suppose. But of course it’s meant to be the Doctor’s mother.

So the one he doesn’t mention Susan herself, or even the Doctor’s (presumed) wife, Susan’s grandmother: we can add those to the list of possibles, I suppose.

I’d like to think it was Susan.

18

Nick wrote at Feb 22, 07:28 AM

The moment of regeneration is when Davies’s script stops and Moffat’s begins — so the “I’m a girl” bit is his fault. Possibly a hat-tip to Joanna Lumley! But a bit of a misstep. Though I was amused to see it confirmed that Time Lords have Adam’s Apples.

The core problem I had with the episode, and indeed every Davies finale, is that although he’s probably the UK’s best modern kitchen-sink dramatist and his evocation of the everyday in dialogue can’t be matched, he’s a terrible writer of dialogue in the epic register (except for when he’s naming things).

19

Tim wrote at Feb 22, 08:12 AM

> he’s probably the UK’s best modern kitchen-sink dramatist and his evocation of the everyday in dialogue can’t be matched…

Come again?

20

Wendy wrote at Feb 22, 08:58 AM

I thought a better ending would have been for us not to see the regeneration or the brief reunions with the companions etc at all. just stop at Tennant looking at his hand etc.

Wilf was highlight I agree…and the knocking on the glass was a good moment.

I was unaware of any timelord history/backstory and without reading anything at all before watching it, for me the very strong implication was that the woman was the doctor’s mother.

21

Catriona wrote at Feb 22, 10:09 AM

I don’t know, Wendy. I think we needed to see the regeneration sequence: it’s traditional, as much as anything. Even the Sixth Doctor regenerated on screen—sort of. I mean, it was technically the Seventh Doctor in a wig, but we still saw the regeneration. People want to see the new Doctor, I think, even though it’s less of a surprise to us in this post-Internet age than it used to be in the 1960s and 1970s.

I agree that I would have dropped all the stuff about the Tenth Doctor’s “reward,” though: apart from anything else, it was all so . . . odd. Yet another chance to have Rose appear, when I thought she was safely off in her alternative universe with her Doctor-clone.

And, seriously, what was up with Mickey and Martha? What happened to Tom?

22

Drew wrote at Feb 23, 06:42 AM

nothing more to add. It was total shite. Oh wait, I do have something to add. The Doctor telling Rose she’s going to have a great year. A year of terror, of having her mother believe that she was dead, of ending up being trapped in an alternate universe forever. Sure what Rose had with the Doctor was the adventure of her life, but it must have been harrowing and painful at times, full of fear and death. Of course she emerged a better person for it all, but to say casually that it was a “great year” makes it sound like she rented a villa in Tuscany for a while. RTD did some great episodes but I am so glad he is gone. Bring on the next season and a new Doctor, woohoo!

23

Catriona wrote at Feb 24, 01:41 AM

Nick still maintains it wasn’t total shite, but I was deeply, deeply disappointed. I love Bernard Cribben dearly, and David Tennant emotes well, but still: so, so disappointing.

24

Tim wrote at Feb 24, 06:37 AM

If you love Bernard Cribbins, why do you spell his name incorrectly? :)

25

Catriona wrote at Feb 24, 07:37 AM

Two reasons, really: firstly, because I’m an appalling speller, and secondly, as a cynical ploy to generate more comments on the blog.

My plan is coming together beautifully!

;)

26

Melissa Graf wrote at Feb 27, 01:12 AM

I missed it all on FTV, thanks to being on holiday in Kakadu (that wasn’t a complaint, really; I do prefer holidays to Doctor Who time), AND I hadn’t downloaded it. Bless you and your live-blogging! :)

27

Catriona wrote at Feb 27, 12:14 PM

You’re more than welcome!

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