by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Adrift"

Posted 27 November 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, no. I remember which episode this is!

What’s say we just skip the live-blogging for this week? What do you say to that?

. . .

No? Really? Oh, okay, then.

Let’s just get through this and then we can watch a documentary about Bon Jovi.

This one contains coarse language and violence. Torchwood is really not coming up to scratch with the sex, lately.

Opening monologue.

We open on a bridge. And a moon. A boy is walking across the bridge, which looks like many other bridges in the world. He gets a text message from his mum, telling him that he’s nine minutes late. He looks up, and can see her watching from the window of their house, just at the edge of the bridge. He texts back, “Chill.”

But then a high wind springs up, and lightning crackles around him, and we see his phone fall down the ground.


Jonah Bevan was born in 1993, and disappeared, says Gwen’s friend Andy, seven months ago. He’s talking to Gwen because Jonah’s mum insists that there was no one around at the time when Jonah disappeared.

Gwen isn’t paying much attention, though: she wants to know where Andy was at the wedding. But Andy says he didn’t want to sit and watch her “pledge her stupid life” to Rhys, who, he says, could stand to lose a couple of pounds.

Apparently, they have some history, Gwen and Andy.

But Andy wants to talk about Jonah. He points out that there’s some odd kind of light in the last image the security cameras took of of Jonah—and, forty-five minutes later, there’s Jack turning up in the Torchwoodmobile.

Gwen asks Tosh about Rift activity (there was none), and asks Jack what he was doing there, but Jack says he can’t remember. He says there’s a cute little coffee shop out there, and it must just have been a coincidence.

He can’t stay, he says. He’s going weevil hunting with Ianto. I’m waiting for Gwen to say “Is that what you’re calling it these days?” but she disappoints me.

In a coffee shop with Andy, Gwen says there’s nothing she can do. But Andy accuses her of covering the whole thing up, and says that she’s hard now: the old Gwen would have been up talking to Mrs Bevan in a flash.

Of course, next thing we know, she’s knocking on Mrs Bevan’s door. And this whole sequence is horrible, because, of course, Mrs Bevan thinks that Jonah has run away. She spends most of her time watching videos of crowd footage—football matches, concerts, and so on—trying to pick him out of the crowd. And she sometimes sleeps in his room, because the pillow still smells like him—though, she says, the more she does it, the more it smells like her. And she sits in his room and imagines that she’s him—and keeps his diary for him.

It’s all so horribly sad.

And Gwen, when she gets home, is really not in the mood to talk about babies, as Rhys says they’ve been planning to do. But she is in the mood to practice.

Sadly, the post-practice cuddling the next morning is interrupted by a phone call from Tosh.

Tosh says she noticed what she calls a “negative Rift spike” at the time that Jonah disappeared: they’ve been thinking that these readings were irrelevant, but, since this coincided with Jonah’s disappearance, Tosh is wondering is maybe the Rift takes things rather than simply leaving things behind.

Gwen asks if they can keep this to themselves, and she heads out to the support-group meeting that Jonah’s mother has set up for people in her situation. (Andy tried to find her a support group, but there weren’t any, so she started one.) Andy’s there, too, but no one else—at least not at first, but people start pouring into the church hall that Nicky has hired, and neither Andy nor Gwen can cope.

Gwen says that she offered to help Andy look for one lad, but Gwen says she can’t cope with the forty or fifty other missing people whose families are in the church hall. Andy says that they’re not part of the investigation, but Gwen says that of course they are: find a pattern, and maybe they’ll find Jonah.

So she asks Tosh to cross-reference these missing people with negative Rift spikes, and see if there’s a pattern. Oh, and preferably some CCTV footage.

And, sure enough, there are negative Rift spikes for missing person after missing person—there’s a wall papered with Gwen’s paperwork on the missing people.

“Now we tell Jack,” Gwen says.

Gwen explains that Cardiff has an epidemic of missing people, far more than comparable cities. And it’s because of the Rift.

Hey, Owen! I forgot you were in this show.

Jack says that this is good work, but he doesn’t know what she wants him to do about it. Jack says there’s nothing they can do.

Gwen says that they can help the survivors, but Jack says that’s not what they do. He tells Gwen to shut it down, and storms out. Ianto goes after him, saying that he’ll have a word with Jack.

Owen says, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

GWEN: Oh, bollocks to serenity.

We can see, as Gwen sits at the conference table, Ianto talking to Jack—we can’t hear what they’re saying, but Jack gestures emphatically and storms off, and Ianto turns to look apologetically at Gwen.

Then Gwen and Rhys have a fight in the park, about Gwen putting Torchwood above her work, before she heads back to the Hub.

ME: We do get a lot of shots of Gwen’s bottom in this show.
NICK: It is a very nice bottom.
ME: Yes. Yes, it is.

Gwen storms straight into Jack’s office, only to find him and Ianto embracing passionately. (Shirtless!)

JACK: Always room for one more. We could have used you an hour ago for naked Hide and Seek.
IANTO: He cheats. He always cheats.

Gwen says she’ll make Jonah her special project, but Jack says absolutely not. He calls Ianto back into his office—“More work to do!”—and Ianto goes, telling Gwen in passing that there’s a package on her desk.

The package, as Andy tells Gwen in the coffeeshop, is a GPS system, pointing them to an island in the middle of the Bristol Channel. He says, if she’ll let him come with her, they can find out what the GPS co-ordinates mean.

She agrees, but ditches him at the pier the next morning, after asking him to go and buy them a couple of teas. (It’s slightly more complicated than that, but I’m running behind.)

On the island, Gwen finds a lighthouse, and, from the top, she can see two women in scrubs leading a hooded figure across the island’s surface to a series of concrete bunkers—and they’re being followed by Jack.

Gwen, of course, goes haring down the stairs and across the island, where she heads down into the bunkers with the aid of her trusty flashlight. She finds an entrance buzzer, and hits it: when someone answers, she gives her Torchwood access code and says she’s with Jack Harkness.

WOMAN: He’s supposed to warn us.
GWEN: Law unto himself, isn’t he?
WOMAN: He knows we’ll always forgive him.

The woman lets Gwen in. Inside, the bunker is like a hospital or an asylum—but rather like a hospital or asylum from one of the cities abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster would look now, all peeling paint and forty-year-old furnishings.

The bunker resounds with screams and weeping.

Gwen realises, as she passes the rooms with the names chalked outside them, that these are the people they’ve been tracking, the people taken by the Rift. And Jack steps in at this point, to say he’ll take it from here.

She asks Jack if the people have been here all this time, and demands to see Jonah. Jack tries to explain, but Gwen screams at him to open the door.

He does.

But when we see Jonah, Gwen assumes that she’s in the wrong room. Because this Jonah is not fifteen. This Jonah is badly damaged, and can’t breathe without rasping.

Gwen asks what happened to him. And he says that there was a bright light, and when he opened his eyes, the planet was on fire. A man pulled him from the flames and into a building, and tried to work on the burns. He barely noticed, he said, when the building started shaking, and that’s when he realised that it wasn’t a building: it was a ship, the last rescue craft from the planet.

Gwen is crying.

Jonah asks if he is really home, and Gwen says that he is. He says that he tried so hard to get home. And Gwen says that his mother is still looking for him. Jonah asks if she can bring his mother to see him.

Gwen, sitting out on the cliffs, listens to Jack explain that he set this up, because he found two survivors of the Rift in the cells when he took over. Now there are seventeen, all badly damaged.

Gwen says she needs to bring Jonah’s mother to see him. But Jack protests: he says Gwen will need to explain about the Rift and Torchwood, and Gwen says that she will.

She does, but Nicky doesn’t entirely trust Gwen’s explanation. That’s fair enough. Gwen rings Andy, who is rightly furious, though when he challenges her on the fact that she’d never recommend him to Torchwood, both Nick and I try to convince him that he’d never want to work for Torchwood anyway.

Andy, nevertheless, convinces Nicky to trust Gwen, and Gwen takes her out to the island.

She talks to Nicky again before she opens Jonah’s door, but Nicky isn’t really listening. She just needs to see Jonah.

Nicky, though, when she sees Jonah, disavows any sense that this is Jonah. She screams at Gwen that she’s sick, that this is not her son.

Jonah starts talking about his broken wardrobe door, about the fact that she used to let him steal sips of her beer, that she always worried about money, and, at first, Nicky won’t look at him. But the more he talks, the more convinced she becomes, until she embraces him, as he says he tried so hard to come home, that she won’t believe the sights that he’s seen.

He apologises for coming home late that night.

But the nurse comes in and says that Nicky needs to leave. Jonah is starting the “down swing.” They’ve seen Jonah in the “good phase,” which becomes briefer every day. But that phase is ending.

Nicky says that she wants to take care of Jonah herself: she’ll tell people that he’s her father.

But the nurse says they need to leave.

And he starts screaming. And screaming. And screaming.

Gwen tells us, in voiceover, that the scream lasts twenty hours a day. Before he was returned, Jonah looked into the heart of a dark star, and what he saw drove him mad.

One week later, Gwen visits Nicky to say that she can visit Jonah any time she likes, when he’s in a good phase. But Nicky says that she hopes Gwen never does this to anyone else. Gwen says that she thought Nicky wanted to know, but Nicky says she was better not knowing. She says that before Gwen, she had hope.

And Gwen strips all her missing-person information from the walls as Nicky, on the other side of town, strips Jonah’s bedroom, and smells his jumper, and sits down on the edge of his bed to weep.

Jack watches Gwen as she files all the information away, but doesn’t let her know he’s there and doesn’t speak to her.

Back at the flat, Gwen is lighting candles on the dinner table, and telling Rhys that tonight they talk about whatever he wants, but he asks if she’s all right, and she’s weeping before he even manages to get his arms around her.

And they sit down on the sofa, and Rhys tells Gwen to tell him everything, from the beginning.

And Gwen does: “There’s this woman, Nicky. She had a son, Jonah. He went missing, seven months ago . . .”

End credits.


Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "From Out Of The Rain"

Posted 20 November 2009 in by Catriona

I have no idea what’s happening on Hyperdrive right now. Of course, I don’t much care, either, so there is that. And I probably won’t figure it out in the thirteen minutes we have left of the episode.

Heather has come along for the live-blogging again, and Michelle as well this time, which I think is a first. Ooh, Heather’s going to be annoyed if there aren’t any carparks in this episode. And I don’t think it’s the most carparky of episodes.

So tired. I hope this live-blogging makes some kind of sense.

I will say that the spaceships in Hyperdrive are kinda sexy. That one was a bit like a Siamese fighting fish. Or an enthusiastic goldfish, maybe.

Opening monologue. Also some shouting at the computer for misbehaving, which confused my guests briefly.

We open in the past, judging from the costumes, as people walk out in a field, past flaming torches, to a circus, complete with even-creepier-then-usual clowns and a ringmaster with a sinister moustache.

A young girl accepts a ticket from the ringmaster, and runs into the circus, as her mother hearing a noise behind her, glances back over her shoulder. When she glances back, her child and the entire circus are gone.

Credits. No one is surprised to see that P.J. Hammond wrote this episode.

A young man in glasses is watching old newsreel footage in his home, surrounded by dangling strips of negatives. But in the middle of a random scene, he see the ringmaster beckoning him—even when the newsreel stops running.

In the Hub, Jack comes in to see Tosh, telling her that he heard an old sound, like a pipe organ. Did she hear it? No, she says.

Where’s Ianto? he asks. Ianto would know. But Tosh says that Ianto, Gwen, and Owen have gone to an old cinema with history of rift activity, to check it out. When she turns back, Jack is gone.

It may be for work, but Ianto is very excited about visiting the Electro, which is a beautiful, beautiful building.

The man running it wants to know where his “useless son” is, because he’s the one with the film. And, sure enough, that’s the boy from the earlier scene.

HEATHER: Why is the boy splicing things in a warehouse/Unabomber-style hideout?
NICK: Because he couldn’t find a carpark.

This is, to Gwen’s apparent disappointment, an educational film, and a deliberately anachronistic evening, complete with cinema pianist.

But it doesn’t stay educational for long: the circus footage first flickers in and out of the footage of Hope Street, but soon the circus footage takes over, and you get, as Gwen says, the same pictures over and over again—even though the projectionist has turned the projector off.

And there’s Jack! Ianto sees footage of Jack flickering up on screen, but no one else does. And then the footage turns into the beckoning ringmaster, before flickering away into nothing. Gwen tells Ianto to come on, but he sees sinister flickering shadows as he walks out into the foyer.

Jack has arrived at this point, and he and Ianto stand in the empty cinema, while Ianto explains what he saw. And Jack says that cinema might have preserved their images, but it killed the travelling shows.

Of course, it hasn’t quite killed this travelling show, because here are the ringmaster and a mysterious woman in a beanie, walking through the rain towards a young woman stranded at a bus-stop. They try to give her a ticket to the travelling show, and it’s interesting, because when the little girl took the ticket in the beginning, Michelle was wondering out loud if this was before the days of “don’t take things from strangers, little girl.” Well, it’s past those days now, because this girl tells them to sod off—but the ringmaster touches her mouth and, as she coughs up some sparkling silver smoke, catches it in a bottle.

Jack is interrogating the projectionist when Tosh says that there’s been a burst of rift activity at the Electro and then again in a small street off Hope Street—where Torchwood find the girl from before, her mouth all puckered and dried, sitting at the bus-stop staring at nothing.

Owen says that she has a heartbeat but she’s not breathing: they’ll have to get her to hospital.

The ringmaster and the woman have moved onto a small cafe where, when the owner opens the door to tell them to go away, they repeat their earlier process, draining the liquid out of her.

The cafe owner has been brought into the hospital where the bus-stop girl is being held, as Owen tells them that she’s been completely dehydrated, and shouldn’t still be alive.

Torchwood stride down the corridor as Jack says for them to still be alive under these circumstances, their life force must have been separated. It must be held somewhere, but they don’t know where, because the two victims were chosen at random.

Back at the Hub, Jack and the team are looking at old footage of his travelling-show days. His was just an ordinary travelling show, but, when he was part of it, there were ghost stories about another, more sinister show, who came from out of the rain, performed only in the dead of night, and left sorrow wherever they went.

Jack’s telling Gwen about the deaths of the travelling shows, as Ianto wants to see the film frame by frame. And, as he does, he notices that the girl from the water tank and the ringmaster have disappeared off the film altogether.

As Jack says, the travelling shows were trapped on film forever—but when the film was played at the Electro, they were released. So Torchwood have to track them down.

JACK: Ianto, you’re with me. I need your local knowledge.
GWEN: Oh, it that what you’re calling it these days?
HEATHER: Gwen is so jealous.

Jack tells Ianto that he was sent to join the travelling show on the orders of someone whom he chooses not to name: he was chasing rumours about the night travellers.

And, speaking of the night travellers, here we are back in the past, watching the ringmaster talk about the girl in the beanie, telling people that she’s the closest thing they’ll ever see to a living mermaid.

And in the Hub in our time, Tosh says she’s registering the ocean—the ocean in the middle of Cardiff. Of course, Cardiff is a port city, isn’t it? But I don’t think that’s a good thing. [Edited to add: I mean, despite the ambiguity here, that I don’t think it’s a good thing that there’s an ocean in the middle of the city. I have no particular problem with Cardiff being a port city, despite what my syntax might imply.] At that point, we see a man suddenly brake his car, telling his wife that he thought he saw ghosts. She tells him not to be so stupid, until she looks out the car window and sees the ringmaster.

The ringmaster and his girl are currently hanging around an abandoned swimming pool, as the girl rants about rain and water, and they both hold the ringmaster’s mysterious bottle up to their ears, listening to the “last breaths forever.”

But the girl isn’t entirely satisfied: she wants to bring the other people out of the film, to travel with them again. The ringmaster agrees.

Heather makes an observation that I can’t possibly put on the blog because it would skew my search results too far.

At the hospital, Jack and Ianto look at the catatonic bodies of the two boys who were in the car, but when Jack says, “They came from out of the rain,” the nurse says that she’s heard those words before, from Christina, a woman in a psychiatric unit who was terrified of stage performances.

Jack tells Ianto that he thinks they’ve just found their first witness. And Christina tells them about the time the night travellers came to her village—as well as telling Jack that his eyes are too old for his face, which mean he doesn’t belong.

Back at the abandoned swimming pool, the mermaid woman walks slowly across the cracked concrete to a changing room: she creaks the door open, to see a row of silent people, standing and staring forward.

Christina, meanwhile, is telling Jack about the time that the ringmaster asked her if she’d like to join his show, and be in his audience forever. She says he wanted to take her breath and hold it in a flask. She says people disappeared from the village that night.

Jack, at the Hub, realises that if he can find the ringmaster’s silver flask, he can save the people whose breath has been stolen.

The ringmaster, of course, is looking for the rest of his film, to bring the others back to life, which is why it’s a worry when the young projectionist from the Electro comes home to find a mermaid in his bath. But she doesn’t harm him: they’re only looking for the film.

Still, he’s scared half to death, and rings Jack immediately: Jack sets off with Ianto in the Torchwoodmobile. But though the bath is still full, the people have gone by the time Jack gets there.

And when Bernard’s parents arrive at the Electro, they hear organ music. They wonder if Bernard has come in today, after all? But, no: they’re greeted by the mermaid, holding a lantern and saying, “This way, please.”

At the warehouse, Jack comes up with a complicated plot to destroy the ringmaster and the mermaid: he says that they’ve been trapped in the film for so long that they’ve become part of it. But what, he asks, would happen if they filmed them?

I think that would result in a bootleg copy, but what do I know?

This is a complicated plot.

At the Electro, Bernard’s parents are frozen into their seats, because, of course, the circus needs an audience. And as the film plays, the characters begin to step out of the screen, beginning with the strongman and the fire jugglers, then the clowns.

Jack, meanwhile, is crouched behind the seats, secretly filming this, while Owen tries to open the projection room. The ringmaster grabs him, but Owen, of course, doesn’t have any breath. As the ringmaster dashes past, Ianto manages to grab the flask, but the ringmaster catches up to him, and grabs the flask back.

As Jack pulls the film from his camera, and the ringmaster disappears when his image is exposed to light, he throws the flask away—and, with the lid gone, the last breaths of the victims escape into the air.

And the victims gasp and die.

Ianto runs, to grab the flask, but by the time he grabs it, there’s only one breath left in it.

It belongs to one of the small boys from the car, so Jack is able to at least save him, while Ianto, looking on, cries.

JACK (to small boy): Welcome back.
MICHELLE: Your whole family’s dead!
NICK: We’re Torchwood—we only save five percent of people.

We pan over Cardiff, as Jack delivers a speech about how the night travellers might still be somewhere, on another piece of film, a speech that Nick interprets to mean “Preserving the past is bad.”

And, sure enough, a man and his son buy, at a flea market, a reel of film that, when the boy drops it, releases a small burst of sideshow music . . .

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Last of the Time Lords"

Posted 16 November 2009 in by Catriona

So, this is the final episode of season three—which means the last of the live-blogging, unless they want to replay season one, until the latest special, “The Waters of Mars,” airs on the ABC in, oh, about three weeks.

In other news, I’m live-blogging this from one of my armchairs, which is unusual. I normally live-blog sitting at my little Tibetan coffee table, but it’s currently covered in about this much marking, give or take another ten papers, so it’s out. Sadly, the armchairs, while seriously sexy and pretty much exactly like this (oh, I’m going to be sorry when that link expires), are not really conductive to typing: the arms are too close together. So I apologise in advance for any typos. I’ll fix them up later.

In other, other news, I may or may not have just watched “The Waters of Mars,” and it may or may not have, in the words of the great Atlas from Astro Boy, have put me out of the mood for live-blogging Doctor Who.

(Well, technically, Atlas said, “This idiocy has put me out of the mood for fighting” after Daddy Walrus smacked him in the head with a series of baseballs shot out of an automatic pitching machine, but the principle is the same. Why, yes: I have spent the entire day marking. In fact, I’ve spent every day marking for much of the last week. Does it show?)

In other, other, other news, if anyone can tell me what’s going on with these helicopters that have been flying over the house more or less constantly for the last hour, I’d be really pleased to know what’s going on.

Yes, yes: I’m waiting patiently for the episode to start now. And writing witty things on people’s Facebook statuses, which is one of my favourite hobbies.

But here we are with the actual episode, and the Doctor pointing out that the Master is Prime Minister of England, that he has cannibalised the TARDIS to make a paradox machine, and that Martha is coming back. Well, the Doctor doesn’t point that bit out. Lost my parallel structure, there.


When we come back, we hear a recorded message saying that Sol 3—planet Earth—is entering final extinction, and is closed for space traffic. This is a year later, and we see a boat reach the shore carrying Martha Jones. She’s met by Tom Milligan, who says there’s no need to ask who she is: “the famous Martha Jones.”

She says that she needs to see Dr Docherty, and Tom says there are many stories about Martha and her adventures in the last year. He says that the story goes that she’s the only person on Earth who can kill him: that she and she alone can kill the Master. She tells him to drive.

And here we have the Master singing and dancing to “track three”—the Scissors Sisters—while he kisses his wife (who looks drugged, actually, and not that thrilled) while Martha’s mother, in a maid’s outfit, serves him coffee, which he spits out onto the table, and the aged Doctor crawls out of the tent he’s been living in.

The Master wheels the Doctor across to a window, and tells the Doctor that they broke his heart, the Toclafane, ever since the Doctor figured out what they really are. He tells the Doctor that rumour has it that Martha is back in England, and wonders what she wants.

Tish, dressed as a maid, takes Jack his cold mashed swede for breakfast, and signals “three” with her fingers.

Martha, on the coast, see a massive statue of the Master, looming over the coast. She says they’re all over the world; he’s even carved himself into Mount Rushmore. Martha and Tom crawl up and overlook a shipyard—a spaceship yard. She tells him that he should see Russia: that’s shipyard number one, she says, all the way from the Black Sea to the Baring Strait.

Two Toclafane fly down and challenge Tom, who is all right because he has a medical pass. They tell him soon he’ll be very busy, and fly off. He’s surprised they can’t see Martha, and she explains about the TARDIS keys from the last episode. She tells him she’s been in space, and he asks if there’s anything else he needs to know.

MARTHA: Yeah. I’ve met Shakespeare.

He asks what time it is, and she says it’s nearly three. At which we see Martha’s family and Jack heading into action mode, as the Master asks who he should have for his massage today while his wife, who seems to have a black eye, now I look again, looks on blankly.

Jack gets out, and is shot repeatedly. Martha’s mother and Tish don’t get far, while Martha’s father is grabbed almost immediately. And the Doctor grabs the Master’s laser screwdriver—remember, who’d have sonic?—but it has isomorphic controls, so it only works for the Master.

The Master taunts the Doctor a little with his previous potency and authority, and then says he has a message for Martha.

Martha, meanwhile, meets Dr Docherty, who is trying to get the television to work: “God, I miss Countdown,” she says. Martha says that televisions don’t work any more, but Dr Docherty says that they’ve been told there’ll be a broadcast from the Master. And, sure enough, there is. But only so he can show the Doctor, and then add all nine hundred of his years to him, so that he ends up as a little stunted CGI creature—much to the Master’s apparent bemusement, since he looks terribly sheepish at this point.

MASTER: Message received and understood, Miss Jones.

Dr Docherty says that the Archangel network is the Master’s weakness. Martha says that’s why she’s come to see Dr Docherty: “Know your enemy,” she says. She has a CD with information about the Toclafane’s weaknesses, after a lightning strike brought one down in South Africa. They ask if that’s what she’s been looking for, and she says no: she just got lucky. Dr Docherty says she heard Martha was looking for a weapon, but Martha doesn’t answer.

On the UNIT ship Valiant, Martha’s family have been locked up for the night, as they each fantasise about killing the Master. Martha’s mother doesn’t want Tish to kill him, but Tish says that he made them stand on deck and watch the islands of Japan burning—millions of people, she says. The Doctor is in a cage, too, but a cage for a bird. And Jack is chained up again.

The Master comes to the Doctor, with the drugged-looking Lucy, and tells the Doctor that tomorrow is the day. A Toclafane flies in and says that tomorrow they rise, never to fall, and the Master says that the Doctor should be grateful: after all, he says, the Doctor loves them, so very, very much.

At the same time, Dr Docherty manages to open the Toclafane sphere that Martha and Tom captured, to see a little shrunken head—a little shrunken head that tells her that the sky is made of diamonds.

Ooh-er. That makes them . . . well, that makes them humans. The humans who were escaping to Utopia.

We cut back to the Master, who says that he took Lucy to Utopia, to show her the end of the universe. She says that everything was dying, and she saw that there was no point in anything. Her voice is so blank as she says this.

MASTER: You should have seen it, Doctor. Furnaces, burning. The last of humanity, screaming against the dark.

Martha says that she’d rather worked it out when she saw the paradox machine. Because these are the future of humanity, come back to murder their own ancestors, which is a paradox: without the cannibalised TARDIS, the two could not co-exist.

Tom asks the captured Toclafane why, when they’re the same species, they kill so many humans, and he says because it’s fun, and laughs and laughs.

Dr Docherty asks Martha to tell her the truth: legend says that she’s been travelling the planet looking for a way to kill the Master. Martha says that the Doctor told them that people have been watching the Doctor and the Master in all the years that they’ve been coming to Earth, and they’ve come up with a weapon. Not just a gun, but a gun of four chemicals, which, combined, will kill the Master stone dead.

Martha only has three, but the last, she says, is in London. Dr Docherty says they can stay the night, but Tom says that they can get halfway and stay in the slave quarters in Bexley. Slave quarters are just houses: Tom says that it’s cheaper than building barracks. And when they arrive, they ask Martha if she says who she says she is, and if she can really kill him. Tom says to leave her alone, but she says they want her to talk, and she’ll talk.

But Dr Docherty is sending a message to the Master, after asking—futilely—whether her son is still alive. She says she has information about Martha.

And Martha, in the slave quarters, is talking to the slaves about the Doctor, about how many times he has saved their lives without them knowing. But she’s barely finished before the Master is out in the street, calling to Martha.

The slaves hide her, but the Master knows that she’s there.

His soldiers take up their positions. He says he’ll give the order unless she gives herself up.

So she does.

She steps outside, to a round of applause from the Master, who asks for her bag. She throws it to him, and he blows it up. Then he tries to kill her, but Tom throws himself out of the house and takes the blast instead, which the Master finds hilarious.

It seems to have given him an idea, though, because he says that the Doctor should be witness to Martha’s death.

So he takes her back up to the Valiant, past her family. She gives him the teleport device that she took from Jack, and he tells her to kneel. He says his ships are ready to launch, to “burn across the universe,” in three minutes’ time, when the black-hole converters are ready.

He plans to kill Martha, and asks if she has any last words. When she doesn’t, he says that she’s not a patch on his old companions: once, he says, the Doctor had companions who could absorb the Time Vortex.

Now, how does he know that? How does he know about Rose?

But Martha is laughing. She’s laughing at the Master’s credulity, at the idea that he would believe in the “gun in four parts,” that he thinks they didn’t know about Dr Docherty’s son and the fact that she would betray them.

The important thing was the story, she says. Everyone on Earth, all thinking about the Doctor at once.

Prayer and hope? the Master asks. Is that her plan?

Yes, says Martha. Prayer and hope—and fifteen satellites transmitting a telepathic field.

NICK: Classic Master overreach.

And sure enough, the power of millions of people thinking the Doctor’s name brings him back to full health. And more, since he’s now levitating across the floor, with his arms out-stretched.

Oh, this is messianic. Especially when he grabs the Master and says, “I forgive you.”

But there are still the Toclafane, so Captain Jack, who has been brought in to watch Martha’s execution, heads off to destroy the paradox machine.

The Master, though, has transported to the coastal shipyards with the transport device that he took from Martha, and though the Doctor says that he can’t win, he says that there’s a black-hole converter in every ship, and he can destroy the planet. If he can’t have it, no one can.

The Doctor disagrees, though. He says he knows the Master, and the Master will never kill himself. Sure enough, he won’t: they transport back to the Valiant, just as Captain Jack destroys the paradox machine. The Toclafane disappear, and the Valiant is at the centre of a storm as time reverses.

Why does time reverse? Oh, who cares.

At any rate, with the paradox machine gone, time is reset to the point at which the Toclafane were called through the rip in the universe, just after the President of the United States was killed.

DOCTOR: None of it happened.
ME: Well, except for the poor President!

Everyone on the Valiant can remember, though, because they were at the eye of storm or some such [technobabble].

Jack wonders what they’ll do with the Master, and Martha’s family want to kill him. They say they saw everything: they saw everything he did, and they remember it. But Martha’s mother, who has picked up a fallen gun, can’t bring herself to do it. She drops the gun.

The Doctor says that the only safe place for the Master is the TARDIS. Maybe, says the Doctor, he’s been wandering for too long, and he needs someone to care for.

But Lucy shoots him.

“Always the women,” he says.

The Doctor says that it’s only a bullet wound: the Master can just regenerate. We know that’s possible, because the Doctor himself regenerated after a bullet wound which was, incidentally, in the Master’s presence, though the Master was rather disembodied at the time.

But the Master refuses. He tells the Doctor that he’s finally won, and dies.

The Doctor burns the Master’s body on a pyre, which reminds me (simultaneously) of the end of Return of the Jedi and, not surprisingly, of Tim Bisley burning his Star Wars memorabilia after The Phantom Menace came out.

Back in the present, Martha gives Dr Docherty a bunch of flowers, and tells her that she really doesn’t blame her. A bewildered Dr Docherty asks, “But who are you?” as Martha runs off.

In Cardiff, Jack runs off, though the Doctor says he could travel with him again. But Jack says for the whole year, he’s been thinking of his team in Torchwood.

First, though, the Doctor disables Jack’s time-travelling device.

DOCTOR: You could go anywhere. Twice. The second time to apologise.

Jack asks about aging: what if he lives for a million years, he asks? The Doctor says he doesn’t know, and Jack says he knows it’s vanity. But he used to be a bit of a poster boy, back when he lived in the Boeshane Penisula and was the first boy from there to be signed up for the time agency.

JACK: The Face of Boe, they used to call me.

And he runs back to the Hub as Martha and the Doctor goggle at him and say, “No, It can’t be—no” to each other.

Outside the TARDIS, Martha talks to her family and rings the hospital to make sure that Dr Thomas Milligan is still alive. When she wanders into the TARDIS, the Doctor is rambling about how brilliant Agatha Christie must be, and would Martha want to meet her?

But Martha says that she can’t travel with him any more. She says that her family saw half the planet slaughtered, and they’re devastated. She needs to stay and take care of them. The Doctor says he understands, and that Martha saved the world.

And so she did.

She leaves, but pops back in to tell a rambling story about her friend Vicky’s unrequited love for Sean, and how this is her getting out of a bad situation. But she gives him her phone, and says that when it rings, he better come running, because she’s not having him disappear.

And in the ashes of the Master’s funeral pyre, we see a red finger-nailed hand come down and pick up a ring, as the Master laughs in the background.

Then the Titanic drives through the TARDIS control room.

No, seriously.

“Voyage of the Damned” is on next week, but I won’t be live-blogging it. Well, not again. It’s already here. It’s not great, but it’s there.

And that’s season four! See you in about three weeks—the 6th of December—for “Waters of Mars,” the third of season five’s five specials.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "Something Borrowed"

Posted 13 November 2009 in by Catriona

I would like a dog.

No, that has nothing to do with tonight’s episode. Why do you ask?

Tonight’s episode contains coarse language and violence, but no nudity. Dammit, Torchwood! Pick up your game!

Opening monologue.

We actually have a short flashback here to the scene where Gwen says she’s getting married to Rhys because no one else will have her. Then we flash forward to Gwen’s hen’s night, which is about as crass as they’re supposed to be.

Gwen is two hours late for her own hen’s night, because she’s been chasing something through a subway station. Something that eats people. She shoots a nice man in a conservative business suit, who turns out to be some kind of shapeshifter.

We cut forward to Gwen, at her hen’s night in a feathery cowboy hat and novelty T-shirt, being surprised by a stripper.

Then back to two hours earlier, where she’s being attacked by the shapeshifter.

Back to the hen’s night, and girly chat in the toilets.

Back to the shape shifter, who is biting her, before being shot by Jack.

Back to the hen’s night when she says it’s just a scratch.

And forward to the wedding morning, where Gwen is suddenly nine months pregnant. That’s going to be difficult to explain.


Owen says that Gwen is nearly full term, and at Gwen’s response, Jack points out that the shapeshifter must have passed the eggs through the bite. Owen says that she’s carrying some kind of alien egg, and Jack starts waffling about immaculate conception.

Gwen freaks when she hears that the wedding will need to be postponed. “Do you know how much a wedding costs?” she asks.

Jack says that she’s not carrying the baby Jesus in there, but she says that Owen pointed out that if something had gone wrong, she would be dead, so that she’s getting married anyway, and then she can worry about things afterwards.

Back at the Hub, Owen and Jack tell Tosh and Ianto that Gwen’s getting married anyway (Tosh will act as bodyguard, while Ianto will buy a “bigger” wedding dress). Gwen is, at the same time, telling Rhys that she’s pregnant. Well, pointing to her belly, which is sufficient.

Meanwhile, in the wedding salon.

IANTO: I’m looking for a wedding dress. For a friend.
SHOP ASSISTANT: Of course you are, sir. Don’t worry. We’re quite used to people buying dresses for their . . . friends.

Rhys is quite keen on postponing the wedding, but Gwen breaks down in a rather lovely speech (which I don’t have time to recap) about how much she wants to marry Rhys.

At the Hub, Tosh is all dressed up and looking lovely—Owen, rather sweetly, tells her that she’s “drop-dead gorgeous, and I should know.” Tosh convinces him to come to the wedding, while also telling him that it’s not a date.

Gwen is telling her parents—her father, adorably, calls her “duckling”—that she’s pregnant. Of course, they’ll be a bit shocked when there’s no grandchild, but what else could she do?

Apparently, as we realise at the hotel, Gwen’s parents and Rhys’s parents don’t get on well: as Rhys’s parents arrive, Gwen legs it rather than let her see them pregnant.

Gwen confronts Rhys, who suggests that perhaps they should tell the truth. Gwen tells him not to be ridiculous, but Rhys, rather angrily, tells her that lies don’t work: she’s already tried them. And when Jack rings to say that Tosh will arrive soon, Rhys takes the phone and says that they don’t need Jack at all: he’s already done enough to ruin the day, Rhys says.

The guests begin to arrive.

RHYS’S BEST MAN: I’m Banana. I guess you can tell why?
TOSH: You come up in spots and go soft quickly?

Then she tells him that bananas make her vomit.

Tosh has brought with her the new wedding dress, which Jack has sent over. Tosh, incidentally, has very, very pretty legs. Tosh and Gwen have a conversation about how Tosh will marry one day. We’ll leave that there, I think.

Jack-Ianto flirtation. But it’s interrupted by Owen, who has found a [technobabble], which means big trouble. Oh, okay: it was a proteus gland. No, I don’t know what that means.

In the interim, Rhys’s groomsman, Mervyn, is being seduced by someone who Tosh realises—having found a spot of black blood on a cocktail napkin—is actually the shapeshifter. She’s also Jack Davenport’s ex from Ultraviolet. Tosh manages to track the shapeshifter down, but it’s too late: she’s already eaten Mervyn.

Back at the Hub, Owen explains that the problem is that the shapeshifters, which are called Nostrovites, mate for life: the male was killed, but the female is out there, looking for its baby to mature, so that she can rip the surrogate mother open and pull the baby out.

Jack, Ianto, and Owen roll out, with Owen bringing the singularity scalpel—the item that he saved Martha with, having blown up a number of other people along the way.

JACK: What is it with you? Ever since Owen died, all you do is agree with him.
IANTO: I was brought up to never speak ill of the dead.

Gwen dresses, and then breaks down in front of her mother, especially when her mother says that a baby is God’s gift and a blessing. By the time her father comes in to walk her down the aisle, she breaks down and tells him that the baby is not Rhys’s.

Outside the hotel, Rhys’s father tries to convince Rhys not to marry Gwen, to which Rhys responds furiously.

Gwen’s father is, obviously, not impressed to hear that there’s another man, and even less impressed when Gwen says she’s actually been impregnated by an alien. He really has trouble with dealing with this.

GWEN: Don’t ask me to explain. I’m pregnant. Rhys is not the father. It’s an alien. It’s an alien.

Tosh, meanwhile, is in some kind of web, strapped tightly to Banana, who begins screaming, until Tosh make use of what minimal movement she has to shut him up. (His other alternative is singing in falsetto.)

Gwen walks down the aisle in a flurry of whispers about her unexpected pregnancy. But we can hear the baby’s heartbeat strongly, and so can the Nostrovite.

Torchwood, meanwhile, are chasing the wedding down, while Jack rants about how getting married in the middle of nowhere shows an inner conflict.

Just as the minister gets to the “speak now or forever hold your peace” bit, Jack, of course, bursts into the church, to stop the wedding. Owen and Ianto track down Tosh.

Jack explains, over Rhys’s fury, that he’s trying to save Gwen’s life, because they’ve only just realised about the female Nostrovite.

Outside, the bridesmaids are speculating about the baby being Jack’s.

Gwen, inside, is saying that she’s marrying Rhys regardless, because of how much crap he’s had to put up with since she joined Torchwood. But Rhys says it’s his wedding, too, and he gets a say.

Around about then, a bridemaid finds Mervyn’s body, and runs out screaming. Jack sends Ianto after her to contain the situation.

GWEN’S MOTHER: The problem seems to be an American with no sense of timing. Or fashion.

The bridesmaid bursts in on the guests, screaming, and Ianto has to reveal that the situation is “uncontained.” But Tosh can identify the Nostrovite, which leads to some shooting and screaming, but no actual fatalities.

Inside, Owen is planning on using the singularity scalpel to remove the foetus, but Gwen is not thrilled by all this. And when Rhys’s mother comes into the room, Owen runs out after the shapeshifter.

But when he sees Jack, Jack points out that the alien is a shapeshifter, which leads to a scene in which Jack gets punched in the face by Rhys. Of course, the alien has taken the role of Rhys’s mother, but she’s outside, not inside.

The Nostrovite grabs Gwen’s mother, and Gwen approaches very slowly, until the Nostrovite calls out to its child, whereupon Gwen shoots it with the gun concealed in her bouquet.

Owen tells Rhys how to use the singularity scalpel, because, as he points out, Owen doesn’t have two working hands.

As Gwen waits inside, Jack comes to her, and Gwen talks a little about how she feels about him. But, of course, it’s the Nostrovite, and Gwen nuts him.

Good on you, Gwen.

At that point, Owen and Rhys burst in, and Owen shoots the Nostrovite while Rhys drags Gwen across the grounds. The Nostrovite goes to bite Owen, but, as a carnivore, it’s not really about roadkill.

When Real Jack and the others show up, Owen points out that their guns don’t work.

JACK: We’re going to need a bigger gun, then.

Rhys and Gwen end up in a barn, with the Nostrovite beating down the door, and Rhys trying to operate the singularity scalpel . . . successfully, as it works out.

Then the Nostrovite bursts through the door, in the guise of Rhys’s mother, and as he’s just about to go for her with a chainsaw (can anyone say Oedipal?), Jack blows her up with a really, really big gun.

Jack admires Rhys’s “Evil Dead” look, and tells him that the good guy always gets the girl, but only after giving Gwen a bit of a squeeze.

Not like that!

Then Rhys and Gwen get married, even though everyone now knows about aliens.

And, at the reception, Owen asks Tosh to dance with him, while Rhys and Gwen dance, and Jack, sitting on his own, cuts in.

JACK: Mind if I cut in?
NICK: Jack, you’re always bloody cutting in.

Jack tells Gwen to enjoy the honeymoon.

GWEN: What will you do when I’m gone?
JACK: The usual. Pizza. Ianto. Save the world a couple of times.
GWEN: Will you miss me?
JACK: Always.

Aw. Then Ianto cuts into the dance, and he and Jack dance, though Jack casts one last look over at Gwen.

Towards the end of the reception—and we can tell it’s the end, because they’re playing Soft Cell—everyone falls asleep. Because Jack has mixed level-six retconn into the champagne. Wow, I hope they don’t interact in an unfortunate way.

Jack offer the same cocktail to Rhys and Gwen, but Gwen says no: no secrets in this marriage, she says. She and Rhys head off, while Torchwood shift into clean-up mode.

IANTO: That’s what I love about Torchwood. By day, chasing the scum of the universe. Come midnight, you’re the wedding fairy.

Back at the Hub, Jack, alone, looks at a wedding photograph of himself and a woman in a fetching, nineteenth-century dress.

Well, now: that was relatively light-hearted, surely? I’m positive that won’t last.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "The Sound of Drums"

Posted 9 November 2009 in by Catriona

No preliminaries this time: I fell asleep after dinner and have only just woken up in time. Or been woken up, more accurately.

Blame Nick. I do.

We open with a wormhole, through which fall the Doctor, Martha, and Jack. Jack says they’re lucky: they seem to have landed on 20th-century Earth, but the Doctor says that it’s wasn’t luck. It was him.

Martha says that the Master has the TARDIS: he could be anywhere in time and space. The Doctor says no: he’s here. And although Jack points out that the Master has regenerated—clearly the first time Martha has heard of such a concept—the Doctor says he’ll know him when he sees him.

There’s a drumbeat behind that dialogue.

And Martha points out that they’ve missed the election, right as the Prime Minister Harold Saxon appears on the television.

The Doctor says that’s him: the Master is Prime Minister of England. “The Master and his wife,” he adds, as the Master kisses a pretty blonde woman next to him.


We come back to see the Master at Number 10, with his wife telling him she’s so proud of him, as we see Tish, newly employed by Number 10.

The Master walks into the cabinet room, and accuses his ministers of not having a sense of humour as he throws his papers everywhere.

MASTER: You ugly, fat-faced bunch of wet snivelling traitors.
CABINET MINISTER: Yes, very funny.
MASTER: No. No, that wasn’t funny.

Then he gases them all to death, beating a drumbeat out on the table as they die.

Back at Martha’s flat, Jack is showing the Doctor the Harold Saxon websites, while Martha deletes an excited message from Tish saying she has a new job—“as if it matters,” say Martha.

Back at Number 10, a highly determined journalist pushes her way past Tish to insist on an interview with Lucy Saxon. She’s gushing and excited until she manages to push Tish out of the room—despite Tish’s attempts to stay—and then she tells Lucy that she believes Harold Saxon is not what he seems.

In Martha’s flat, Jack is showing the Doctor testimonials on Saxon’s website. And in Number 10, the journalist is saying Saxon’s entire life is a fake—until eighteen months ago, just after the downfall of Harriet Jones. Ah, maybe the Doctor shouldn’t have brought down England’s Golden Age, then? And at the same time as Saxon came to life, they launched the Archangel network.

Lucy, on the other hand, is real: a good family, Roedean, not especially bright but genuine. But Lucy, though she seems a little hesitant, says she made her choice, for better or for worse.

“Didn’t I, Harry?” she asks, as we see the Master standing behind her.

“My faithful companion,” he says.

She asks the Master who he is, and he says he’s the Master—“and these are my friends,” he adds, as several glowing spheres appear out of nowhere, and attack the journalist.

The Master and Lucy dash out of the room to the journalist’s screams—and the Master opens the doors several time, to hear her still screaming, which seems a little odd, playing a gruesome death for laughs.

Back in Martha’s flat, the Doctor explains that he locked the TARDIS, so it can only travel between the year one trillion and the last place the TARDIS landed, with maybe an eighteen-month leeway. And Martha says she was going to vote for Saxon, but she can’t explain why—though, as she speaks, she’s tapping out the same drumbeat that we heard behind the earlier conversation.

The Master appears on television, speaking to the nation to tell them that’s he’s been contacted by aliens. The aliens describe themselves as the “Toclafane,” which causes the Doctor to snort. He says that everyone will benefit from the new knowledge that the aliens can give them, even medical students.

And at that, the Doctor spins the television around to see a bomb behind it. Though they manage to get out of the flat, Martha is worried about her parents.

Her parents are being monitored by Saxon’s forces, and, when they’re arrested, and Tish, too, Martha drives out to find them. But her parents are being loaded into a van, and they tell Martha to drive—which she does, in a hail of bullets.

NICK: They’re lucky that car is bulletproof.

Under Jack’s orders, Martha ditches the car, and rings her brother, to tell him to stay in Brighton, where he’s been fortuitously staying.

But the Master is monitoring her phone calls. He taunts Martha until the Doctor grabs the phone.

DOCTOR: Master.
MASTER: I love it when you use my name.

The Master asks where Gallifrey is, and the Doctor says it’s gone, and the Time Lords, too. The Master explains that they brought him back because they thought he was the perfect warrior for the Time War. He was there when the Dalek Emperor took over the Cruciform. But he was so scared, and he ran, and made himself human, so that he’d never be found.

DOCTOR: Don’t you see? All we’ve got is each other.
MASTER: Are you asking me out on a date?

The Master won’t have it, though—and he points out that England is the most surveilled country on Earth. He can see them, and he has control of the citizenry in a way that the Doctor can’t explain. We can tell it’s a subconscious control, though, because the people around the Doctor are drumming their hands as he speaks to the Master.

He tells the Doctor to run, and the Doctor does, with Martha and Jack with him.

Back in Downing Street, the Master is giggling at the Tellytubbies, which, for those old-school fans out there, is a lovely, subtle throwback to Roger Delgado—the original Master and, in Nick’s eyes, the best—whistling along to The Clangers. The Toclafane tell him that they need to hurry, because the time of darkness and cold is coming.

In an underpass, the Doctor tells Jack and Martha about Gallifrey, and Nick and I cry a little. Seriously, this flashback to Gallifrey—and this is the first and, I believe, the only time we’ve actually seen Gallifrey in the new series—always makes me cry. I think it’s the collars. Do you think they’ve been keeping those in the BBC costume department for all those years?

Basically, once I’ve dried my eyes, he says that the Master was driven mad in a Gallifreyan coming-of-age ritual.

Since this is a happy, sharing time, Jack tells the Doctor that he’s working for Torchwood, which, obviously, doesn’t please the Doctor. But Jack says that the old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf, and when Jack helped rebuild it, he did so in the Doctor’s honour.

I still don’t think that the Doctor would approve of half of what you do, Jack.

I’m really, really finding it hard to keep up with the plotting in this episode. Too dense.

The Doctor, though, has figured out that there’s code in the Archangel mobile-phone network, which the Master was the minister in charge of implementing. And he can cancel it out by borrowing technology analogous to the TARDIS chameleon circuit.

DOCTOR: Because the TARDIS is designed to blend in. Well, sort of.

Now, the Master’s TARDIS had a working chameleon circuit, and yet, somehow, he’s the bad guy. That makes no sense!

At the airport, the Master—who has now decided to give up any pretense to sanity—meets the American President, who says that UNIT, not the British Army, is in charge, and that the meeting with the Toclafane cannot take place on any sovereign soil. Instead, it will take place on the UNIT aircraft carrier the Valiant.

Ooh, UNIT have got a bigger budget than they used to have, don’t they?

And, as we see the Master standing on the runway, his coat flaps open so we can see the red-silk lining, and Nick and I are temporarily distracted by how much like Jon Pertwee’s outfits the Master’s clothes look.

The Master seems to see the Doctor, Martha, and Jack, standing off to one side under the individual cloaking devices, but he’s distracted by the arrival of Martha’s bound—but not gagged—family. And the Doctor uses Jack’s arm device to transport the three of them to the Valiant—which is an aircraft carrier, but an airborne one, not a sea-going one.

The Master taunts the president a little more, but he also tells Lucy, in passing, that, as Minister for Defence, he helped design the Valiant. Every piece, he says.

On the Valiant, Martha wants to looks for her family, but the Doctor is distracted, because he can tell that the TARDIS is nearby. But that’s not going to help them, because the Master has cannibalised it: it’s now a paradox machine, set to trigger at two minutes past eight, when first contact with the Toclafane is set for eight a.m.

In the meeting room, as the president sounds anxious, the Master offers Lucy a jelly baby. Now, do you suppose that it’s deliberate that he’s not just cannibalising the TARDIS, but also the Doctor’s past regenerations?

The Doctor has a plan: he wants to get his cloaking device around the Master’s neck, which will cancel out his hypnosis effect. But it’s hard to sneak up, he says, when everyone’s on red alert.

The Toclafane appear, but they won’t listen to the president: they want the Master. And the first thing that the Master does is order them to kill the president.

The Doctor wants to carry on with his plan, but the Master has his people grab the Doctor: as if, he says, a perception filter will work on him.

He has them grab Martha and Jack, though not for long, because he kills Jack, apparently just for fun.

MASTER: Laser screwdriver. Who’d have sonic?

There’s some technobabble there, leading back to “The Lazarus Experiment,” which leads to the Master artificially aging the Doctor one hundred years. Between that and the fact that he brings her family in, the Master basically ensures that Martha can’t do anything, either. All three are helpless.

And with that, it’s two minutes past eight, and the Master, thanks to his paradox machine, tears a hole in the universe, and six billion Toclafane pour into our world.

Here’s how the next bit went the first time I saw this episode:

MASTER: Shall we decimate them? That sounds good. Nice word: decimate. Remove one-tenth of the population.

Were we applauding the decimation or the correct use of the word? You decide!

The next few minutes are mostly screaming and running, as the Earth burns—but in the middle of it, the Doctor whispers to Martha, and she teleports away from the Valiant with Jack’s device, pausing only to look back up and say, “I’m coming back” before running off towards the burning city.

MASTER: So it came to pass that the human race fell, and the Earth was no more. And I looked down on my new dominion as Master of all. And I thought it good.

Man. That’s one hell of a cliffhanger.

Live-blogging Torchwood Season Two: "A Day in the Death"

Posted 6 November 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, lord: I’ve just realised there are six episodes of this season left. I’m not sure I can manage another six episodes! The nihilism! The angst! Oh, but wait—I’ve just remembered some stuff that’s still to come. Okay, I can wait for that.

In other news, Hyperdrive has just included the line “There was a time when men said that climbing Ben Nevis was impossible,” which made me laugh and laugh.

And in other, other news, I walked into a door earlier and severely whacked my elbow. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that, though I hope it doesn’t prevent me from doing my Wii Boxing tomorrow morning.

I do so love Wii Boxing.

I repeat the Ben Nevis joke to Nick, and he asks, “Is that another football reference?”, which leads to the following conversation:

ME: Why don’t you know anything, Nicholas?
NICK: I know lots about lots of stuff, just nothing about anything you find remotely interesting.

That’s not quite true: I always ask Nick if I want to know who produced an episode of Doctor Who from the ’70s or ’80s.

Never fear: we’re up to the actual episode. This one contains adult themes as well as violence. Still no sex and nudity, though.


Owen is standing in the middle of a pedestrian mall, saying that he is Dr Owen Harper, and this is his life, a life full of violence and—oh, my brother just rang, and even though I’m not talking to him, I miss the rest of that monologue. When I come back, he says he comes to work and everyone is doing the same things, but he’s not. [Edited to add: Owen says that, not my brother. My brother, for the record, is not currently a zombie.]

OWEN: Three days ago I died. And they think I’m fine. But they’re wrong.

And we cut away from a shot of Owen screaming underwater, unable to drown, as he sits on the edge of a rooftop and asks the woman next to him, “So, are you ready to jump?”


We come back to the woman on the rooftop, and Owen trying to talk her out of jumping by saying helpful, Owen-type things like, “What, your man dump you or something?”

When she tells him to sod off, he shows her the gaping bullet hole in his chest.

She is completely and utterly freaked out to find out that he’s a zombie. I agree with her on this stance, I have to say.

WOMAN: You’re obviously dead, and that’s shit and all.

She asks him what she has to look forward to, and he says nothing: darkness. I say again: most nihilistic show on television. And then she asks why he’s here, on the rooftop, if he’s dead, since he obviously can’t jump and die again.

And we flash back to Jack relieving Owen of duty—taking his security pass and his gun—while Martha takes his position (temporarily? Isn’t she seconded to UNIT?) while they run tests to make sure he’s safe.

OWEN: And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
JACK: Well, we always need someone to make coffee.

Ianto, in the background, looks horrified. But we cut to Ianto showing Owen how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Owen can’t make the machine work, and he goes a little nuts, while Jack watches, disturbed.

OWEN: It’s like you finally won.
IANTO: I didn’t realise we were in competition.
OWEN: Oh, come on: even Tosh had more of a life than you. And now you’re out on missions all the time, you’re shagging Jack, and I’m making the coffee.
IANTO: It’s not like that: me and Jack.

Martha’s tests show that Owen is 100% human, that as long as he exercises every day he won’t atrophy, and that there’s no sign of rigor mortis.

But then Martha is called to the conference room, where they all sit looking at pictures of Richard Briers—sorry, Henry Parker, from when he was in The Good Life—sorry, a young man.

Owen wanders around serving coffee, and breaking Ianto’s heart by claiming that Tintin was shagging his dog, Snowy.

No, seriously.

Henry Parker is a reclusive collector of alien artefacts, by the way. Let’s just keep the plot running along, shall we?

Back on the rooftop, Owen is telling the woman how many people worldwide commit suicide, and she asks, “What are you? Some kind of suicide junkie?”

Back at the Hub, Owen is complaining to Martha that he’s making the coffee. She tells him she’s not after his job, but he says he’s fine: he’s human, he says.

She points out that he’s cut his hand open on the scalpel he’s been throwing around, and never even noticed. It won’t heal, so he’ll have to stitch it up again every week.

Back on the rooftop, the woman asks why he pushed Martha away when she was offering to help. And he says he’s sorry: he doesn’t follow social niceties now he has a hole in his chest.

She asks if he did before, which makes me think she’s met him before.

Owen asks if her cheery personality is why her man dumped her, and she says no: he died. He says he’s sorry, and she says he’s not:he doesn’t give a damn about her or anyone else.

He says she doesn’t know the half of it, and we cut to Owen begging for something to do. Jack says he knows he can’t be given any work, and that Owen should go home. Owen does, but only after a last slap at Jack, about Jack getting to live forever while Owen gets to die forever.

In his flat, Owen cleans out the fridge, but he really doesn’t have anything to do after that.

Then the doorbell rings, and it’s Tosh. She asks Owen if he minds if she eats, because she’s starving. Owen says no, but asks Tosh if Jack sent her get Owen to open up about his problems.

But no: Tosh starts talking about how bad her day was, and Owen tunes her out.

On the rooftop, the woman says that they sound like an old married couple, and that Brian used to tell her that she talked too much. She says it’s her wedding anniversary—the anniversary of her perfect day.

They’d been married an hour, and she was still picking the confetti out of her hair, when the car crashed and her husband was killed.

Owen asks why she waited for her wedding anniversary to kill herself, and she says because she believed people when they said it would get better.

WOMAN: So what do you think, Doctor? Is it going to get better?

We cut silently back to Owen’s flat, where Tosh’s mouth moves silently as Owen blocks her conversation out entirely.

And then he demolishes her. He just strips away every single illusion she might have, or he might think she has, about herself and about their possible future.

He says he’s broken, and maybe that’s what she wants, someone as broken as her. Then he snaps his finger, to show how broken he is.

He leaves the apartment and he runs, runs, runs through the city until he throws himself in the harbour. But he can’t drown himself, because he doesn’t need to breathe. When he pulls himself out of the harbour, Jack is there with his stopwatch (!), saying he’s been underwater for over half an hour.

OWEN: You were watching?
JACK: Guy in tight jeans runs into water? I was taking pictures.

Back at the Hub, Ianto hasn’t quite managed to work out what’s causing the energy spikes they have been observing at Henry Parker’s place, but they can’t get in, because he has a security system that detects body heat.

Owen to the rescue!

Owen, to give him credit, does seem to try and apologise to Tosh, but she just tells him that she turned his telly off and hands his keys back.

The woman on the rooftop tells Owen that she doesn’t care about him or alien artefacts or anything: she just wants to jump. So he pulls her to the edge of the building and then taunts her for being scared.

Owen, she said she wanted to jump. She didn’t say she wanted to be chucked off a building by a chronically depressed zombie.

At Parker’s house, Martha reminds Owen that any injuries he receives will not heal. He says he knows: he’s made of glass.

He heads towards the building while Gwen fakes a phone call to tell the security guard that his wife was in an accident. This gets Owen through the gate and past some greenhouses that my brother and father would kill for.

As he reaches the generator, he’s grabbed by a security guard, but the security guard is slightly freaked out when Owen reaches into the generator (protecting his hand with a Tintin T-shirt that Jack had given him) and turns the power off by electrocuting himself.

Sadly, Parker’s personal generator hasn’t been affected, which Tosh says means they’ve had some work done. But it’s true that Owen’s not setting off the heat sensors: he says he’s “literally too cool for school.”

He’s confronted as he walks up the stairs by a security guard, as we hear the music we heard last week when Owen was grasping Death by the forearms, holding him back by sheer strength of will, but Owen says that the guard won’t shoot him. He delivers a short monologue about what a bullet does to the human body—it’s not like a knife through butter, he says, because the bullet rotates—and then he knocks the guard out with his own gun.

And he walks through the house as the music swells louder—I love this piece of music, just causally—to find Parker in an enormous bedroom.

Parker is actually Richard “Sugar-Flavoured Snob” Briers—and if you don’t recognise that quotation, you need to watch the episode of The Young Ones where Vyvyan rants, “I hate it, it’s so bloody nice. They’re nothing but a couple of reactionary stereotypes confirming the myth that everyone in England is a loveable middle-class eccentric”—and he recognises Owen as Torchwood.

OWEN: I’m a doctor.
PARKER: You’re a very violent doctor.

Parker says they should have sent Tosh—“that Japanese girl”—because she has pretty legs, and he explains he should be dead, but he has this alien artefact, which he calls the Pulse.

The Pulse is what’s sending out the energy signals, but Owen says it’s not what’s keeping Parker alive. Its energy isn’t going into Parker.

Parker asks what is keeping him alive, and Owen says it’s hope.

Parker, not surprisingly, is furious at this, saying that Owen knows nothing about life or death, and that he, Parker, is better off dead. He hands the Pulse to Owen, and says he’s alone, alone in the dark.

He wants to hear about Torchwood, about the aliens. He says he needs to know there’s more out there than just this. He asks Owen to come back and tell him everything, once he’s dropped the Pulse off. Owen says maybe—but then Parker goes into cardiac arrest.

This is where Owen not breathing would be a disadvantage, I would think.

Nick becomes quite furiously angry at this point, saying that as long as Owen can breathe in and out, he can perform artificial respiration. I make a mild-mannered suggestion that it might have to do with oxygen exchange, but Nick mocks me.

As Owen is (in the present) explaining to the woman on the rooftop how many people he’s killed and (in the past) leaning over Parker’s body, Tosh says that the Pulse’s energy signals are off the scale. It’s going to explode.

Owen says he’ll absorb the energies, but Tosh says he can’t survive.

He’s not worried about this, and he send messages to each of the members of Torchwood, telling Jack never to try and bring him back and Tosh that he’s sorry.

Tosh says she loves him, and he leans over the device as the energy brightens.

(In passing, the Pulse looks like nothing so much as a fluorescent bicycle helmet.)

Back on the rooftop, the woman asks Owen what happened. And he says we all expect life to be shit, but it’s not, necessarily. He pulls the Pulse out of his bag, and she asks what it is.

He says it’s a reply to all the messages they sent out to alien civilisations unknown in the 1970s—not that they know who it’s from. She asks what it did, and he said it sang to him.

Back outside the Hub, Martha is packing her bags and leaving, as Owen is restored to his position in Torchwood. She says goodbye to everyone, and snogs Jack, who looks a bit shocked.

MARTHA: Well, everybody else has had a go!

In the blue-lit Hub, Tosh asks Owen to promise not to tough it out any more, but to tell her when it’s hard for him.

He says he’s scared: he’s scared he’ll close his eyes and get stuck. She says she’s there for him, and tucks her hands through his arm. After a brief pause, he pats her hand.

And walking away from the Hub, he sees a photograph flutter to the ground at his feet, looks up, and sees the woman on the rooftop. And we’re back at the present.

The woman says she thought he came up here to jump, and he says no: he came up here to help.

He asks her name (she says Maggie) and he says if she still sees no glimmer of hope in the darkness—as he holds the Pulse out, and it send ribbons of light out over Cardiff—then she should jump.

She doesn’t.

Though this being Torchwood, I was pretty sure she would.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Three: "Utopia"

Posted 2 November 2009 in by Catriona

So here we are for the first of the three-parter that concludes season three of Doctor Who. Hurray! And also sigh. This means a long, long wait for the next full season, though we do have “Waters of Mars” shortly—middle of November in the U.K., so hopefully not too far behind on the ABC.

Yeah, I know: not up to my usual pre-live blogging rambling, is it?

And now I’m just sitting here, staring at the computer screen and yawning. That doesn’t bode well for the liveliness of the live-blogging, does it? Though, actually, by the time I was finished typing that sentence, I was actually watching the presenter from the Triple J television programme tormenting a cat. Sure, I don’t think he actually killed it, but that was still one seriously peeved cat.

Hmm. Wolfmother + Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” = one slightly cringing nineteenth-century scholar/Kate Bush fan.

I wonder how many songs are based on nineteenth-century songs? Poll in the comments!

Ah, there you go: I’m back to normal. There’s a relief.

Oh, lovely: caterwauling. Just what you need at this time of night.

The TARDIS materialises in Cardiff, much to Martha’s screeching surprise. Seriously, that was a screech.

And here comes Captain Jack! Haring through the streets of Cardiff, with his back pack, throwing himself at the TARDIS as it dematerialises. So we have a connection to the end of season one of Torchwood.

Bits of the TARDIS explode.

NICK: Learn about fuses, Doctor.

The Doctor says the TARDIS is hurtling to the end of the universe—and Captain Jack is clinging to the outside.

Somewhere, heavily tattooed people with extravagant dentition raise their heads to say, “Hoo-mans. Hoo-mans are coming.”



Oh, hey, it’s that guy from The Bill! But he’s been spotted by one of the people with extravagant dentition. He begs them to let him go, but they start screeching.

Hey, it’s Derek Jacobi! C-C-C-C-Claudius! And his lab-coated insectoid assistant who, while he drinks coffee, is happy drinking her own internal milk. Professor Yana (Jacobi) says that’s quite enough information, and I agree with him.

As his assistant explains to a disembodied voice that their calculations are coming along nicely, Professor Yana comes over all dizzy, with beating drums in his head. As his assistant rouses him, they see the signal of the TARDIS’s arrival.

The Doctor says that this is further than even Time Lords usually come, he says they should leave—but, of course, he’s too keen to see what’s outside in the year fifty trillion or so.

Which is dead Jack.

DOCTOR: I think he came with us. Clinging to the outside of the TARDIS. All the way through the vortex. That’s very him.

Jack comes back to life, though the Doctor doesn’t seem terribly keen to see him. The Doctor asks if Jack’s had some work done, and Jack’s says, “You can talk!” Jack then asks whether Rose actually died in the Battle of Canary Wharf, and the Doctor tells him about the parallel universe. The two share a manly cuddle, and Martha sulks.

Jack explains how he managed to get away after he was killed by the Daleks, and the Doctor is scornful about Jack’s method of travelling.

DOCTOR: It’s like I’ve got a sports car and you’ve got a space hopper.

Martha and Jack share stories, and the Doctor is not thrilled about the suggestion that he just leaves his companions behind.

DOCTOR: We’re at the end of the universe. The end of all knowledge. And you two are busy blogging!

Hey, nothing wrong with blogging.

There are some significant looks between Jack and the Doctor as the Doctor reveals he knows that Jack can’t die—though Jack has actually pretty much said exactly that—before they spot the human hunt from earlier, and hare off down the mountainside to save the human, as Jack, in the rear, shouts, “Oh, I missed this.”

They save the human, but they can’t get to the TARDIS, because the enthusiastically toothed pursuers are in the way. So they hare towards the silo they spotted earlier, where the soldiers guarding it let them in, after they’ve shown that they have ordinary teeth.

Professor Yana is thrilled to hear that there’s a doctor just arrived: he asks the disembodied voice is it’s a doctor of medicine, and the voice says that “He says ‘of everything.’”

Yana assumes that this means he’s a scientist, and I get a little annoyed. But only a little, because it’s Derek Jacobi.

We see dozens and dozens of humans, looking like refugees, huddled in the corridor, as the hunted human is reunited with his mother, and Jack is prevented from chatting up a pretty boy.

And, of course, the Doctor opens a hatch he’s not supposed to open and sees the massive rocketship waiting to take these people to “Utopia,” wherever that is. But before we can do more than gape at the scale of the ship, Yana turns up and grabs the Doctor, bubbling away with excitement about the Doctor’s presence.

Jack is stopped from chatting up Yana’s blue assistant, and Martha is more than a little freaked out by the fact that Jack is carrying the Doctor’s disembodied hand in a backpack.

The discussion about the Doctor’s ability to grow a new hand prompts Yana to ask what species the Doctor is.

DOCTOR: Time Lord, last of. Legend? Anyone? Not even a myth. Blimey, the end of the universe is a bit humbling.

He asks Yana what they’re doing here with this rocketship that, sadly, the Doctor can’t help him get working, and Yana asks how he doesn’t know about Utopia: all humans know about Utopia, he says. The Doctor says he’s a bit of a hermit.

YANA: A hermit, with friends?
DOCTOR: Hermits United. We meet up every ten years. Swap stories about caves. It’s good fun—for a hermit.

Yana tells the Doctor about the message they received: “Come to Utopia,” over and over again from far across the stars. And the Doctor, being who he is, manages to get the rocketship powered up with just his sonic screwdriver. Who dissed the sonic screwdriver, eh? Oh, that’s right: it was Jack. But then he died. So it all evens out, especially since he got better.

The disembodied voice tells all passengers to prepare for immediate boarding, and Martha makes friends with the little blonde boy—girl? No, boy—who showed them around everywhere.

But, as the blonde boy heads into the rocketship, we see the key plot point that I completely forgot to mention earlier: one of the Futurekind (the enthusiastically toothed people from earlier) has snuck in among the humans. That can’t be good.

The Doctor and Yana work on the final configurations for the rocketship, but the Doctor realises that Yana is staying behind (with his insectoid assistant, who refuses to go without him). Just then, luckily, a deus ex machina turns up—literally, in the form of the TARDIS, and the Doctor says that he has a way of getting Yana out as well.

Yana’s headache comes back, and he tells the Doctor that it’s the sound of drums, which he’s suffered all his life.

There’s a cute scene there with Martha and the insectoid assistant, which I’m running too far behind to recap.

The communication system goes down, and Martha offers to help. So we have Martha, Yana, and the Doctor standing around the monitor, watching a man manually doing . . . something. I’m not sure what, but it involves radiation. And despite Jack’s best efforts at keeping the radiation levels even, they lose power, because the Futurekind saboteur is destroying every piece of wiring she can get her hands on, before being shot by soldiers.

The man who was communicating with the man in the radiation chamber yells at him to get out, but he’s incinerated by the radiation. Jack tries to jumpstart the cables, to bring it back under their control, and is killed.

This works quite well to everyone’s benefit, because Jack can’t die. (Of course, Martha gave him mouth-to-mouth before she realised this, which allows Jack to wake up saying, “Was someone kissing me?”)

Jack, about to head into the radiation chamber, asks the Doctor how long he’s known, and the Doctor replied, “Ever since I ran away from you.”

Martha tells Yana that she doesn’t know why Jack can’t die, because the Doctor travels through time and space and picks people up like stray dogs. This strikes Yana like a tonne of bricks, though Martha, who has her back turned to Yana, can’t see this.

The Doctor and Jack talk about how and why he is as he is, revealing the Doctor’s prejudice against fixed points in time and space, which is what Jack is now.

Jack says the last thing he remembers from when he was mortal was facing three Daleks, and the word “Dalek” reverberates through Yana’s head.

Then the Doctor explains that the last act of the Time War, Rose’s absorption of the Time Vortex, meant the bringing of life, and the word “Dalek” is replaced in the reverberations in Yana’s head by “Time War.”

Yana is crying by this point.

Jack wonders if he’s out there himself, somewhere, and Doctor says that would be good—the only man Jack would ever be happy with. Jack says this regeneration is a little cheeky, and the word “regeneration” reverberates through Yana’s head.

But Yana’s assistant sees now that he’s crying, and asks why. He says it’s the idea of time travel: he’s always been fascinated by time, he says, and he pulls out a watch, just like the watch that the Doctor had in “Human Nature”/“Family of Blood.” The watch that contained the Time Lord’s essence when the Doctor became human.

Martha backs away slowly, and runs down as fast as she can to find the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t know whether to be thrilled or horrified, but then he realises that the professor can see the watch now, now that Martha has brought it to his attention.

And we see Yana staring at his watch, and we hear Roger Delgado speaking and Anthony Ainley laughing.

Back down below the rocketship, Martha reminds the Doctor of the Face of Boe’s dying words: You Are Not Alone.

And the Doctor just happens to be staring at the word “Yana” as he hears this—or should we say the acronym “Yana.”

Yana, standing in front of the TARDIS, turns around slowly, and we see that this is not Yana. Not the Yana we’ve been seeing—especially not when he destroys the base defenses, letting the Futurekind in, as the Doctor, Jack, and Martha race through the compound.

His assistant tries to stop him, even drawing a weapon. But Yana simply says that now he can say he was provoked, as he picks up a sizzling cable, one of the ones that Jack electrocuted himself on. He asks why, in all this time, she never thought to ask about the watch, never thought to set himself free.

She calls him “Professor,” and he says that that’s not his name: the professor was an invention, he says. She asks who he is, and he says, “I am the Master.”


Three years I waited for the Master to come back. I knew he wasn’t dead. I knew he wouldn’t have gone back to fight and die in the Time Wars. Not the Master!

Then he kills his assistant, as the Doctor is beating on doors and begging Yana not to open the watch.

But Yana’s assistant still has her gun, and she shoots him. He stumbles into the TARDIS, complaining about being shot by an insect, and a girl insect at that.

The Doctor begs him to open the TARDIS doors, saying it’s only the two of them now, and they have to stick together. But the Master has a better idea: regeneration. And the Doctor watches the light of the regeneration from outside the TARDIS, while Jack and Martha try desperately to hold the main doors shut against the Futurekind.

Then the Master wakes up as John Sim. He’s not really comfortable with his new voice, which Martha says she recognises, but that doesn’t stop him from making the Doctor beg—and admit that he knows that this is the Master—and then from just taking off in the TARDIS after all, though the Doctor seems to be doing something with his sonic screwdriver.

Oh, how will our plucky heroes ever get out of this one?!



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