by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

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.

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

Posted 14 February 2010 in by Catriona

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

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

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

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

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

Voiceover!

Shush, Treena. No spoilers!

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

Everyone except Donna’s grandfather Wilf, that is.

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

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

Credits.

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

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

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

He does, and hears the Master laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wilf looks out at the coming storm.

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

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

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

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

After all, she did go to Roedean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both men are crying by this point.

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

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

MICHELLE: Nope, don’t know who that is.
EVERYONE ELSE: That’s TIMOTHY DALTON!
MICHELLE: Oh, James Bond.

So we’re all on the same page, here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME: Except for cheap tricks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In-teresting.

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

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

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

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

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

Voiceover!

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

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

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

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

Time Lords! Time Lords!

W00t!

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

Live-blogging Torchwood, Season Three: "Children of Earth" Day Five

Posted 5 February 2010 in by Catriona

Okay, really late start to this. This has been, quite literally, a terrible, terrible week. I can sum it up in two words: legionella pneumonia. No, not me. But it’s been a frightening, tiring week. So please excuse any vagueness or confusion in the live-blogging.

Also, we have Wagon Wheels for dessert again. So, finally, I might be fed Wagon Wheels during my live-blogging, and fulfil an ambition that is all of three weeks old.

This episode contains violence. I have given up all hopes of nudity.

The children chant and point.

HEATHER: We are coming. To a television near you.

There’s alien vomiting.

MICHELLE: Vomiting lobsters. I can cope with anything else, but it’s revolting.

Now we have Gwen’s monologue, in black and white, direct to the camera, about how she always wanted to ask about the Doctor, about how he sometimes appears, and sometimes he doesn’t.

GWEN: Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and look away in shame. I’m recording this in case anyone ever finds it, so you can see. You can see how the world ended.

The PM tells the country that they’re planning a series of inoculations for the children. Ianto’s nephew asks about inoculations, and Ianto’s sister says they’re injections. He says he doesn’t want to go, and Ianto’s sister says he’s not. Ianto’s niece says the man said they had to go.

IANTO’S SISTER: And I know for a fact he’s lying.
HEATHER: Because his lips are moving.

In the PM’s office, the American general says that all decisions go through him, because the PM’s staff proved they couldn’t cope.

ME: Americans.
HEATHER: Steppin’ in. Takin’ charge. Just like in WWII.

[Heather subsequently told me I should have written that as “Dubya Dubya Two,” to bring across the full force of her wit.]

UNIT are taking charge at Thames House, where they can still smell the stench of the bodies, which were, as Decker (still alive) says, piled ten deep around the doors.

The UNIT general heads into the ambassadorial suite, and there’s more vomiting. He asks the 456 how they take the children, and the 456 show the fiery Icy Pole from an earlier episode.

Then the UNIT general asks what they want the children for, whether they keep the 456 alive.

And the 456 say no. They want the children for the “hit.” The what? the general asks. The hit, say the 456. The children produce chemicals, and the chemicals make the 456 feel good.

HEATHER: That explains the vomiting.

The American general, in the PM’s office, tells the PM to remember that the U.K. started the trade.

HEATHER: U.S.A.!

Yeah, I don’t think she’s going to stop with this.

Jack and Gwen confront Frobisher, and Gwen threatens him with Rhys’s back up of the video recordings. But Frobisher says that that will only start Earth’s descent into Hell a little earlier. Jack agrees, telling Gwen to call Rhys off.

Rhys answers his phone, and asks if he should send the files, but Gwen says it’s too late. She says they killed him, and not just Clem.

GWEN: They killed Ianto.
ME: See, I want to cry. But the vowels are just too beautiful. It’s distracting.

Jack asks if his daughter and grandson will be released, and Frobisher says yes. He also agrees to take Gwen and Rhys home, but Jack himself is arrested, and imprisoned one cell across from Lois.

Lois calls out to Jack, but Jack says nothing.

The Woman in Black releases Alice, but also shows her Torchwood’s footage.

MICHELLE: I don’t love Jack’s daughter. I just feel Jack’s daughter would be cooler than that.
ME: And wear better-fitting pants.
HEATHER: Can we please not mention the pants? Just this once?

Frobisher is called into the PM’s office, and told that, in a show of good faith, Frobisher’s daughters have been chosen for the inoculation process.

Frobisher asks if this means he pretends to have his daughters inoculated.

Oh, no. That’s not what it means, honey.

The PM says no: that his daughters will then be taken to one of the designated areas, and will become part of the process.

HEATHER: They’ll become units.

I start crying. It’s really hard to live-blog when you’re crying.

Frobisher objects, but the PM says that the government has to be shown to be duped by the 456. And Frobisher has been chosen to take that fall.

So he goes to Bridget and asks for a “Requisition 31.” She asks what for? He repeats, “requisition 31.”

I’m fed a Wagon Wheel. My life is now complete.

Bridget gets a “requisition 31” and hands the closed steel box to Frobisher. He kisses her and leaves.

Gwen, landing back in Wales with Rhys, sees Andy waiting to meet her and runs to him. Gwen is not in a good state here, saying that Torchwood has ruined her life. Rhys asks her how it’s ruined, and she says, “You want to have kids in a world like this?”

RHYS: You’re not getting rid of it.
GWEN: Is that right?

The army begins to move in on schools across Great Britain.

Frobisher is driven through a press cordon.

And Bridget goes to see Lois in prison. She’s come to tell Lois how she met John Frobisher thirty years ago, before Lois was born.

Frobisher arrives home and hugs his kids.

Lois says she was on secondment to the Home Office, and she automatically thought that Frobisher was someone to keep an eye on. It was ten years before they worked in the same office. He asked for her.

Frobisher kisses and embraces his wife, then sends her upstairs after the children.

Bridget says he was a good man. “I want you to know that. John Frobisher was a good man.”

Frobisher removes Requisition 31, and heads upstairs.

Bridget says she thinks people will forget how very good he was.

Frobisher walks upstairs, and we see he’s holding a gun behind his back.

Bridget says, “When you think of John Frobisher, just remember, it wasn’t his fault.”

Frobisher shuts the door.

Pause.

Three gunshots.

Pause.

Gunshot.

Damn.

BRIDGET: Now, I think I should get back to work.

Damn.

HEATHER: Man. she’s a stone-cold bitch.
ME: No, she’s just English.
HEATHER: Can you please put that on the blog? Please?
MICHELLE: And can you mention Gwen’s thighs? Wow. Just to lighten the mood.

Gwen ends up at Ianto’s sister’s house, and we see that as Jack hugged her, as she left for Wales, he asked her to save Ianto’s family.

The army move into the schools, taking the children over the hysterical, terrified objections of the family. And, of course, the backgrounds, as the school buses drive away, are council or former council houses.

In Ianto’s sister’s house, Ianto’s sister weeps, while her husband embraces her. Gwen interrupts, to say that she really knew Ianto. But when she says that Ianto told her his father was a master tailor, Ianto’s sister says he worked at Debenham’s, and if he told Gwen that old stuff, she didn’t know him at all.

Stage one is complete, but many children in the target areas stayed home, so stage two begins. Now they’re coming into the houses to take the children.

Rhys says they’re here, and Gwen tries desperately to convince Ianto’s family to evacuate their children.

Alice is talking to the Woman in Black, and Michelle is enthusiastic about the idea that this scene would be improved if the two women kissed. She also has ideas about Lois meeting a woman in prison, but, in fact, Lois is just beating on the door while soldiers take Jack.

Gwen and Rhys take the kids out the back door, while Andy heads out the front door to find out what’s happening. Ianto’s brother-in-law heads back to cause a diversion. He mobilises all the men on the estate, telling them the army are coming to take their kids.

The army bring out their riot shields, as soldiers bring screaming children out of the houses.

The army and estate men clash—and Andy rips off his police gear to join the fray, as Gwen, Rhys, Ianto’s sister, and the kids run and hide.

Decker—who was knocked down in an earlier scene, which I couldn’t recap—is marched past Alice and Steven by men in black, followed by Jack. Alice tells Steven to stay behind, as she follows Jack.

Jack asks what’s going on, and the Woman in Black says that the key to the 456 is the wavelength. Can he come up with something?

Decker says he’s been investigating the wavelength for forty years and there’s nothing, but the Woman in Black shoots him (not fatally) and, without pausing, asks Jack if he can do something.

He thinks so.

Decker says they hacked into Torchwood years ago, and there’s nothing, but Jack and the Woman in Black ignore him.

In the warehouses behind the housing estate, Gwen is recording the direct-to-camera address that we saw at the beginning of the episode. We see now that Rhys is the one filming it, and that he’s crying.

RHYS: You didn’t mean it. About getting rid of it.
GWEN: No, I didn’t. I would never ever do that to you, sweetheart.

And they embrace.

The PM’s office says that they have 80%, but people are starting to fight back.

MICHELLE: [Redacted] oath!

They ask the 456 if 80% is acceptable, but they say no: “All of them.”

Bridget is in the PM’s office, though Denise tells her she needn’t be there. “It’s what he would have wanted,” says Bridget. “I can’t imagine why,” says Denise. But Bridget looks determined.

In the Men and Women in Black Headquarters, Jack has established that the link with Clem hurt the 456, which is why they killed him. So they can create a feedback loop, but they need a child.

ALICE: No. No, Dad. Dad, tell them no.

Decker is gleeful: “That child is going to fry.”

Alice runs for Steven as, elsewhere, the soldiers come for the children Gwen and Rhys are hiding.

Soldiers pin Alice to the wall, and grab Steven.

Soldiers grab the children in Wales, holding Gwen, Rhys, and Ianto’s sister away from them.

And in Men and Women in Black Headquarters, Alice can’t do anything but pound on a locked door as Jack uses his grandson to trigger a high-pitched frequency aimed directly at the 456. A frequency that all children pick up, but, as Decker pointed out, Steven is in the centre, and he’s shaking, shaking and vibrating, with blood running from his nose as Alice watches and Jack weeps.

And the 456 explodes, all over the ambassadorial suite, before the Icy Pole of light reverses itself, sending itself back up into the clouds.

The American general demands a report from the UNIT colonel, who is not, as I have said all recap, a general.

And Rhys and Gwen embrace the Welsh children, who now seem safe.

But when Alice is let into the room, there’s no happy ending for Steven.

He’s dead, no matter how much Alice weeps over his body.

She weeps, and she rocks, and she screams “Why?” but no one answers her. No one even looks at her.

MICHELLE: Being Jack’s kid would suck.
EVERYONE ELSE: Yeah.
MICHELLE: And being Jack would suck.

Everyone leaves the PM’s chambers, except Denise and Bridget. The PM is delighted, because he says that the U.S. took charge without ratification from the United Nations, so they can blame everything on the Americans.

Heather says nothing.

But Bridget is not thrilled that the PM is only trying to save his own neck.

So Bridget reminds him that she went to see Lois, and, while there, signed out some important evidence: the contact lenses. Oh, so that’s why she thought Frobisher would want her to hang around the PM’s office.

Denise backs Bridget up, telling the PM that she thinks she’ll be taking charge of many things around here.

HEATHER: Man, she is one power-hungry bitch.
MICHELLE: And there are a lot of chin dimples in this show.

Jack sits and waits in the corridor of the Men and Women in Black Headquarters, but Alice won’t speak to him, won’t even pass him. And he turns to walk out, walking into a bright white light.

Six months later, a heavily pregnant Gwen—“Bloody gorgeous,” Rhys says—and Rhys walk up a hill to meet Jack, who has arranged transport off world on a cold-fusion transport that’s cruising on the edge of the solar system. He just needs to send a signal.

That’s why Gwen’s here: she has his Time Agent wristwatch, found in the wreckage of the Hub.

GWEN: Indestructible. Like its owner.

She had a new strap put on it.

RHYS: Cost me fifty quid, that did.
JACK: Bill me.

Gwen asks him to stay for her, but he’s spent six months shaking off the guilt for Ianto’s death, Steven’s death, Tosh’s, Owen’s, Suzie’s.

She says, “You can’t leave.”

He says, “Watch me.”

And he leaves.

And Gwen weeps, before Rhys leads her back to the car.

Credits.

Whimper.

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