(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Episode 4: “The End of Time: Part One”)
I thought I was gonna be sad, so sad, but instead I’m more… disappointed. It all seemed so overblown and yet somehow simultaneously slapdash. After all that stuff about “he will knock four times,” it was just Wilf trying to get the Doctor’s attention? And Wilf doesn’t turn out to be a Guardian or a Time Lord or anything special at all — which is a relief, actually — but then why was he so “special” all along? It’s like all the bits and pieces aren’t quite matching up.
Like this: Why the hell is Donna not dead?
That really feels like a copout on Russell Davies’ part. After all the warnings about how she can’t remember or her head will explode, it’s totally not fair on us to suddenly have the Doctor wink and say, “But really, d’ya think I’d leave my best friend without a defense mechanism?” Why has the Doctor been lying about this all along? What was the point of it?
I don’t want to think there was no point except that Davies painted himself into a corner and couldn’t get out of it. Because there was a way out: Donna dies. Not that I want to see Donna die, of course — I really, really hate that she’s left with nothing more exciting in her life than a wedding ring…
…but more important is being true to the characters and to the story. Why not have Donna remember, and use her final moments with her full memory back to do something for the Doctor, or for her mother or Wilf, or for Earth?
Okay, so Timothy Dalton wasn’t the Black Guardian but Rassilon, who’s kinda like George Washington-meets-Moses for the Time Lords, a figure from the far distant past, and when did he get resurrected, anyway? He was Lord President of Gallifrey during the Time War? Geez.
I don’t want to get too down on the episode, because there was some good stuff here, stuff that was neither too neatly matchy-matchy with bits of the tapestry of the story we’ve seen so far, nor too thrown in so that the David-Tennant-Doctor could do everything and meet everyone in his final moments. I mean, all the stuff on the cactus people’s spaceship felt like pure, cornball filler… except the bits between the Doctor and Wilf. The scene with Wilf’s gun, and his “I don’t want you to die, you’re the most wonderful man…” — that’s great stuff, and there should have been more like it here. That’s what Doctor Who has always been about, not space battles. If we wanted kick-ass FX, we wouldn’t be watching Doctor Who in the first place.
Look: the Doctor doesn’t merely accept Wilf’s gun finally after he hears that it’s the Time Lords returning: he snatches it from Wilf. That one little moment, after all his refusal to touch the gun before, says more about how really, really awful the Time War was than anything we’ve seen before. And then the confrontation with the Master and the Time Lords was brilliant. Not just the terrible dilemma — save the Master? or save the now-evil Time Lords? — but the irony of such a simple, low-tech weapon facing such power and such technology.
The Doctor was fighting the Time Lords, too, by the end of the war? That is a huge kick in the gut, for him to have to say it out loud and for us to hear it.
But wait: since when do the Time Lords listen to prophecies? Is this Macbeth? They’re Time Lords, for pete’s sake: they don’t need prophecies — they have TARDISes. Yeah, yeah, I know: Time Lords can’t travel back and forth in their own timelines. But Rassilon is supposed to be anti-superstition, pro-rationality. WTF?
And what the crap is the deal with the Time Lady who wasn’t the White Guardian?
I thought, at this moment, If he says, “Mother,” I’m gonna scream — and not in a good way.
(Did it mean anything when the Doctor responded to Wilf’s question — “That woman, who was she?” — by glancing at Donna in the distance? Is the woman a future incarnation of Donna, whose Time Lord side presumable manifests itself at some point in the future? I’m not sure I like that…)
I like the horrific irony of the Time Lords having created the Master (though I don’t see how it doesn’t contradict the “they can’t travel in their own timelines” rule). I’m glad the Time Lords appear to be well and truly gone, removed from the overall story, letting the Doctor get on with things and the universe get on with whatever it’s been doing. But I’m not sure if I wouldn’t like to have the Master still around, particularly if he can be a different kind of adversary to the Doctor. “Wonder what I’d be without you,” the Doctor says to him. It’s an interesting idea to ponder. A more interesting idea: I wonder what the Master would be without the drumming in his head. I doubt he could ever be quite sane, but he could be less insane, which could make for some new kinds of stories, perhaps…
God, I do love John Simm. Look at him, bringing the Master to the verge of tears, making us feel sorry for the Doctor’s biggest, archest archenemy:
But still: the Doctor leaps out of the spaceship without a parachute? Really? He knocks around Earth before regenerating for just enough time to say good-bye to everyone? The schmaltz was so thick I was choking on it. I didn’t feel moved. I felt manipulated.
This is when I finally teared up:
“I don’t wanna go.”
I bet you don’t. So why go? Imagine what you and Steven Moffat could have done together…
Random thoughts on “The End of Time: Part Two”:
• How come all those Masters aren’t fighting among themselves for power?
• Has Russell Davies been watching Star Wars?
(Nice shootin’, Wilf. Don’t get cocky.)
Yup, Star Wars:
• Gallifrey’s a big-ass planet, ain’t it?
Soon, this will be part of the weather reports on Earth: “partly cloudly, with a chance of big-ass alien planets”:
Must everything be so freakin’ epic for Russell Davies?
• Martha and Mickey are married and fighting Sontarans? Where? When? How did that happen?
• Big shock: Sarah Jane is still in love with the Doctor:
• Wait, Rose doesn’t remember this guy just a year later, when her first Doctor regenerates?
“Two thousand and five, January the first.” Wow, has it been five years already?
• I’m thinking Steven Moffat wanted a new console room set:
• Umm, no:
Sorry, Matt Smith, no offense or anything, but I ain’t feelin’ it. I’m gonna have to hope that Moffat’s writing carries us through. Or else that it’ll be like it was when Tom Baker regenerated: I was already in love with Peter Davison after All Creatures Great and Small, and I still didn’t want to see him as the Doctor… but I did grew to love his Doctor eventually. Of course, that was my first regeneration — I might have been expected to be leery. Now, I’m an old hand at this. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if I can adjust to Doctor Who without David Tennant…
• Great quotes:
“Worst. Rescue. Ever!” –the Doctor
“He loves playing with Earth girls. Ugh!” –the Master, about the Doctor, of course
“You don’t need to own the universe. Just see it.” –the Doctor to the Master
(next: Season 5, Episode 1: “The Eleventh Hour”)