And now, the next (and final) installment of my Doctor Who Christmas Special recap…
The End of Time: Part II
We open on some more Timothy Dalton voice over, and it’s not like I dislike the guy’s voice, but this does not bode well for the rest of the episode. Something about the day creation changed “forever” and the Time Lords returning. The bop-inducing credits roll, for the last time. (They changed them for the Eleventh Doctor, wah waaaah.)
Gallifrey is burning and broken, ruined Dalek ships lying beside the shattered dome covering a city. It’s all in stark contrast to the beautiful mountains rearing up behind. We see good ol’ Tim and a few other human-looking people dressed in ridiculous robes (red velvet, gold things that remind me of Egypt) and saying more pompous shit. Tim (he’s Rassilon, the President and leader of the Time Lords, but “Tim” is shorter, and this is a long, long episode) sits at a table with a few relatively normal Time Lords and one super crazy crone and demands to know what the Doctor is up to. Well, the Doctor, as it chances, still has “The Moment,” and he’ll use it to stop the insanity that is the Last Time War. One of the women is like, “Yeah, maybe that’s a good thing, this is all very fucked up right now,” and Tim vaporizes her and screams about how he refuses to die, and it’s still boring somehow. Wake me when the Master starts fucking up some shit.
Oh! I think it, it happens! Now it’s the Doctor’s turn to be all strapped into the chair the Dearests once had the Master in. It looks pretty uncomfortable–he can’t even respond when the Master starts taunting him, owing to the strap over his mouth.
Wait, I take it back…Can we just…not have this storyline? Please? No? Fine. The Master starts talking to all the high-level…hims on various TV screens, and they all seem very subservient, which makes absolutely no sense, if they’re exact clones of the Master. The Master, as we’ve seen so many times, is a bugfuck crazy megalomaniac who does not take shit or orders from anyone. So why would his clones be any different (especially if they are so exactly him that they also have the drums in their heads, as we later see)? They should all be killing each other, trying to gain control of the world, or at the very least telling Famous Original Master to bugger off. And yet they’re just bantering about, happy as Orcas in a kiddie pool. Why, Russell T. Davies? Why?
So the Master gives Wilf, tied up in a regular chair and not gagged, a wink as he’s listening to the grunts that are also him give him status reports and in general acts incredibly smug, but I somehow find it a little charming. He taunts the Doctor some more, inspiring Wilf to try and interfere, but the Master just calls him the Doctor’s dad and tells him to STFU, basically.
I die with laughter at the Master’s face when Wilf’s phone starts ringing; he does a double-take at Wilf, then looks at the Doctor with the most wonderful “WTF?” expression I’ve ever seen and sort of mouths “What?” And then it’s all ruined when the shitty plotting rears its ugly head, as the Master’s all, “Um, who the fuck’s calling you? I’m everybody, and I’m not calling you, so who is?” How does he know one of hisselves isn’t calling that number? So, this implies that all the Masters are…psychically linked, at least to Famous Original? Why would this be the case? In fact, we also see later that this isn’t the case. I thought the Gate of Idiocy only transmits the medical…Oh, fuck it, I don’t have the energy to fanwank my way out of this.
The Master gropes Wilf for a while (geriphilia?), trying to find the phone, and in the process pulls out the gun Wilf brought and tosses it aside with a mocking “Good man!” He finally gets the phone and wonders who this Donna is and why she didn’t change with the other six billion people. Wilf explains about that whole meta-crisis-Doctor-10.5 thing and the Master looks disgustedly at the Doctor and goes, “He loves playing with Earth girls, ugh.” He instructs his menions (that’s what I’m going to call them from now on) to trace the call, and there’s much typing and unnecessary relaying of messages.
Donna’s out in some alley (always a bad call, Donna, come on), talking about how fucking weird everything is, and how she can see all these random weird things from when she was the Doctor’s Companion, and her head keeps getting hotter, and hotter, and–then she sees the Doctor’s face as it was when she first met him and he drowned the Rachnoss, all fiery fury and soaked, a Time Lord in true form. Some sort of energy bursts out of her head in a square shape (to conform to the shape of the alley, I guess?) and knocks down all the Masters zombie-ing her way, and she’s very confused for a second before she faints.
That’s right: “faints.” She’s not dead. Even though all we’ve heard the Doctor angst about is how she’ll die if she remembers him–which she clearly just did–she doesn’t die. I have no idea how this happened, and no one ever explains it satisfactorily. Let me show you:
The Master hears the line go dead and is smug again for perhaps a second before looking at the Doctor, who you can tell is smiling underneath the strap over his mouth, and he gives the Master a little wink, sending slashfic writers everywhere scurrying to their keyboards. The Master stomps over and rips the mouthstrap off the Doctor, who stretches his mouth by asking the Master if he really thought the Doctor would “leave [his] best friend without a defense mechanism,” and reassures Wilf that she’ll be fine, “she’ll just sleep.” Okay, what the fuck does that even mean? Was all that “she’ll die” stuff just code for “defense mechanism”? I just…None of this makes any sense at all, and it’s making me angry.
Luckily, we have Simm and Tennant working their magic, making me forget (temporarily) this incomprehensible mess. The Master gives him a “well played, sir” look and leans in close (yes, yes, it’s all very Ho!Yay, did you expect anything less from Russell T. Davies?), asking where the TARDIS is. It’s like a wolf asking you where your jugular is, is the way Simm plays this. The Doctor answers with a sad, almost surprised, “You could be so wonderful.” The Master again asks him where the TARDIS is, but with a little less gleeful malice. The Doctor tells him reverently he’s an absolute genius. He could be beautiful, with a mind like that. They could travel the stars together–it would be the Doctor’s honor. You don’t need to own the universe; just see it.
The Master’s face changes so subtly throughout the Doctor’s little speech that you almost don’t notice until the end. The smugness fades with each phrase, the ears come down a little, the madness shining through his eyes dims and is replaced by a more natural glaze, and you can see how tired he is, how alone, even with six billion of him walking around. It almost sounds too good to be true; to be able to rest, finally. He’s so sad and hopeful when he asks the Doctor if he thinks the noise will stop, then. But what would he be without that noise? Is there anything more to him than that madness–or did it swallow him up a long time ago?
(I know I’ve already hinted at how awesome John Simm is, but he’s honestly what makes this special work [aside from some great work by Bernard Cribbins and, of course, Tennant’s performance, but that’s just a given with him–more on that later]. Without him, it would still float along, but after hitting the Big Dumb Iceberg there would be too little left to salvage. And if you’ve ever seen anything else he’s in, you’ll know just how amazing an actor he is: There isn’t a hint of Sam Tyler, or Cal McCaffrey, or even Jip in here. He flawlessly inhabits each character such that you never go, “Oh hey, it’s Sam!” He always keeps you in the moment with him. There’s also a believable difference in how the Master behaved before he died and how he acts now–sure, he’s kind of hammy and dramatic, but that’s not new; it’s a deeply ingrained character trait. The Master was always totally nuts, but he was better able to contain it back in his Harold Saxon days. The main difference here is that the Master’s much further out on a limb, and Simm finds a way to show how and why that happened without totally bashing us over the head with it, which is a line few actors could walk in this case. So do yourself a favor and find a copy of Life on Mars or the BBC’s State of Play miniseries, so you can see how right I am.)
The Doctor finds a way to make this all about him, asking what he would be, without the Master. It’s a fair question, and one that you could probably write an entire college paper about, but this is really not the time, dude. You’re trying to talk the guy off a ledge, not show him how much less of a fuckup you are because of how much of a fuckup he is. But the Master takes this in stride, with the Classic Simm Almost-Tears, smiling a little once again at the irony. He looks like he’s seriously considering the Doctor’s offer….And then Wilf pulls a Wesley, asking what the hell the “noise” in the Master’s head means, even though he seemed to know about it in the cafe, earlier. (“Pulling a Wesley” comes from that Buffy episode where Angel has just about convinced newly minted murderer Faith to turn herself in when Watcher Wesley bumbles in and fucks everything up but good.)
The Master’s broken out of his decision-making reverie and turns bitter, explaining about how shitty it was to be a kid on Gallifrey once they took you to the Academy and made you stare into the untempered schism, a gap showing the time vortex itself. The Master seemed to have a particularly bad experience: “Eight years old. […] They took me there. In the dark.” That’s when he first heard the drums calling to him.
And we cut unexpectedly from this emotional, engaging story told by an interesting, conflicted character to crusty old Tim and his fellow robed cronies, who rehash what we were just told. They figure out the rhythm the Master hears is the same rhythm as the heartbeat of a Time Lord. Well, that information was worth the interruption of the previous scene.
Back with the Master, he’s listening to the drums, and the Doctor suggests they split and travel the universe trying to find the source of the sound, presumably after turning everyone on Earth back into their former selves. But the idea seems to light up a bulb over the Master’s head, and he gets very crazy and submits to the Stupid: Since the noise is in his head, it’s also in everyone else‘s head, and if he triangulates all those signals, he can find the source. I…I know I’ve already said this makes no sense at all, but seriously. Why would the drumbeat have transferred over to everyone else? It’s not in his DNA; he’s not actively transmitting it, or presumably the Doctor would have been able to hear it without the little mind-meld thing. …Oh god, whatever, I’m only 11 minutes through this thing, there’s still like an hour left.
With this revelation comes another bout of Skeletorism, and we learn that the Gate of Plot Convenience wasn’t enough to heal the Master. As he explains, though, in a rough and ragged voice: “This body was born out of death; all it can do is die.”
The Master posits that the noise is coming all the way from the End of Time, and, overjoyed, says that’s what the Doctor’s prophecy was: “Me!” And then he smacks the shit out of the Doctor and, with a suddenly ugly look on his face, growls at the Doctor to tell him where the TARDIS is. The Doctor, of course, refuses, because duh, and the Master orders one of his bevisored menions to get ready to shoot Wilf. Wilf is all ready to die for the cause, and the Master gets all shouty about how he’ll kill Wilf RIGHT NOW, and now it’s the Doctor’s to be glib: “The thing about you is that, after all this time, you’re still bone-dead stupid.” The Master has six billion pairs of eyes but he can’t see the obvious. The Master makes the “Are you fucking kidding me, with this guy?” face: “Like what?” “That guard is one inch too tall.” And within the space of half a second, the Master registers this and gets clocked in the face by the butt of the guard’s gun. The guard is, of course, Mantus (the male cactus, if you recall), and Nina comes in, and they free Wilf but can’t deal with all the buckles and straps holding the Doctor, so they decide to wheel him out. (The chair is on wheels, I guess.) The sequence that follows is barely worth mentioning, but it does include the Doctor saying “Worst. Rescue. Ever!” so there’s that.
Formerly-Daddy-Dearest Master (I think?) is on the TV in the room, picking up the interrogation where Famous Original left off (which would imply a hive mind sort of deal, but this is the only example we see of it), and realizes he’s been had. The troops run after the escapees, visors down, and as mentioned last time I bet the production team and Simm were like, “Thank God,” and Famous Original wakes up and takes off with them. Quick recovery, there.
Chase chase chase, the Doctor keeps telling the Cacti to stop and get him the goddamn hell out of the chair so he can get to the TARDIS, nothing doing because Nina is completely retarded, chase chase chase, they’re cornered, the Master actually says “Gotcha!” and then Nina teleports them all back to the Cactusmobile, 100,000 miles above the Earth. The Doctor is super pissed they didn’t listen to him, and I’m kind of on his side here, but that’s because I know how much more useful the TARDIS would be; I doubt the Cacti are aware of its existence, much less its awesomeness, so he comes off as an ungrateful, bossy asshole. Basically a wash.
While Wilf goggles at the fact that they’re in space and the Cacti are trying to undo all those buckles and straps, the Master is trying to figure out how to get them back or get to them. (Either way, John Simm is a wonderful actor, but he can’t fake-type for shit, which is a pet peeve of mine. It’s not hard, y’all.)
The Cacti finally get him out of the goddamn chair and he immediately leaps onto some piece of machinery, sonic-ing the shit out of it and making it blow up. This serves to close the teleport…path? Route? Something. The Master can’t follow them, is the point. So what’s a guy to do when his arch-nemesis/bro escapes to a spaceship 100,000 miles above the Earth? Use him for target practice, of course! He wants to find them on the radar and launch every missile he can get his grubby little hands on. The Doctor knows that he’ll do this, and explains this to the Cacti, who just want to get the hell out of Dodge, and I can’t necessarily blame them in this case. The Doctor ixnays that idea and totally fucks up the ship via sonic screwdriver, so it’s radio silent. Or whatever. Look, that’s not my field of scientific expertise. There’s no power or anything, and Famous Original is annoyed his quarry’s gone to ground. (Oh, and one of the menions who informs a General Master of the disappearance calls him “sir,” which just…Well, see all my ranting above.)
On the darkened, no-longer-functional spaceship, the Cacti are complaining, and why are they even here, again? I mean in the first place, as characters. They’re seriously dragging the story down. “Story.” Nina snits off, and Wilf is like, “Pft, I know you’ve got a plan, Doctor.” (He calls it “a nice little bit of the ol’ Doctor flim-flam,” which almost makes me wish he were my grandfather. Almost.) The Doctor just looks at him, the “Er, no” written plainly on his face.
While our intrepid heroes sit on their thumbs in orbit around the Earth, the Master is about to try his “finding the source” thing, which just involves all of them…listening. That’s it. So they do, and they “find” it, and it’s “tangible” somehow. And then Russell T. Davies saddles poor John Simm with this horrendous line: “Someone could only have designed this. But who?” Not even Simm can sell that–though you can see he’s trying his damndest–which is saying quite a lot. Why do you hate me, Davies?
Guess who designed this? First guess doesn’t count. Yep, it’s Tim and his table of cronies. They sent the signal back through time to when the Master was a kid looking into the Untempered Schism. I won’t even try to unravel this time clusterfuck right now, so…moving on. Tim is pleased, but when Cringing Crony #1 reminds him the link is just telepathic right now–an idea, so to speak–that crazy prophet hag tells him to take this diamond thing off his staff and throw it to Earth. (Except in Crazy Speak.) So he does, and I really need to stop trying to figure out what the rules are here, because there don’t seem to be any. If they’re in a Time Lock, shouldn’t…nothing be able to get through? Haven’t we seen that things can’t get through? Because I’m pretty sure that’s not what we’ve been shown before. Didn’t the Torchwood kids shoot a bullet that got stopped by a Time Lock, back in the season four finale? How can he throw that little diamond out? Is it a porous membrane or something?
…52 minutes left? Sweet Jesus.
Whatever, the diamond shoots down toward Earth, and the Masters hear it. Famous Original barks at the others to find “it.” They do, and for some reason there’s a huge fiery crater in the ground. Again, not a physicist here, but I’m not sure something as small as a thumbnail could cause that kind of damage, even coming from…I don’t even know. (Seriously, self, stop thinking about this stuff.) The menion who finds it is sadly saddled with more shitty dialogue that I won’t repeat; the upshot is that it’s a diamond that shouldn’t exist: a white-point star. Famous Original looks like Christmas came early, and does the usual maniacal laugh thing.
There’s another scene where Ethereal Woman appears to Wilf. She inspires him to go try to persuade the Doctor to kill the Master. Wilf asks her who she is, and she’s evasive, but if you weren’t thinking “Time Lady” by now, well, you must be below the age of 10.
The Doctor is fiddling with some wires and machinery, glasses on, when Wilf makes his way onto the flight deck to join him. The Doctor says he’s trying to fix the heating, which is a good call. Wilf revels in the outer-space-iness of it all; saying he always wanted a view like this. His wife’s down there, dead. He’s horrorstruck by a sudden thought: “Do you think he changed them, in their graves?” The Doctor apologizes instead of answering, and Wilf, like his granddaughter did a few years ago, says it’s not his fault. Except it kind of is, in this case, and the Doctor recognizes that out loud.
Wilf points out where he served in Palestine, “skinny little idiot” standing on a roof while bullets flew by him. The Doctor takes off his glasses for the last time, and I pour one out for them. Wilf stops his storytelling, reasoning that the Doctor doesn’t want to hear any more boring old man tales, but the Doctor pensively responds that he’s actually the old one: “I’m 906.” Wilf can’t imagine living that long–humans must look like ants, to him. Ever the humanist, the Doctor replies that he thinks they’re giants, actually.
Wilf isn’t sure what to make of this, so he pulls out his gun and tries to hand it to the Doctor. He refuses, quietly, and points out that Wilf didn’t shoot the Master in the mansion, though he could have. (I don’t think that was the case, actually, but whatever.) Wilf sheepishly admits he was probably too scared, and the Doctor, still quiet, tells Wilf he would be proud, if Wilf were his dad. Awwwww. Wilf admonishes the Doctor for starting that sappy stuff, and the Doctor smiles briefly.
The prophecy, Wilf asks, it said “he” will knock four times, and then the Doctor will die, right? Right. The Master, it’s that noise in his head that it’s referring to, right? Right. Wilf tries to give him the gun again, telling him to beat the Master to the punch, and the Doctor refuses again, giving us an interesting little tidbit: “That’s how the Master started.” But you can see how tempted the Doctor is–it’s very “Frodo offers the Ring to Gandalf.”
The Doctor goes on that it’s not like he’s never killed anyone before. Lots. A few civilizations, in fact. “And then I got clever; manipulated people into taking their own.” His face is currently fixed in the most self-loathing expression I’ve seen since Angel went off the air. “Sometimes I think a Time Lord lives too long.” And it’s true; even at his most humanistic, he’s still got the ego of a god. He tells everyone humans don’t look insignificant to him, but he’s still their Champion, above them. Their Defender, separate from everyone else. It’s how he and the Master are most alike: that belief that they’re alone, and that singularity makes them special, for good or ill; and their unwillingness to destroy each other, because then they would be alone, singular, special. They’ll wreck everything around them, but never each other. (In this case, it really is the Master trying once again to take what the Doctor took from him–the closest thing to home, to family, he has now. He’s leveling the playing field.) The Doctor is reluctant to reveal that if the Master dies, the “template” “snaps” and everyone goes back to being human, and Wilf is like, “Seriously, you’re picking him over six billion humans? Fuck you, you can’t do that.”
Again and again, the Doctor refuses, though Wilf is practically crying at this point (shit, the Doctor’s practically crying as well), begging the Doctor to not just save the human race, but to save himself as well. He’s the most wonderful man in the world, and Wilf can’t have him die, he just can’t. The Doctor just can’t, either.
This wonderful sad scene is interrupted by the Master’s voice on an open broadcast, revealing the fall of the white point star and how he’s going to use it as a lifeline, to bring back the Time Lords. The Doctor, of course, is really not okay with this and starts freaking out. He grabs the gun out of Wilf’s hands, because now the Master’s gone too far and is about to fuck everything up in a major way. Even more major than turning everyone on Earth into himself.
Wait, but why? asks Wilf. The Doctor always talks about how awesome Time Lords were. They should throw a party! Well, turns out that’s how the Doctor chooses to remember them. During the Last Great Time War, they turned into total assholes who were going to end the universe, and the Doctor had to stop them. He runs to the flight deck and fixes everything in about a second, while the Master fiddles with his diamond lifeline thing. “Send the signal back, and the link becomes a pathway.” Wait, what? How does that make any sense at all? It’s still only a sound! How does that enable them to break the Time Lock? Seriously, where was the story editor, on holiday in Mallorca?
Tim walks into
a bar a huge senate-like chamber, giving me horrible flashbacks to the new Star Wars movies (why, George? Whyyyy?). A big bunch of people are wearing ridiculous-looking robes like Tim and his cronies. He makes some booming little speech about how they should totally take advantage of this “pathway” and get the fuck out of the Time Lock. All in favor?
The Doctor tries to explain this whole mess to Wilf, who, like us, doesn’t understand how this is happening. According to the Doctor, nothing can get out of the Time Lock except something that was already outside of it to begin with. Hey, Doctor, in addition to this stupid noise thing, you know what else was already outside of the Time Lock? YOU. And the Master. And, I believe, a few Daleks. Why can a sound serve as a pathway they can follow out of the Time Lock (which, again, HOW, EXACTLY?), but not some sort of actual, physical connection with…Oh god, why am I still trying to make sense of this bullshit?
More bullshit: The Cacti are still around and being annoying. The Doctor has a plan to run the sort-of blockade of missiles that’ll be coming at them now that they’re visible on the radar, and it involves the Mantus and Wilf shooting the missiles with lasers. The Doctor says some more dumb things but redeems himself by giving us one last, great big “ALLONS-Y!” and shooting the ship toward Earth.
A General Master is like “Oh shit, they’re moving pretty fast,” and Famous Original is like, “Don’t care, shoot all those missiles, I’m busy pretending the Rapture is approaching. I don’t need him, I’ll have an entire planet of Time Lords in like two minutes.”
Blah blah shooting the missiles blah, everyone is annoying as fuck, the Doctor’s all shouty, whatever, they somehow don’t get blown to fucking pieces.
Back on Gallifrey (IN THE TIME LOCK THAT NOTHING CAN GET INTO OR OUT OF, RIGHT?), only two people in the senate thing voted to not go fuck up the universe, and they’ll be forever shamed, SHAAAAAMED. (Interestingly, he says “They’ll stand as a monument to their shame–the Weeping Angels of old,” which I thought would play into the next season’s Weeping Angels arc, but…didn’t. At all. So it’s kind of a weird line, in retrospect.)
The Doctor’s ship streaks toward the Dearest Mansion, and it seems like he’s just going to plow into the house, which would be one way of putting an end to all this, but you know he won’t.
The Master, meanwhile, is still acting like it’s the Rapture (which I guess it kind of is, in a way), acting generally nuts, as per. You can see the Time Lords start to materialize in front of him as he howls with glee.
Wilf stumbles onto the roiling flight deck and asks the Doctor if this is going to be how it all ends. He’s cool with dying along with the Doctor, but he just wants to know. Nina is like, “Um, excuse me what? I’m not cool with that. I’m not cool with that at all.” The Doctor finally pulls up, narrowly avoiding killing everyone on the ship and in the mansion. Instead, he’s just going to kill himself by jumping out of the spaceship moving god knows how fast and crashing through the glass dome on top of the room with the Masters and now Tim and a couple others, including the two “Weeping Angels.”
My entire body aches in sympathy as the Doctor lands on the floor, cut up and probably with at least a broken bone or two. Tim says something about how they’re all gathered for The End. Ominous!
The Cacti are still around, and still annoying. Shocker. Wilf makes them turn around so they can drop him off at the mansion, which I mean, it’s not like they were going to take him back to Cactasia, right? Nina angrily turns the car around.
Tim notes the irony of being saved by their “most infamous child,” and I think Russell T. Davies needs a refresher on the definition of “irony,” because that’s not exactly it. If the Doctor had been the one, then sure. But it’s not like the Master ever tried to destroy Gallifrey. (Well, at least not that I know of.) The Doctor tries to clue them in on the Master’s “plan,” but the Master refuses to let the Doctor ruin the surprise: He’s now going to transplant himself into every single Time Lord! Which still doesn’t make any sense at all, because weren’t the humans all turned into the Master, who is a Time Lord? Were they still human? That doesn’t…How… Whatever. Tim mentally rolls his eyes, his metal-gauntleted hand starts glowing blue, and with a mere snap turns everyone back into humans. The Master reacts like Tim has just taken away his favorite toy, all, “No, you can’t! It’s not fair!”
Tim orders all the humans in the room on their knees, and they do it, I guess because he’s wearing those robes and he’s got that weird metal hand. The Master, thinking he is well and truly fucked, makes sure Tim remembers that he’s the one who saved them; he gets the credit. He’s on their side! Now it’s Tim’s turn to pretend it’s the Rapture, as…Holy shit, it’s Gallifrey, about to knock Earth out of orbit.
The Master is totally confused, which is actually pretty unlike him. The Doctor is like, you idiot, they’re not just bringing back the people, the planet’s coming, too. Everything on Earth starts shaking, people are running out onto the streets again, like, I know they don’t have earthquakes in England, but it’s it common knowledge to not run around outside when the ground is moving?
Big red Gallifrey appears in the sky, Wilf runs through the halls of the Dearest Mansion, the Cacti finally (FINALLY) get out of here, about an hour later than they should have. We get one last look at the Dearests, thank god.
Oh god, some asshole is stuck in one of the glass chambers. And of course, Wilf is going to run into the room and see him, and of course he’s going to get into the other one and lock it so the kid can escape. The Doctor presciently begs Wilf not to do it, but stupid will as stupid does.
The Master senses that there’s something wrong with all this, but he forges along anyway, saying how great it is to have everyone back. The Doctor explains angrily (seriously, he is so, so angry) that it’s not just Gallifrey that’s back because the Time Lock’s been opened–it’s the entire Time War. All the Daleks and all the other horrible, horrible things that the Doctor was trying to stop. (One of these things is “The Could’ve-Been King with his army of meanwhiles and never-weres,” which gives me shivers.) It’s hell, hell on Earth. The Master, Classic Simm Almost-Tears in his eyes belying his panic, bravados that that sounds like his kind of world, rather than agreeing with the Doctor. Just admit you were wrong, dude. Hell is never fun for anyone. That’s why it’s hell. The Doctor says pretty much the same thing, and adds that even the Time Lords can’t survive that shit.
Tim interrupts and says that instead, the Time Lords will totally destroy creation and time itself. “That’s suicide,” the Master accuses, still confused. No, they’ll become “creatures of consciousness alone,” while everything else ceases to exist. The Doctor tries to make the Master see, finally: That’s why he had to do it. He was the only one who could stop them. The Master, still scrabbling for approval, pleads with Tim to let him ascend as well, sinking to his knees.
With as much disdain as possible, Tim tells the Master there is no way he’ll be going anywhere. “You are diseased…Albeit a disease of our own making.” And, oh, the way the Master’s face just crumples makes me so, so sad. Tim goes to end the Master, but a gun clacks into frame instead. It’s the Doctor, gunning it up for the first time (at least in the new series). Tim is like, um, there’s a bunch of us, but only one of him. The Master takes entirely the wrong tack, telling the Doctor to shoot Tim so he can rule Gallifrey instead. He should know by now that’s the last thing the Doctor would ever want. So the Doctor turns and trains the gun on the Master, who freaks out, saying it’s not his fault. And then he realizes that since the link is inside his head, his death would mean Tim and his posse and the planet all go back into the Time Lock. (I don’t even care about the non-logic at this point.)
The Master repeats his bluff from a few years ago, this time daring the Doctor, rather than Martha’s mother, to do it. He stamps his foot as he says it, and it looks like he might actually cry. He silently begs the Doctor not to do this, not to his old friend; he shakes his head just the tiniest fraction. It seems to work; the Doctor turns the gun back to Tim, and the Master growls that Tim’s the link, too–kill him!
The Doctor’s face remains inscrutable as he decides which party to murder–the last act of his life. But then one of the Weeping Angels lowers her hands, and we see it’s the lady who’s been appearing to Wilf. She looks at the Doctor with a tenderness that only a mother could have for her son, and though it’s never said, I think that’s who she is. She’s crying, but strong. She nods at the Doctor, and he turns back one last time to the Master. I didn’t think it was possible for the Master to look more hurt than when Tim rejected him so cruelly, but no, his hearts have clearly just shattered.
But instead of blowing his brains out, the Doctor tells him to get out of the way. It takes a second to register, but when it does, the Master smiles and dives as the Doctor shoots the machine with the diamond in it, killing the link and sending them all back into hell. Tim says that he dies with them, and the Doctor says he knows. His mother buries her face back in her hands.
And now it’s the Master’s turn. He rises and tells the Doctor to get out of the way, and starts shooting Tim with all the electricity he can muster. “You did this,” he bellows, still electrifying Tim, pouring out all the frustration of being used and broken. “All of my life,” he continues, sending out bolts in time with the drums in his head, the thing that made him special, “One! Two! Three! Four!” On “four,” they all vanish into whiteness, along with Gallifrey.
In the aftermath, the Doctor raises his head in disbelief. He’s alive. “I’m still alive,” he wonders, shaking, crying with relief, from exhaustion. And then it comes, seemingly out of nowhere:
The Doctor freezes in terror. It comes again. Onetwothreefour. He knows the jig is up. He sits and turns in the direction of the sound, and there he is: Wilf, in that fucking glass chamber, tap-tap-tap-tapping on the door. The Doctor is quietly devastated as Wilf makes the seemingly simple request of letting him out.
Turns out the chamber can’t be opened or else it’ll set off the nuclear something, and all the radiation is supposed to be pumped into those chambers. Wilf apologizes for making a total mess of things, and the Doctor is still so crushed he can’t form the expected apology acceptance. Seeing this, Wilf is like, look, just leave me in here, and the Doctor snarkily goes, “Oh, okay, right then, I will.”
He starts to completely unravel, ranting that of course Wilf had to go in there; he was always supposed to go in there. Wilf again tells the Doctor to leave him, he’s old and done, and the Time Lord within awakens. “Well, exactly. Look at you. Not remotely important. But me?” He paces around, railing to the universe about the injustice of it all. “I could do so much more. So much more!” he roars, and there appears to be something in my eye.
This is his reward, for all the things he’s done. He snaps, bent over a table, sweeping everything off the desk and yelling, “It’s not fair!” And something about that seems to snap him back, the words that he kept hearing the Master say a few years ago and today, and he realizes that’s who he’s becoming, without the Master. He sighs and swallows his anger, accepts what has to be done. “Live too long,” he mutters as he stifflegs over to the chamber. Wilf insists the Doctor leave him–he can’t have the Doctor die. Not for him. But as the Doctor grabs the handle to the door of the other chamber, he looks at Wilf sincerely, if a little sadly, and tells him it’s his honor, to do this.
They make the switch, and immediately radiation starts flooding the Doctor’s chamber, and he screams and curls up into a ball (not easy for someone Tennant’s size), grabbing his hair and sobbing. (I’m certainly not sobbing as well. Nope.)
Yet again, he finds himself still alive, but instead of body-shaking relief, he just looks tired and grim, responding to Wilf’s “Hello” with an exhausted “Hi.” The system’s dead, and he’s absorbed all of the radiation (yikes). He gently pushes on the door and rolls his eyes when it easily gives way. “Oh, now it opens.” Even in death, you’re funny, Doctor.
Wilf, at least, is relieved, but tells the Doctor he’s certainly got some battle scars. The Doctor tiredly rubs his hands over his face, and Wilf’s own face falls. All the cuts and bruises and dirt are gone. The Doctor looks at his blemish-free hands and knows it’s started. Wilf hugs him tight, and he tries to be brave.
Shaun Noble-Temple and Mum Noble have found Donna and brought her inside, unconscious; they can’t get her to wake up. What does get her to wake up is the grrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrrrnnngh of the TARDIS as it lands outside the house–once again, she’s missed it all.
Wilf and the Doctor, in a fresh brown suit and coat, step out of the TARDIS. (In a lovely touch, by the way, the Doctor’s wearing very nearly the same outfit he did just after defeating the Syxorax–the first outfit he ever picked out as the Tenth Doctor.) Mum Noble greets them with a smile. The Doctor takes this as the ill omen it is and tells Wilf he’ll see him again, and to keep his eyes peeled. Wilf asks him where he’s going, and the Doctor sort of an answer: “To get my reward.” Nope, not crying at all. Not a single tear.
He steps back in the TARDIS and the next thing we know, Martha (Martha! I loved her!) is running across the screen, looking totally badass in black leather and lots of long skinny braids and carrying a fairly large gun. She runs to Mickey (Mickey!), who’s similarly attired and armed. Apparently they’re married now. (Aw, but what about super hot Dr. Tom?) They’re under fire from a Sontaran (“Poh-tay-toh!”), who drops unceremoniously to the floor, revealing the Doctor with a mallet, looking pretty satisfied. Martha seems to sense him (not smell, thank god), and makes Mickey look up with her. There he is, standing sternly, and Mickey doesn’t realize it at first, but Martha does: This is goodbye. The Doctor nods slightly and walks off, and Martha crumples into Mickey’s arms.
Mary-Jane’s son (whose name I can’t remember and am far too lazy to look up; I’ve been working on this recap for nearly a week solid) is jawing away (cutely) on his cell and wandering into the street in the path of an approaching car. The Doctor swoops in and saves him. He runs to his mom as the Doctor walks grimly away, giving her one final glance and a wave before he steps back into the TARDIS.
Jack’s sitting in a bar that looks like the cantina on Tatooine in Star Wars. We see all sorts of villains (“villains”) from Tennant’s tenure, filling the bar. The (cute) bartender slips Handsome Jack a note from “that man over there,” and of course it’s the Doctor, who’s a little less grim right now, and a little more puckish. The note says, “His name is Alonso,” and then Alonso from the Christmas special with Kylie Minogue and the Titanic sits next to Jack. Allons-y, Alonso! Oh, and he’s also on Being Human, and is totally cute and awesome on it. The Doctor salutes him and disappears, and Captain Jack works his magic on the poor, unsuspecting Alonso.
Back when the Doctor was hiding from the Family, when Martha was around, by being human, he and this human chick fell in love, and there was a whole thing, and it sucked for her when he turned back into a Time Lord. But she wrote about him and all his craziness, and her granddaughter (played by the same actress) turned it into a book. (Opportunist. Sorry, this one doesn’t really do it for me; I never really liked that storyline, other than the fact that Sam from Love Actually was in it.) The Doctor walks up to her at a book signing and tells her to make it out to The Doctor, and she realizes it’s him. He asks her if her grandmother was happy, and she unconvincingly replies that she was. The Doctor is so, so sad, and can barely manage a smile when she asks him if he was.
It’s Donna Noble-Temple’s wedding again! This one seems like it’ll take. She’s being her usual Donna self, and Neris (Neris!) makes an appearance, hee. Wilf is looking very dapper in his tux. Mum Noble catches sight of the Doctor and alerts Wilf to his presence. They go and meet him, and Wilf is so relieved to see him still alive I guess he forgot about the whole “ability to time-travel” thing. Which in this case I’ll forgive him for, as I would probably react in the same way. Wilf asks the Doctor who that woman was, the Weeping Angel who helped him find the non-homicidal solution to the Master problem. The Doctor doesn’t answer, but takes out a little envelope and gives it to them, telling them to give it to Donna as a wedding present. He never carries money, so he went back in time and borrowed a quid from a “really lovely man”–Jeffrey Noble. Mum Noble is touched beyond words at this. They go back to Donna and give the envelope to her. It’s a lottery ticket, which she declares is a shitty present, and she would normally be right, but I’m pretty sure this one is special. Mum and Wilf smile at their little secret and look back across the church graveyard at the Doctor; Wilf salutes one last time, and seems to know it’s the last time. He watches the TARDIS grrrreeaaaaarrrrrnnnnghhhh off, containing the son he never had, the most wonderful man.
Oh, god, I don’t know if I can handle this last one. Rose and Jackie Tyler tramp through the snow, Rose complaining about how they’ve missed “it,” which appears to be “midnight on New Year’s Eve.” They were supposed to get a ride from Jackie’s beau “Jimbo,” which is a name I previously thought was limited to the southern United States, but his axle broke or something. Rose tells Jackie to get rid of him, as he’s a total loser, and Jackie rightly says she really can’t be choosy. (I know, that’s mean, but…come on.) Rose tells her not to talk like that; she’s sure there’s someone out there for her. They wish each other a Happy New Year, and Jackie leaves Rose to go do something. Rose is going back to the Estate when she passes a man in an alley who does not sound well. It’s the Doctor, and he was clearly trying to be just a silent observer, but he gets hit by a pang and lets out a groan. She turns back to him, sweetly concerned for this drunken stranger. After gently suggesting he go home, she wishes him a Happy New Year and turns to go. He stops her, asking what year it is, and she’s like, “Jesus, how much did you drink?” She tells him it’s 2005, and he smiles bittersweetly. “I bet you’re gonna have a really great year,” he tells her thickly. Somehow she’s not creeped out, which is possibly a byproduct of him looking like a really tall dark glass of deliciousness, and she tells him, “See ya!” and runs off into the snow, the girl he had to give up to a lesser version of himself.
And now it’s time. On top of the fresh bruises on his two hearts, he has to deal with the pain of regeneration, and he stumbles through the snow to the TARDIS. I want to snark on him for parking it so far away from where he ended up standing, but now’s not really the time, I guess. He finally pitches forward, on hands and knees, just a few feet away from the last thing to say goodbye to. Ood Sigma appears and tells him the universe will sing him to his sleep, and some beautiful choral music starts up. It gives the Doctor the strength to get up and get through those last few feet, agonizingly slow. He takes his coat off for the last time and slings it onto one of those veiny-branch support things.
His hand begins to glow, and even through the fear and sadness you can see the merest hint of wonder. He grits his teeth and circles the console one last time, touching everything, everything the last. He starts her up; she leaps into the space just above the Earth.
Oh god, he’s so sad. He takes a few more staggering steps as the music reaches its epic apex. He looks into the distance, the Doctor who loved life more, perhaps, than any other one: Ten. He doesn’t sob as he says it, not exactly, but it’s not acceptance: “I don’t want to go.”
The glowing suffuses him, and finally he allows it to take him. And wow, does it–the force of the regeneration sets everything afire, destroying pretty much the entire interior of the TARDIS. His features morph (pretty quickly) into those of Matt Smith, Eleven: Floppy dark brown hair and greenish eyes and big chin, not as tall or thin, but not short or fat by any means. He performs the standard body check: Legs? Check. Arms, hands, fingers? Check. Face? Yep. Hair? “I’m a girl!” Wait, no, his voice is too deep for a girl. Phew. But he’s still not ginger, alas. He realizes delightedly that the TARDIS is currently fucked all to hell, and he’s crashing down to Earth. He tries a few things, whooping with glee, and leaves us with one great big “GERONIMO!”