Friday, January 01, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 4x18: "The End Of Time Part 2"

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Euros Lyn

The Doctor: “I don’t want to go.”

Well that was certainly a week that I thought would never finish up in time. How appropriate that the first episode of 2010 be the one that exited the Tenth Doctor once and for all. The question is, was the wait worth it? For me, it was but this is definitely going to be a dividing episode amongst fandom like its first part was.

Having the first scene with the Time Lords was an interesting move. Sadly, it’s not a new race of them but rather ones that are still time locked and on the verge of destruction. Dalton’s President or should I say, Rassilon is a particularly nasty fellow who had no problem killing a female Time Lord because she thought death was a better option than pointlessly regenerating in an never ending war.

If you were hoping for an epic appearance by Paul McGann or Christopher Eccleston, some Daleks or maybe much needed Time War flashbacks, then this opening scene is a disappointment. Still, Rassilon’s refusal to die does merit the malice that this particular Time Lord has.

Speaking of malice, you’d almost feel sorry for David Tennant being bound and gagged to the same torture chair that John Simm had to endure in the previous episode but what else was The Master going to do with his best enemy? Besides, every now and then, The Doctor could do with a little shutting up.

We’ve seen The Master victorious before but never have we gotten material that will inspire several amounts of slashy Doctor/Master fanfiction for months to come. Having 6 billion versions of The Master, how to resolve it? Well, not in the first half of the episode anyway. That’s better used for trying to add some Donna moments.

I kind of hoped that when The Master realised that Donna had a bit of a metacrisis running through her that it would somehow have an impact in the storytelling. Apart from calling her a freak and trying to capture her, The Master wasn’t all that impressed with it. Still, Donna’s mind did manage to use some sort of shielding to save her before leaving her unconscious in an alley.

I was also hoping that because of her subdued role in the first part that she would be instrumental within the second one. Again, not so much the case. This was still Wilfred’s episode as a main companion and thanks to Addams and Rossiter, they managed to rescue The Doctor and Wilfred and teleport to their own ship.

The Doctor’s jokes about them being a bad rescue team and all were funny enough but the one thing I did appreciate was that Rossiter and Addams didn’t become a threat in the episode. Their mission had been still the same and they wanted no involvement in any of The Master’s hair brained dominion plots. I don’t really blame them.

However The Doctor had no choice but to get involved. If he didn’t, The Master would’ve done even more damage than taking over the human race. The unhinged delight he took in being everybody came back later on when he met up with the Time Lords as well. Having Super Master Time Lords would definitely be a disaster in the making for everyone.

Some of the scenes where various people were as The Master weren’t as scary as the previous episode. Maybe it’s because of the hysterical laughter being kept to a minimum or maybe it was also down to Rassilon’s little White Point Star present descending on Earth for contact purposes as well.

Of course The Master would see the return of his people as a good thing. He wasn’t there during the last acts of the Time War and if he had, he might not have been so welcoming of them at first. The Doctor dropping in on proceedings however soon made him realise that things would get a lot worse for everyone if they came back into full power.

One thing that Russell didn’t learn from “The Stolen Earth”/“Journey’s End” was that while an epic plan that would see the destruction of everything sounds good on paper, it’s actually quite illogical for a villain. Davros wanted to destroy all of reality so that he and his Daleks could rule nothing and the Time Lords have a similarly ludicrous plan of their own.

Wanting to ascend themselves beyond consciousness just seemed daft to me. Timothy Dalton delivered the lines epically but what exactly would it have achieved long term – permanent observation of an empty universe? Hardly the most illuminating of ideas, now is it? No wonder The Doctor was anything but pleased to see his fellow people back.

This thankfully lead to some better scenes. The Doctor’s resisted gun play for a while now and here he went back and forth between temptation to shoot The Master or Rassilon and his people. There was a point where I thought he was going to kill The Master, especially given that in the same position, you’d know The Master wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on him.

However The Doctor didn’t and instead he used the gun to shut down the Immortality Gate and send the Time Lords all back in the hell they were last in. Not as dramatic as it could’ve been but there was a good self-sacrifice moment when The Master realised what Rassilon had done to his mind and decided on a little payback for it.

While I like that The Master didn’t get shot once again, it is going to make things tricky for Steven Moffat to bring him back. Then again, after this little story and the sublime Doctor/Master moments we were given in both parts, maybe we should wait a little while before seeing the rogue Time Lord again.

As for The Master’s little stunt, trust Rassilon to quickly turn everyone back to normal with his little gauntlet. That thing’s genius – it kills and it reverts things to their normal status. Oh well, I guess there was never going to be a hard core science way of reversing the process and it’s not like it was going to be a big deterrent for the story anyway.

There were bigger issues in this episode and one of them was Wilfred. After the first part of this story aired, online suspicious was ripe that he would be revealed as a Time Lord or The Doctor’s father. The Master even made a joke about it when he had the both of them in captivity as well. Even The Doctor admitted that he would be proud if Wilfred had been his father.

That’s without a doubt one of my favourite scenes of the episode. Wilfred and The Doctor have a wonderful father/son dynamic despite the latter being so much older and world weary. Wilfred didn’t want The Doctor and he also demanded him to take his gun and shoot The Master to save everyone while doing the best he could to protect Donna. What a trooper.

Even when Wilfred was trapped in that booth again, he begged The Doctor to leave him. The Doctor was at the point where he was getting more and more agitated about his imminent death, for a moment I thought he would abandon Wilfred but he did.

David Tennant’s best material was during those scenes. Here is an incarnation that’s so loved, clearly by the writer as well as the general public that you would get him not wanting to embrace the idea of death. Soaking up all that energy certainly triggered it but the most memorable thing about this regeneration is how quickly it didn’t happen. And Wilfred was the one who knocked four times.

The Doctor made a vow to Wilfred that he would see him one last time but not before he went about seeing others first. For all you Martha Jones haters out there, I shrieked with delight when she popped up on screen. While I had hoped that Martha would appear, I did find it suspicious that we didn’t have that spoiler leaked early.

Okay, so it’s public knowledge for a while that her and Mickey winded up marrying each other, going freelance and battling Sontarans. If it wasn’t for The Doctor intervening, Martha would’ve been dead by the Sontaran in this episode. I’m not sure if her and Mickey as a couple works, although there’s a nice vibe between Freema Agyeman and Noel Clarke.

The Luke and Sarah Jane appearance in this episode is a little shorter by comparison. Probably because we got a lot of closure with The Doctor and Sarah Jane in “The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith” and also because Sarah Jane seemed more than aware that his little appearance would be the last time she saw him in that incarnation. Out of all the companion appearances, it’s arguably the most poignant.

Jack’s scene however is thankfully less angst ridden than anything we saw on “Children Of Earth” but are fans going to be happy that The Doctor played matchmaker between Jack and Alonso Frame? I have a feeling that some of the Ianto purists will hate Russell T. Davies for that one. I think they’re kind of cute and if it means seeing Russell Tovey on Torchwood, then I have no objections.

The most interesting appearance though was Joan Redfern’s descendant Verity Newman. She published The Journal Of Impossible Things and was surprised when she realised who The Doctor was. As a big fan of “Human Nature”/ “The Family Of Blood”, that was a nice surprise and having Jessica Hynes play Verity was a good choice too. Instantly recognisable for casual viewers alike.

Donna’s wedding to Shaun could’ve given one moment where she caught The Doctor’s eye but alas, not so much. However I did like that little lottery ticket gift The Doctor managed to acquire and the scenes with Sylvia, Wilfred and Minnie were a hoot and a half. Out of all the companions, Donna and Wilfred are the two I’m going to miss the most.

Rose’s appearance in this story could’ve been a saccharine touch too far but it would’ve also been extremely odd not to have included her as well. Having The Doctor meet her months before she met Nine was better than seeing her marry his human counterpart and I felt that twinge of nostalgia watching their scenes together.

The Ood singing to The Doctor as we got to the point of regeneration added some nice creepiness to proceedings. It was only natural that Ten was going to regenerate alone in his TARDIS and while I didn’t ball my eyes out, David Tennant’s last moments as he changed into Matt Smith were certainly something else.

Speaking of Matt Smith, I was actually glad that his Doctor got nearly three minutes of screen time. The TARDIS was burning up like mad and heading for Earth once again. As an introductory scene, it hit the right spot. Things change and while The Doctor now looks like a different man again, he’s still with us. I’d rather that the alternative. Welcome aboard, Matt.

Also in “The End Of Time Part 2”

David Tennant, John Simm and Bernard Cribbins were all credited for this episode’s titles once again. Matt Smith got the “And Introducing” bit at the end.

The Master (to The Doctor gagged): “Nothing to say, Doctor? What’s that? Pardon? Sorry?”

David Tennant must have been glad when his scenes with that chair came to an end. He was definitely in it a lot longer than John Simm was.

Donna (to Wilfred): “My head is getting hotter and hotter.”

The Doctor (gag removed, to The Master/Wilfred): “Ah, that’s better, but really, did you think I’d leave my best friend without any defence mechanism?”

The Doctor and The Master travelling in the TARDIS together, a series we’ll never get. The Master did seem to lose interest in acquiring it as well after The Doctor escaped.

Rossiter: “There’s too many buckles and straps.”
Addams: “Just wheel him.”
The Doctor: “No, no, no.”

Wilfred: “I think I’m lost.”
The Woman: “And yet, you are found. Events are closing in; the day is almost upon us.”

Why didn’t RTD reveal who The Woman actually was in this episode? It’s obvious that she’s a Time Lord that The Doctor recognised – his mother? Romana?

The Doctor: “I’d be proud.”
Wilfred: “If what?”
The Doctor: “If you were my dad.”

The Master: “Keep watching, Doctor. This should be spectacular.”

Gallifrey briefly appeared in the sky once again, almost twice the size of Earth. Sylvia’s reaction was different than when she saw the twenty six planets in the sky.

Wilfred (to Addams, re The Doctor): “I ain’t leaving that man on his own, not today.”

Rossiter: “What about The Doctor?”
Addams: “He said he was dying.”

During the bar scenes with Jack and Alonzo, we saw a Hath, Slitheen, Judoon, red and while coloured aliens and an Adipose.

The Doctor: “That’s what you opened up above the Earth, hell.”
The Master: “My kind of world.”

The Doctor (to Rassilon/Time Lords): “The link is broken. Back into the Time War, Rassilon, back into hell.”

This episode clocked in at 72 minutes long, the longest for the new series so far. The Confidential was also appropriately called, “Allons-y”.

Wilfred: “I’m sorry. Just leave me.”
The Doctor: “Okay, right then, I will. Because you had to go in there. You had to go in there and get stuck, of course.”

Mickey: “I told you to stay behind.”
Martha: “You look like you needed help.”

It would’ve been nice if RTD had never got Martha engaged to Tom only to do the big switch with Mickey. At least they’re both happy with each other. She also calls herself Smith-Jones now.

Jack: “So, Alonzo, going my way?”
Alonso: “How did you know my name?”
Jack: “I’m kind of psychic.”

The Doctor (re Joan): “Was she happy in the end?”
Verity: “Yes, yes she was. Were you?”

American viewers will be able to catch this episode at 8.30pm on BBC America from January 2nd.

Nerys: “You made me wear a peach.”
Donna: “Because you are a peach.”

The Doctor: “I bet you’re gonna have a really great year.”
Rose: “Yeah, see ya.”

David Tennant, John Simm and Euros Lyn have provided the commentary for this episode on DVD, which comes out on January 11th.

Ood Sigma: “We will sing to you, Doctor. The universe will sing you to your sleep.”

The Doctor: “Legs. I've still got legs! (kisses his knee) Good! Arms, hands, ooh, fingers, lots of fingers. (examines his head) Ears, yes, eyes, two, nose... I've had worse. Chin, blimey! Hair... I'm a girl! No! no! I'm not a girl! And, and still not ginger! There's something else, something important. I'm, I'm... crashing! (laughs hysterically) Geronimo!! .”

There was no proper Series Five trailer at the end of this episode. We just got a look at the new titles and were told that it would arrive in Spring. ETA: One appeared on the BBC site and is available on YouTube. Looks brilliant.

“The End Of Time Part 2” was always going to have a difficult task but for the most part, I think it was great way to end both Russell T. Davies and David Tennant’s eras on the show. Both will be sadly missed but the show is going nowhere and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

Rating: 10 out of 10.


Nat said...

I must admit your enthusiasm for this episode made me watch it, though I did miss large chucks of it as I wasn't able to get a TV to watch most of it. Think I'll catch up with both episodes on the iplayer.

I did see the ending though and even as a casual viewer I could see how sweet and sentimental that was. That was a great way to end David Tennant's run on the show.
The trailer for the next doctor looks amazing I must admit.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I made you watch this episode and you enjoyed it? Wow, that's brilliant.

It's still such a bonkers episodes, it felt like a series finale despite all the glaring evidence to the contrary.

David Tennant has been wonderful for the past four and a half years. He definitely won't be forgotten.

Matt's trailer looks wonderful. His Doctor is going to be different and that most definitely works for me.

Geronimo indeed!