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Who finale

So, obviously I watched The Last of the Time Lords last night. In fact, after 10 days manically travelling around the country and working like a bastard, I got great pleasure out of making that the sole item on my To Do list for yesterday.

I didn't write up my reaction to it last night - rather, once I'd had my tea and Confidential had finished, I spent the post-Who portion of the evening reading everyone else's reactions on doctorwho, and browsing various fan and spin-off sites for caps and info from previous episodes. I guess I was kind of waiting for my reaction to settle. LotTL certainly hadn't been as immediately amazing for me as Human Nature, The Family of Blood, Blink or Utopia. But I knew I'd basically liked it, and was surprised when I started to see large numbers of Who fans who seemed to have instantly hated it.

So, 24 hours later, I've just watched the repeat on BBC3. And now I'm clear that, although it has some seriously bollocksy moments, I did like it overall. And here is why:

Firstly, it turned out on a second watching to be better-structured that I'd thought the first time round. The clearest example of this for me was a pair of nicely-balanced scenes with the Master's screwdriver. Early on, the Doctor grabs the Master's screwdriver, points it at him, and the Master laughs. Then, of course, later on we have the Master doing the same thing to Martha, with the same result. The number three is even nicely prominent in both scenes - the first takes place on the dot of three o'clock, as planned by the Doctor and Martha's family. The second takes place during a three-minute count-down. You may or may not like where the second scene is actually going - but you've got to admit, it's neatly set up.

On a similar note, the Floaty!Glowy!Doctor clearly was a terrible plot device (although it reminded me more of the court scene in Miracle on 34th Street than it did the Tinkerbell reference I've heard several others evoke), but it, too, was not thoughtlessly jammed in at the last minute. Both the power of humanity and the religious themes have been constantly referenced throughout the series - as I commented myself after Daleks in Manhattan. In fact, the specific use of the satellites to somehow 'magnify' the human thought-waves was even nicely established early on in the episode by Professor Docherty, who commented that the satellites were the Master's greatest weakness. Yes, she was thinking in terms of taking them out, not using them against him. But it meant that the audience was reminded of how powerful they were, and how much the Master needed them to be working for him. When that power was turned against him, then, it may have been hokey, but it had been planned out.

And talking of, wasn't Professor Doctor oops! I mean 'Docherty' ace? Just absolutely everything a good supporting character should be. Crucial to the plot, fully fleshed out with complex motivations and carrying some great lines (I liked '*thumps computer* "I never thought I'd miss Bill Gates"' best).

She was of course as nothing, though, to the Fabulousness That Was Martha. The whole way her plot panned out was just absolutely spot on. Finally, her character emerged to its true potential: took on the role of the Doctor but did it better than him (especially the way she went round talking and explaining to everyone, when he never does), emerged from his shadow, realised she was only holding herself back by staying with him, and left with dignity and kindness for a real life of her own. I didn't think I wanted her to leave. But in fact, after everywhere she'd been, I just could not have hoped for a better ending for her. And I am loving Martha's theme so much right now. It's way better than Rose's.

It was also satisfying to have all my questions answered, even if often rather perfunctorily and not always in the way I'd have liked. As for the Jack / Boe thing - just HOORAH! (And congratulations to the thirteen people who thought as much in my poll). I have a slight gripe about it, in that Boe described himself as 'the last of his kind' in Gridlock, whereas we now know that that kind is basically human - and Martha was sitting right next to him at the time, to say nothing of the humans he knew would still be there at the end of the Universe. But I'll let it go - he's certainly the longest-lived by then. And other than that, it just works and is ace - if a rather sad fate for a man who is so vibrantly physical in the 21st century.

What's more, if paired up with the super-aged Doctor, even Jack's future evolution into an enormous head in a jar makes perfect sense. Because what happens to the essentially-humanoid-give-or-take-the-odd-extra-heart Doctor when he's a mere 900 years old? Big head, shrinking body. I'll buy it. A lot can happen in several hundred thousand years, and who's to say Jack is even going to live his life in a strictly linear fashion between the 21st century and the year 200,000 (when Boe crops up in jar form in The Long Game)?

Yeah, there was a lot to enjoy about this episode. Although that's not to say there weren't bits which grated, too. One was just way too many recaps. I've been paying attention, Russell! I didn't need to be told again about how the drums have been playing in the Master's head ever since he looked into the Vortex as a child, or how the Doctor fused the coordinates of the TARDIS as the Master was leaving Malcassairo. It was all just a waste of screen-time that could have been put to better purposes. Like more Jack!joy.

And I'm certainly not going to argue against the many, many voices protesting at the lameness of the Magic Reset Button plot. In fact, I'm going to add to the protest. Because Professor Docherty (again - yay!) states very clearly early on that the nature of the paradox which the Paradox Machine is supporting is that the Toclafane are killing their own ancestors, and yet still remaining alive themselves. So when the machine is destroyed, surely the logical consequence should not be that time turns back on Earth and the 21st-century people who were killed come back to life - but merely that the Toclafane cease to exist? And also - why was President Winters still dead, when the Toclafane had killed him too? (No, Doctor, they did not arrive after he was assassinated. They did it). A waste of another promising character, in my view.

As for the future.... well, if the Doctor was a lonely god before this three-parter, he is the God of all Loneliness now. Did you notice that during the last ten minutes of The Last of the Time Lords he actually asked the Master, Jack, and Martha to travel with him? And they all, in their different ways, turned him down. He's come a long way from The Runaway Bride, when he tries to tell Donna he doesn't need anybody (if he can't have Rose), and only she can see that he does. He knows now that he does need somebody. And it'll be interesting finding out who that somebody will be.

I'm pretty sure that the Master's ring was picked up by Lucy, because we did see the same red nail varnish on her fingers when she shot him on the Valiant. He'll be back, all right - but who knows when? And there's still the matter of Jack's two missing years to be resolved (although possibly in Torchwood rather than Who), as well as the reason why Queen Elizabeth I was so angry with a Doctor she recognised as Ten.

In the meantime, how cool that a TARDIS we've always been told was impregnable should have a great gaping hole ripped in the side of it by a ship believed to be unsinkable! I suspect it isn't quite the Titanic we know from history, since that never rammed anything head-on - only scraped the side of an ice-berg. Also, the title, Voyage of the Damned, doesn't quite evoke the historical Titanic - I mean yes, it all ended rather badly for a lot of the passengers, but 'Damned' suggests some terrible condemnation, rather than just dying, as well as specifically recalling the fruitless wanderings of the Jewish passengers whose journey from closed port to closed port was portrayed in the film Voyage of the Damned (1976). But still! A neat little touch, and time to play around with yet another of Who's traditions. I can't wait.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
jurious
Jul. 1st, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
Your review's made the episode a little more sensical for me, but I still dislike it more than I'd hoped to. I've been making replies and comments on it all day, so I won't spend too long going through it again, but a few points I'll make are:

# The glowy (and what my friend called) "Dragon Ball Z" Doctor thing was a complete turn-off, and no matter what the explanation for it, it didn't work.

# As much as I love Jack, he seemed to have little or no reason to be in the final three episodes other than to die several times over, and to resolve a few points about his immortality, and such like - and even the Doctor's reason for leaving him behind didn't seem that great. (And the Face of Boe thing? No, I disliked that; RTD has not thought that through. I see where he's coming from, but it doesn't quite work.)

# The one year gap thing just screwed it all up and kind of ruined the effect of the prior episode. But the whole story failed to "click" with me, and I found myself not caring what happened, to be honest.

# I loved the Master, as insane as he was - he was the best thing about the final episode - but I'm not sure even he quite knew what he was doing. ;) And though his death scene was very touching, the whole Doctor/Master thing felt far too "slashy" for my liking. I presume the Master will be back at some point - the ring thing, and the echoing evil laugh are such a give away. He's like a New York cockroach, that fellow. ;)

# Martha made an admirable exit, and I liked her throughout the series, I just felt that I'd hardly got to know her, whereas with Rose I felt I knew her by the end of series 1 - I just proceeded to dislike the way she changed through series 2. Heh - typical!

# The Doctor's going to have to watch not to cross himself on the Titanic; and I paraphrase: "I was on another ship once. They said that was unsinkable. Ended up clinging to an iceberg - it wasn't half cold."

Overall, it was a real disappointment. The potential was there, but it was badly put together, and some of the plot points didn't work at all. Compared to the previous two season finales, it was very weak, though I must say series 3 overall, for me, has been far superior to series 2, but still not a patch on S1 - not in my mind, anyhoo.
strange_complex
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:09 am (UTC)
I don't really understand why some people are saying the Jack!Boe thing doesn't work. It seems logical enough to me.

As for Martha - there is joyous news about her this morning. Yay!!!
chrisvenus
Jul. 1st, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)
My view on the master is that he's a clever chap who made plans for if things should go tits up. I'm sure he prepared for this, possibly even to the extent of getting his girl to shoot him if nobody else did.

As for the toclafane killing the president. My assumption is that the master bought four back from the future with him in the tardis and they were not a paradox per se. Given their childish nature when everything went tits up they ran like the wind and hid.

I would have liked for time not to have been reversed though, just for a timewave to have rippled out of the tardis and rewritten everything. Same effect, just a less stupid application. Possibly with some vague hints of the dragon-like things from outside space/time that were in the episode with rose's dad.
strange_complex
Jul. 2nd, 2007 07:06 am (UTC)
Ah, yes - of course you're right about the Toclafane and the President. I'd forgotten there were some hanging around already - like the ones who killed Vivien Rook (the journalist) for that matter. So when the Doctor says time has gone back to after the President was killed but before the Toclafane arrived, he means before the rift opened and they all showed up. That makes sense now.

True about the Dragony things, too. They could have just eaten the entire ruined-by-Master!Earth, and let the alternate one in which the Toclafane had never arrived pop through instead. Although I guess that would have caused confusion with the other parallel Earth where Rose is for a lot of people.
chrisvenus
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:43 am (UTC)
I wasn't necessarily even thinking about them devouring everything, just that they seemed to be all about the paradox in the earlier episode and when the paradox machine was destroyed it strikes me that they could have done something interestingly cool, geeky and referential with them.

Though given how they dealt with the paradox machine I can't help but wonder why the doctor didn't just dismantle it when he first found the tardis. Given the solution to it was to indiscriminately fire automatic weapons into it anyway... I seem to remember he said he needed to find out what the paradox was first but that didn't seem to make a big difference...
strange_complex
Jul. 2nd, 2007 11:55 am (UTC)
In fact, the Doctor also said before he knew what the Paradox machine was doing that if he cut the wrong wire, he'd destroy 1/3 of the Solar system. Now, you could argue that once he knew what it was doing, he realised that spraying it with machine-gun fire would be fine, and had tipped Jack off to that somehow. But that's papering awfully thinly over a gaping plot-hole if you ask me.
huskyteer
Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)
I did think Tink, I fear, and thought the glowy Doctor was pretty lame. As was his shrunken 900-year-old self; did the Master have that tiny suit made for him? That's just sick!
strange_complex
Jul. 2nd, 2007 11:57 am (UTC)
I guess he did - all part of the crazy-drums-madness, I suppose. I though it was particularly clever that the suit was so stretchy, it could accommodate a full-sized David Tennant, when he got all glowy. Although I wouldn't have been too sad if it had ripped asunder... ;-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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