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Doctor Who: Last of the Time Lords

Master: "Dying in your arms. Happy now?"

You know, maybe the Academy's policy of having kids look into the time vortex was one they should have rethought.

I enjoyed some of this one. I really did. But the Doctor as a tiny elderly big-eyed muppet in a bird cage was just a bridge too far for me. Everyone in the world reviving him by chanting his name was way too Peter Pan, too. I was just shaking my head and saying, no, you've got to be kidding me.

And "I forgive you"? Come on! Killing billions, enslaving the remainder, making plans to destroy other worlds? Yes, the Master was once his friend, and yes, the Master was the only other living Time Lord, but geez! What does someone have to do to piss the Doctor off? All that, and we got a hint that it wasn't over. That hand with the long red fingernails picking up a... was it a ring? from the Master's funeral pyre. It's like leaving that one Dalek. They can't completely close that plot hole. Maybe they should.

I do give them credit for doing a really big story. You always see megomaniacal villains threaten to destroy the world, but you rarely get to see them actually doing it. And maybe it would have worked if they'd hung on to Derek Jacobi and avoided the muppet fiasco. But how could the Master have created a new Gallifrey? Was he hoping to have half-human half-time-lord babies with Lucy? It was fitting that Lucy was the one to stop the Master. But again, they really didn't show us why. She seemed to be all into him in part one.

Even Jack in chains wasn't as much fun as it could have been. Couldn't they have stripped him down? :) And hey, it's not that I want to watch Jack die over and over, but I had gotten the distinct impression that the Master was going to do just that. Did they run out of time?

The best part of the episode was again the Doctor, Jack and Martha, mostly at the end. Martha's goodbye to the Doctor made me cry. If this is indeed the end of her travels, she certainly got to go out big. And I'm glad that she has too much self-respect to spend years pining for the Doctor, hoping he'll finally notice her. Plus, I think she was interested in that hot young doctor Tom Milligan. She may get a doctor of her own, after all.

Finally, I really liked that the Doctor asked Jack to travel with him again. Jack just spent a year in chains for the Doctor; he certainly earned it. That final bit about Jack as the Face of Boe was just hilarious, and made perfect sense. Although how did he manage to mutate into a big giant head?

Bits and pieces:

-- The time reversal was no help for all those poor things trapped at the end of the universe in metal balls. And you know, after Daleks and Cybermen, I knew there would be people in those balls. Too predictable.

-- The president was still killed, too. Oops. President-elect.

-- The Master called the elderly Doctor "Gandalf." That was rather fitting.

-- Jack grew up on the Boeshane Peninsula. He was first one to be signed up for the Time Agency, and a poster boy. "The Face of Boe, they called me."

-- I guess it wasn't all bad. I bet Martha's parents got back together.

-- Jack was killed by the Master's storm troopers.

-- "Titanic," huh? I rather wish they wouldn't keep sticking a preview at the end of a season finale. It's always distracting and feels jammed in.

Paul Kelly says...

Like Billie, this episode also reminded me of Peter Pan. Saying the Doctor's name at a predetermined point in time, and thus bringing him back to health, was a dead ringer (concept wise), for JM Barrie's “Do you believe in fairies? Clap your hands. Don't let Tink die”. There were numerous messianic parallels too, from the rejuvenated Doctor's outstretched arms, to his forgiveness of the Master. No wonder the Master shrieked in protest. I felt a bit like it myself.

Out of all the episodes which could have benefited from an extended running time, this would have been my last choice. It just made an already weak episode that much worse. The CGI Doctor was an embarrassment, the plot was average, and the Master was dire. In fact, it's hard to find anything good to say about it.

Is the Master really dead? His refusal to regenerate, apart from being really stupid (a real super-villain would have settled for incarceration, and then spent millennia trying to escape), also seemed to seal his fate. And then we saw a woman's hand picking up the Master's ring, which obviously suggests that the door's been left open for his return. Bugger! Somebody lock that door quick. I can't stand it.

The season finales seem to be getting weaker. I dread to think what next year's will be like.


Tom: "You've been in space?"
Martha: "Problem with that?"
Tom: "No! No, just... wow. Anything else I should know?"
Martha: "I've met Shakespeare."
Yeah, I don't think I could resist dropping that name, either.

Master: "Revenge. Best served hot." Clearly, he's never heard of the original Klingon proverb.

Master: "Is that your weapon? Prayer?"

Jack: "Hey, I need that!"
Doctor: "I can't have you walking around with a time traveling teleport. You could go anywhere. Twice. Second time to apologize."
I thought that was way unfair. Jack was a time agent and it was originally his own vortex manipulator, after all. But yeah, it would have been a too convenient and possibly inappropriate plot device for Torchwood.

Doctor: "You're an impossible thing, Jack."
Jack: "Been called that before."
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Oh dear, it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong, hasn’t it? This was just a complete disaster right from the off. They should’ve replaced ‘One Year Later…’ with ‘Warning: Reset Button Coming’. This was the point where I really started to get frustrated with the way Russell T Davis was doing things. He came across as a right arrogant prat on the podcast for this episode, happily chuckling away at his own bad writing. Took everything I had then and there not to drive down to Cardiff and twat him (plus I have no car and can’t drive). I think all the success has gone to his head, blinding him from all the show’s faults and weaknesses. Help us, Steven Moffat, you’re our only hope.

    The Peter Pan routine was an embarrassment not to mention mind bogglingly illogical (how did the Doctor know there would be a countdown in a year’s time?). And why is the Doctor so forgiving to his enemies all of a sudden, where has his righteous indignation gone? Even nice Peter Davison would’ve given the Master an epic tongue lashing after everything he’d done.

    Which brings us to the Master. I love the Master, he’s my favourite Doctor Who villain, and I thought that John Simm was great (the look on his face when he first saw the Gollum Doctor was priceless) but he was often undermined by Davis’ need to be childishly silly. Hopefully when he returns, which is inevitable not to mention already scheduled for Christmas 2009, they’ll lay of the comedy and give him back a sense of menace. Or maybe regenerate him into someone more suitable. What’s Peter Wingfield doing these days?

    Martha’s entire storyline was a continuation of what is becoming an annoying trend in RTD’s finales where the Doctor is sidelined in favour of the companion being the hero and saving the day. We’ve already gone over all this ground with Rose and now it feels like we’re going around in circles again and again. And I have to agree with what the Master said, Martha is a rubbish companion. Or is Freema just a rubbish actress, I can decide which. On the bright side, she and the entire wearisome Jones clan are all gone (hurrah!) leaving the way open for the return of the finest temp in Chiswick and her amazing granddad.

  2. I understand a lot of the criticisms with this episode because much as I enjoy the Master, he really should've had more to do in the episode along with the Doctor.

    Martha's exit worked for me given the way Season 3 ended. The episode that followed this is a touch cheesy but the sooner Season 4 reviews come the better (my fave season of all).

    Billie, once again you and Paul have done excellent reviews. Will Paul be reviewing The Waters Of Mars and the last two specials in November/December?

  3. Mark,

    Yeah, by this point I was becoming frustrated too. Davies' has done a lot of good work for Who. But he's also done some bad. The quality just shouldn't be this variable. It's no secret that the best episodes of Who, generally, aren't written by him... and some of the biggest whiffers are.

    Another thing that cheeses me off about him is his obsession about making everything bigger than ever. I have this horrible dread that for Tennant's exit he'll have Rose, Martha, Donna, Sarah Jane, Captain Jack, Adam, Wilfred, Jackie, Mickey... in fact everyone in the Whoniverse, all there, fighing against the Master, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Macra, the Family... you name it, they'll be there.

    Thankfully, from what I've read, the people who are going to be there, I'm okay with (with the possible exception of Simm's Master... but maybe RTD will get him right this time... who knows?).

  4. Shawn,

    Thanks for your kind comments. And yes, I expect I will be doing the final three episode reviews... barring earthquake, flood, hurricane or being struck by lightning ;o)

  5. Billie and Paul, I have a question about your review-stile.

    Why do you pretend not to know the future Who episodes?
    (Billie did the same in her Smallville retro-reviews)

    About Jack being the Face Of Boe:
    On screen, it was definitly ambigious (and Jack didn't react, when the Face Of Boe was mentioned before).
    I like to believe that Jack is the Face Of Boe, though.

    Off screen RTD or Julie Gardner confirmed, that Jack is the FoB.

  6. I know from experience that they write their reviews with a respect for continuity. Instead of examining the whole they review episode to episode so that it remains relevant. Jumping ahead and talking about future events could be confusing, and anyone who is reading them as they watch the series for the first time would get spoiled.

  7. Daniel:

    When I do retro reviews, I deliberately go back to what I thought when I first saw the episode, using a time machine. Well, no, I use my memory. When I'm watching something new and I know I might review it, I take notes so that I'll remember my first impressions.

    Why? Because a number of people have written to me saying that they read my reviews while they are watching a series for the first time. And I don't want to spoil them. What if you'd just started watching one of the shows I've reviewed, and you clicked on my first review, and found out a character you really liked was going to die at the end of the season? Wouldn't you want to bang me over the head with your computer?

    Following the series episode by episode as if I were experiencing it for the first time is a lot more organic, and makes sense to me.

  8. Or in other words, what Daniel Halloran just said. :)

  9. Hi Daniel,

    Yeah, it puzzles me that they try to maintain this air of ambiguity about Jack being the Face Of Boe. I mean, Jack more or less said it outright, didn't he? Yet for some reason RTD seems to want to muddy the waters... when for me at least, it's as clear as day.

    With regards pretending not to know future story lines, I concur with what Billie and Dan have already said. I go with my original thoughts on viewing the episode. If I went with what I now know, it'd blow it for anyone watching/reading for the first time. Plus, there'd be no point in mentioning anything. All the questions an episode naturally brings up wouldn't be worth exploring because you'd already know the answers.

    Plus, my memory is so damn bad, half the time I can't remember what's going on anyway. I'm currently rewatching Alias with a friend of mine and it's shameful the amount of plot twists I've forgotten.


  10. I thought that a lot of this episode reminded me of "Dollhouse" especially season 2.

    The effect of the Master aging the Doctor while semi okay last episode was very lame feeling this time around. Maybe it is because the big eyed head was beyond absurd for me to swallow. The Doctor is not a canary.

    I have to say - I'm new to "Who" and am catching up with these reviews. It's helpful because there's a lot of Who lore that I just don't know. I've never seen the Master before this. Didn't know what a Cyberman was or if it was a re-hash of a Dalek. So it's helpful.

    Going back to the episode, wanted to say I think that the Master's wife Lucy - there was one scene where her eye was badly bruised. Did the Master beat his wife? Might be an explanation as to why she shot him? ???

  11. I agree with everything that everyone has said, although the mere presence of Captain Jack made these episodes worthwhile for me.

    But I do want to add, as I duck and cover, that I really like Martha Jones. I really like that she and the Doctor didn't click--if he had great chemistry with another companion so soon after Rose I would have felt cheated.

    I think I'm influenced, too, by the "David Tenant's Video Diary" special feature on the DVDs. The few times Freema shows up, she just doesn't seem to connect with Tenant himself, or John Barrowman when he's in it. It's like they perfectly cast the wrong person.

  12. okay i cant help it i have to say that one of my favorite moments in this entire season was the whole "jack turned out to be the face of Boe" thing.. LOVED IT!

  13. I think Martha being a medical doctor was severely underutilized during her run except for some basic first aide and remembering hand bones. Martha became a hero in her own right much faster than Rose did and she will do well changing the world for the better apart from Doctor Who. I'm sure we'll see her again later ;)

    Farewell to an underwhelming season and I look forward to the next...

  14. I agree, the whole "chanting the Doctor's name" and then having him return to his original age felt a like Peter Pan, but I liked that they didn't just have it revitalize him, but actually hive him superpowers or whatever. To me, it made it feel a little less like hand-waving and more... I don't know, more like he was actually using all the psychic energy or whatever.

  15. And it wraps this 3 episode story in a way that felt too silly most of the time. The Doctor being reduced to basically a cartoon character did not help my opinion of this one at all.

    I did like that Martha left on her terms though. I've always liked her, and she really shows that despite her her unrequited love for the Doctor (which I've never liked in the first place, I admit), she isn't forced out, or dies, or any of that, she decides it's time. It's very classic Who in a way; no long drawn out melodrama here!


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