Episode 11 – UTOPIA

Utopia kicked off the first three part story in the modern era and it was fantastic. The Future Kind did have a lot of potential and they were villains who were designed very scarily too. The idea being that they were what humans became was also great but I thought they were underused in the episode. The other thing I didn’t like was that this was the eleventh episode of the series, so Martha was well into her tenure as a companion and she was still being overshadowed by Rose. The Doctor and Captain Jack talked about her in glowing terms right in front of Martha. It went on all the the way through the series and for it still to be happening so late on was unfair. However, apart from those two things this was an episode that was very different and hard to fault. Derek Jacobi played Professor Yana, an old doddering genius whose plan to save a lot of the human race was failing. He was an intriguing character as he appeared to be affected a lot by all of the talk of time travel and he clearly had a secret that maybe even he didn’t know about. His name, Yana, being an acronym of You Are Not Alone, the Face of Boe’s last message to the Doctor, was an extremely clever plot point from RTD. Martha did say to the Doctor “Think of what the Face of Boe said” in front of Jack, who strangely didn’t react and that was the only little thing that didn’t quite work with that. However the reveal of Yana as the Master was breathtaking. Jacobi played the role to perfection, he was really understated but you could tell he was sheer evil. David Tennant delivered another fantastic performance, particularly in the last ten minutes when he worked out who the Professor was and then when he pleaded with him to stop. The setting of the end of the universe along with the Future Kind close to breaking in led to an excellent cliffhanger as the Doctor, Martha and Jack appeared trapped with no resources. John Simm’s first few minutes as the Master were wonderfully insane and from moment one he was a brilliant incarnation of the Doctor’s Time Lord counterpart. I really enjoyed this episode. The concept of Utopia was strong, the mystery about Yana and then his identity reveal was amazing and although it’s not a standard Doctor Who story, it kicks off the finale brilliantly. 9/10

Episode 12 – THE SOUND OF DRUMS

I see this episode as “The John Simm Show” and that’s why it’s so brilliant. He truly steals the show and delivers probably his best performance as the Master. The way he killed the journalist who had worked out he was a fraud demonstrated his ruthlessness early on. He ordered the capture of the Jones family and as Prime Minister he had more power than ever before. The phone call between he and the Doctor was the standout moment of the episode, their exchanges were brilliant to watch. Seeing the Doctor so helpless and pleading with the Master to stand down and travel the universe with him really showed how dominant and in control the Master was. The Doctor, Martha and Jack seeking refuge in a disused warehouse and using scraps to create some sort of plan was great to see. The third Doctor’s ability to utilise whatever he had at his disposal shone through in this incarnation as he created perception filters out of parts of the TARDIS. The Doctor stating: “I’m not here to kill him, I’m here to save him” was the line where the episode was put into context. For modern fans who hadn’t seen the Master before, they saw for the first time that the Doctor and the Master are actually friends and the Doctor really wants to just save the Master from himself. Although this was a dangerous approach as the Master was insane and wasn’t up for any sort of negotiation. The end of the episode left another excellently manufactured helpless situation as the Doctor was now an old man, the Toclafane had wiped out 10% of the population and the Master had complete control. It was a good solid prequel for the concluding episode. 8/10

Episode 13 – LAST OF THE TIME LORDS

This is a strange finale, it had so much good and so much bad. It was exceptionally brave of RTD to make this what was an essentially “Doctor-lite” finale and I think it backfired a bit. I’ll start with what was good though. The revelation that the Toclafane were the passengers from the voyage to Utopia was extremely clever and again just showed how evil the Master is. His use of the TARDIS as a paradox machine was also smart as it covered up the potential plot hole of how the Toclafane could be killing what were their ancestors. I also enjoyed seeing the human race totally without hope, it was a first for the show and it did create a sense of doom which a good finale needs. Martha’s character had also developed so well throughout the series and now she was a hardened and brave companion who gave up a whole year and put herself in immense danger all on her own to save the world. However, as I said this episode was flawed. The Doctor was aged again by the Master and had shrivelled up and deformed. Although this is more of a continuity error by Steven Moffat, The Time of the Doctor shows that when the Doctor is old enough to naturally die, his body doesn’t shrink. I prefer Moffat’s version although it was written after this episode. Why does aging the Doctor so much cause him to shrink? It was a bit unnecessary and it looked silly. He was already helpless as a fully sized old man so I didn’t get why the Master had to age him even more, and once he did, he should’ve regenerated. Another issue was that if the gun to kill the Master was never part of Martha’s real plan, why did she bother collecting the chemicals? The Master destroyed the bag instantly and was never going to want the gun to exist so why did she bother with it during her travels? And the psychic link that the Doctor tuned between himself and the Archangel network was strange. I don’t get why everyone thinking “Doctor” at the same time gave him super powers. How could he fly and deflect the Master’s screwdriver away like magic? It was never really explained. It was as if RTD had put all of his efforts into creating a brilliant story where the Master had completely dominated the planet and everyone on it, which he did to be fair, but he just couldn’t think of a valid way to end it. And then Jack shot the Paradox machine and everything was fine because time reversed. Surely a machine powerful enough to sustain a paradox wouldn’t collapse because of a few gun shots? Having said all of that, Martha’s exit from the TARDIS was well written. It was a much more dignified exit than Rose’s Bad Wolf Bay scene and I’m glad she walked out with her head held high. It’s hard to give this finale a mark as it had some many genius aspects yet so many aspects that didn’t make sense, so something in the middle is probably fair. 6/10

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