This post concerns the Doctor Who Season 3 episode The Last of the Timelords, so if you want to avoid spoilers look away now.
In fact, if you haven’t already seen it, I’d like to persuade you not to. To tell you to stop watching it now while you have a chance. Finish the run with the creepy, amazing, wonderful Blink. Or if you really must, take in Utopia for Derek Jacobi’s performance, the gorgeous Chantho and the return of Captain Jack. But please, please stop there.
But I know you won’t heed my advice. The curious will always venture beyond the warning signs. The Doctor himself encourages the adventurous spirit, so I know you’ll pursue the path of inevitability. And besides, it’s unfair to offer it. Trying to dictate what you should and shouldn’t watch is just one step from burning books. And that I cannot do.
I’m not a screaming fan. Not one of those who has gone through these new Doctor incarnations whinging about how different they are from the canon, saying how much better things were in the old days. And I know I’m far from the target audience for this show, but still…
I didn’t mind John Sim’s manic dancing Master, I didn’t mind the “lets show what the Mill can do and turn the Doctor into Smeagol” (well actually I did mind that a bit, but I can understand that it may be quite cool if you’re 8 years old), but pressing the big red reset button…? How could you do it Russell T Davies? I’m so disappointed.
You know about stories. It is stories that Martha uses to tell people about the Doctor. They’re powerful things, and they spread like wildfire, seeping into our consciousness, creeping up on us in the liminal space between waking and sleeping.
But even the 8 year olds know that “and then I woke up and it was all a dream” is a lousy ending for a story. And that’s what you gave us. Ever since I first heard the word ‘paradox’ in this series, I’ve been dreading something like this.
I’ve enjoyed the references to the Doctor as ‘lonely god’ throughout this series, but please don’t get me started on the whole resurrection shuffle. Even putting aside my instinctive dislike of quasi-religious imagery, it was more like “clap your hands and say you do believe in fairies”.
Where was the darkness? Where was the Doctor who “used to have so much pity”? Who locked aliens disguised as little girls in mirrors and sent them hurtling into dying suns?
And the Master? The Doctor’s equal, perhaps even his superior; his foil, his counterpoint, Moriati to his Holmes? Well John Sim did his best and at moments he was wonderful, totally upstaging everyone else. But he deserved a better ending.
One minute he won’t trigger the black holes because that would mean killing himself, and the next he refuses to regenerate?
And yes, I know there’s enough in that shot of the ring snatched from the ashes to suggest we haven’t seen the last of the Master, but that felt like an afterthought, something tagged on to give the writers a possible get out clause in series four.
But then again, collapsing in the Doctor’s arms…maybe it’s not such a bad way to go?