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THE END OF TIME part 2 - Doctor Who Season 5 Episode 11
Cast: David Tennant, John Simm, Bernard Cribbins, Timothy Dalton, Catherine Tate, Jacqueline King, Claire Bloom, June Whitfield
With almost everyone on Earth now recast in his image, The Master controls the world. He's shocked however when he realizes that one person hasn't changed. The Doctor soon realizes that the Time Lords are trying to return and re-establish Gallifray. If they succeed, it is the end of time. It's also the end for The Doctor as we currently know him. Realizing that the Ood's prophecy will come true, he visits friends from the recent past.
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It is New Years Day 2010, and it is a day of new beginnings. Out with the old, and in with the new...
Something is stirring in the dark...it is returning...he will knock four times...
These were the warnings given to the doctor in ‘The Planet of the Dead’ Easter special, and now, in this final episode, all will be revealed.
Despite the general ambivalence I felt towards part one of The End of Time, I was still anticipating last minute greatness from this episode, again, unfortunately, whilst it was indeed thrilling, huge plot holes, and contrived storytelling detracted from what was otherwise a thrilling, pacey and superbly performed adventure.
We were left at the end of part one with Wilf and the Doctor facing off against The Master, and his newly created ‘Master race’, whilst, somewhere in the recesses of time and space, the time lords rose again.
What happens next is a very exciting adventure, which while it doesn’t make much sense, and contains plot holes the size of the time stream itself, never stops for breath. Action sequences ripped straight from Star Wars, stunts from Bond. We have some excellent sequences with the Master and the Doctor discussing how they need each other, how they are yin and yang. Simm finally makes his Master a worthy one in these sequences, showing the Master’s insane, ruthless, power hungry genius bubbling away under a (finally) restrained performance. In fact it was a joy to watch Tennant and Simm play off of each other, possibly for the first time since they have appeared together. Simm really steps up to the mark here, at times even showing signs of a deeper sensitivity, highlighting the long history shared between the two characters. It is something that fans have been waiting for, literally for years. Dalton, equally is excellent with what little he has, and I for one would love to see his role expanded upon. And as for both Cribbins and Tennant, what can be said? They give the performances of their lives.
Then there are questions, ambivalent teasers that new Who has always loved. Like who was that Woman? The Woman who kept appearing to Wilf? The mysterious woman who at the end was amongst the Time Lords? What was her connection to the Doctor? Was she his Mother? His Wife? His Sister? Romana? Rose? Donna? Anyone else?
The Doctor, alongside Wilf realises that the Master has established a link between himself and the Time Lords on Gallifrey with the use of a White Point Star and the sound of drums in his head. The sound he hears has been amplified billions of times due to his army of clones, and the white point star opens a link allowing the time lords to move gallifrey into earth’s orbit, thus causing them to survive the time war and live again.
The Doctor realises he has to take action, as he knows what the Time Lords intended had they survived the time war. He flies the Vinvocci ship to the mansion where The Master is hiding and jumps through the skylight in true dramatic fashion (though how he didn’t regenerate at this point I’ll never know), but it is too late as the Time Lords have already arrived in the mansion, using the Master’s signal as a homing beacon. The President of the Time Lords reveals that having escaped the time war, they intend to destroy time itself and ascend to a higher plane of existence. The Doctor, badly injured, and realising his time is up, knows that to win the day he has to close the link between the Master and the President. To do this he has to shoot one of them. But to a man who refuses to use a gun, this is a HUGE deal. So instead, he shoots the White Point Star. The President (now revealed to be Rassilon – who, if he is the real Rassilon is actually one of the founders of time lord society) tries to kill the Doctor, but is attacked by the Master, who is furious and wants revenge. He has realised that the sound of drums that he has heard his whole life, the sound that drove him to madness, was actually placed in his head by the Time Lords deliberately, so that one day they could track him across time and space and escape the time war (or something).
As the link is broken, the Time Lords, Gallifrey and The Master (alongside all the other horrors of the time war) disappear from earth or its orbit. And the Doctor believes he has survived. He smiles a smile of genuine relief.
Then comes the sound of knocking. Four knocks to be precise.
The look on Tennant’s face as the realisation hits him is priceless. I would give the man a Bafta, an Oscar, hell a Grammy, for these tiny, tiny elements of performance. And the chills i got? Well.....
Wilf has got himself locked in a contamination chamber; the only way to release him is if the Doctor enters the other door so Wilf can exit. Of course, the rub being that as soon as Wilf’s door closes, the chamber will be flooded with radiation, and there will be no escape until all of it has been discharged.
What happens next is amazing. As swan songs go, it is truly awesome acting. Not just from Tennant, but from Cribbins as well. These two have such warmth and chemistry with each other, the sadness is palpable. Tennant raves and rants about how he always has to save people, about how he could do so much more if he had the time. He is crazed, and angry, and hurt, and just wants to live! But then I imagine you’d feel the same if you’d just survived the fight of your life only to die in the most anonymous way possible. No glory, no one to see his passing, just Wilf. And of course, the Doctor is bound to make the sacrifice. He is the Doctor, he knows it, we know it, and Wilf, poor Wilf, quietly pleading with him to not open the door, to not save him, Wilf knows it too.
And so it happens. The Doctor enters the chamber. Wilf gets free. The chamber is flooded. This is the tensest part of the episode, a glance at the clock makes you realise you still have about twenty minutes to go. Does this mean we will have twenty minutes of the new Doctor?
The doctor leaves the chamber once he has absorbed the radiation. He takes Wilf home, and then, finally, he gets his journey.
Of course, it is easy to ask wouldn’t he just regenerate straight away? As has always been the case previously...But not here, not under Russell T Davies’s watch. And despite my love/hate relationship with him, I want to give Davies the chance to say goodbye. And I want to say goodbye, both with him and to him and everything he has achieved. He brought the Doctor back. He deserves this, and so do we.
And so we get twenty minutes of beautiful epilogues. As the Doctor, and the show, quietly says goodbye to the Tennant/Davies era. The Doctor travels to see each of his companions in turn. He needs completion; he needs to say his final goodbyes. Mickey and Martha are now married, and the Doctor saves their life from a Sontaran. Sarah Jane’s son, Luke is saved from being hit by a car as The Doctor grabs him out of the way. Captain Jack, suffering from the consequences of his actions in Torchwood is visited in an Alien bar (straight out of Star Wars – as pointed out by everyone), and given the name and number of a possible date...Donna is visited in her Wedding Day. Here we see her get her happy ending, and of course, on this visit, there is also Wilf. He gives Wilf a Lotto ticket for the weeks winning numbers, brought with money he borrowed in the past by Donna’s deceased father.
Finally, and obviously, most poignantly, we get Rose. The Doctor arrives on earth in 2005. It is New Years Day, and Rose is walking home from a party. She sees the Doctor, and, obviously not recognising him as they have not met at this point, she asks him if he is ok, if he is too drunk. He asks her what year and day it is. He tells her this year is going to be great for her. She thanks him, and leaves to meet her destiny.
And he leaves to meet his. He staggers back to the TARDIS, and an Ood appears, telling him the universe shall sing him to his sleep.
The Doctor enters the TARDIS. The change begins. The Tenth Doctor’s touching, final words being ‘I don’t want to go!’
He sounds like a heartbroken child, and by this point my heart was breaking with him. In a storm of fire and light, the TARDIS burns in the sheer intense energy of the regeneration, walls and girders are shattered and destroyed. And Tennant finally explodes into his new form.
With that we say our final goodbye to David Tennant and Russell T Davies.
Matt Smith has arrived, and with what I feel may become his new catchphrase ‘Geronimo!’ He, us and the TARDIS, tumble back to earth.
THE END OF TIME part 2