Last of the Time Lords
First Broadcast June 30th, 2007 @ 7.05pm (8.61m viewers)
This, the thirteenth episode of the 2007 series, brings Martha Jones’ journey onboard the TARDIS to a conclusion, the events of this story taking such a toll that she could not continue adventuring with the Doctor. Returning to the UK after a year travelling and building herself into a legend, the woman who could save planet Earth from the Master. Martha therefore, takes centre stage in this episode with the Doctor relegated to an old man in a wheelchair or a CGI Gollum-esque creature in a cage for the majority of the piece, a bold decision given the series finale status. She had already performed a similar role in ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ with the Time Lord absent which served as a good warm-up for this battle with another renegade Gallifreyan.
The implication that the Master has hit his wife, leaving her with bruising to her cheek, is grotesque, repulsive and completely unnecessary. The Master is a crazed Time Lord who is now the ruler of planet Earth, intending to turn it into a new Gallifrey, capable of blazing a warring trail across the universe, an obviously fictional concept. However for his character to be reduced to the crude level of a human being, and a poor example of the species at that is disgraceful. Yes, it is included to explain events later in the episode but this was not the way to achieve that. The Master is supposed to be a villain erring close to those seen in a pantomime, over the top but not a monster beating his wife behind closed doors.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
In a particularly graphic reveal, Martha learns that the Toclafane are in fact human beings from the far future, those that she had encountered on Utopia. It is an interesting idea, one which requires the concept of the TARDIS being turned into a paradox machine in order to achieve it. The problem is that we are supposed to believe that the Master, heartbroken by the devastation that he saw would take pity on the human race and find a way to save them, converting them into weapons for his own devices. Yet this is a man with such disregard for humans that he beats his own wife? Still, the implication that the Blue Peter competition winner who played Creet in ‘Utopia’ being turned into a monster is an amusing one and was certainly not mentioned in the competition terms and conditions!
Since the promise of ‘Utopia’, viewers had been rewarded with diminishing returns culminating in this disappointing conclusion. The plot doesn’t stack up favourably with the resolution all far too convenient. For example, Martha herself points out how ridiculous the idea of a gun in four parts, scattered across the world, capable of killing a Time Lord is. So why did she travel and gather the pieces? Her journey across planet Earth was simply a way to pass the time, perhaps Martha never got to enjoy a gap year before becoming a Doctor and so this was her opportunity? Facetiousness aside her purpose is to spread the word of the Doctor and allow him to tune himself into the psychic matrix to achieve the defeat of the Master.
In a story where humanity, granted human beings from very different time zones, are not only those in peril but also provide the monstrous villains is surely a very confused tale. The characters who are supposed to gain our sympathies, the Jones family, all turn into cold-blooded killers calmly discussing murdering the Master, competing for the privilege before declaring that he should be executed when he is defeated. Similarly, quite why the Doctor and the Master transmat to a hilltop to enjoy some verbal sparring is not exactly clear either, merely signposting the Master’s only victory of the day, his death from a refusal to regenerate. Worst of all, the events of this story are simply resolved and erased from history, ‘the year that never was’, which is up there with ending a story ‘and then they woke up’, something English teachers constantly tell their students not to do!
Doctor Who is often praised for its complicated and interesting story ideas but this episode is crying out for clarity. As Martha decides to leave the TARDIS she tells the story of a friend of her who wasted years pinning after a guy who never looked at her twice, fearing that the same would happen to her also. Yet whilst walking to the TARDIS to give this speech we see that she has already looked at another guy at a time when the Doctor was supposedly at the forefront of her mind. This provides a disappointing end to what had been a strong idea for a companion, a medical student who values more than anyone else the title of Doctor, but became reduced to a poor tale of unrequited love.
The Doctor – David Tennant
Martha Jones – Freema Agyeman
Captain Jack Harkness – John Barrowman
The Master – John Simm
Francine Jones – Adjoa Andoh
Tish Jones – Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Clive Jones – Trevor Laird
Lucy Saxon – Alexandra Moen
Thomas Milligan – Tom Ellis
Professor Doherty – Ellie Haddington
Writer – Russell T Davies
Director – Colin Teague
Also First Aired On This Day…
- Doctor Who Confidential : The Valiant Quest