Doctor Who 4.18: The End of Time Part Two review

Review Two

The End of Time Part TwoThe End of Time Part Two review

The Doctor: I don’t want to go.

Episode star rating:***** (out of a possible five)
Two-parter star rating:*****

The End of Time Part Two reviewTwo men, the Doctor and Wilf, against the two teeming hordes of two planets – that was the cliffhanger of the previous part (click for review), now Doctor Who story number two-oh-two is complete – as is five years of Doctor Who, five years brought full circle in more ways than one. The story of the Time War is complete. The circle is completed.

After the pre-credits recap and the opening credits the story opens on the final day of Gallifrey, the final day of the Last Great Time War. The production design is superb – Roger Murray-Leach’s celtic-circle from The Deadly Assassin has been used as inspiration for the circular spidery clockwork Time Lord motifs seen in the TARDIS and other Time Lord (clockwork) technology from 2005 onwards, and here in this scene these motifs become a whole aesthetic.

picThat 1976 DW story also provides the basic Time Lord robes and caps and collars (that were popular in the ’80s too), not a mixture of robe-colours though, the colour not quite the traditional scarlet – all blood-red this time (with gold flourishes), perhaps to signify the unified Lords are all on a war footing?

The President certainly seems to brook no dissent (as shown by his Gauntlet. At this point in the story I must say the thought of the phrase “The Gauntlet of Rassilon” occurred, though I didn’t realise how significant that would prove later.)

picThey divine from the circular prophetic scratchings of the The Visionary, they divine that two of their number will survive the War – and one word is repeated, Earth. (The sense of style encompasses the idea that all these Lords have simple descriptives like The Doctor and The Master rather than space-names like Borusa.)

The story then focuses on those two – The Doctor, The Master – with Wilf, the only men on the planet unchanged by the Gate machine. Some more backstory, this time the Master-gazing into the schism from The Sound of Drums – at the same “time” the Time Lords discuss what they know of the Master – the sound of war drums? More like the rhythm of four, the heartbeat of a Time Lord, reckons a president – more circles, as a circular plan is formed (they know of the rhythm-of-four signal that was received and so they send the rhythm-of-four signal!) The Grainer and Derbyshire rhythm-of-four DW theme.

picWhile Donna’s defence mechanism gifted to her by the Doctor saves her, the Doctor tries to reason with the Master again – “You could be be so much more…”

After the Vinvocci lend a hand, the first quarter of the story ends on their ship orbiting the Earth – the 73 minute run-time can be neatly divided into four acts. A rythym of four – a spectacular Act I, a quietly powerful Act II , a spectacular Act III, a quietly powerful Act IV.

picAct II – like the previous story-part, the plot events are fairly skeletal, with space for lots of dialogue for the characters. The heart of this Act II is this part’s version of the cafe scene – the Doctor and Wilf have a melancholy conversation, again subtly referencing the events of The Waters of Mars (while a diamond propelled from the Last Day of the Time War to Earth propels the plot along).

“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off” – RTD must surely be aware of the concept of “Chekhov’s Gun”, and Wilf is reminded of his service revolver of the “first chapter” by the Mysterious Woman; the gun is also discussed by the two men on the ship, another element of the simple elegant plot. The question is raised, will the Doctor follow Wilf’s suggestion?

picIf Act II is the ship hanging darkly in space, Act III kicks in with the lights thrown on and a cinematic hurtle to Earth as the Doctor races to confront Master and, he realises because of the “white point star” diamond, the plan to bring back the Time Lords (who have been “changed right to the core” by the War).

The culmination of this desperate race seems, possibly, regeneration, as the Doctor free-falls through the massive skylight clutching Checkov’s revolver, though Tenth is still going after that spectacular arrival – it won’t be a regeneration like the 4th Doctor then.

There’s the reveal of, if not exactly WHO the Mysterious Woman is, then where she is from. The guiding of Checkov’s revolver to rage against the machine is subtly done, as she barely motions to the Doctor with her gaze, though she does. She gives the Doctor a third choice.

pic “You did this to me!” – “You made me! One! Two! Three! Four!” More circularity as the Master keeps the Time Lords at bay, ensuring they and he vanish back to the last day of the Time War.

So to Act IV, another quietly powerful Act, the final 23 minutes. The Doctor is still standing, but like the Fifth and the Ninth, he chooses to save a companion and begin a regeneration. Like the Second Doctor, he rages against the dying of the light and the unfairness of it all.

Recalling all these Classic stories – and one other story. Planet of the Spiders, the Third Doctor is gone for weeks from his companion until he returns in the TARDIS, as the radiation slowly, very slowly brings about his regeneration.

So, the final scenes – an elegiac celebration of an era in six parts.

1. Mickey and Martha in what is presumably some sort of “Dark Future”, are still “saving the Earth” – together. Like a New Adventures novel chapter made into onscreen scene, this is a startling though fun end for the two characters.

2. The last goodbye for Sarah – a silent wave which perhaps means “A tear, Sarah Jane? No, no, don’t cry”.

3. Cap’n Jack (after the events of TW3) is prompted to smile again.

4. An unexpected and moving coda to a 2007 two-parter.

5. Goodbye to Wilf, Sylvia, and, Donna – full circle in wedding dress, he leaves her as he met her.

6. More full circles, full circle as the TARDIS lands where it did when the Tenth Doctor first arrived on Earth, also full circle to 2005 and Rose.

I don't want to goAfter all these poignant goodbyes, the final words from the Tenth Doctor – “I don’t want to go”.

The Eleventh Doctor falls to Earth, as the Earth rises towards the audience just as it did in the first episode of 2005.

Five years of Doctor Who stories brought full circle by a magnificent final story.

———

(The End of Time Part Two iplayer)

Advertisements

8 Responses to “Doctor Who 4.18: The End of Time Part Two review”

  1. jon dow Says:

    Nah it was SHIT. RTD – bye bye!!! Bring on the Moffatt/Smith era, pleeeeeeease!!!

  2. John Nor Says:

    I’m not convinced by your argument there. :)

    Moffat/Smith era, Spring 2010, it won’t be any sooner than that.

    I must say though I thought this RTD era which has just ended was fantastic, comparable to other great eras such as the Bryant era, the Hinchcliffe era, the Bidmead era.

    I think this part two of this final RTD story was an amazing end to an amazing era.

    What does everyone else reading the review think – were the past 5 years a great era, or not?

  3. bob Says:

    According to the commentary, Captain Jack is on Planet Zog.

    They finally named a planet Zog!

  4. Calum Says:

    Since the days of Eccleston, I’ve had the sense that Davies has turned Doctor Who into too personal an extension of his own personality. Davies is gay and lots of gay men fear dying alone and feel oppressed by prevailing heterosexual culture. Coincidently, the ninth and tenth Doctors are depicted as essentially sad and lonely, the tenth Doctor dies alone, whimpering rather than banged and, in future humanity, heterosexuality is replaced by bisexuality/omnisexual. Davies is professedly an atheist and most atheists don’t believe in life after death. Coincidently, the greatest threat in Doctor Who is the end of all existence and being swallowed up by blackness. This latter point has been rather irksome on account of its repetitiveness in finale plots. Now Davies is gone, perhaps we’ll see a return to the less melancholic Doctor we once knew and baddies who aren’t all out to destroy reality itself. And perhaps heterosexuals and homosexuals won’t be seen as types to be relegated to the past.

    In Russell T Davies, we see justification for the BBC’s previous discouragement of Doctor Who script editors writing their own serials. Every series should have a script editor with clout. This script should have been massively revised by Gary Russell but Russell T Davies is actually above him.

    The Doctor falls thousands of feet out of a spaceship, crashes through a glass roof and hits a hard surface and then gets up with no explanation? This kind of thing completely destroys the believability of the story for the viewer. Ever seen Logopolis? (Why did David Tennant not put his foot down over something so completely ridiculous for the character being in the script? Even a jetpack would have been better.) Gallifrey positions itself right beside Earth and both planets are hardly affected – ever seen the Tenth Planet? The Doctor absorbs masses of radiation and needs to regenerate but he pops out to see a few friends first – ever seen Planet of the Spiders? The Doctor regenerates and the TARDIS blows up – ever seen Time and the Rani? And if the time war was locked and the Time Lords can’t get out of it, how could they send a signal (or psychic messages) out of it and Dalek Caan get into it? And why would Wilf knowingly knock four times?

    The days of Russell T Davies ignoring the requirement to make things sensible and explicable (such as the re-appearance of Rassilon) and therefore believable on Doctor Who, are over. Writing sci-fantasy with plot dependent non-sequiturs, while selectively ignoring the need to explain anything to viewers, is simply a sign of poor writing and inability to plot well. Let’s hope Steven Moffatt doesn’t cave in to the same low standards.

  5. John Nor Says:

    Bob – thanks for that news! I still have to listen to the commentary.

    —–

    Calum – a long comment with a surprising third paragraph considering the review you are commenting on (your questions are mainly already answered by the review) – to keep my reply concise I will ignore your first paragraph about atheism / sexuality, except to say it doesn’t make a lot of sense and isn’t much to do with what was said in the review it is commenting on.

    Your second paragraph – “justification for the BBC’s previous discouragement of Doctor Who script editors writing their own serials”, I guess you know (for example) Holmes and Adams wrote several serials while being their own script editor too, though I suppose your point is you don’t like the results when RTD does the same?

    Your third paragraph – mainly about regeneration stories. You ask :”Ever seen Logopolis?”

    My review: “The culmination of this desperate race seems, possibly, regeneration, as the Doctor free-falls through the massive skylight clutching Checkov’s revolver, though Tenth is still going after that spectacular arrival – it won’t be a regeneration like the 4th Doctor then.”

    (I will add – the 1st Doctor regenerated because he was as he says “wearing a bit thin”. The 4th Doctor is “wearing a bit thin” in S18 in a way the more energetic S12 4th Doctor wasn’t, and the energetic 10th Doctor isn’t “wearing a bit thin”. Remember also the 6th Doctor fell off an exercise bike, not a radio telescope or spaceship, and regenerated.)

    You ask: “The Doctor absorbs masses of radiation and needs to regenerate but he pops out to see a few friends first – ever seen Planet of the Spiders?”

    My review: “Recalling all these Classic stories – and one other story. Planet of the Spiders, the Third Doctor is gone for weeks from his companion until he returns in the TARDIS, as the radiation slowly, very slowly brings about his regeneration.”

    You say: “both planets are hardly affected” – Gallifrey was only halfway out of the Time War.

    You ask: “The Doctor regenerates and the TARDIS blows up – ever seen Time and the Rani?”

    I’m not sure what you’re saying there as the TARDIS falls to the planet both times.

    You ask: “And if the time war was locked and the Time Lords can’t get out of it, how could they send a signal (or psychic messages) out of it”?

    My review: ‘Some more backstory, this time the Master-gazing into the schism from The Sound of Drums – at the same “time” the Time Lords discuss what they know of the Master – the sound of war drums? More like the rhythm of four, the heartbeat of a Time Lord, reckons a president – more circles, as a circular plan is formed (they know of the rhythm-of-four signal that was received and so they send the rhythm-of-four signal!)’

    I will add that – what the Master gazes into is a schism (gap) to the Time Vortex and the Time Lock bubble, the signal-link is sent back through the schism, the signal-link sound only “a thought an idea” until the diamond which is “small enough to follow the link” to strengthen the signal-link, which has also been strengthened 6 billion times by 6 BILLION MASTERS. All this is explained in the story!

    Your last paragraph, in essence: “Russell T Davies ignoring the requirement to make things sensible and explicable” – no, as mentioned, the story explains what is going on with the main elements, e.g. with the signal-link, though there are still mysteries (e.g. the fan-pleasing Rassilon ref) and at the end they are intentional mysteries, part of the story.

    The story is brilliant!

    Fair enough, you may not have read the review before writing your comment, but if you re-read the review you are commenting on, your 3rd paragraph questions are mainly already answered by the review!

  6. Rob H Says:

    “Naa, it was shit”. Well, that was a productive, insightful comment. And you neglected to say “in my opinion”.

    It was utterly beautiful. In my opinion.

  7. Jay Says:

    The ending of Part Two was absolutely spectacular, and pretty much cried for the last twenty minutes. I love Tennant’s Doctor, and I’ll miss him. But I’m looking forward to see how Matt Smith will turn out. I’m not much for his looks, but I’ll admit that when the 9th generated into the 10th, I didn’t much like the 10th at first, either!

    Part Two was beautiful. The Wilf and Doctor moments were the best.

  8. Anna Rita Says:

    I’ve just finished to see it, in Italy, with subtitle, really complicated….. but I love it!!! And I’m still in tears.
    Thanks UK for giving life to this incredible series!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: