Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Last of the Time Lords"

What the hell?
This episode is the pits. It is absolutely the worst conclusion to a Doctor Who story I could possibly imagine; the cheapest, most pointless and unnecessary resolution achievable to the plot established in "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums". It's not as melodramatic as "Doomsday" but the tedium, the utter ruination of the Master's character and the cop-out of cop-outs for the ending all rub it into the dirt.
First we're given an incredibly tedious opening segment with Martha. She's been "walking the Earth", and we're burdened with absolutely loads of purple prose about the 'atom farms of this place' and the 'nuclear wastes of some other place' and the 'killer chocolate factories of Zanzibar' and all these other nauseatingly romanticised pseudo-poetic notions that RTD loves to ram down our ear-holes. We meet up with Dr Thomas Milligan, a cypher, and Alison Doherty, who makes the appalling joke about the plural of "Des" and inevitably betrays Martha to the Master. But it was all a trick! What an amazing twist...
You see the thing is it's so obvious that RTD will employ a cop-out that you know Martha won't get to use UNIT's magic Time Lord-killing gun. And you know he won't kill Martha because RTD's so scared of killing companions.
So what about the Master? Well he's even more awful than he was in the previous episode. He dances around to Scissor Sisters like a lunatic, sullying the name of a decent band while at the same time sullying Doctor Who a bit by associating it with pop music in a rare case of the elusive 'mutual sully', he rings a bell like a moron for no reason, and he uses his bloody ridiculous 'laser screwdriver' to turn the Doctor into Dobby. How does ageing someone turn them into a gremlin? If the Master's so afraid of/in awe of the Doctor, why does he keep him in a tent with a dog bowl? And why does he keep Martha's family as servants when they're bound to be treacherous? This also proves how useless Jack is again, because he hangs around chained up in the basement doing nothing. Oh, and the Master beats his wife, too, because we weren't already aware that he was a bad guy. It's excessive and ridiculous, and the Master ceases to be even slightly interesting and is just annoying.
So then Martha's plan unfolds. She's been telling everyone about the Doctor! But apparently in this industralised nightmare world people are keeping an eye on Greenwich Mean Time because they all do the same thing simultaneously and stand around like the biggest lemons on the tree in a series of stock footage displays all saying 'Doctor' like planks. Naturally, this causes the Doctor to turn into Super Jesus, because he's tapped into the Archangel Network which the Master was using to hypnotise people... and apparently that lets him fly, rejuvenate himself and deflect lasers with his bare hands. It's another instance, after "The Farting of the Ways", of a case of quite literally god-from-the-machine, and I thought it was the biggest cop-out imaginable. But wait, there's a bigger one!
Captain Jack gets the help of a bunch of soldiers who were completely loyal to the Master a few seconds a go and runs off to recover the TARDIS. He destroys the paradox machine by... firing some bullets at it. How does this work? And this spontaneously not only causes all the murderous Toclafane, since revealed with a predictable "ooh look at us we're horrible" routine to be humans from the future, to disappear, but reverses time. Reversing time apparently means some paper zooming around the room while ducks fly backwards and stuff. But Martha plus family, the Doctor, Captain Jack and Mrs. The Master all remember for some reason. Why? "Eye of the Storm" says the Doctor. What on earth does that mean, RTD? Your characters get certain logic-free bonuses 'because you say so'?
Then Mrs. The Master's domestic abuse case becomes all complicated when she shoots the Master, and there's a deeply homoerotic scene where the Master 'refuses to regenerate' and the Doctor cuddles him on the floor while they give each other teary, smouldering looks like they're about to passionately make out at the end of a long lover's spat. Of course this 'death of the Master' ultimately turns out to be a trick too but it's extremely disturbing to see the Doctor cradling the lifeless body of this murderous maniac in his arms while he has a huge man cry. It's unbelievably melodramatic and makes no sense. Sure, they may be old buddies from Gallifrey and the last of their species but the Master has also just proven himself more than ever to be a murdering nutcase. Does their relationship have any consistency? Apparently not. Then the Doctor gives the Master Darth Vader's funeral from Return of the Jedi, Jack tells them he's the Face of Boe and Martha decides to up shop and quit the TARDIS. Who can blame her? If I'd just been in the stupidest Doctor Who finale to date I'd want to leave too. She also contacts the people from the nonexistent timeline for no reason. And that's it. What a waste of time.
It's amazing to think that this series, which had "Blink", and to a lesser extent "Smith and Jones" and "Human Nature" also has this. It's the pulpiest ending imaginable, full of meaningless spectacle and narrative cheapness with an astounding cop-out for an ending. It's feeble, and while it can't bring Series 3 down the to abyss at the bottom of which Series 2 lies this finale brings it extremely close. It's an utter disappointment and a complete waste of the character of the Master. If you can't bring yourself to definitively change the status quo then you shouldn't, don't give us Doctor Jesus and Reversing Time. It's like a 'what not to do' of storytelling and characterisation and, as I am saying more and more, the only good thing is that the dim light of hope is growing closer the further we progress through this cesspool of an era.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.