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OR DID WE? There is some evidence that the War Chief, from the Second Doctor's final story "The War Games", was an earlier incarnation of the Master.
Obviously he and the Doctor already knew each other, and the War Chief's actions in that story very much fit the Master's usual MO - find a group of patsies he can offer his services to ostensibly for their benefit but really for his own, deploy a ludicrously overcomplicated plot to cause lots of lovely chaos, death and mayhem, get a bit testy when things don't go his way, and hold a personal grudge against the Doctor. If nothing else, they have the same rubbishy beard.
This was the scariest the Daleks have been in a while. It's weird how there seems to be this inverse relationship between the number of Daleks on screen and the scariness - one Dalek on its own can be terrifying, whereas fleets of Daleks flying through space are a bit "yeah, we've done this already".
In fact, this scene with the single steampunk makeshift Dalek taking out the entire army squadron reminded me very much of Eccleston's "Dalek" episode, in which the single Dalek slaughters the base's entire complement calmly and methodically without breaking a metaphorical sweat. If one Dalek on its own is this dangerous...
I liked that the Ryan, Graham and Aaron storyline was done with restraint and maturity, not with hysterical accusations. All three had good reason to be much more emotional than they were, but rationality without discounting the validity of the feelings involved makes a refreshing change when dealing with family drama.
The cinematography was excellent, especially in that scene where Lin first reveals the Dalek on her back - lots of chop-cutting and fades and confusion that well describes Lin's state of mind.
This had the true conclusion of Ryan and Graham's character arcs, a proper enemy for the 13th Doctor to show her gumption against, and the thematic reflection of the Doctor remaking herself and her technology in the warehouse in "Fell to Earth" versus the Dalek making itself and its technology in the warehouse in "Resolution". So this is the proper series finale, both story-wise and production-wise, to the extent that it annoyed me that the DVD set didn't include it with the rest - a transparently commercial decision driven by greed instead of artistic integrity. Fewer eps per box set means more DVDs to sell means more money!
Anyway, having got all that off my chest, and as much as this is clearly a stronger ending than otherwise, I do have one other problem with it, and that is that the guest characters were completely irrelevant. They didn't need to be in the story.
The role of Lin should have been Yaz's, who otherwise had fuck all to do yet again. Dalek!Lin even had to steal a cop car and pretend to be a cop, completely forgetting the fact that Yaz is a cop already. And Mitch served no purpose whatsoever that couldn't be served by the Doctor herself.
Here's how it should have gone - Yaz gets a phone call from Sheffield Police, saying Oi where are you, it's New Year's Eve, we need all hands on deck. She feels obligated so she gets the Doctor to take her home temporarily. In the course of events she finds and gets grabbed by the creature and runs off to do the things. The Doctor goes after Yaz, while Graham and Ryan are distracted by the business with Ryan's dad.
It would have given Yaz long-needed character development as she has to face being the tool by which people were killed, even a fellow cop. It would have given the Doctor stronger motivation to save her, and built on the hints of a Yaz-Doctor relationship from the spiders episode. And it would have stopped there being seven people in the Tardis, which is far too many to pay any attention to, when clearly they have struggled with giving even four people enough attention to date.
If they wanted to keep the "it takes an army to stop a Dalek" theme they were trying to push, wouldn't it be even better to say that these four people, this Team Tardis, are all the army the Doctor needs? Isn't that a nicer theme, and a better conclusion to their character arcs, then inserting two randoms who make even less sense going to work on New Year's Day than Donna Noble does getting married on Christmas Eve?
Oh, and also, it's 2019 and we're still doing Bury Your Gays? The security guard gets one line, enough to establish he's gay, and then whoops, he's dead. Fuck that shit all the way to the left.
I believe someone described Whittaker's first season finale as a "Tennant Tuesday". Now, RTD got plenty of flack, and plenty of it justified, for getting more overblown and hysterical with every season finale he wrote, but at least the viewer gave a shit about what was on screen.
It has been nice to see Mark so enjoying this season - I always enjoy seeing what other people get out of things I enjoy, because it helps me to find more things to enjoy about it. So I don't want to put down what others love. But for a season that started so very strong, and there still isn't any episode I can call actively bad, it has ended up being just... okay.
I certainly don't place any of this at the feet of Whittaker, who I have liked from her first moment on screen. I have no problems with a female Doctor, with the concept of multiple and diverse companions, with the themes of social justice. I just think the execution has not been as strong as it might. A work friend described it as "they just forgot to write any stories".
The fact that the theme of the season means that there have been comparatively few out-and-out villains, also means that the Doctor herself hasn't had to show much in the way of determination and grit to overcome them, which then means that she comes across as somewhat ineffectual, and that's a shame for the first female Doctor. And that is all down to the writing, not down to the acting or the having of breasts.
Long may the 13th Doctor reign - I just want her to have some stronger stories to get her teeth into next year.
Nine, Ten and most of Eleven were all consumed with the Time War - Nine by the guilt of what he did, Ten by what it turned him into, Eleven by how to move on when others don't want you to.
Eleven was the one who learned he didn't actually do what he thought he had done, but he didn't have much time to enjoy it. Immediately after, he only had one ep (which to be fair took place across 300 years, but they were consumed with the need to make sure it didn't all start up again) before regenerating into Twelve.
So then Twelve - even though he was supposed to be a fresh start with a new set of regenerations and the knowledge that he didn't kill his own people - was consumed with the question Eleven didn't have time to answer - okay then, so if I'm not the mass murderer I thought I was, what am I?
It's not until Thirteen that the Doctor gets to be the "new start" that Twelve was supposed to be. Twelve had finally answered his question and before regenerating specifically gave himself permission to "let it go" - which leaves Thirteen free to live without guilt and just have fun again, plus to not worry about mixed messages and shades of grey, but just to be purely empathetic and moral.
It all tracks to me, despite how very little of it was probably intentional at the time.
In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", the Doctor used a combination of Sheffield steel and Stenza crystals to recreate her sonic screwdriver - you can see the crystals in it, the glowing orangey bits along the side. Now, it makes perfect sense to me that the Tardis would still be connected to the Doctor and the sonic through whatever timey-wimey means. And so, the Tardis felt that the Doctor had recreated her sonic in this style, and that she apparently liked it like that, so it deliberately redesigned itself to match by incorporating the same orange crystal motif.
Naq lbh pna frr gur fnzr qrfvta zbgvs ntnva va "Gur Onggyr bs Enafxbbe ni Xbybf", jura Gvz Funj'f Fgramn-vafcverq qrfvtaf ba gung cynarg sbyybj zhpu gur fnzr pelfgny nepu fglyr. V whfg jvfu gung unq orra zber guna n pbby qrfvta zbgvs naq unq npghnyyl orra eryrinag gb gur fgbel, ohg url ub.
Jryy, V fnl ivyynvaf, orpnhfr xvaq bs gur jubyr cbvag vf gung gurer jrera'g ernyyl nal ivyynvaf guvf frnfba, ng yrnfg abg va gur hfhny pehfu-xvyy-qrfgebl jnl. Gur erny nagntbavfgf guvf frnfba ner nyy vzcrefbany sbeprf, n ynpx bs rzcngul, guvatf gung pna'g ernyyl or sbhtug, bayl fheivirq.
Pncvgnyvfz nf n pbagrfg, znxvat crbcyr svtug gb gur qrngu gb znxr rabhtu zbarl gb fnir gurve snzvyvrf' yvirf. Vafgvghgvbany enpvfz naq gur ncngul gb yrg vg pneel ba. Ovt ohfvarff gung pnerf bayl nobhg cebsvg ng gur rkcrafr bs gur raivebazrag. N ubfcvgny gung jvyy xvyy vgf cngvragf vs vg pna'g pher gurz. Snpryrff tbireazragf gubhfnaqf bs zvyrf njnl znxvat qrpvfvbaf sbe lbh urer naq abj. Znff cebqhpgvba yrnqvat crbcyr gb srry fb cbjreyrff gung gurl ghea gb znff zheqre. Gur tevrs bs n ybfg ybirq bar yrnqvat crbcyr gb znxr greevoyr qrpvfvbaf.
Nyy dhvgr gvzryl gurzrf, V guvax. Jurgure gurl jrer rkrphgrq jryy vf nabgure znggre...
The "Am I a good man?" question which has defined Twelve's era is still here - he meets Rusty again, the Good Dalek who he tried to define himself against, and failed. One doesn't realise that he is the source of goodness in the universe, that he is why evil doesn't win. It takes Bill, the avatar of the force that contains all the memories of human kind, and it takes the Captain, an example of how the tiniest act of kindness can have world-saving consequences, to convince both Doctors that they are valuable and they and the universe need each other.
I certainly can't argue with the idea that Twelve's final speech comes across as self-indulgent on Moffat and Capaldi's part - it could have been half as long and twice as effective. But I can't really begrudge either of them in the circumstances, and "Laugh hard, run fast, be kind" is as perfect a distillation of the Doctor as you could ask for.
And not only is Thirteen's "Oh brilliant!" a wonderful start, but I also love the way they present this particular regeneration sequence. Every other time we've seen a change from one to the next, we've been close up on the face so that we see the new one immediately. This time, they play it as a brief moment of mystery. We see the energy, we see the destruction, we see the change of size as the ring falls off the finger. But we do not see the Doctor's new face until she sees it for herself, and if you had not seen the reveal clip, it would have been a surprise to you that we were getting a female Doctor now.
And the Doctor presses one button, and the Tardis blows up. Naturally there were some only semi-joking comments made on the internet about women drivers, but what is really happening here is that the Tardis is saving the Doctor. The screen shows "Systems Crisis, Multiple Operations Failures", and so the Tardis throws the Doctor out of the door to save her while it explodes and resets itself. It's the 'one problem at a time' principle - at least while the Doctor is falling in mid-air, that's a few more seconds she has to to think of a plan than if she had been in that exploding console room.
And so the woman falls to Earth, with no Tardis, no sonic, no companions. How's she going to get out of this one?