♫ I can't decide whether you should live or die ♫
It's one year later
The Master is the supreme ruler of the planet. Most people have spent this year in slavery (or dead) while the Master forces them to build a space fleet of makeshift (yet deadly) rockets to start a new age of space conquest and terror. Meanwhile, Martha Jones has been Walking the Earth
, picking her way amongst the ruins, and following the Doctor's last instructions, looking for the four segments
of a weapon that can allegedly kill the Master (permanently). She also discovers that the Toclafane are mutated remnants of the humans from the end of time.
Meanwhile, the Master has made Martha's family into his personal slaves. He's also got Jack chained up as a toy to kill over and over. He plays with the Doctor for a bit while singing along to the Scissor Sisters
, then uses his laser screwdriver to make him age extra centuries, turning him into a heap of Conspicuous CGI
Martha's returned to Britain, where she tells her story one last time and then is captured by the Master's Mooks
. Up aboard the Valiant
, the Master makes her Kneel Before Zod
and prepares to kill her while a clock starts the final countdown to launch his war fleet across the universe.
Then Martha laughs at him. Come on, she says, Plot Coupons
? Seriously? And the Doctor asking someone to kill?
No, what she was really
doing was telling everyone about the Doctor. Thanks to Martha's stories, and using the Master's global countdown as a timing guide, the whole Earth manages to think
the Doctor back to health and youth with a feedback effect through the Master's own mind-controlling cellphone satellite network, keeping people under his influence
. The Master absolutely freaks out
at this brutal turn of events, and after ordering the Toclafane to kill everyone he teleports away, followed (and soon captured) by the Doctor. Jack manages to sneak by the Toclafane and destroy the Master's paradox machine, which reverses time to exactly one year ago, with everyone's memories neatly wiped and all the mutated humans having disappeared from the present day. But everyone in the "eye of the storm" — including Martha's family — keeps the memories of everything they've seen.
The Doctor attempts to stop everyone from killing the Master, since being a Time Lord he sees it as his job to deal with him by keeping him prisoner in the TARDIS. (Plus, evil or not, the Master is the only other Time Lord left to keep him company.) Suddenly the Master's wife shoots him. The Doctor urges the Master to regenerate the damage, but the Master smugly refuses to, and dies in the arms
of a wildly sobbing Doctor, leaving him once again all alone in the universe.
The Master's corpse is burned. Martha's family remains deeply traumatised. The Doctor puts a stop to Jack's vortex manipulator; "I can't have you walking around with a time travelling teleport. You could go anywhere, twice. The second time to apologise". Jack leaves because he misses Torchwood Three, but not before telling the others that he's very
slowly ageing into something unknown, and that his nickname was once "The Face Of Boe". Oh what
. He dashes off to go rejoin Torchwood
. Also, Martha finally understands that the Doctor will never return her affections. She hands him her phone, as she realises that she may need his help again some day.
Meanwhile at the Master's funeral pyre, a mysterious woman removes a maniacally laughing ring with Gallifreyan symbols on it. Is the Master not dead after all?
As The Doctor sets off for his next adventure, he gets a rather rude surprise. A ship. Crashing straight through the side of the TARDIS. The name on the ships life preserver? Titanic...
- After the End: Most of Earth.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished
- Martha has spent the last year traveling solo around the world, running from homicidal aliens, yet there isn't a scratch on her. She also sports make-up and straightened hair.
- Subverted with Mrs Saxon, who's sporting bruises.
- Big "WHAT?!" followed by Flat "What.": A Call Back to the last series cliffhanger. This time the Doctor really has something to "What?" about — the Titanic crashing through the wall.
- Birdcaged: The Doctor, as seen in the picture.
- Broken Bird: Lucy has clearly fallen off the deep end in the last year; she is noticeably skinnier and hardly talks. Considering the fact that she had seen the end of the universe first-hand and the most likely disturbing creation of the Toclafane, can you really blame her?
- She's also bruised and it's implied the Master has grown bored and started assaulting her.
- Bloodless Carnage
- The Master gets fatally shot but no blood at all is visible.
- And Jack; despite being brutally tortured by the Master for a year and later gunned down by a squad of soldiers, his clothes haven't a drop of blood on them.
- Can't Spit It Out: Subverted; Martha comes as close as she'll ever get to telling the Doctor she loves him, and even though she doesn't say the words it's clear the normally Oblivious to Love Doctor knows exactly what she's on about.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe
- Combined Energy Attack
- Continuity Nod
I remember the days when the Doctor, oh, that famous Doctor... was waging a Time War, battling Sea Devils
, and Axons
— he sealed the Rift at the Medusa Cascade, single handed.
- Crapsack World:
Martha: "I travelled across the world — from the ruins of New York to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe; and everywhere I went I saw people just like you living as slaves."
- Deus ex Machina: A very-nearly literal version. If you thought it was literal when Rose was made a god by the TARDIS, how about the Doctor being brought back from being Gollum through the power of satellite network-enhanced prayer? This one comes with consequences: Martha's family, being aboard the Valiant, were at the eye of the storm. The Year That Never Was still happened for them.
- Did You Actually Believe?: A rare heroic example.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: No, seriously, we weren't kidding about the Foe Yay.
- The Dog Bites Back: "It's always the women."
- Double Meaning Title: The title refers to the Master's plan to rule Earth as the last Time Lord (with the Doctor out of commission), but also to his decision to let himself die so that The Doctor will have to live out the rest of his life as the Last of His Kind. OK, neither plan really works out, but still...
- First Gray Hair: Captain Jack Harkness is immortal and apparently unageing, but at the end of the episode he mentions having found a grey hair, and theorises that he is ageing, very very slowly.
- For the Evulz:
Martha: But why? Why come all this way just to cause all this death and destruction?
Toclafane: Because it's FUN.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "You two should get to know each other... that could be fun!"
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The gun in four parts. Except it isn't.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Archangel Network. The Doctor uses that year to tune his alien physiology to the frequency of the Network, just like an old mystic.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Toclafane are the future of humanity, who turned themselves into cyborg Psychopathic Manchildren in a desperate attempt to survive the collapse of reality. And why are they slaughtering their own species? Simply because it's fun.
- Inelegant Blubbering: David Tennant is not a pretty crier in this episode. Which makes it bloody heartbreaking.
- Kneel Before Zod
- Large Ham: The Master
- Load-Bearing Boss: The TARDIS has been reconfigured into a Paradox Machine. Jack breaks the Paradox by shooting at the console.
- Madness Mantra: "We shall fly and blaze and slice! We shall fly and blaze and slice!"
- The Messiah: What? No! Definitely not! The glowing and flying? Just... time lord... magic... ness. ...Yeeeeah.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: The Doctor shrinks significantly after he's aged a few centuries.
- Mythology Gag: The Doctor and the Master's confrontation in a wasteland obliquely echoes the end of "Survival," in which the Seventh Doctor refused to kill his arch-nemesis on the Cheetah Planet.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The Master turns Mrs Saxon into one by showing her the end of the Universe.
- No One Could Survive That: Yeah, right. It's the Master.
- No Ontological Inertia: So the Master "cannibalised" the TARDIS into a Paradox Machine? So Doctor, if it was really that bad, do you want to explain how you managed to get her fixed so incredibly quickly? The following special "Time Crash" implies this is about as complicated as changing the desktop theme of a computer.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Why, exactly, was Utopia nothing but hellish furnaces? Fuck you, that's why.
- Oh Crap: When Martha mentioned the satellites, the Master stopped being amused by the situation.
- Ominous Floating Castle: The Aircraft Carrier Valiant acts as one for the Master.
- One World Order: The Master seems to have taken over the entire planet... or at least what's left of it after the Toclafane attacks.
- The Plan: Martha's plan to defeat the Master.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The Master has issues with women, it appears.
- Power Floats / Power Glows: The Doctor, empowered by the thoughts of all the humans.
- Reset Button
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Everyone on the Valiant, due to being at "the eye of the storm".
- Rushmore Refacement: Mentioned though not seen.
- Sequel Hook: The hand that takes the Master's ring. Russell T. Davies even joked that it was "the hand of The Rani". Notable as this was initially designed as purely a generic hook with no actual plans to follow up on it. RTD didn't want to use the Master again, but put it in as a way for his successor as show runner to use if they so desired. Then he changed his mind and used it himself at the end of his run.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The final fate of the entire human race. Thanks, RTD!
- Shout Out
- "Say Hi, Gandalf."
- The Toclafane bear an uncanny resemblance to the spheres from Phantasm, right down to being powered by the brains of the creator's human victims.
- The scene where The Master is burnt on a funeral pyre by the Doctor is reminiscent of Luke setting ablaze Darth Vader's armour at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI.
- A woman with red-painted fingernails picking up the Master's ring as his laughter is heard in the background is one to the end of the 1980s Flash Gordon film.
- Status Quo Is God
- Super Mode: The Doctor temporally gains an upgrade when he's revived by the world, gaining the ability to float in mid-air and telekinesis.
- Taking You with Me: The Master tries to do this when the Doctor and Martha foil his plans by detonating his fleet of rockets (thus triggering an Earth-Shattering Kaboom). However, the Doctor points out that the Master would never take his own life, and convinces him to surrender.
- Time Bomb: The Master never could resist a ticking clock.
- Terrible Ticking: The drums.
- Thanatos Gambit: The Master refusing to regenerate just to make sure the Doctor is the last of his kind. That, and he has a devoted cult prepared just for a case like this. Better to die and be resurrected to former glory than to be the Doctor's pet for all eternity, Foe Yay be damned.
- Theme Song Reveal: Lucy Saxon's bruises are briefly visible on camera when her face falls, just as the vocalist sings, "No wonder why my heart feels dead inside." Foreshadows the climax.
- Took a Level in Badass: Martha
- Villain-Beating Artifact: Subverted. The episode features Martha Jones spending a year trying to locate a weapon divided into four parts that can defeat the Master, only to reveal at the very end that the Villain-Beating Artefact was a ruse to distract from Martha's real goal.
- Villainous Breakdown
- Mrs Saxon turns against her husband in the end.
- And the Master is reduced from a fabulous Magnificent Bastard to a screaming, terrified mess when all of humanity thinks the Doctor back to health.
- Villain World. Also Vichy Earth thanks to the mind-control satellites which keep everyone terrified of Saxon.
- Walking the Earth: Martha has been.
- Wham Line
- Martha's revelation — Ridiculous for some, awesome surprise for others. It starts with:
Martha: A gun in four parts, scattered across the world. I mean, come on. Did you really believe it?
- And then the full impact comes there:
Martha: Right across the world. One word, just one thought, at one moment, but with 15 satellites!
Jack Harness: The Face of Boe, they called me.
- What Would the Doctor Do?