Recap / Doctor Who S29 E13 "Last of the Time Lords"
aka: Doctor Who NSS 3 E 13 Last Of The Time Lords

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Last_Of_The_Time_Lords_7606.JPG
Pictured: The Doctor
♫ I can't decide whether you should live or die ♫
The Master (showing his love for the Scissor Sisters)

The one where the Doctor gets aged into something best described as Gollum's seed, the Master apparently gets Killed Off for Real, and Martha finally gets the memo that there's no sense in pursuing unrequited love.

Written by Russell T. Davies.
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 shriveled homunculus.

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. Briefly given full-on psychic powers by the event, the Doctor disarms the Master, corners him and utters the words he's been waiting all year to say... "I forgive you."

The Master absolutely freaks out at this brutal turn of events, and after ordering the Toclafane to kill everyone on board, he teleports down to the surface, followed by the Doctor. As graceful in defeat as ever, he threatens to simply detonate his entire planet-wide arsenal. Earth will burn like Gallifrey, only this time he and the Doctor will witness it together.

...Only the Doctor doesn't budge. After all the centuries the Master's clung to life, everything he's done to himself and others to cheat death, is he really going to kill himself now? His bluff called, the Master hands over the detonator and - after a brief struggle - is teleported back to the Valiant.

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 - as the only other Time Lord left in existence, his old friend is his responsibility. Jack retorts that they can't possibly trust him, and the Doctor agrees. The only place the Master can be held, and maybe rehabilitated one day, is the TARDIS. The Master finds the idea amusing...until he realizes the Doctor means it. Even after everything the Master's done, the Doctor's fully prepared to give up wandering the universe alone in order care for him.

Lucy, however, isn't quite so forgiving, and 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 Doctor and Martha that he's very slowly aging into something unknown and that his nickname was once "The Face of Boe", to their disbelief. He dashes off to go rejoin Torchwood. Also, Martha finally understands that the Doctor will never return her affections. She gives a thinly veiled confession and leaves, because she doesn't want to waste her life pining for the Doctor. Before she goes 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 reaches into the Master's ashes and holds up his ring — a ring, we now clearly see, with Gallifreyan writing all over it. An evil laugh echoes into the distance...

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 ship's life preserver? Titanic...


Tropes:

  • After the End: Most of Earth. A short bit in the intro shows that it's bad enough that travellers from other planets are officially advised to avoid the place entirely.
  • Age Without Youth:
    • The Master inflicts this on the Doctor, revealing what he'd look like if he just kept ageing without ever regenerating.
    • Jack is beginning to worry about this, and wonders what will happen to him if he lasts a million years. The Doctor has no idea.
  • Batman Gambit: The plan hinges on the Master accepting that the Doctor would order someone to kill for him, and his admitted weakness for dramatic countdowns.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Martha has spent the last year travelling solo around the world, running from homicidal aliens, yet there isn't a scratch on her. She also sports makeup and straightened hair.
    • Averted with Lucy 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 of the TARDIS.
  • Birdcaged: The Doctor has been put in a cage for the humiliation.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The Master gets fatally shot but no blood at all is visible. Russell T. Davies stated on episode 50 of the podcast Who's Round that there was a little bit of blood on the Master's shirt in that scene, but John's hand "accidentally" covered what little blood was there on the day.
    • 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.
  • Book Ends: The first part of the series 3 finale, "Utopia", ended with the Master being forced to regenerate because an alien female shot him with a laser gun. This episode shows him once again shot, but by a human female with a pistol, and he refuses to regenerate instead.
  • Brick Joke: Martha tells someone she met Will Shakespeare, and she doesn't get sectioned.
  • 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 firsthand in addition to the most-likely-disturbing creation of the Toclafane, plus a year of her husband slowly grinding Earth under his heel while simultaneously slaughtering its population, can you really blame her? She's also bruised and it's implied the Master has grown bored and started assaulting her.
  • 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: Martha's real weapon was using the Master's Archangel satellite network to focus the thought power of the entire human race on the Doctor.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Every human living on Earth channeling their mental power through the Archangel Network to empower the Doctor.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • This monologue:
    The Master: I remember the days when the Doctor, oh, that famous Doctor... was waging a Time War, battling Sea Devils, and Axonshe sealed the Rift at the Medusa Cascade, single-handed.
    • The Master's greatest fear being an all-powerful Doctor hovering over him, as previously shown all the way back in "The Mind of Evil".
  • 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.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Doctor's relentless attempts to forgive and rehabilitate the Master weren't intended this way, but the Master views them as worse than death.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Martha was not, in fact, searching the world for the parts to a gun that could kill the Master permanently; the Doctor would never order her to kill someone.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: The Master in the Doctor's. We weren't kidding about the Foe Yay.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Lucy, implied to have been abused for the last year by the Master, shoots him.
    The Master: 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.
  • The Dreaded: There's a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when The Master walks upon the Earth.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Earth under the Master's rule has been turned into a total hellhole, and is effectively closed off to other spacefaring races. Worse, the Master was planning on creating a "New Time Lord Empire" with rockets fitted with black hole converters to begin his universal conquest.
  • Easily Forgiven: The guards who've been working for the Master for the last year get drafted by Jack to help destroy the Paradox Machine. Admittedly though, the ones we see helping die pretty quickly.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Jack gets a resigned "Ah, here we go again" when he's cornered by a squad of soldiers during the escape attempt early in the episode.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The Master considers death preferable to being imprisoned by the Doctor, hence why he refuses to regenerate after getting shot.
  • Feed the Mole: Martha lets Professor Docherty know about the route she and Tom plan on taking through London because getting captured is the next step in her plan.
  • First Gray Hair: Captain Jack Harkness has Resurrective Immortality and is apparently unaging, but at the end of the episode he mentions having found a grey hair, and theorises that he is aging, just very very slowly.
  • Forced to Watch: The Master made Martha's family watch as he burned down Japan. Small wonder Francine still wants him dead after the Paradox Machine is destroyed.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end, the Doctor suggests that they visit Agatha Christie.
  • 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:
    • The full version of the Scissor Sisters song played in this episode has a very explicit F-bomb dropped in it, amid many other profanities. That part comes before the excerpt heard in the episode, and is left out for obvious reasons, as are the parts that come after what is aired in the episode. Torchwood could get away with airing it all, though, being a post-watershed series.
    • "You two should get to know each other... that could be fun!"
    • When Jack mentions gray hair, he gestures to his groin as well as his head.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Subverted Trope. Martha talks about having to travel around the world to collect the four hidden pieces to a gun that could kill the Master and prevent him from regenerating. When the Master catches her and reveals that he knows her plan, she laughs at him and says, "You really believed that?" Turns out the whole thing was a bluff and her actual plan was something else altogether.
  • Grandfather Paradox: The Master's Paradox Machine allows the Toclafane to freely murder their own ancestors without worrying about this. When it's destroyed, the timeline corrects itself.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Archangel Network. The Doctor used the time-skipped year to tune his alien physiology to the frequency of the Network, just like an old mystic.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: "Regenerate. Just. Regenerate. Please, PLEASE, just regenerate! Come on!"
  • Human All Along: The Toclafane turn out to be the humans from the far future in "Utopia".
  • 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. Why are they slaughtering their own species? Simply because it's fun.
    • The Master invoked this: He saved them from the collapse of reality, gave them their name which was based on a Gallifreyan bogeyman, and had them kill their own ancestors just to screw with Doctor over his affection for the human race.
    The Master: The human race. The greatest monsters of them all.
  • I Choose to Stay: Both Jack and Martha elect to leave the Doctor at the end of the episode because they have responsibilities on Earth, Jack to his Torchwood team and Martha to her family who still remember the terrible events of the past year. The fact that both realise the Doctor will never return their love for him is also a factor.
  • I Have Just One Thing to Say: The Doctor, to the Master. The "one thing" being "I forgive you."
  • I Have Your Wife: Professor Docherty is working as The Mole for the Master because he's holding her son hostage.
  • Immortals Fear Death: After everything the Master's already done to himself (and others) to cheat death, the Doctor refuses to believe he'd willingly commit suicide. It's subverted when Lucy shoots him and he refuses to regenerate. There was a funeral pyre and everything. "The End of Time" has something else to say.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: When the Master gloated about getting to kill Jack again, he wasn't kidding: Jack seems to have spent most of the missing year as his chew toy.
    Guard: We can't get in, we'll get slaughtered!
    Jack: Yeah. Happens to me a lot.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: How has Martha been keeping her hair straight while Walking the Earth?
  • Incoming Ham: You don't have it hammier than rocking your way into your flying Supervillain Lair while singing to the Scissor Sisters about your Foe Yay with your Arch-Enemy. And broadcasting the music to the entire planet, apparently.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: David Tennant is not a pretty crier in this episode, which makes it bloody heartbreaking.
  • Internal Homage: The revelation regarding the Toclafane's origins and its aftermath mirrors what happened to the First Doctor in "The Tenth Planet". In that episode, Earth's sister planet, Mondas, returns with mankind's dark mirror, the Cybermen, who have replaced their organic limbs and organs with mechanical ones in a bid to survive indefinitely. This knowledge ends up knocking the aged First Doctor out of narrative (this was caused by Hartnell's failing health), just as the decrepit Tenth Doctor spends most of this story in a dog kennel and cage, respectively.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: "Always the women!"
  • Kick the Dog: Including keeping the Doctor as his pet (with dog bowl), having Martha's family work as his personal servants and forcing them to watch while he razed Japan, beating his wife and constantly killing Jack for kicks.
  • Kneel Before Zod: The Master demanded this of Martha. Which she did, but then began to laugh because her capture was part of an elaborate plan. Notable for being a rare occasion when the hero ordered to kneel just sucks it up and does it rather than go through a lot of gritted "Never!" posturing first.
  • Large Ham: The Master likes his spectacles.
  • The Last Title: The title of the episode: "Last of the Time Lords".
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The TARDIS has been reconfigured into a Paradox Machine. Jack breaks the Paradox by shooting at the console.
  • Madness Mantra:
    The Toclafane: We shall fly and blaze and slice! We shall fly and blaze and slice!
  • Meaningful Name: The Master should have thought more carefully before picking out his alias — Harold the Saxon ruled England only briefly before being defeated.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: The Doctor shrinks significantly after he's aged a few centuries.
  • The Mole: Professor Allison Docherty, the scientist Martha and Tom go to for assistance, is an informant for the Master — because he's holding her son hostage. At the end, after the Reset Button's been pushed, Martha gives her a bouquet of flowers and tells her she doesn't blame her, even though Docherty's clueless as to why.
  • 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.
    • Martha's line about how "a gun in four parts scattered around the world" is ludicrous reminds old Who fans of the plot to the six-serial "Key to Time" arc.
  • Noodle Incident: Martha's exploits during the Year That Never Was, including crossing the radiation pits of Europe, walking across North America, seeing the ruins of New York and being the only person to get out of Japan alive.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Martha mentions the satellites, the Master stops being amused by the situation.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The aircraft carrier Valiant acts as one for the Master.
  • Our Founder: The Master has had giant statues of himself built all over the world, and carved himself into Rushmore.
  • Outgambitted: The Master. By the Doctor and humanity. And how!
  • One World Order: The Master seems to have taken over the entire planet... or at least what's left of it after the Toclafane attack.
  • The Plan: Martha had a plan to defeat the Master. There was never any four-part gun. She was spreading the Doctor's legend and then allowed herself to be captured in time for the countdown.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Master has issues with women.
  • Power Floats: The Doctor, empowered by the thoughts of all the humans, hovers.
  • Power Glows: The Doctor, empowered by the thoughts of all the humans, glows blue.
  • The Power of Friendship: Martha escaped the Master's takeover of Earth and spent the past year traveling the world telling everyone about the Doctor and how they're supposed to say (and believe!) "Doctor" over and over during an upcoming countdown. When said time arrives, everyone in the world doing this (even the Master's human followers and his own freaking wife) gives the Doctor the strength he needs to overpower the Master and undo all his evil.
  • Race Against the Clock: Invoked and lampshaded by the Master. The Doctor and Martha end up using this tendency against him by making the countdown part of their own plan.
    The Master: Three minutes to align the black-hole converters. Counting down! I never could resist a ticking clock.
  • Rage Quit: The Master's response to imminent defeat: threatening to blow up the entire Earth.
  • Reaction Shot: The Doctor and Martha's simultaneous looks of astonishment when Jack reveals his old nickname.
  • Reality Ensues: The Doctor talks Francine out of shooting the Master, then he gives a speech about how there are better ways to do things than kill people. While he's giving the speech, another minor character picks up the gun and shoots the villain anyway. Talking Is Not A Free Action, and not everyone is as pacifist as the Doctor.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Defied by the Master when he forces the Doctor to look his real age.
  • Reset Button: Wrecking the Paradox Machine resets the timeline, undoing most of the Master's atrocities (although President Winters and Vivien Rook are still dead).
  • La Résistance: A small and not very effective one, since the Archangel network is suppressing rebellious thoughts, and the Toclafane tend to show up if anyone starts making a fuss.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Everyone on the Valiant, due to being at "the eye of the storm", remembers the Year That Never Was.
  • Rushmore Refacement: According to Martha, the Master put his head on Mount Rushmore.
  • Same Story, Different Names: The Toclafane's origin story mirrors that of the classic Cybermen in "The Tenth Planet". In that episode, the Earth's lost "sister planet" of Mondas returns along with humanity's evolved cousins, who turn out to be metallic fossils of their former selves. Those events prove too much for the First Doctor, who dies of exhaustion. Ten fares a little better here, though he still ages a lot, and his faith in humanity is once again shaken.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Russell T Davies claims he had no original plan for the woman taking the Master's ring; he knew the character would be back someday, and figured he'd give the next writer to use him something to work with.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: What the Doctor effectively offers to do before Lucy intervenes.
    The Doctor: You're my responsibility from now on. [...] The only safe place for him is the TARDIS.
    The Master: [smirking] You mean, you're just gonna... [smirk fades] keep me?
    The Doctor: Mm. If that's what I have to do. [to his friends] It's time to change. [the Master rolls his eyes]
  • Sequel Hook: The hand that takes the Master's ring. Russell T. Davies even joked that it was "the hand of the Rani".
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The final fate of the entire human race at the end of the universe is despair and death. There was no Utopia. They turned inwards and turned themselves into mentally regressed heads in spheres; basically dead.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Say hello, 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 - Return of the Jedi.
    • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: "Your lord and Master stands on high, playing Track 3!" The following song, "I Can't Decide", really is the third track on the Scissor Sisters album Ta Dah.
  • Status Quo Is God: The Master's year of terror is undone, and the Doctor is still the last of his kind.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The real reason the Doctor disables Jack's teleporter - it'd make things too easy for him over on Torchwood.
  • Straw Nihilist: The Master turns Lucy Saxon into one by showing her the end of the Universe. She came to believe that nothing matters, ever.
  • 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.
  • Terrible Ticking: The drumbeat in the Master's head never stops.
  • Thanatos Gambit: The Master refuses to regenerate just to make sure the Doctor is the last of his kind.
  • 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.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Even the back of the DVD box set erroneously calls the episode "The Last of the Time Lords". There's only one "the" in the title, people!
  • Throw-Away Country: We're informed that the Master has slaughtered the entire population of Japan and filled Europe with radiation pits.
  • Time Bomb: The Master never could resist a ticking clock.
  • Time Skip: The episode opens with onscreen text after the Previously On informing us it's "One Year Later".
  • Took a Level in Badass: Martha escaped the Master's takeover of Earth and spent the past year traveling the world — including escaping an obliterated Japan and walking through radiation pits in Europe — telling everyone about the Doctor and how they're supposed to say (and believe!) "Doctor" over and over during an upcoming countdown.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Unlike the last episode, we don't learn the Doctor's real plan until the climax, and it goes off perfectly.
  • 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 Artifact was a ruse to distract from Martha's real goal.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Lucy Saxon turns against her husband in the end.
    • The Master is reduced to a screaming, terrified mess when all of humanity psychically restores the Doctor back to health.
  • Villain World: Earth has become the Master's plaything and staging ground for intergalatic conquest. It's also Vichy Earth thanks to the mind-control satellites which keep everyone terrified of Saxon.
  • Walking the Earth: Martha has been travelling all over the world searching for the parts of a gun that can kill a Time Lord permanently. Except she's actually been telling people about the Doctor so they can empower him.
  • Wham Line:
    • Martha's revelation. It starts with:
      Martha: A gun in four parts, scattered across the world. I mean, come on. Did you really believe it?
    • Then the full impact comes there:
      Martha: Right across the world. One word, just one thought, at one moment, but with 15 satellites!
    • Also:
      Jack Harkness: "The Face of Boe", they called me.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
  • What Would X Do?: When he goes down to London to capture Martha, the Master tauntingly says "What Would the Doctor Do?" while saying he'll kill everyone in the row houses she's hiding in if she doesn't come out.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Martha's mother is getting coffee for Saxon, who gives her a Death Glare when it isn't to his taste. Given the looks she's giving Saxon behind his back, that was likely deliberate.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 3 E 13 Last Of The Time Lords

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