Recap: Doctor Who S29 E13 "Last of the Time Lords"
aka: Doctor Who NSS 3 E 13 Last Of The Time Lords
♫ 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 shriveled homonculus.
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
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 because, being a Time Lord, he sees it as his job to deal with the Master 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 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 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. A short bit in the intro shows that it's bad enough that travelers 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 aging without ever regenerating.
- 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 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.
- Averted 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 of the TARDIS.
- 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 in addition to 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. 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.
- 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: 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:
- 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 probably weren't intended this way, but the Master views them as worse than death.
- Did You Actually Believe?: A rare heroic example. 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.
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.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Jack gets a resigned "Ah, here we go again," while making his run for the TARDIS.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Master considers death preferable to being imprisoned by the Doctor, hence why he refuses to regenerate after getting shot.
- 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:
- "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!"
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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!"
- Large Ham: The Master likes his spectacles.
- The Last Title: The title of the episode: "The 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.
- Meet the New Boss / 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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's 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, it appears.
- Power Floats / Power Glows: The Doctor, empowered by the thoughts of all the humans.
- 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.
- Rage Quit: The Master's response to imminent defeat: threatening to blow up the entire Earth.
- 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 is still dead).
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Everyone on the Valiant, due to being at "the eye of the storm".
- Rushmore Refacement: According to Martha, The Master covered his head into Mount Rushmore.
- 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. There was no Utopia. They turned inwards and turned themselves into mentally regressed heads in spheres; basically dead.
- "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: The Master's year of terror is undone, and the Doctor is still the last of his kind.
- Straw Nihilist: The Master turns Mrs. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Throw-Away Country: We're informed that the Master has slaughtered the entire population of Japan and filled Europe with radiation pits.
- 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.
- 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:
- Mrs. 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: Also Vichy Earth thanks to the mind-control satellites which keep everyone terrified of Saxon.
- Walking the Earth: Martha has been traveling 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:
- 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 Harkness: "The Face of Boe," they called me.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't see what has become of Jack's team during all of this. After the Reset Button is pressed, Jack tells the Doctor that the whole time, he couldn't stop worrying about them, which caused him to realize that he has too many responsibilities on Earth to travel with the Doctor. However, we get a good idea of how much they, especially Gwen, did not take his absence well in the Series 2 opener, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang".