Spoilers for the "Doctor Who" season three finale coming up just as soon as I put on my walking shoes...
There were times this season where I felt like I was the only person on this blog who hadn't already watched season three in its entirety two or three times. If nothing else, "Last of the Time Lords" makes me feel glad that we're all on the same page. (Mostly, anyway; as I understand it, the British cut of the episode was significantly longer, including -- did I hear this right? -- a musical number.)
I'm also happy that this very uneven season had a fairly strong ending. The John Smith two-parter and "Blink" are tough acts to follow, what with them being the three best modern episodes and all, but the Master three-parter sure wasn't boring, if nothing else. Decimating the earth's population (and using the proper definition of the term), reducing the Doctor to a feeble old man (and then a CGI hobbit), leaping forward one year to show both dystopia and Martha Jones as the messiah, the whole of humanity coming together to save themselves with a Martha-suggested Tinkerbell moment... Russell T. Davies isn't afraid of working on a large canvas, is he?
Based on some of the responses I've seen to last week's episode, both here and elsewhere, some people feel like Davies likes the broad strokes a bit much, that John Simms' performance and the world-bending stakes of these episodes represent a series merely fixated with topping itself. I can see that point of view, and I've certainly grown to resent other TV creators whose primary urge involves being more outrageous with each new season (David E. Kelley and Ryan Murphy, to name two), but as this series is the only "Who" I know, I've come to expect these apocalyptic season finales just as much as I assume we'll take a trip to New Earth, spend an episode with the Doctor largely absent, etc.
And yet at the same time, I continue to wish that Derek Jacobi was still playing the Master -- or that someone, anyone, had talked Simm into dialing down his performance (or talked Davies into requesting the same). The events of these episodes were so grand and horrifying that I think having someone this bug-eyed crazy in the villain role was one step too far over the top. I understand that the Master is doing all of this because he's lost his marbles (if he ever had them in his previous incarnations), but there are ways to play insanity without bouncing off the walls.
And yet (and I apologize for the flip-floping; I'm attempting to write this while watching this extremely tense Yanks-Indians game, and it's both distracting, depressing and frequently clarifying) there were many things I liked about the episode, not least of which was the Martha Jones going from barely accepted hanger-on to believable savior of the world. I think Freema's been doing a good job all season while rarely (outside the John Smith episodes) getting the kind of spotlight writing that so often went to Billie Piper, and this was a great transformation for the character. It felt earned, and it may make me watch "Torchwood" next season just to see how a more worldly Martha Jones operates on a regular basis.
And speaking of "Torchwood," I sure didn't see the Captain Jack/Face of Boe revelation coming, but I like it. I'm suddenly envisioning Jack becoming like Marvin the android from the Hitchhiker's Guide books, forever bouncing back and forth through time without dying, until he becomes far older than the universe itself, with a very long, wide face to match. Gonna have to go back and rewatch all the New Earth episodes again to see how differently they play now.
And I'm sorry, but I have to watch this game, good outcome or bad. Perhaps more thoughts in the comments after the Yanks win or lose. What did everybody else think?