A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “The End of Time – Part 1”

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Do not watch this episode while you’re eating. The Master comes back to life, and he is hungry. As in, hungry enough to eat an entire roasted chicken in one sitting. With his bare hands. The squishy, fleshy sound effects over the Master’s chicken-eating montage are more disgusting than any gooey alien.

This episode covered a lot of plot—we’re building up to a regeneration, so the stakes need to be TARDIS-in-the-sky high. At the outset, everyone on earth is having the same nightmare: it features the Master, laughing. No one can actually remember their dream, except Wilfred Mott, Donna’s grandfather, who has been frantically searching for the Doctor. Meanwhile, a group of devoted Harold Saxon fans bring the Master back to life—except they kind of botch the job. He comes back super-hungry. And for some reason he also dresses like a 1990s computer hacker. Also: Wilf keeps seeing a strange woman, who sends him cryptic—and creepy—messages about the Doctor. Apparently the Doctor is going to die—but Wilf might be able to save him.

I was relieved to see Donna again, even if she’s not the Donna we know. She found a sweet guy, and seems to be moving forward with her life. It was good to see her progressing toward a nice future: instead of painfully hoping for better things, she has found a satisfying path. Of course, at the end of the episode she suddenly starts remembering her past—so this could all go kaput.

I know the Master is supposed to be the ultimate evil arch-nemesis to the Doctor, but he’s actually a lot of fun. Why is did he go platinum blond? Why has he changed his outfit to a sweatshirt and sweatpants? Who knows, but I’m digging the crazed computer-nerd vibe. The Doctor and the Master really are quite similar. They’re both manic, they both confront danger with laughter, and they both obstinately want to be in charge. Only difference: the Doctor wants to be in charge so he can help—though he sometimes causes harm—while the Master finds joy in stirring things up.

As this episode’s big dramatic kicker, the Master’s transforms the human race into the “Master Race.” This means everyone looks exactly like him—and it’s pretty hilarious. I kept thinking about how many wardrobe changes John Simm must have endured to get these scenes just right. Seeing the master giggling in a red dress was really great. I know this is supposed to be a fearful outcome for the earth—but it looks like a good time!

“The End of Time – Part 1” throws out a lot of teasers, but provides little solid information. So it’s hard to comment on next steps for the Doctor. We know he may be headed toward his death (his real death, not just a regeneration). We know Wilf can save him. And we know that time is ending (a bad thing) and the Time Lords are, apparently, returning (a good thing?). The Tenth Doctor still seems to have a lot of life in him—he probably won’t go down without a fight. But we do know he’s going to change. I just hope we see some sort of vindication for Donna.