“You be careful. Because your song is ending, sir.”
Those were the words of warning in the first Doctor Who special of 2009. And then this:
“He will knock four times.”
(Watch the scene for yourself here)
Doctor Who fans like me were left hanging, wildly speculating on what this meant. Everyone thought it was obviously a reference to The Master, and his sound of the drums (duh duh duh duh). But David Tennant and Julie Gardner had this to say on the Planet of the Dead commentary:
David: “…and if you think you’ve figured out what that means, you’re wrong!”
Julie: “But when you do figure it out, it’s a sad day.”
She was absolutely right. It was a sad day indeed.
The rest of the post includes spoilers, so if you haven’t seen “The End of Time” yet – 1) what are you waiting for! And 2) don’t read this if you want to be surprised when you do watch it.
Everyone knew David Tennant would be leaving his run as the Doctor after the four specials of 2009. It was only a question of how. By the time the two part “The End of Time” came around at Christmas and New Years, I was dying with anticipation. I was so sad to see him leave, but I was tired of delaying the inevitable. This is in part due to the great episode, “The Waters of Mars” that showed a conflicted Doctor going through the exact same emotions as the audience, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the prophecy would come to pass.
Each season of the new Who has had a progressively larger finish. Who thought Rose looking into the heart of the TARDIS and destroying an army of Daleks would come in fifth on epicness scale? That was followed by a Dalek/Cyberman war, the end of the world by the Master, and the theft of Earth by Davros bringing together characters from three different series. The End of Time blew all of those finishes away.
The main reason it blew everything else away, besides the heartbreaking story, was the amazing acting. I look forward to Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) every time he’s on an episode. He made a great companion to the Doctor in this finale. John Simm’s Master is so awesome. The others were brilliant as well, and I loved the appearance of all the supporting people in this Doctor’s life, but those three in particular were the primary players.
The prophecy that I referred to earlier also had another part – “It is returning through the darkness.” Now, there was a lot of speculation of this line also, and my thoughts about it turned out to be true. The “it” was Gallifrey! You’d think this would be an exciting thing, the Time Lords returning and the Doctor no longer so alone. It would also change the landscape of the coming seasons if there were other Time Lords again.
However, this wasn’t the case. I got chills when the Doctor, not one for violence and after refusing a gun from Wilf, takes the gun and runs when he learns that Gallifrey is returning. The Time Lords returning wasn’t a good thing, because it meant everything about the last moments of the Time War came along with them.
A lot of mysteries from the past four seasons were revealed in these two episodes, but a lot of questions were left unanswered. We saw whom it was that picked up the Master’s ring after the Doctor cremated him at the end of season 3, but we still don’t know who she is (ok, technically we know it’s the Doctor’s mom, but will she back again?). We also got more tidbits of exactly what went down at the end of the Time War and why the Doctor did what he did. We may not have had a full play by play as some had hoped, but it was more than enough for me. We also learned why the Master had the sound of the drums in his head. The Time Lords created a monster and drove him mad. He did not appreciate that. And finally, we learned who knocked four times.
Everyone (at least I did) thought the knocking part of the prophecy was over in part one when the Master knocked four times to get the Doctor’s attention. But no, that wasn’t the final knock. That made it even more sad and surprising when the knocks did come at the end. Part of me even hoped that it didn’t actually mean the Doctor would “die” the same way Donna didn’t “die”. Just as tragic, but at least he wouldn’t be gone.
It wasn’t to be. There he was, having survived the Master, survived a leap from a speeding spaceship, fought off the Time Lords, and watched as the Master helped destroy them, when he heard it. Four knocks. That’s when my heart sank. Wilf was trapped in a compartment that could only be unlocked by another person stepping into the other side. He had trapped himself in to let an innocent scientist out. That’s the type of person he is. That’s also the type of person the Doctor is. He knew he had no choice but to let Wilf out and absorb all the radiation, meaning he had no choice but to die and regenerate. So he did. He saved Wilf.
The new series had been building to this moment. This isn’t the same Doctor from years ago. He had to destroy his people and is alone now. He finally reached a point where he’d had enough, and he wasn’t ready to go. The Doctor carries the weight of the universe on his shoulders but does so with a smile and a run. But he had been worn down too much this time. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking at the end. After all that he does, his reward is another death. Watch the sequence for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubi1TaVlbso
This was different from previous regenerations because he had time to absorb what was going to happen. It was bad enough to kill him, but not so bad that he couldn’t delay the regeneration for a bit. He had a chance to say goodbye to a lot of people, Jack, Martha, Mickey, Sarah Jane, Donna, Wilf, and of course, Rose. The tenth Doctor’s final lines are fitting. He had saved so many people, expanded his powers, was a bit pompous sometimes, but cared so much. Of course he didn’t want to go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQrd44v7Q6w
It was such a great end to David Tennant’s Doctor. Strangely, I enjoyed the last few moments that introduced Matt Smith. As much as I loved the tenth Doctor, I’m ready for the 11th. I feel like we’ve been saying goodbye forever. Watching the trailer for the upcoming season of the new Doctor Who has me even more excited. With Stevan Moffat running things now, I know it’s going to be great. But David Tennant, you will be missed.