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"That's him. He's Prime Minister. The Master is Prime Minister of Great Britain... the Master. ... And his wife?"—The Doctor starts to realise that he's in for a world of hurt.
The Doctor, Martha and Jack return to 21st century Earth, using Jack's previously broken time travel watch. The Master has been on Earth for 18 months, limited by the Doctor's last-ditch block of the TARDIS controls. As for the reason he'd been living as a human: he was resurrected by the Time Lords to fight in the Time War, saw what was required of him, and ran the fuck away to the end of the universe.
It turns out the Master is actually Mr. Saxon, who has been elected prime minister, and first order of business is killing his cabinet. Using his satellite network, he's blocked his own Time Lord energy from alerting the Doctor, globally replacing it with the sound of drums that he's heard ever since he was a child. (This will be very important a few series later.)
This incarnation of the Master turns out to be just as manic as Ten, combined with a real love for mocking people, dancing to catchy pop music and snogging his very hot -- and very hypnotized -- wife, Lucy. The Doctor phones him up, leading to one very special conversation:
The Master: Doctor?
The Doctor: Master.
The Master: [sigh] I like it when you use my name.
The Doctor: You chose it. Psychiatrist's field-day.
[About half a minute of exposition]
The Doctor: I've been alone ever since. But not anymore. Don't you see? All we've got is each other.
The Master: ... Are you asking me out on a date?
Anyway, Saxon labels the three as fugitives, and they end up on the run. Also, the TARDIS, which had been restricted by the Doctor to only travel between now and the end of time, has now been turned into a paradox machine.
Jack and Martha share a moment when they realize they're both crushing on a Doctor who's Oblivious to Love. The Doctor also talks about an event that Gallifreyan children go through before they can enter the academy: they have to look into the Untempered Schism, which shows all of time. Apparently this sent the Master mad.
Eventually, the three sneak on board the Valiant, holding TARDIS keys with perception filters. Here, the Master alleges to be encountering first contact with a race of aliens called the Toclafane. The Toclafane assassinate the US President (who, with the help of UNIT, has attempted to take command of this first contact away from the Master), and then at the Master's command, literally decimate Earth's population. To some pretty catchy pop music.
The Doctor is heavily aged by the Lazarus technology, using the hand from the Sycorax fight Jack possessed the last episode. Martha teleports herself to earth, still holding a perception filter, stating that she will return.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Valiant, a homage to Cloudbase.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Saxon uses all the tools of the modern security state to his advantage.
- Big Stupid Doodoo Head: The Doctor fuses out a security camera the Master is using to watch him.
Master: "Ooh you...public menace!"
- Board to Death / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
- Call Back: Jelly baby? Also, the Master enjoying the Teletubbies calls back to a previous Master watching The Clangers.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Pretty much the entire episode is the Doctor getting his ass handed to him.
- Dead Man Writing / Video Will: The Sacrificial Lamb journalist killed by the Toclafane.
"If I haven't returned to my desk by 2200 this file will be emailed to Torchwood. Which means if you're watching this then I'm...anyway, the Saxon files are attached."
- Death Trap: The Master has finally become Genre Savvy -- he knows full well the Doctor will escape the Cliff Hanger and the Incredibly Obvious Bomb, but uses these deadly distractions to put pressure on the Doctor and his companions until they fall into the real trap.
- Distressed Dude: The Doctor and Jack.
- Eagle Land: US President Winters.
- Faux Affably Evil
- Foe Yay: The phone conversation between The Master and the Doctor. The way The Master sighs when he says "I love it when you say my name..."
- And the way his voice sort of falters when he picks up the phone. "Doc-taahh..."
- For the Evulz: The Toclafane view this as an excuse to decimate the Earth. Bonus points for proper use of the word "decimate".
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The Master keeps pulling In-Universe versions on the Doctor, giving media interviews that make it clear he knows the Doctor is watching.
PM Saxon: Tomorrow we take our place in the universe. Every man, woman and child. Every teacher and chemist and lorry driver and farmer. I dunno, every (looks directly at camera) ...medical student?
(The Doctor, Martha and Jack look shocked. The Doctor looks behind the TV and finds an Incredibly Obvious Bomb)
- Freud Was Right: Seriously, attempting to induce screwdriver envy?
- Genre Blind: Saxon's Cabinet really should have run away and never looked back from the moment he started calling them traitors.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The entirety of the Doctor and The Master's phone call sounds like a phone sex call.
- I Have Your Wife: The Master has Martha's entire family...except her brother, who she manages to warn in time. He was going to show up in the next episode, but the actor wasn't available. Just imagine being Leo and finding everyone in your family except you has suddenly lived through a year of torture.
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Seriously, the bomb on the back of Martha's TV looks like something Wile E. Coyote would use to catch the Roadrunner.
- In Love with Your Carnage: The Master is very impressed when he realises how the Doctor ended the Time War.
"What did it feel like, though? Two almighty civilizations, burning...(breathy) ooh, tell me, how did that feel?"
"You must have been like God."
- Insult Backfire: Check out the picture on that page.
- Jerkass: Guess who?
- Large Ham / Chewing the Scenery: John Simm makes a determined effort to act everyone else off the screen.
- Mind Control: The Master is sending a subconscious signal broadcast over a satellite phone network. It doesn't contain complex brainwashing instructions (which would be rejected) but a simple message like "Believe in me" or "Vote for Saxon", enough to swing a crucial majority behind Saxon, and later to cow most forms of resistance.
- Mythology Gag: No, the Master is not the Doctor's brother.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Definitely averted with the Master shamelessly embracing and snogging Mrs Saxon. The Doctor seems amazed that the Master has a wife at all, even for political reasons. If only he knew...
- Oblivious to Love: Really, Doctor? Really?
Doctor: It's like when you fancy someone, and they don't even know you exist. [He rushes off to do something, leaving Martha stewing in frustration.]
Jack: (To Martha) You too, huh?
- Oh Crap: The Doctor spends most of the episode doing this.
- Overly Long Gag: The Toclafane kill a journalist who was close to unmasking Saxon's cover. He closes the door on her screams. Several seconds later, he opens it: She is still screaming. He winces and closes the door. After some more time, he opens it again and she is still screaming.
- Preemptive Declaration:
Master: It's for the gas.
Cabinet member: What gas?
Master: This gas.
- Prime Minister Evil
- Psychopathic Manchild: Not just the Master, but also the Toclafane with their little girl voices and the pleasure they take from slaughtering people in painful ways.
- Real Person Cameo: Sharon Osborne. Ann Widdecombe. And more.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Invoked (though obviously not justified) by the Master before gassing his Cabinet:
As soon as you saw the vote swinging my way, you abandoned your principles and jumped on the Saxon bandwagon! So this is your reward... [Dons gas mask.]
- Say My Name: He likes it when you do.
- Scenery Porn: Gallifrey is given a big CGI scene.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: We see a flash of red satin inside the Master's coat.
- Shout-Out: "Master is our friend"
- Significant Anagram: Mister Saxon = Master No. Six
- Strawman Political: Winters.
- Sound-Only Death: Played for laughs.
Freema: (on the commentary) That's so naughty...oh, he's ENJOYING it!
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The Master dances to pop music as the Toclafane descend to exterminate 1/10th of the world's population.
- "Take That!" Kiss: The Master blows one of these at the Doctor.
- Terrible Ticking
- This Is Sparta: The Master would like to remind everyone of the imminent arrival of the percussion instruments heralding violent engagement. At high volume levels.
- Too Dumb to Live: Winters turns into a blubbering, outclassed idiot when the Toclafane show up. What follows is, well, you know.
- Villain Ball: Clutched with a glee not seen on the series since the last days of Ainley, and if you think he's hamming it up here, check the next episode.
- We Come in Peace
- Wham! Line: "Every, I dunno, medical student?" That's when Martha notices the Incredibly Obvious Bomb behind her TV.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: People voting for Saxon simply because he sounds good, even though he's got no real policy. Also when Martha's father is being dragged off by anti-terrorist police, he starts shouting to the public standing around watching, "You did this, you all voted for Saxon!"
- Wicked Cultured: Decimation, as properly defined.
- The X of Y
- You Keep Using That Word: Averted, the word "decimate" is indeed intended to mean "reduce by one-tenth."
- You Watch Too Much X:
Martha: I thought you were gonna say he was your secret brother or something.
The Doctor: You've been watching too much TV.