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My Lord Doctor. My Lord Master. We are gathered... for the end.—The Narrator
Spoilers abound. Seriously. If you don't want to be spoiled, hit the back button right now.
We begin with Timothy Dalton narrating over a shot of Earth, gradually zooming in to London. He states that as The End of the World as We Know It approaches, everyone on Earth has been plagued by nightmares, but they've all forgotten, save one man: Wilfred Mott. Wilf enters a church only to see a stained glass window depicting the TARDIS. A woman proceeds to explain to him the "Legend of the Blue Box" and the story of the "Sainted Physician". And then spookily disappears. Cue opening credits...
On the Oodsphere, the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS wearing a cowboy hat and a ring of flowers around his neck. He decided to take a nice long vacation after his nervous breakdown. After he relates his vacation to Ood Sigma -- including a short-lived marriage to Queen Bess -- he locks the TARDIS ("like a car", remote starter and all) and takes a good look at the Ood's capital. After being told it's only been a century since he was last here, he realizes it's been way too soon for the Ood to be well-coordinated enough to send a message back in time. Even worse, the Ood have been having nightmares. Ood Sigma brings the Doctor to a group of Ood, and he shares in their psychic link, showing him images of the Master laughing, Wilf, two complete strangers, Lucy Saxon in prison, and the Master's ring being picked up by a woman. After a warning that the Master's return is only part of a greater plan and the revelation that "time is bleeding", the Doctor freaks out, runs back to the TARDIS at full speed, and heads back to the 21st century.
Meanwhile, Lucy Saxon is collected from prison by the mysterious woman who took the Master's ring, only to reveal that the Master set up an elaborate scheme to ensure his return from the dead. By combining the Master's ring, some Potions of Applied Phlebotinum, and a DNA sample from Lucy, the Master begins to come back quite naked. Lucy reveals that she's set up her own plan to prevent the Master from coming back and that she had her family connections make a potion to counter the effects of the Master's Applied Phlebotinum. She hurls it at him while his body is still forming. The prison explodes. The Doctor arrives too late to prevent anything. Cut to the two strangers from the Doctor's visions, a rich man and a younger woman: they're delighted to see the Master may have come back, and they begin setting up some Applied Phlebotinum of their own.
Wilf, at the end of his rope thanks to his nightmares, organizes a busload of senior citizens into a search party for the Doctor.
Elsewhere, a couple of homeless people get food from a stand, as it's explained that Barack Obama is about to announce a plan for ending the recession. A mystery man in a hoodie then comes up, declares himself a Big Eater, and pulls off his hood to reveal the Master's face, only with bleach-blond hair and a face of stubble. He joins the homeless guys, wolfs down his food, gets compared to Mr. Saxon, and then starts ranting about getting even more food. He hates being remembered as Saxon and had hoped that his hair dye would fool people. His head starts flashing, revealing his skull, freaking out the homeless guys enough that they run away. They try to ask the food stand attendants for help, only to find them dead and Stripped to the Bone. With a shout of "DINNERTIME!", the Master leaps way into the air and onto them.
Afterwards, he grabs a stick of pipe and knocks four times on a barrel. The Doctor watches from a distance. Four more knocks, and the Doctor begins running toward him. After deducing that the Master Came Back Wrong, he gets stopped by Wilf before he can catch up to the Master. Wilf's Senior Citizen Search Party comes out of the woodwork, revealing that they've set up an elaborate communications network to catch the Doctor. While the Doctor just wants to get away and chase the Master, the Senior Citizen Search Party makes him pose for a picture, while the elderly women grope him.
After riding on their bus back to town, the Doctor and Wilf stop by a coffee shop, and Wilf proceeds to talk about old times. The Doctor points out the Contrived Coincidence of Wilf tracking him down so easily (a running thread from the last season, you may remember) and mentions that the four knocks he heard means he's going to die. They discuss regeneration for a while, and the Doctor admits that when he regenerates, the man he was actually dies. They see Donna through the window, and Wilf starts begging the Doctor to restore her memories, while discussing her life. She's engaged. Again. The Doctor tries to relate his recent solo adventures to Wilf, but nearly breaks down crying when he thinks about what happened to Adelaide. Wilf continues begging the Doctor to restore Donna's memories, and they leave the coffee shop together.
That night, Timothy Dalton's narration declares that the pieces are in place for the oncoming conflict and that the final day of mankind has come. The two rich strangers toast each other while the Master continues eating on the streets like a feral animal. The Doctor shows up, and the Master starts zapping him with lightning. The Doctor just keeps walking forward, until the Master finally hits him square in the chest. They have a bit of a chat about food and the drums in the Master's head. The Doctor thinks that the Master is simply mad, but the Master touches his forehead to his and gently opens a psychic link. The Master is actually hearing something real. But he quickly uses his newfound lightning powers to take off flying, screaming about how, "It's real!", and the Doctor is forced to give chase. Suddenly, NINJAS! They appear out of a helicopter (well, out of a bright light -- the BBC couldn't affort a helicopter) and kidnap the Master.
The next morning, at the Noble house, Donna gives some gifts to her mother and Wilf. For some reason even she doesn't know, her gift to Wilf is a book written by one of the two mysterious rich strangers. His name revealed as Joshua Naismith. Speaking of the strangers, we see that Naismith is holding the Master prisoner, and he explains that his daughter has heard legends of Mr. Saxon and believes he can help with their project. The family turns on the teevee for the Queen's speech, but only Wilf is watching as the mysterious church lady appears instead. She tells him that in order to save the Doctor's life, he must take up arms and not tell the Doctor. Wilf goes upstairs, grabs his old service revolver, and sees the Doctor waiting for him outside. He goes outside, shows Naismith's book to the Doctor; the Doctor speculates that Donna's Time Lord brain is still subconsciously active, and suggests the book is an important clue. When Donna starts to come outside, the Doctor and Wilf flee to the TARDIS and quickly take off. As the Doctor and Wilf banter about how the TARDIS should be cleaner, the Doctor prepares to teleport to Naismith's complex.
Back in Naismith's complex, Naismith and his disturbingly incestuous daughter show their project to the Master. The Master figures out that it's alien technology, and a couple of scientists flee the room. Turns out those scientists are actually kooky aliens in disguise, preparing to hijack the project for their own ends. Naismith gives the Master a turkey as an incentive to help him, and he quickly gobbles it down. Naismith reveals that the project is a healing machine salvaged from the ruins of Torchwood that, once fully repaired with the Master's help, will be able to give anyone Immortality. Thus, he names it the Immortality Gate. Rather than wanting to use it to become a God, he intends to use it to make his daughter immortal as the ultimate Christmas gift. As the Master begins repairing the Immortality Gate, the TARDIS arrives outside. Remembering what happened the last time he left the TARDIS unguarded around the Master, the Doctor cloaks it with the Sonic Screwdriver and heads off into the compound with Wilf. They run into the two alien schemers, and the Doctor sees right through them. Shimmer!
The Master finishes fixing the Immortality Gate. Naismith orders him restrained and reveals himself to be Genre Savvy enough to check for traps before sending his daughter through it. Back to the Doctor and his alien friends, it turns out they're of the Vinvocci, a sister species to that of the little red guy from "Voyage of the Damned". The feel that the Gate is rightfully theirs; they're a salvage team, and they intend to steal it back as soon as it's working again. They reveal the Gate mends entire populations of planets based on a single medical template, not just one person at a time. The Doctor realizes the implications of this and runs off to find Naismith. As Obama begins to broadcast his economic plans, the Doctor arrives in the control room, telling Naismith not to let the Master near the Gate. The Master busts out of his restraints and leaps into the gate. The Doctor tries to get Naismith to shut down the Gate, but it's too late...
The Master is inside Naismith's head. No, he's inside everyone's head. Every human on Earth. The Doctor gets Wilf to a locked-down isolation chamber, getting the Master out of his head, but he's only one person. Less than a minute later, the Gate finishes powering up, and every single human on Earth, save Wilf (in the isolation chamber) and Donna (who's not entirely human anymore) are turned into clones of the Master. He's the President Evil. He's newsreader Trinity Wells. He's Naismith and Naismith's daughter. He's everyone. Earth is now populated by six billion Masters. The human race has become... "the Master race". And upon seeing a transformation this bizarre, Donna starts to remember...
As the camera cuts away from the six billion Masters laughing at each other and at the horrified Doctor, Timothy Dalton's narration kicks in again, revealing that this is far more than humanity's end. For Dalton isn't just the story's narrator, he's the Narrator, Lord President of the Time Lords. The Time Lords are back in large numbers, and they're preparing for war. What are they fighting for? "The end of time itself".
End of Part 1.
Part 2 begins with the Doctor and Wilf tied to chairs while the Master taunts them. All throughout the episode, there are cuts between the Time Lords and the Doctor. At this point, the Doctor and the Master have a truly Ho Yay-laden conversation, wherein the Doctor once again tries to convince the Master to give up his evil ways and travel the universe with him. The Master almost looks tempted, but then Wilf speaks up and breaks the moment, earning himself a fantastic Death Glare from the Master, who then reverts to his usually hammy self. As the Master taunts the Doctor, Wilf receives a call on his mobile. The Master is understandably miffed at someone escaping his Master Race Plan; he grabs the phone, also discovering and throwing away Wilf's revolver. He then orders all of him in that area to consume Donna. Donna's mind counters with a latent superpower (a parting gift from the Doctor) that knocks out all of the nearby Masters and knocks herself unconscious. Cut back to the original Master, shocked at what just transpired. The Doctor taunts him saying he "wouldn't leave his best friend without a defense mechanism".
The Master begins demanding answers from the Doctor, specifically regarding the location of his TARDIS. The Doctor happily points out the presence of the Idiot Ball in the Master's hands and notes that the guard standing behind him is "an inch too tall". The guard knocks him on the head and reveals itself to be one of the Vinvocci. Wilf is shocked and yells out "Thank the Cactuses!", then the Cactus-Man's friend comes out from nowhere to untie Wilf. They don't have the time to untie the Doctor however, and resort to wheeling him away. After nearly dropping him down a set of steps, the Doctor yells: "Worst. Rescue. Ever!". The Master gives chase with his many clones, but the Vinvocci teleport Wilf and the Doctor away to their ship, where the Doctor proceeds to take command and uses his sonic screwdriver to shut down every system in the ship so that the Master's radar doesn't detect them.
It is around this point that we see the Time Lords. Specifically, the Lord President, who is walking proudly to a meeting with seven other Time Lords, though parts of the building are falling off around him. The Time War is happening all around them, continuously and forever. At the meeting, it is revealed that the Philosopher has predicted that today is the last day of the Time War and of the Time Lords themselves. Understandably, the Lord President is upset at this and vaporizes a Time Lady who says that maybe this is a good thing, that since the Time War is such a horrible thing it's better for everyone. After ranting a little, another Time Lord reveals that another Prophecy details the "final clash" between the Doctor and the Master, and that she keeps mentioning the word "Earth" in her predictions. The Lord President shows everyone a projection of Planet Earth, saying that their salvation is on Earth. The Lord President then demands that they find a way to move Gallifrey out of the Time Lock and save their race. We are then shown that the Lord President ordered the "sound of drums" implanted in the Master's head in an attempt to establish a link between him in the present day and the Time Locked Time Lords.
We are then taken back to the ship, where the Vinvocci reveal they are simply scavengers, not a salvage team. The Doctor begins fixing the heating of the ship, and Wilf is getting lost somewhere in the bowels of the ship. He sees the Church Lady again, who talks to him about being a soldier. He pulls out his revolver from his jacket (apparently he retrieved it while the Vinvocci were trying to unstrap the Doctor) and turns to the woman, but she has disappeared. He then goes to see the Doctor, who is still fixing the heating. Wilf goes on a short spiel about how he always wanted to see the Earth from space, and is happy that he is now an astronaut. Then Wilf begins to talk seriously with the Doctor, offering him his gun, ordering the Doctor to "not put [The Master] before the Human Race". The Doctor thinks for a moment, but declines. More than once.
We go back to Earth where all the Masters are concentrating on the source of the drums. Then we are taken back to the Time Lords and the Lord President after saying "Link Established" throws a small diamond at the projection of Earth to make link into a bridge. Then the scene cuts back to the ship, where we are shown the diamond shooting across the Earth sky. The Master is then shown, now hearing the sound coming from the shooting diamond, ordering his clones to find and retrieve the diamond. It is revealed that it is a very special kind of diamond. The Master is ecstatic.
We cut back to the Doctor on the ship as a message broadcast from the Master. He addresses the Doctor, and makes it clear that he knows what the source of the drums is, and he says the name of the diamond, a white point star. The Doctor is shown to be scared since a white point star can only be found on Gallifrey. Very, very scared. He grabs the pistol he had adamantly refused earlier from Wilf showing us that he is willing to break all his rules to stop the Time Lords from returning.
Wilf is confused, the Doctor's fear doesn't go well with his description of the Time Lords so far as great people. Wilf asks him why he's so scared, and the Doctor reveals that "that is only what [he] wanted to remember". The Doctor quickly restarts the ship (Saying he was repairing a bit more than the heating) and orders Wilf and Cactus-Man to man the mining lasers. Cactus-Woman is annoyed and tells the Doctor that he is not allowed to commandeer her vessel like this. His reply goes simply:
Doctor: There's an old Earth saying, captain. A phrase of great power and wisdom, and consolation to the soul in times of need.
Cactus Lady: What's that then?
The Doctor takes the ship straight through the atmosphere and locks on to the Master's Evil Lair. The Master orders a Macross Missile Massacre which is shot down by Wilf and Cactus-Man (Complete with Han Solo-like whoops) and some very fine piloting by the Doctor. Eventually they are almost upon the Master's lair, and Wilf asks the Doctor if they will all survive, saying he doesn't mind and won't stop him, he just wants to know. The Doctor doesn't reply.
We see the Lord President giving the end of a speech that says "The Time Lords will survive". It is revealed everybody save for two voted in favour of breaking the Time Lock and going to Earth. The two dissenters have their hands over their faces or, as the Lord President says, 'like the Weeping Angels of old'.
They (The Doctor, Wilf and the Vinvocci) are soon almost colliding with the Master's Lair, the Doctor pulls the ship up and takes Wilf's pistol, leaping from the ship and somehow surviving a massive drop through a glass roof on to an incredibly hard floor. He is not in time to foil the Master's master plan, and is witness to the Time Lords returning. The Lord President, complete with the 6 other Time Lords from the meeting enter through a white light. The Master grins maniacally and reveals that before, he could remake the entire Human Race in his own image, and now, he could remake the Time Lords. The Lord President is completely unaffected, then uses his gauntlet to reverse the Master's actions, returning the entire Human Race back to normal. Then, the Doctor makes a disturbing Reveal: The Master didn't just bring back the Time Lords. He brought back Gallifrey.
Cut to a view far from Earth, we see Gallifrey fade in to existence almost on top of it. Then to Donna's mother and fiancee, who run out in the street searching for her, and everyone else is also in the streets, mostly screaming and running about. We then see the salvagers' ship, without Wilf, they flee, realizing that Earth is now about to be knocked out of orbit. Cactus Man tries to mention the Doctor, but Cactus Woman is having none of it. They disappear.
While all the restored humans in the mansion are running out, Wilf runs in, hoping to help the Doctor. Instead he notices one of Naismith's minions, trapped in a control booth that was part of the Immortality Gate, and which is designed so that there must always be one person inside. Wilf goes in, and lets the terrified minion go free.
Back in the mansion, the Master moves onto Plan B: Unable to take over the Time Lord's bodies the same way he did the humans, he simply plans to celebrate the Time Lords' return and have them owe him one. The Doctor tells him that the Master wasn't there during the final days of the War. Apparently infused with a good dose of GRIMDARK, he tells him that Gallifrey not only had a host of leftover Daleks, but the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, and the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres; all about to break free and descend upon the Earth. The Master is a-ok with that scenario until the Doctor reminds him that even the Time Lords can't survive all of them at once.
The Lord President then explains his plan, if you could call it that. The Time Lords will destroy the Time Vortex itself, presumably causing something along the lines of compressed time and wiping out all life in the universe while they ascend to a higher plane of existence. Just then, the Doctor stands up, pointing his pistol at the Lord President. A Mexican Standoff of sorts takes place. The Master eggs the Doctor on, saying that if the Lord President were dead, Gallifrey could be his for the taking.
The Doctor swings the gun back toward the Master. The Master realizes that the psychic link holding Gallifrey outside of the Time War exists in his head and with himself gone, the planet and Time Lords would vanish. However, he knows that the Doctor would never really pull the trigger. Just so, the Doctor swings back to face the Lord President. For the first time, he notices one of the women with him; a Council member who voted against returning to the universe-at-large. She lowers her hands from in front of her face, revealing herself to be... the Church Lady! She motions with her teary eyes to something behind the Doctor and, moments later, the Doctor again faces the Master. This time, he tells him to get out of the way. The Master dodges, and the Doctor shoots the machine holding the White Point Star in place. With the signal from the diamond gone, the Time Lords and Gallifrey begin to vanish. The Doctor refers to the Lord President by his name - Rassilon - and Rassilon then threatens to kill the Doctor, to which he replies, "I know."
The Master steps forward, telling the Doctor to get out of the way. He uses his lightning blasts to strike down the Lord President over and over again, walking forward and vanishing with the other Time Lords back into the Time War.
The Doctor lies on the ground, half-sobbing, half-laughing, saying "I'm still alive!" in disbelief, stunned that he was able to succeed.
The Doctor realizes, or had let himself forget, that Wilf was still trapped in the Nuclear Vault. The Doctor explains that the only way for Wilf to escape would be for the Doctor to take his place. Wilf urges him to leave him behind while the Doctor has a brief Heroic BSOD. The Doctor has a small moment of What Measure Is A Non-Time Lord and seriously considers leaving Wilf to die before he recovers, saying "I've lived too long". He frees Wilf from the chamber and takes his place inside while being microwaved with over a half million Rads.
The Vault shuts down and the Doctor stands, seemingly fine. But when Wilf comments on the Doctor's cuts and scrapes, they heal before his eyes and the Doctor explains that the regeneration process has already begun.
The Doctor takes Wilf home and tells him that he'll "see him again. One more time". When Wilf asks where he's going, the Doctor replies, "To get my reward". The Doctor proceeds to visit each of his previous companions in turn, saving Martha and Mickey from a Sontaran about to ambush them, rescuing Luke Smith from oncoming traffic, and introducing Jack Harkness to Alonso Frame. He also stops in on Joan Redfern's great-granddaughter. He returns to the present day for Donna's wedding and gives Wilf her present: A lottery ticket purchased with money the Doctor borrowed from Donna's father. After some final goodbyes, he leaves.
Back on New Year's Day, 2005, the Doctor visits Rose on her way home. He wishes her a happy new year and says that he thinks she's going to have a "really great year". The Doctor heads toward his TARDIS but is overcome by pain, falling to his knees. Ood Sigma appears, telling him that "the Universe will sing you to your sleep". The Doctor stands and makes it into the TARDIS, setting it in motion.
The Doctor takes one last walk around the TARDIS, stopping just as the music reaches a pause before the crescendo before speaking his last words: I don't want to go. Visibly distraught, his head and hands begin to glow, as they had a few times before, but this time they won't fade away, growing with intensity before violently erupting. The energy severely damages the TARDIS and sends it toward Earth in a tailspin. Moments later, the Doctor's regeneration completes and we are introduced to Matt Smith for the first time as the Eleventh Doctor.
He goes through the typical self-examination common of all new Doctors, making sure he still has legs, hands, lots of fingers ("ooooh!"), that he isn't a girl ("No. No, I'm not a girl!") and his hair colour ("Still not ginger!"). The burning, crashing TARDIS reminds him of imminent death (again) and he jumps on to the controls with manic glee, yelling "Geronimo!!" as the screen cuts to the credits.
- Aborted Arc: Sort of. Davies really had no idea who the woman picking up the Master's ring at the end of Last of the Time Lords was; it was just a deliberate Sequel Hook to make way for the Master's return. But he didn't know that he'd be the one picking the hook up and originally that hand was to pave the way for someone else's story- informally it was known as "The Hand of the Rani", because after LotTL many fans thought the hand could belong to one of the classic Who villains. But it ended up belonging to just some Mook who died a few minutes into the story.
- An Aesop: Don't cross the road without looking.
- This is an inside joke on RTD's part. He noted that since they always closed down the street when shooting The Sarah Jane Adventures, the actors never looked when they crossed the road.
- Apocalypse How: Temporary Class 3a.
- And a planned Z, with The End of Time
- Applied Phlebotinum: Lots. The Master's resurrection is brought about by ... "potions of life". That's all the explanation we get.
- Arc Words: "He will knock four times."
- Not only does Wilf knock four times. But he knocks four times, four times. Just to make it perfectly clear what was about to happen.
- Assimilation Plot, Me's a Crowd: The Master makes Agent Smith look like an amateur in the self-copying-over-everyone department.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Rassilon's plot for the Time Lords in the last part of the Time War.
- Back From the Dead: Guess who.
- Badass: Several. The Doctor, The Master. The Lord President of the Time Lords. Even Wilfred Mott. Then again, he is a Palestine Mandate/Mideast Wars veteran.
- Big Eater: The Master, since he Came Back Wrong.
- Big Good and Dungeon Master: The Church Lady.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Tear Jerker song played over Ten's regeneration is called "Vale Decem", aka "Farewell Ten", complete with apropos lyrics.
- Bittersweet Ending: Everyone on the planet is returned to normal and the Time Lords are dragged back into the Time War, but the Doctor is only saved by the Master (whom he had tried to save) charging Rassilon and being time locked as well. On top of that, the Doctor reluctantly saves Wilfred at the cost of his own life, but lives long enough to see all his companions to a happy ending. Whilst the Tenth Doctor regenerates with tears in his eyes, the Eleventh is born and marvels at his new incarnation.
- Book Ends: With Donna and the Doctor. Donna's in her wedding dress the very first and last times we see her.
- On a larger scale, Ten's first and last full episodes were both Christmas specials.
- But You Screw One Human: People love to remind the Doctor of the Queen Bess incident. Eleven gets tired of it pretty quickly.
- Call Back:
- A VERY subtle one in the Captain Jack scene, but the song playing in the bar was performed by Tallulah in "Daleks In Manhattan"
- The Master's Plan is in essence what would have happened if what happened in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances was a deliberate act as opposed to AI Is a Crapshoot and also takes notes from Agent Smith's play book in The two Matrix sequels.
- The Master's last words to Lucy. 'You will obey me!'
- A shout out by way of special effect. The effect used when the Immortality Gate and Rassilon transform humans into the Master Race and vice versa is a callback to the Doctor Who TV Movie. At one point in the movie, when the Master is attempting to take over the Doctor's remaining lives, his head begins shaking in a super-fast motion, interlaced with split-second cuts of the Doctor's head on the Master's body. The overall effect is almost identical, though somewhat less polished, than the one used in the 2009 specials.
- Also Rassilon's plan to escape the Time War by ascending the Timelords to beings of pure consciousness beyond Time itself is reminiscent of The Beast's nature as a being of thought who existed "before time". This also indicates just how far the Timelords had fallen, and why the Doctor would go to such lengths to stop them
- Came Back Wrong: The Master, thanks to Lucy messing up his resurrection. His head flashes to reveal his skull, he's always hungry, he's far hammier than usual (at least until he steps into the Gate) and he's won the Superpower Lottery.
- Celebrity Voice Actor: Brian Cox as the Ood Elder.
- Chekhov's Gun: Wilf's revolver.
- Chewing the Scenery:
- The Master, who is also chewing on other characters. "Dinnertiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!"
- The Narrator also loses it when he reveals his role. You can see him spraying.
- The Doctor too, when he rages against the dying light. "I could do so much more. So! Much! More!"
- Christmas Episode: The first part. But considering the lack of anything Christmassy aside from the date and the Master's obsession with Christmas dinner combined with the bleak tone of the story, it's OK if you didn't guess it in the first place.
- Lampshaded by one of the characters (Mr. Naismith) in the story: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas is canceled. Prepare the gate!"
- Continuity Nod: Lots.
- As well as all the references to past Nu Who episodes (most obviously "Last of the Time Lords" and "Journey's End"), the Master's skeletal visage reflects the late seventies version who had passed his final regeneration.
- The entire end of Part 2 is one Continuity Nod after another. Most of Ten's companions show up (in addition to those who appeared earlier in the episode: Sarah Jane, Rose, Mickey, Captain Jack, and Martha, plus hangers-on like Jackie and Luke). Even Alonso makes an appearance. The bar Captain Jack's in is filled with alien races the Doctor's encountered over the last few years (there's a Judoon, a Hath, an Adipose, some Raxacoricofallapatorians, etc.), and the music playing is the showtune performed in Daleks in Mahattan. There's even an extended nod to "The Family of Blood", complete with an Identical Great-granddaughter of Joan Redfern. What a sendoff.
- The Lord President was Rassilon.
- The Master's "drumming in the head" is actually a signal sent back in time through the Time Vortex, which he stared at as a child, to give the Time Lords a chance at escaping the Time War.
- The Doctor's mention of his marriage to Queen Bess is a Call Back to the end of "The Shakespeare Code", where the Queen arrives and instantly declares the Doctor to be her enemy, for reasons he didn't know at the time.
- The President!Master says he can send the UN protocols to the Master. The Raxacoricofallapatorians in "Aliens Of London" were defeated mainly because they couldn't receive these codes quickly enough. He got them pretty quickly.
- Contrived Coincidence: The Doctor lampshades his constant encounters with Wilf, suggesting something is forcing them together.
- Cryptic Background Reference: It's a shame we never even get to glimpse the Time War because the Doctor's description sounded EPIC. "Not just the Daleks, but the Skaro Degradation, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, The Could-Have-Been King and his army of Meanwhiles and Never-weres." Of course, showing all this would have undoubtedly been rather expensive.
- Word of God is that showing the Time War in all its glory, or even most of its glory, is simply impossible, even with the biggest budget in the world.
- Cursed with Awesome: The Master's incomplete resurrection gives him everything you see below under Superpower Lottery. Yeah, it burns his life energy, but he replenishes it by eating people, becoming even scarier and more awesome. And knowing the Master, having a reason to kill more people is probably a bonus to him.
- Dark Reprise: Originally, the music in the scene where The Doctor says goodbye to Rose one last time was planned to be a Dark Reprise of "Song for Ten", but was ultimately cut. Luckily, it made it onto the Specials soundtrack.
- Also, the proud "This Is Gallifrey Theme" from series 3 returns, albeit as a darker, more militant piece to reflect the grim situation of Rassilon and the Time Lords.
- Description Porn / Food Porn: The Master going on and on about all those delicious types of food that he wants to devour. "BLOOD FOOD!"
- Dirty Old Woman: June Whitfield's Minny character who hinted about making out in a police box and flirted with and groped the Doctor.
- Distressed Dude: The Master, the Doctor, and even Wilf get all tied up in this two-parter.
- Don't Explain the Joke: The Doctor rather desperately tries to explain to Ood Sigma why locking the TARDIS like a car with remote locking is funny.
- Leading to a nice little moment where the Doctor unwittingly echoes the Master's "It's a gas mask" scene: "Funny? No? Little bit?"
- Doting Parent: Joshua Naismith's life revolves around his daughter. And frankly, it's kind of creepy.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Several times in rapid succession with the same gun.
- Driven to Suicide: Arguably, The Doctor. Him saying "I've lived too long" just before he walks into the chamber doesn't exactly disinvite ideas.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Rather the point of the Doctor visiting his companions. Bidding them all final, and indeed personalised, farewells is his reward; he even gets to see (Martha and Mickey) or cause (Jack, especially Donna, and even Rose) theirs.
- Heck, even Jackie gets an implied one, if you recall that, yes, she eventually did do better. Good on you, Pete!
- Eldritch Abomination: During the latter end of the Time War, the Time Lords apparently created entire armies of Eldritch Abominations to fight off the Daleks.
- Electric Torture: Thanks to his botched resurrection, The Master can and does do this at will.
"ONE!" ZARK! "TWO!" ZARK! "THREE!" ZARK! "FOUR!" ZARK!
- The End of the World as We Know It: By the end of the first part, Earth's entire population consists of six billion Masters, the Doctor, Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble (who probably doesn't have long to live), and two Vinvocci.
- Enemy Mine/The Sadistic Choice: The Doctor has to choose between killing either the Master or the other Time Lords, with each side egging him to shoot the other. He ultimately went with the downfall of the Time Lords, with the Master taking them down with him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted; the Master actually likes the Time Lords' plan to bring about the end of time and become higher beings. It's only after the President calls him "diseased" and refuses to allow him to be part of the plan that the Master turns against them.
- Evil Laugh: Six billion Masters, all cackling.
- Eviler Than Thou: Rassilon, surprisingly. While in the Big Finish audio books, Rassilon was shown to be a kind of Gallifreyan Hitler, futzing around with all the lesser species to give them Time Lord characteristics and eliminating anyone who stood in his way, here he manages to thwart the Master's plan with a flick of his wrist.
- Fan Service: You know that's the only reason for the extended scene of John Simm shirtless.
- And the eyeliner. And the straitjacket. And the collar. And the crossdressing...
- Lucy Saxon looks good in her prison getup.
- Faceless Goons: Naismith's "ninjas" until they are transformed into Masters, at which point they show their face.
- Some of them still run around with their helmets down afterwards, though, which saves on the FX budget when multiple Masters are in the room, but also opens the Master up to a classic Evil Overlord slip-up, by letting a disguised Vinvocci get close enough to clobber him and rescue the Doctor.
- Fake Shemp: Obama's face is almost always covered or hidden by the camera angle.
- Failsafe Failure: What eventually takes The Doctor's "life" in that the radiation container was overloaded by the Master.
- Fantastic Slurs: "Cactus" has racist connotations when used to refer to Vinvocci, apparently.
- Wilf calls them "cactus" frequently and they never flinch, it was only when the Doctor called them "cacti" that they freak out.
- Four Is Death: The Arc Words throughout the Specials of the four knocks indicating Ten's death.
- Gambit Pileup: Let's see... you've got the Master playing Xanatos Speed Chess, Lucy's plans to prevent the Master's resurrection, Naismith's plans for the Immortality Gate, the Vinvocci's plans to steal the Immortality Gate and the Time Lords' plans to escape the War.
- And of course the Doctor's typical Indy Ploy plus the mysterious agenda (which seems to be to help the Doctor) of the lady in white.
- Don't forget the Ood, who plan to avert the End of Times by setting The Doctor on his tracks.
- Gambit Roulette: Rassilon's plan for the Time Lords to escape inevitable death in the Time War is one that encompassed the Master's entire life from age eight.
- Genre Savvy: Mr. Naismith seems to have a pretty good idea of how far to trust his new technician:
*gate powers up, the Master leans back and smirks*
Mr. Naismith: Good. Guards, restrain him.
The Master: What? But I repaired it!
Mr. Naismith: I'm not an idiot, Mr. Saxon.
- Get It Over With: When the Doctor has a gun trained on the Master.
- Godzilla Threshold: It takes the Time Lords coming back to make the Doctor pick up a gun.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Master.
- Grand Finale: Though not the end of the series itself, The End of Time does mark the end of Russell T. Davies's run as the head writer for the series. As a result, virtually every companion introduced since the show returned gets a brief sendoff.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: The Doctor versus The Master versus the Lord President of the Time Lords.
- Heroic Sacrifice/Redemption Equals Death: Lucy Saxon.
- Not to mention the Doctor's own Heroic Sacrifice to save Wilf.
- Who, it need be mentioned, was only in need of saving because he himself was trapped after freeing a scientist.
- Believe it or not, but THE MASTER gets one as well, in a Star Wars fashion.
- The Woman and her fellow Time Lord, who gave the Doctor what he needed, whose actions would trap her and her compatriot with the rest of the Time Lords.
- Not to mention the Doctor's own Heroic Sacrifice to save Wilf.
- Homage: The Doctor's death, a Heroic Sacrifice via massive radiation poisoning whilst sealed in a glass chamber, is rather appropriately reminiscent of one of Science Fiction's most famous death scenes.
- Hope Spot: For the Doctor, anyway. After the Master's Heroic Sacrifice and the Time Lords go back to Hell, the Doctor laughs hysterically as he finds himself still alive. Then he hears Wilf knocking on the door of radiation chamber For the audience...not so much, as this was largely publicised to be David Tennant's last episode.
- Identical Grandson: Joan Redfern's great granddaughter, played by Jessica Hynes.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Master isn't satisfied with just turkey...
- Incredibly Lame Pun: One might think that the Master did what he did less for the chance to stick it to the Doctor or finding the source of the drums and more for the fact that he gets to call his creation the master race.
- Ironic Echo: The Master to the Doctor, contemptuously: "You never would, you coward."
- Also: "Get out of the way."
- Rassilon dematerialises a Time Lady, all the while screaming "I will NOT DIE!" For propriety's sake, guess who said it last time? The Dalek freakin' Emperor to the Ninth Doctor.
- And let's not forget a big one from way back when the Sixth Doctor was on trial on Gallifrey that seems particularly chilling in retrospect.
The Sixth Doctor: "In all my travels through time and space I have battled against evil. Against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here! The oldest civilization: decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core! Power mad conspirators? Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen: they're still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power. That's what it takes to be really corrupt."
- Not technically an echo per se, but:
Master: One! *bzzt* Two! *bzzt* Three! *bzzt* Four! *bzzzzt*
- Just One Second Out of Sync: The Doctor hides the TARDIS from the Master this way.
- Kick the Dog: Rassilon's putdown of the Master, despite him being the direct cause of what he is. Yeah, I actually feel bad for the villain of Part One.
- Kneel Before Zod: Kneel Before Rassilon
- Last Words: Tenth Doctor: "I don't want to go."
- Let's Get Out of Here
Sylvia Noble: "Stay right where you are!"
Doctor: "You can't come with me."
Wilfred: "Oh, you're not leaving me with her!"
Doctor: "Fair enough.
- Made of Iron: The Doctor. Seriously, jumping out of a flying spaceship, through a window and onto the hard floor? Seriously, No One Should Survive That!
- Mad Oracle: The Visionary. She's fond of scribbling on parchments in circles that are presumably Gallifreyan words. It's not clear whether she's this way from having looked into the time vortex once too often, or because she's seeing The End of the World as We Know It.
- The Maiden Name Debate: The couple themselves aren't shown doing this, but...
Doctor: Hold on, she's not gonna be called "Noble-Temple"? That sounds like a tourist spot.
Wilf: No, it's Temple-Noble.
- Meaningful Echo: The Master mockingly addresses Rassilon as "Mr. President, sir", calling back to his identical appellation of President Winters.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Last episode involved suicide and the Doctor's god complex being thrown into very sharp relief. This episode opens with a quick bit of ominousness then the Doctor showing up in a cowboy hat, shades, and a lei. We go from the Tenth Doctor's heartbreaking final line to a comic, pumping music opening with the Eleventh. To sum up, we go from David Tennant's tearful "I don't want to go!" to Matt Smith's hilarious discovery that he's "STILL NOT GINGER!"
- Harsher in Hindsight Considering the chat with Wilfred in the Cafe earlier about the regeneration and his fear of changing when he's grown so used to this form.
- Last episode involved suicide and the Doctor's god complex being thrown into very sharp relief. This episode opens with a quick bit of ominousness then the Doctor showing up in a cowboy hat, shades, and a lei. We go from the Tenth Doctor's heartbreaking final line to a comic, pumping music opening with the Eleventh. To sum up, we go from David Tennant's tearful "I don't want to go!" to Matt Smith's hilarious discovery that he's "STILL NOT GINGER!"
- Must Make Amends: The Doctor after his A God Am I moment in "The Waters of Mars", with elements of Blood Knight.
- Mythology Gag:
- The Eleventh Doctor was worried that he regenerated into a woman. The non-canon spoof The Curse of Fatal Death (written by current Show Runner Steven Moffat) and the "Unbound" audio drama Exile both saw female incarnations of the Doctor, regenerated from male ones; the Doctor's claim here is the first time it has actually been brought up within the show, and it later gets fully canonized in "The Doctor's Wife".
- The author's name is Verity Newman- as in Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman, creators of Doctor Who. (This is also a Continuity Nod, as "Verity" was the name John Smith gave for his mother in "The Family of Blood".)
- Narrator All Along: He's the Lord President of the Time Lords.
- No OSHA Compliance: Three Time Lords stride along a platform bridge with no handrails that's barely wide enough for them. It doesn't help that the city is falling to bits around them either.
- The Nose Knows: where the other Time Lord is.
- Oh Crap: The Doctor, thrice. First after his telepathic chat with the Ood, then when he realizes what the Master could do with the Immortality Gate, and finally when he realizes that the Time Lords are returning. He gets one last one that quickly turns his look of joy to horror when he hears Wilf knock four times.
- Also the homeless guys when they realise the guy who looks like that homicidal maniac who killed the US President really is Harold Saxon. And then he starts the skull-flashing thing...
- Omniscient Council of Vagueness: As the Lord President explains to the assembled Time Lords, all these events are part of a greater scheme which will eventually bring the Time Lords back (as well as, somehow, "the End of Time Itself!".)
- Our Presidents Are Different: Averted. Barack Obama is mentioned by name.
- Pair the Spares: Martha and Mickey. Word of God says the pairing was a callback to the title of Martha's first episode: Smith and Jones. The end credits even call her "Martha Smith-Jones."
- What happened to Tom?
- It's possible that, between Last of the Time Lords and then that Tom got a job somewhere else and her responsibilities with UNIT put too much strain on the engagement. That or the events of RESET had her push him away, to keep him out of the life she dealt with every day.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Bernard Cribbens. Finally.
- And John Simm. Finally.
- Prophecy Twist: "He will knock four times" refers not to the Master's drum beat (with the implication that he will defeat the Doctor in battle), but to Wilf knocking on the chamber's door so that he can be let out, leading the Doctor to his Heroic Sacrifice and thus, "death".
- Fridge Logic: if you watch carefully, you'll notice that although the Master makes a lot of four-beat sounds, including banging on an oil drum, he never actually knocks.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Wilfred's role was originally meant to be taken by Donna's father Geoff, who appeared in her debut episode. When his actor died suddenly, the producers replaced him by bringing back a bit character from one of the Christmas specials and making him Donna's grandfather. But since it seemed awfully convenient for the Doctor to just bump into his future companion's granddad in a city of eight million, this story establishes that the Doctor and Wilf are cosmically connected, and fate is drawing them together toward the moment of the Doctor's death.
- Reality Subtext: "I don't want to go" was as much David Tennant as it was Ten. Considering that Tennant went into acting so he could play the Doctor, of course it's going to break his heart to leave.
- Redemption Equals Death The Master
- The Reveal: After four series and several telemovie specials dropping hints about the Time War, we finally learn that the Doctor ended it to stop the Time Lords. Not that he had any love for the Daleks, but it's been suspicious for a while now that whole fleets and organizations of the Daleks not only survived the Doctor, but quietly thrived despite his knowledge, yet only one other Time Lord escaped. Apparently, the Doctor wasn't as bad a shot as that implied.
- Running Gag: He's still not ginger.
- Sanctuary of Solitude: Wilfred does this at the start of the episode.
- San Dimas Time:
- The Ood are very disappointed in the Doctor taking so long to come to the Oodsphere, despite...well...time travel.
Elder Ood: Events that have happened are happening now.
- There's also this:
Wilfred: Listen Doctor, if this is a time machine -- that man you're chasing, why can't you just pop back to yesterday and catch him?
Doctor: I can't go back inside my own timeline. I have to stay relative to the Master in the causal nexus. Understand?
Wilfred: Not a word.
- Say My Name: Hilariously subverted with Lucy Saxon calling the Master "Harold". That's a Crowning Moment of Awesome all of its own.
- Scenery Gorn: Blink and you'll miss it, but the establishing exterior shot of Gallifrey's capital shows the city's dome with a large hole smashed through it, smoke pouring from damaged buildings within, and the surrounding landscape littered with crashed Dalek saucers.
- Schmuck Bait: "It's an open broadcast. DON'T reply, he'll know where we are."
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The gravitational and tidal forces of such a big object that close to Earth should have been disastrous.
- The Doctor refers to the Master as Skeletor.
- The Master wears a hoodie, makes ridiculously high super-jumps, has super-strength and eats people. Haven't we seen this before?
- And shoots lightning from his hands and uses it to fly around. Sound familiar?
- The Master's resurrection scene, with loyal followers sacrificing their bodies and the mortal enemy being brought in for a forcibly taken biological sample, is uncannily reminiscent of that of a certain other Big Bad.
- The scene with Captain Jack was reminiscent of the cantina from Star Wars
- Some viewers thought the Vinvocci spaceship looked like the Heart of Gold. Or Starbug or Serenity.
- Well, the scene over the water before (not) crashing sure seemed to mimic Firefly's famous Jittercam.
- The Doctor in the radiation booth has been compared to The Wrath of Khan.
- Or Superman II.
- The Doctor's mention of the "Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres" may be an in-canon nod to the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, and specifically the Faction Paradox
- Skyward Scream: "GERONIMO!" Yes, the camera spins too.
- Soft Glass: Averted. The Doctor gets a lot of scratches when he breaks through the dome. Still he survives the fall.
- Stable Time Loop/Timey-Wimey Ball: The drumming in the Master's head was manufactured, and actually a signal to allow the Time Lords to escape their inevitable destruction in the Time War.
- Keep in mind they only know to put the sound in there, because their history books already say its there, and they realize it might have been them that did it.
- The Oracle helps, too.
- Superpower Lottery: For a guy who Came Back Wrong, the Master has quite a few superpowers.
- Take a Third Option: The Doctor has a stark choice: shoot the Master, or shoot the President. He shoots the machine linking them.
- Tearful Smile: The Doctor has a particularly heartbreaking one when he goes to see Joan Redfern's great-granddaughter and she asks if, in the end, he was happy. He smiles, but he looks like he's about to cry.
- Terrible Ticking: The Master's drumbeat.
- Thanatos Gambit: Played straight, inverted and slightly averted at the same time, being that the Master anticipated his death (hence his refusal to regenerate) in "Last of the Time Lords", and used his subordinates to imprison his wife, (who murdered him), and took a biometric imprint from her to use as a catalyst for the Applied Phlebotinum used to resurrect him. Except his wife came up with a plan of her own, anticipating this scheme, and her sabotage which was a cost to her life, meant the Master Came Back Wrong, but his scheme otherwise successful.
- Third-Act Stupidity: The Lord President. Telling the Master he has outlived his usefulness? Risky, in itself. But telling him that before he actually has outlived his usefulness? He was just asking to get zapped.
- Title Drop: "For Gallifrey! For victory! For the End of Time itself!"
- Token Minority Couple - Martha and Mickey.
- Trash the Set: The Doctor's regeneration is quite explosive.
- Trailers Always Lie: Promotional photos showed David Tennant wearing Time Lord regalia. Guess what doesn't happen in either episode?
- Unflinching Walk: The Doctor, as the Master's shooting lightning at him. Lasts until the Master actually hits him.
- Unseen Audience: The Narrator/Lord President is eventually revealed to be addressing the assembled Time Lords.
- Up to Eleven. Literally. Twice.
- One of the rare instances this trope requires no explanation whatsoever.
- Though for what it's worth, these episodes pretty much crank everything into Overdrive anyway (The Master? The MASTER RACE!? THE FUCKING TIME LORDS?!?), so once the Doctor sees the Ood's vision, it's Up to Eleven just about the whole time.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Donna stuffs the lottery ticket down the front of her wedding dress. It doesn't have any pockets.
- Villainous Breakdown: The President of the High Council ("I WILL NOT DIE!"). Unusually for this trope it's seen in the character's introduction, though of course justified as it's happening at the end of the Time War.
- Villainous Crossdresser: Y'see, when the Master turned Earth's human population into his clones, their clothes didn't change with their bodies. We've now got about three billion Masters dressed in women's clothing, and we see some of them.
- Villainous Rescue: It is Rassilon who turns all of the Master's clones back into human beings.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Rassilon. Yes, your race has to survive and you're the Lord President of the Time Lords, but do you have to fuck up a kid's childhood by making him Ax Crazy (and an Omnicidal Maniac) because you sent a maddening signal into his brain, to escape the Time War, and rip apart the space/time continuum itself just so your people could survive?
- Subverted> Rassilon is blatantly motivated mainly by his own personal survival above all else; the Time Lord's themselves are, in his eyes, his private empire, a society he made and ordered for the express purpose of reshaping the universe to his liking. So while he presents himself to them as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, in reality he is, and always was, nothing more than a raging egomaniac with a god complex and a Dirty Coward who would rather destroy all of creation than let himself be killed.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever became of Leela?
- A Worldwide Punomenon: In his own words, the Master has turned the human race into the Master Race.
- It's also "A World Wide Punomenon" because it's everyone on Earth.
- Wham! Episode
- Wham! Line:
The Narrator/ Rassilon: This was the day the Time Lords returned.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Master is retconned into this.
- Worst Whatever Ever (coupled with Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like): "WORST! RESCUE! EVER!" as the Vinvocci wheel the Doctor out of Naismith's house. Down a flight of stairs.
- Writer on Board: The Obama scene.
- The X of Y
- You Monster!: Wilfred delivers quite a heartfelt one to the Master.
"What is it? What have you done, you monster?"
- ↑ On that same note, don't try thinking too hard about what happened with children when they became Masters... or pregnant women, or women giving birth or people having sex right at that moment.