Now that The Family are making an overt move, Martha and the others are desperately in need of the Doctor- but all they have is John Smith. Even if the boys of the school can defend themselves against the relentless aliens, will they be able to find the watch in time- and even if they do, does John Smith want to relinquish his human existence to once again take up the mantle of the lonely god?
- The Family (updated): They wanted the Doctor’s body for the immortality granted a Time Lord, but ultimately he foiled them and placed the four members in various never-ending ‘hells’, including the event horizon of a black hole, the world of the mirror and eternal duty as a scarecrow.
What a disappointing mess of an episode- and where to start in dissecting it. I won’t deny that Tennant was on top form in some scenes (which I will discuss further later), but the episode just didn’t seem to know what it wanted to portray. First we have the boys fighting and learning the horrors of combat firsthand, complete with shaky hands and teary eyes- but oh look, they were only shooting scarecrows, and now they’re all running away anyway! Are we really supposed to feel emotion at them having to shoot a bunch of straw men. Then, after the incredibly convenient “oh, the plot says it’s time to give the watch back now” sequence, we have to endure endless angst as to whether John Smith wants to become the Doctor again, only for him to easily defeat the family when he does. Apparently he held back out of pity, but in doing so he caused far more trouble and death (for the same outcome) than if he had just gone after them in the first place. Way to go, Doctor…
Now for the moments I actually liked because of their emotion and undertones:
- ‘John Smith’ questioning the end of his existence.
- The Doctor telling Joan that she should come with him because John Smith still exists inside him; I may have read too much into this but to me it demonstrated how a powerful and alien being like the Doctor simply could not understand that he could never give her what she truly wanted.
- The Doctor and Martha visiting old Latimer.
- Joan asking the Doctor how many people died because of his whim.
- If the Doctor could defeat the Family that easily, surely he could have just done that in the first place? Even if he wanted to teach them a lesson instead of killing them outright, there must have been an easier way to do it. I won’t even go into just how he actually carried out the various punishments such as trapping the girl in the mirror.
- If the Family have such short lives, shouldn’t they have tried to breed in that time (and wouldn’t the children have lasted beyond the parents)? Were they the last of their race?