15 November 2009

Doctor Who: Waters of Mars

As David Tennant's tenure as the Doctor nears its end, it appears the Russell T Davies is finally pulling the stops out. After last years less than exciting Christmas special, The Next Doctor and this past Easter's less than spectacular Planet of the Dead" which where good, but nothing new, I wondered what he was planning.

"The Waters of Mars" takes the show into a much darker realm, one where the Doctor (not for the first time) must decide to break the rules of time his fellow Time Lords vowed never to do -the notion that there are historical moments that are fixed in time; that he cannot change those events.

In some ways, I'm reminded of the classic fourth Doctor serial "The Genesis of the Daleks". The Timelords - in a rare moment of interference in historical events - sends the Doctor and his companions to Skaro to prevent the creation of the Daleks. Though the Doctor fails -and even he admits that maybe even he does not posses the right to end a species - he tells Sarah Jane and Harry that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, he knows that out of their evil must come something good.

The Doctor has this dilemma in "The Waters of Mars", after he realizes when he has arrived. All through the story, he wants to leave, because he knows this accident on Mars - with the first people to have a colony on the Red Planet - will bring bring a sort of renaissance (ala Star Trek: First Contact). That the granddaughter of Captain Adelaide Brooke will be inspired by her grandmothers sacrifice. So this fixed moment in time he cannot change, that all of them must die.

And while the Doctor learns of what caused the accident, he still cannot leave and is soon reminded that he is the Last of the Time Lords. He tells Adelaide, after saving her and two others, that the laws of the Time Lords were only valid while their civilization existed, and since Gallifrey and his fellow Time Lords are gone, he has total control over time.

But she is clever, pragmatic and less emotional than the Doctor is at this point. She points out, quiet correctly (and something Donna Noble pointed out also), that the Doctor has too much power, that the "Time Lord Victorious" he calls himself is wrong.

And with Adelaide's suicide, which reverts the changes that the Doctor has made to the timeline, it triggers a realization that he has crossed a line, one he knows he cannot go back on. When Ood Sigma appears (encountered in "The Planet of the Ood", where he predicted the events of "Journey's End", and the Tenth Doctor's death) on the snowy street, the Doctor realizes his mistake, that there will be a price to pay for his interference. But when Sigma vanishes, apparently not there to end his life, the Doctor staggers back into the TARDIS to the ominous sounds of the Cloister Bell. With a roar of "No!", he sets out.

But the die has been cast.

A nearly flawless episode, one filled with a sense of its past history and what is yet to come. Tennant gives another bravo performance, especially when he leaves the dying crew members of Bowie 1 and listens to their deaths.

This episode also takes a look at why the Time Lords highest crime was interference. They realized what can happen when people try to change things, why even the Daleks could not be stopped.

The trailer for the next episode -out at Christmas - sees the return of Donna Noble. What role she has to play is not know, but one assumes its the Master who'll set the endgame in motion.

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