My watching of the final episode was delayed by a couple of days due to the destruction of my country and the subsequent loss of sleep, which had two main effects. Firstly, the Doctor’s line about democracy chimed more the second time round, and secondly that I’ve slightly forgotten some of my opinions on the first three parts.
Luckily I make notes as I go, but I mostly recall being slightly confused by some elements, and hoping that all would be made clear in the last part. It sort of was, but I still feel like I’m missing something with regards to Adric, and how The Master was using him. I get all the stuff about Adric generating Castrovalva through maths, but I don’t quite get how The Master was able to see The Doctor by reading Adric’s mind, when Adric was trapped in a big web.
I also made a note fairly early on that “at least one of these Castrovalvans is blates The Master”. I can’t claim any credit for guessing something that’s always going to be on the cards given who the villain is, and I lose a spectacular amount of points for somehow failing to clock that the Portreeve was Anthony Ainley during Part Three. It was obvious straight away in Part Four, so I must have just been knackered.
Ainley is clearly an actor that benefits from having a varied brief, and he’s so far portrayed three distinct personas in as many serials. His main Master was less of a caricature this time, and the madness and anger on show towards the end brought back fond memories of the rare occasions where Delgado’s incarnation totally lost it.
It was nice to see Nyssa and Tegan take a starring role through most of the story, and they make a good little team. It’s hard to nail down any real defining characteristics for Nyssa so far, yet she’s somehow strong enough a character to carry the burden. Tegan has already grown into the latest strong feminist icon to grace the TARDIS, and she’s adapting to a completely alien existence remarkably well. I knew that we’d get along from the moment she stole an ambulance.
At first, while this was helping to define the characters of the new companions, I worried that it was in detriment to the process of establishing the new Doctor, which seemed far more pressing. However, I then remembered The Christmas Invasion, and the strategy of dropping the new guy in fully-formed towards the end to kick arse and become a hero. This is exactly what happened here, and I’m already sold on Davison.
With his little quips and his cheeky smile, he’s affable like Troughton and an everyman like some of his successors, while retaining his alien qualities. The abrasiveness of Pertwee and latter-day Baker has been toned down, and he’s got a new-found vulnerability, thanks to the severity of his regeneration trauma. All of this has clearly been carefully calculated by JNT, and it seems like it’s going to be a big success.
The regeneration trauma itself was arguably the best bit of the serial. I loved his tour through his previous incarnations, and all the references to old friends and enemies. We’re on our nineteenth season now, and there’s so much history to draw from. I only wish that his meandering round the TARDIS had lead him to somewhere with better clothes than the on-board cricket club. I don’t hate the outfit, but it’s a bit daft. All four regulars, and indeed The Master, dress like characters, rather than real people.
The only other note I made was “Davison’s face looks nice”. I think that was in reference to the title sequence, but it’s also true in general. He is indeed absolutely splendid.