The Sound of... Time War History

(Spoilers for The Sound of Drums to follow.)

In the final analysis, I'm unsure about The Sound of Drums, but as part 1 (or in fact, part 1.5) of a finale', I guess it throws enough candy and jeopardy at us to properly get my stomach in a knot for a week while I wait for the end. After all, previous penultimate episodes featured reality show parodies and ghosts on Eastenders, so why was I expecting more?

John Simm's Master has some good moments, but also goes over the top at times (see the Scene I could have done without below). I do give him props for the intense phone conversation with The Doctor, for example. Some have said his performance is akin to Cesar Romero's Joker on the campy Batman series, something it's hard to not give credence to after he gasses the cabinet. New Who just can't play things straight on the Downing Street set.
The biggest piece of candy thrown at us is without a doubt the lovely CGI shots of Gallifrey (seen with its twin suns for the first time). The snow globe citadel is a bit hokey, but it's a great shot. The Master as a little boy may contradict some of the "looming" references in the novels, but not that much, and I did enjoy seeing the original Time Lord costuming from The War Games. Other candy includes (quite literally) the Master's bag of jelly babies. I immediately recognized the plain white bag, and it seems to pay hommage to Tom Baker's idea that he should play the new Master. Also fun is the UNIT helicarrier, a revamped version of the UNIT Mobile HQ (which was a sad bus the last time we saw it).The biggest question being discussed over the Internet is the identity of the Troclofanes, of course. Just who are these floating balls of death? The most interesting theory is that they are Time Lords who programmed the Master with the drumbeat to eventually create a paradox that resurrects them, which will ask the Doctor to choose between humanity and his own species. Lame theories would have these as modified Daleks or Cybermen, or even the Gelth (the voice, the rift). The most depressing theory would have them be the entire population of the parallel universe, converted into Cyberthingies when their Earth suffered heat death, which means Rose is one of those balls. Whatever it is, is has to break the Doctor's hearts. Thing is, none of those really fit the childish attitudes and speech patterns of the Troclofanes, nor do all the theories explain the drums, or the gaps in the Master's knowledge. It's a wait and see situation.What is more interesting to me right now is just what happened during the Time War. We get a few more hints here. The Master was resurrected to act as a (ruthless) soldier, but he ran. The Doctor stayed, but "had to end it". Intriguing. We know the Doctor was the only one to survive (give or take millions of Daleks). We also know he feels immense guilt, which has always mystified me a little since he didn't really get on with his people. But did we mistake that for "survivor's guilt"?

Let's look at the language again: "I had to end it." First person singular. Previously, he's said that he not only saw the Daleks burn, HE MADE them burn. And we also know that Gallifrey and the Daleks burned together. But how? A clue in one of the Master's lines occurs when he asks the Doctor how it felt to see two mighty civilizations burn: "You must've been like God." In Utopia, we get a pointed speech about what happened to Rose in The Parting of Ways, that she looked into the heart of the TARDIS, that if a Time Lord did that, he would become a god, a VENGEFUL god. But Rose was human, bla bla bla.

Does the Doctor know this from experience? Go back to Parting for a minute. When Rose is the Bad Wolf, she sees all that is, was, will ever be, and the Doctor says "That's what I see, doesn't it drive you mad?" Was he the Bad Wolf once? Did it drive him mad? Did it turn him into a vengeful god who could commit genocide on a cosmic scale? I would explain how he alone survived, how he regenerated, how he knew he could take in the vortex energy to save Rose at the cost of his present regeneration, and why he's so reticent to even discuss the Time War. Just a theory, of course.

Other thoughts on The Sound of Drums: 
-On the quick get-out from last week's cliffhanger: I didn't mind at all. Audiences had pretty much figured out that Jack's bracelet was gonna get everyone home, so we didn't really need to linger there, did we?
-UNIT dating takes another hit when 1968 is mentioned in connection with a relevant UN resolution. 1968 is the broadcast date of the first UNIT story, "The Invasion", but was meant to be in a near future. UNIT episodes after it either went along with that or supplied evidence to its being contemporary with the show.
-It seems to be a penultimate episode tradition to give famous closet Whovians a chance to play themselves. As usual, much of it is lost on non-UK audiences, though I of course know who Sharon Osborne is. Look, if I was famous, I'd love to support Saxon or the Cyber-ghosts too, so I'm not gonna gripe for 20 seconds of air time.
-I love hearing the Torchwood theme layered into the show. Here's hoping these Captain Jack appearances will remind Torchwood writers of his true personality.
-Scene I could have done without: Among the Master's worst excesses is the "funny/serious" faces he pulls in the cabinet room. I don't mind him played as a hip Doctor-like verbal whirlwind or even chuckling at the Teletubbies, but that went a bit too far into the ridiculous.
-Favorite line: "I do what I like." I love Martha's strength. She's not the kind of companion to just stand there and look gorgeous.
-The Ghost of Rose: Better not have gone through the rift and started snicker-snakking the world's population at the end there.

Last of the Time Lords (a title that works with the Time Lord resurrection theory, at least) is in only a few days and I can't wait, even if I have the sneaking suspicion the paradox machine will be used to wipe the story from continuity. Still, does the cannibalization of the TARDIS coupled with UNIT's return signal a new Season 7 in which the Doctor is trapped on Earth? Even if Earth's future is assured, Series 1 and 2 both had serious repercussions on Doctor Who. I'm certainly giving RTD the benefit of the doubt.

Bonus Doctor Who content

PostmodernBarney offers up a Music Video Stream of Consciousness (Doctor Who Edition). Thanks, Dorian!

Steve Flanagan at Gad, Sir! Comics! lends credence to my theory. Thanks for the researched references Steve!


Anonymous said...

Hehe et moi aussi j'ai vraiment hâte.
Une chose est sure...something big is coming.
Et pis y'a un hint qui me dis que le docteur va rester sous cette forme là...

Queen Elizabeth...the first.
ah moins que ce soit encore un novel thing.

Siskoid said...

As long as the show trades on David Tennant's good looks to a point, I don't think the ageing make-up will be permanent.

Although there was talk of leaving the 4th Doctor aged after The Leisure Hive where something similar happened, but Tom Baker would never have gone for it.

Steve Flanagan said...

It seems a shame that when, for once, the villain isn't encased in a metal suit or plastered with latex, the hero gets lost behind make-up instead.

My lame theory about the Toclafane, for what it's worth:
1. In "Utopia", we were told that humans were attempting to survive beyond the death of the Universe.
2. In "The Sound of Drums", the Doctor said that the TARDIS could now only travel between 2007-ish and the year however-many trillion, not that it was stuck in 2007.
3. The TARDIS has been converted into a "paradox engine".
4. There ain't no paradox like the grandfather paradox.
So ...
5. Maybe the Toclafane are the last humans, travelling back from the end of time to attempt to survive by displacing their own ancestors.

Anonymous said...

i would like to think that the time vortex theory is right but theres a hole. in the parting of ways rose chooses what to destroy and brings back jack and the humans. that means that the doctor probably would of been able to stop the time lords from dying.

i read on wikipedia the definition of a time war. it is a war fought through-out time. there were two types. the first is where you use time to ambush your enemy or make tactical strikes against them. the second is when you go right back to the begining of your enemys history to destroy them.

a silly theory i had while making that last bit is that the doctor may have done the first. he tells rose that if the paths of the same person meet at the same point in time where only one should exsist then two thrids of the universe would be destroyed. i forgot how that happens but apparantly if im remembering straight then it would.

so mabye the doctor went into the future and crossed his own path. i say the future because if he went backwards in time then he would get destroyed as well like in the second version of a time war.

then he would bring destruction to the timelords and the daleks. also other planets suffered like planets belonging to the gelth, perganon or assinta (from school reunion)and that might have been because they are within the part of the universe that got destroyed.

that is a theory i just thought of so its not very well thought through. its just the ramblings of a fourteen year old who has only seen seris 2 and a few episodes from 1 and 3.

however i would just like to know how the master got to the end of the universe. they found him abandoned with just the (FOB) watch. if he had used a tardis it would still be there and another timelord wouldnt have given him a lift since his primary funtion was a soldier.


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