"Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences."
IN THIS ONE... The Doctor buries the Hand of Omega. Ace stays at a racist bed and breakfast.
REVIEW: I love time travel stories, and that's probably why I love the seventh Doctor. He thinks in four-dimensional terms, referencing time frequently, and in another of his excellent speeches, takes a moment to ponder what right he has to play around with history, even in a good cause. Though playing the long game (a very long game if it started at least 500 years ago when he was William Hartnell) obviously takes its toll on him, but ultimately, there's no real choice. As Fresh Prince's Joseph Marcell tells him, the best thing is just to get on with it. Even the Doctor can't see all the variables, and trying to calculate them is just paralyzing.
The other main thread running through the story is the racism and segregation inherent to the 1960s setting, an honest portrayal in what should otherwise be a tribute to the era. Ratcliffe was a Nazi sympathizer and his "Association" a racist organization. Mike's mum has a "No coloureds" sign in the window, which shocks Ace's sensibilities. And Marcell's John muses about his ancestors being sold into slavery. The reason this isn't just period flavor or, worse, "a very special episode of Doctor Who" is that it ties perfectly into the A-story. This is, after all, about the Daleks. They aren't just space Nazis, they're also all about genetic purity, especially in the Civil War era, the gray ones hating on the white ones and vice-versa, Imperials vs. Renegades, Davros vs. Supreme Dalek.
There are a great many things I love about this episode aside from the way it weaves its themes in. The Hand of Omega's funeral with the Doctor playing coy with both the undertaker and a blind priest. The exciting firefight in the science class with Ace jumping around the room amid exploding debris. The Doctor repeatedly deflating Group Captain Gilmore's ego. "Frightening, isn't it, to find there are others better versed in death than human beings." The ironic spot for the headmaster's death. "School lunches." And of course, the B&B TV getting cut off just as it's about to announce the first episode of a new science fiction series, Doc---
REWATCHABILITY: High - Hits all the notes I want an Anniversary show to hit, and more besides.