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DOCTOR WHO: Season 1, Episode 11-13

BOOM TOWN. Season 1, episode 11.

Before we dive deep into the depths of the series' finale, we have this little oddity. Feeling somewhat like a bottle episode, with few sets and effects, relying more on dialogue and a moral dilemma for The Doctor and his companions. It's a darker episode, revealing the consequences of traveling with The Doctor, along with what kind of a person he really is.

There's little camp to be found here, as the cold open focus on turning the Slitheen into something creepy and scary again. The farts are gone too; just a rumbling stomach makes its presence known, as the show seems to be on the road to growing up, developing Margaret into a fully fledged character instead of a farting, laughing villain.

Mickey returns as he and Rose are stuffed into a B-story, talking about how Mickey has moved on and is dating another woman. Margaret has her last meal with The Doctor, discussing genocide and hinting at the darker history of The Doctor. All the characters seem to have grown up a bit, just like the show, even if the episode relishes the possibility to make every character say stupid nonsense earlier on. It's fun, it's dark and it's mature, it sets up things that will come into play later and it's generally one of the better episode. It even ties itself into the rift between worlds in the second episode, making the season more cohesive and part of one story. Good stuff all around.

Then, presumably because it's impossible for RTD not to just have and admire his cake without eating it, the episode turns around and makes Margaret the villain, with the Earth in jeopardy. Then he pulls a deus ex machina (that I'm actually sort-of okay with), introducing the TARDIS as a living thing and making Margaret stare into its heart, turning into an egg and given a second chance. It's happy and beautiful, sure, but it's a bit of a cheat, a "get out of jail free"-card, and it doesn't really make sense because the Slitheen species are raging assholes who loves to kill, so presumably she'll just grow up and be evil again, just with the rest of her species now.

Some of the sting is still present though, as Rose at last leaves Mickey behind to live his own life in the closing seconds.

CONCLUSION: A good morality tale, posing interesting questions and hinting at the darker sides of The Doctor, even if it features a "get out of jail free"-card.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars, 8/10 and B.


- Teleport-scene is funny.

- BAD WOLF! AND THE THEME! Foreshadowing goes nuclear here.

- Eccleston isn't quite as good as The Doctor this time around. He nails the serious and important, as well as some of the more jokey material, but the switches between them end up feeling very strange.

- Ah, the gang's all back together. I love it when a gang's solving mysteries or going on adventures. And the dialogue is great; RTD is on fire here.





BAD WOLF. Season 1, Episode 12.
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS. Season 1, episode 13.

Let's talk about structure for a bit. Structure is that "hidden" code that writers use to tell their story. It can be three acts or five acts. It can make the main character win and win and win, then drastically have all those wins fall apart as the character sees he's lost sight of his original goal, and lost his soul in the process. Or it can have the main character lose and lose and lose, then when he finally gets that win... Well, you can imagine the feeling we get as an audience.

Structure is how you tell your story. And I have to say, the structure in the first season of Doctor Who is pretty damn cool. Telling the story of "Bad Wolf", a phrase that's scattered in nearly every episode, they've already created a mystery that the audience wants to solve. What we don't know is that we've already been told most of the pieces, and these last episodes are all about piecing it together.

"Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways" take place in the same space station as the cleverly titled "The Long Game". It returns to do some slight social commentary, as in the future all reality shows now end in death when you lose. The first part is, once again, mostly here to build up the mystery, but there's a lot of story to burn through and it rides the shockwave of the "what the hell is going on?"-opening, making it the best first part of two-parters - at least this far. The episode even manages to foreshadow Torchwood, before seemingly killing off Rose in a desperate scene, then revealing the big bads, showing us thousands upon thousands Daleks - a scary sight regardless of what you've seen before, but given that we've seen the damage one Dalek can do... the sight gives us shivers - and ends on a great big badass boasts that comes damn close to being a "fuck yeah!" moment, even though The Doctor has no plan, is outmatched and the Daleks have Rose.

There are a lot of cogs in this season finale, a lot of spinning wheels, teased and dealt out over the course of the season, and the episode lives up to damn near every one of them. It brings back the Daleks ("Dalek"), gives Captain Jack a character arc ("The Doctor Dances"), speaks about The Doctor's morality and past ("Boom Town"), follows up on "The Long Game" and gives Jackie and Mickey, introduced in "Rose" and followed up in "Aliens of London" and "World War Three", their moment to shine. That makes seven of these thirteen episodes a part of the main story, with the two last being them coming together. In other words, there are really only four episodes of Doctor Whos first season that are stand-alone, and those are "Father's Day" (but not completely, since it comments upon time-travel and that conversation comes back here), "The End of the World" (but not really, because the line of people loyal and willing to die for The Doctor continues here), "The Unquiet Dead" (apart from some Bad Wolf-foreshadowing, this is the most stand-alone episode in the season, even if it comments on The Doctor's willingness for genocide), and "The Empty Child", (because it's mostly set-up for "The Doctor Dances"). It makes for a pretty good structure and becomes very satisfying when watched as a whole, even if some of the pieces are weak on their own.

So the Daleks are back, hurtling The Doctor into making a desperate decision; to kill them, he has to kill all the people living on Earth. It's the moral dilemma of "Boomtown" writ large, and Eccleston sells it, being the best he's ever been. He truly becomes The Oncoming Storm to the Daleks' inhumanity, even if they're made of little bits of human.

It's a powerful, epic and dark episode, with lines like "If I am the creator of life, then what does that make you, Doctor?". Sadly, like "Boomtown", it seems to have realized that there's no good solution here, besides... a deus ex machina. Rose becomes the TARDIS incarnate (or something like it), scattering Bad Wolf through time and space, disintegrating the Dalek fleet and bringing Captain Jack back from the dead. It's a weak ending and an easy solution, even if it makes sense (sort of - it's more handwaving than explained), and even if it was set-up in "Boomtown", making the latter episode's shift in tone and happy ending better in retrospect (though it does beg the question of why Rose didn't become a baby).

Then it's back in the TARDIS and home to London in time for Christmas, as The Doctor absorbs the time-vortex and every body in his cell dies. Goodbye, Christopher Eccleston. It was nice having you, and I nearly teared up this time when you went. Hello, David Tennant. I'm already dreading your demise. But we'll have a lot of fun before that time comes.

CONCLUSION: The final two-parter ties together the season as a whole, delivering a dark and epic story with a lot of spinning wheels. Unfortunately, much like "Boomtown", it has an easy solution to an impossible problem, and ends up pulling out the "soul of the TARDIS" to solve it. Nevertheless, it's a lot of fun when it works, and it works pretty damn well.

BAD WOLF: 4.5 out of 5, 9/10 and B+.
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS: 4.5 out of 5, 9/10 and A-.


- There is nothing as great as seeing the TARDIS flying through space.

- Love it when they use the Anne Droid against the Daleks.


My post on the whole of Season One will be up tomorrow, complete with ranking, rating and a conclusion of the whole thing. Then it's on to season 2 and The Tennant Years, starting with "The Christmas Invasion"!

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