The Waters of Mars

Doctor Who The Waters of MarsNow that was rather good.

The production team had previous said that Planet of the Dead had deliberately been a light-hearted runaround to compensate for how dark the remaining specials were going to be, and Waters of Mars did not disappoint.

From the outset it was obvious we were in for something different, as from the moment the Doctor realises where and when he is, he’s desperate to leave, but at odds with his own curiousity and tendency to interfere.  This eventually builds up to a wonderfully powerful scene with the Doctor walking away from the base, haunted by the chatter of the base crew trying to escape from the Water, and in some cases, failing.  The pain on the Doctor’s face there is very affecting, and leads directly into his subsequent actions.

And what a surprise they were.  I was expecting the Doctor to surprise us, but to the extent that he does, was downright scary.  We’re presented with the Doctor having a breakdown, and the responsibility of being the last of the Time Lords finally weighs on him too much and pushes him over the edge.

Back as far as New Earth, the 10th Doctor has set himself up as the ultimate authority in the universe and here that is his undoing.  He’s on  his own and (as Donna said in Runaway Bride) needs someone to stop him, and more than that, just keep him grounded and give him a friend.  Donna’s eventual fate affected the Doctor briefly and has put him on this slope where he’s pushed away all those that could’ve helped him.  We can only hope that his realisation of what he’s done, combined with the glimpse of Ood Sigma has led the Doctor to realise just how much he’s hurting and needs help.

I guess back in the day, the Doctor could always be more relaxed in his interference.  Despite his protests, there would’ve been a reassurance that should he push things too far, the Time Lords would’ve stepped in.  The loss of those Time Lords have finally forced the Doctor to face up to the responsibilities he always ran away from, and perhaps now the Time Lord’s policy of non-interference doesn’t look so nonsensical.   Perhaps the reason they ignored all those evils in the universe, was simply because they knew that eventually they would be tempted to abuse their power in the way the Doctor now has, and ultimately become much worse than anything they’d previously stopped.   Much easier to have the Doctor running around, who they can clamp down on should they need to.

The other aspects of the story were equally successful.  The water monsters were creepy, and terrifying in the way that a single droplet of water would turn people into them.  The most effective deaths by far being Steffi’s (as she is trapped in the room with the water pouring in, watching a video message from her children knowing her fate is inescapable) and Roman’s, as he tells the others to go on without him after a single drop falls on him.

And there was even a nod to the Ice Warriors 🙂

This was a superb setup for the final two-parter.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned, and I’m very glad to see the return of John Simm as the Master.

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2 thoughts on “The Waters of Mars

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  1. I liked the episode greatly, especially when watching it the second time through (Thanks, Catch-up On demand!). The only thing that got to me was the pestering thought that… the Doctor could have had his cake and eaten it. He could have taken them anywhere and anywhen. Somewhere, another planet they could survive, live out their days in peace, letting Earth believe them dead from the detonation. Something he also did to a degree in Pompei, leaving them in another city.

    I had high hopes for the next two parter, but I’m not sure how I feel about the circumstances of the Master’s return now that I’ve seen the coming up clip. The glowing skull effect did not… work for me. I wasn’t too fond of it. Though my mind was rattling with ideas of how the Doctor will react.. His words echoing in my head “The Laws of time are mine, and they will.. obey.. me.” Very Master.

    Up to this point, I’ve had some theories regarding how the Master is to return, and why his hair is now blond. One of my thoughts is that it is not the original Master at all, and in fact a biological human-Timelord metacrisis between Lucy ‘Saxon’ and the regenerative energy (or Timelord essence, like in the chameleon watch) I believe to be inside the ring. This would explain the hair, he got it from Lucy.

    As for Donna.. how cool would it be if Donna’s mother is actually Lucy? =D Making her father, dum dum dum, the Master? Such a revelation would be difficult to swallow, as it would conflict with much of what we’ve seen of Donna but… Both Lucy and her mother have seemed cold, both are blond, and both recently lost their husband.. Strangely enough, in Turn Left, the timing of Donna’s mother seeming still raw over losing her husband do seem to coincide with the timing of the end of Season 3, as it’s the scene just after the the hospital going to the moon, where they go on the free holiday and she mentions it.. Was it on her mind so much because she noticed the absence of her past self and Harold Saxon in this timeline..?

    Who knows. I look forward to seeing exactly what the drums are about, how Donna is to return, and just what is going on with the Master’s hair this time. =]

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  2. Agreed. There was an easy way out for the Doctor, by just taking the survivors, and putting them somewhere they could live their lives while the people of Earth assumed they died in the explosion. I guess its just a reflection of the emotional state of the Doctor that he flips between the two extremes of “mustn’t get involved” and “Time Lord Victorious” without the obvious middle ground occurring to him.

    I do wonder what’s going on with the Master in the teaser as well. The obvious CGI skull moment leaps out as hinting that there’s something weird about his resurrection, and he’s not necessarily back as a full Time Lord as he was in The Sound of Drums. The blonde hair also seems too random a change to be anything less than deliberate, although what it could signify I really don’t have a clue.

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