Okay, so I don't actually know Morse Code. But... wow, that was really bad.
No, seriously, that was beyond bad and out the other side. A LONG way out the other side. I have no desire to watch this episode again, frankly, and if I ever sit down to show someone S3, I will be stopping it right after "The Sound of Drums" and saying, "Make up your own ending. Or read the AU fic of your choice. Trust me, it'll be about a million times better that way."
There was so much that could have been done with this episode. The setup in the first two episodes was great. But as usual, RTD had to up the stakes to an utterly ridiculous level, and then come up with an even more ridiculous way to resolve it. Seriously, the old series got drama out of the Master interfering with the signing of Magna Charta (albeit for wholly inexplicable reasons), but the new series has to have him convert billions of people into maniacal homicidal spheres single-handedly and then take over the entire Earth and get well underway to conquering the universe in just about two years? SMTWTFS?
Also, the Doctor being revived and rejuvenated by the collective telepathic power of the human race, and then flying around like the Blue Fairy, is exactly the sort of idiotic nonsense I was hoping that RTD had got out of his system after he turned Rose into the ultimate Mary Sue in S1. Apparently not.
The Doctor forgiving the Master was moving, and could have been a meaningful character development for the Doctor. The Doctor pleading with the Master to regenerate and then weeping over his dead body left me profoundly squicked. Hello, we are talking about a genocidal maniac who has caused untold suffering to billions here. I don't care if he's the only other Time Lord in the universe. There is no support in old or even new canon for the Doctor being that emotionally attached to the Master, slash-tinted goggles notwithstanding. Principled forgiveness for what the Master had done to him, yes; gushing sentimentality which is basically spitting in the face of everybody else the Master caused to suffer, no.
Also, the CGI wee!old!Doctor was just stupid.
Good things about the episode, because I do wish to be fair:
- The first half-hour was actually quite awesome; gripping and suspenseful and not yet entirely stupid.
- Martha Jones rocks the house. Always. Except for her postscript at the end. Gnaaaarrrh!
- Jack as the Face of Boe. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA YES.
- My firm conviction that Lucy Saxon, signs of abuse notwithstanding (and how cliched was that?) shot the Master as part of a prearranged plan should he fall into the Doctor's overly merciful clutches. With the understanding that the Doctor would do exactly what he did, and that Lucy would collect the Master's ring with its (no doubt) samples of his DNA or whatever would be necessary to rebuild him. THE CRAZY SOCIOPATHIC LOVE OF THE SAXONS IS DEEP AND ETERNAL.
But anyway. "The more I think about that episode," said my husband conversationally as he passed by the door of the office just now, "the more I realize just how embarrassingly bad it was. I may not be able to sleep tonight for thinking about its badness."