Non spoiler version: Since getting this episode too rather longer than usual, I went and spoiled myself on other people's reviews - and thus, was expecting to not like this episode. So it was to my surprise that I did like it - as with last week, like rather than love, but I definitely rate this higher than the first two-parters of the previous series'. And I find some of the criticisms from people I normally agree with quite puzzling, but more in the land of spoilerdom...
Getting it out first, then: All the talk of the Doctor being a bastard to Martha in this episode? I just don't see it at all. The closest there was, was the Doctor's "No time for hugging" bit, and since I think he initiated that, it comes off less as a rejection, and more a "Oh shit, bad stuff's still happening!"
Yeah, they spent a lot of the episode apart, but when they were together? Aside from the aforementioned Twirly!Hug, there was the Doctor, repeatedly, giving Martha job to do. Trusting her, showing faith in her abilities, not just to help people out in her trained manner, but to go beyond, to helping save the freaking world. In giving her the psychic paper, Martha was effectively deputised to the Doctor. Not just doctor in training, but Doctor in training. (Remember School Reunion, and the subtexts of Sarah Jane getting the Sonic Screwdriver, rather than Rose who expected it?) he even had her own companions, to hand her equipment and tell her how wonderful she was. That medical student Chekov's Gun is looking more and more relevent now...
Even Tallulah commented on it. (Bringing the Chekov's Gun to audience attention? We shall have to see) They make a good team. And she so called him on him trying to make her stay out of trouble, running and hiding.
Speaking of that conversation, the Tallulah convo with Martha seems the trigger for said accusations of bastardry. But the key bit is, we've seen most of the Doctor/Martha dynamic (with the Gridlock-DiM gap as notable exception), and she is referring in past tense, so it seems (to me at least) that most of Martha's woes are triggered by the TSC conversation of actual bastardness, and the well warranted rebound accusation in Gridlock.
(Also, it has lead me to conclude that all the problems in the Doctor/Martha relationship are caused by TSC. QED)
So, my post yesterday feels a bit prophetic. The Doctor/Martha relationship seems rather like Rebecca (From the POV of the new Mrs de Winter/Martha). The new
So... when's the other shoe going to drop? When's the relationship between
Huh. In any case, I am now referring to any situation when Rosefen desperately go on about how utterly perfect Rose and her love were, and how Martha can never possibly compare as Danversing. Because I find the analogy fits rather well.
Another thing you can read out of said conversation with Martha - and I see a couple of others have picked up on this - is that you can see a possibly what might be the major psychological issue with Martha. Where Rose had a sort of need for identity, and selfishness, Martha seems to have an inferiority/insecurity thing about if people genuinely like her for her, or just the place she is filling in their lives. It showed up in one of the pre-series Blog Posts, and looking at her family in Smith and Jones, you can kind of see a root to it - everyone turns to Martha in order to sort things out. She's used by Annalise to argue with Francine. It's not an insecurity about what he can do - she's plenty confident of that. But if you want things done, where do you go? To the person who does them. And just when she thinks she's got an escape from this, she finds herself (or so she thinks) placed in this position by the Doctor. Again.
Martha's family background gives some very obvious Pop Psychology reasoning for this - parent divorced messily, and it's not unlikely the children were an issue there, effectively being used as an item rather than as the people themselves (Plus, it might explain why Martha is used to acting as intermediary). Not to mention the middle child thing. Pop Psychology is big on this one. Used to being the ignored one, the one stuck in the middle, who has to fight for attention, to not be considered a replica of another sibling. Insecure in their position, as neither the responsible older one, or the baby of the family. Diplomat, peacemaker, feeling like they are lacking in significance, often over-achieves to get the attention they feel is deserved (hello, medical school). Ringing any bells?
Note to self: When I have some free time, check if there are any actual academic studies on the impact of birth order on personality. I'm sure there's something more recent.
In any case, fiction doesn't need to obey the laws of reality. Fiction needs to make moresense then reality. Because we only get a few pages/hours of someone, a lifetime os reduced to shorthand, and pop psychology, for all it mightn't be actually true, has a logic to it that makes sense. Rose had that only child confidence that she's the centre of the world, and Martha has the middle child feeling of being ignored. This stuff has to mean something in fiction, because what you can say is limited.
It's like Freud. An awful lot of his theories have been discredited psychologically, but that doesn't change the fact there are huge amounts of Freudian literary analysis still carried out. And it makes sense - unlike reality, fiction is representative. It's a symbolic medium, and generally symbols mean something. Whereas in reality... things don't have to mean anything. They just are.
In any case, I probably ought to end this tangent before someone tried to differentiate it. Or something.
So, the rest of this episode.
There was some interesting stuff in this episode on humanity. Yeah, a lot of yay humans, but that bit the Human Dalek said at the start, about war and hate and whatnot? He's not wrong. Humanity is that. They are so much more, but there is a nasty streak in them.
Daleks gossiping and looking behind to see if anyone is listening = so very much win. It's like a lunchbreak chat about Sec's new plastic surgery. Or something.
Also, Solomon honey, you can't monologue at the villains like that, and expect to come out of it okay. Only recurring characters can do that. The exterminate after "What do you say?" was inevitable, really. (And Sec flinched... that human stuff is getting to him)
I'm trying to work out if the Doctor has a Cunning Plan, or just a death wish. Or if he's being very risky, and playing the odds about Sec. Using himself as a poker chip?
As others have said, I was trying very hard not to compare Martha's "What about us?" with Rose's "What about meee!" Or the fact that Rose committed genocide, and only ever brought it up again to be cocky in the dalek's faces, whereas Martha immediately responded by freaking out about the fact she had killed people.
And Martha is smart, and helpful, and with her fabulous companions works out what's going on. (Is Martha as to Frank and Tallulah as the Doctor as to Martha? Discuss.)
The Daleks... really haven't read the Evil Overlord list, have they? Giving away their plan like that. That said, if Human Dalek Sec genuinely wants help (To save himself, or his species? His species to survive, or to conquer?), well, giving all the info does inspire trust. And he said Davros was wrong! And lo, did the other Daleks plot mutiny. The Doctor can't believe it either.
Lovely view up the Empire State Building, I must say.
"I know that one man can change the course of history. One idea in the right place at the time right time, that's all it takes. I've got to believe it's possible."
Aside from being a neat line and, you know, what Doctor Who is all about, I'm wondering if this line might have further consequences this series.
Inevitable Dalek Mutiny!
"You told us to imagine, and we imagined your irrelevance." I love bitchy Daleks.
The Doctor trusts Martha to fight, to hold her own. Does he expect her to live through it, I'm not sure? He's playing high stakes, here, and I'm not sure if he's bluffing. It's sort of adorably awesome, though.
The pigslaves in the lift cracked me up. All they needed was elevator music...
And Martha is smart. And freaks out when she realises the consequences of it. And needs someone to tell her it's okay, they are already dead. I had a flashback to Adeola, there.
Dude, Doctor, what are you up to with the electrocution thing? Given he doesn't seem surprised - or all that hurt - when Martha and co show up, I don't think this was a death wish thing. Especially given the later Time Lord DNA stuff - I'd say last minute plan, not intended fatally. But the Doctor, lately, has been running some plans that have some seriously high levels of chance going - see also Smith and Jones. Did he expect Martha to save his life, or was he giving up the regeneration? The frequency, the fact he doesn't seem hugely surprised to end up alive, and trusting Martha to do what she must, it strikes me as having both incredible faith in her, and playing some seriously chancy odds. Getting a bit Sevenish prior to Human Nature?
He was very pretty unconscious on the spire, though. Though the New York at night backdrop helped.
And showdown in a theatre. Bless. I rather like. Especially Martha refusing to run and hide, and calling him on giving her orders.
Sec in chains is way too kinky for my liking. But bless him, dying to save the Doctor. (It wasn't an entirely noble action, given he wanted the Doctor to, you know, save the race
There was mondo religious imagery in that scene, I have to say. Christ pose!Doctor, talking about baptising the human hybrid whatsits in his blood. (And when you find they have Time Lord DNA, willing to die for his people. Ho boy)
And questioning hybrid!people. And then Dalek Caan wipes them all out. And the Doctor loses yet another connection to his race. To another genocide. Ouch.
And so it ends, with just one Time Lord, and one Dalek (filmed in that incredibly western showdown way). "What do you say?"
And instead of Exterminate, which Solomon got, we have Emergency Temporal Shift. Are we supposed to keep the Solomon = Doctor analogy going, or has it changed now? I'm not sure. Also, as much as it bothers some people that the Daleks still exist, at least we get an explanation rather than, "They're all dead! Surprise, no they aren't." But Dalek Caan - insert KHAAAAAN joke here - could be anywhere and anywhen. Do we expect paranoid Doctor now? For the very first time, he knows there are is still a Dalek in existance.
And yet... in that confrontation, you could see why the Doctor refused to commit genocide (There's a bit of a genocide theme in this episode. Martha and the pig slaves, the Daleks and the human hybrid whatsits... and the Doctor, refusing once more). He knows that guilt, and he wants no more part of it. And he knows the loneliness of being the last, and wants to prevent that, too.
Saving Laszlo was good, though. Especially given the number of people who died. (Which is over a 1000, if we are talking offscreen implied)
"There's been too many deaths today, way too many people have died. Brand new creatures, and wise old men, and age old enemies. And I'm telling you, I'm telling you right now, I am not having one more death. You got that? Not one! Tallulah, out of the way! The Doctor is in!"
Ending with the same lines that it started with - almost. I'm a sucker for that sort of ending, really. And forboding look, as we ponder the very last Dalek - for now, anyway.
So, well, there's rather a lot to talk about for an episode that is mostly a popcorn movie, don't think too hard type. (I gleefully ignored the dodgy science, given that, well, Doctor Who is practically based on dodgy science. I'll live)