Tue, 3 July 2007
A year after the events of "The Sound of Drums", Earth has been closed to all species and labelled as in "terminal extinction". Martha returns to Britain, having travelled the world since teleporting away from the Valiant at the moment of the Master's triumph. Her TARDIS key, still generating a perception filter, has kept her hidden all this time. She meets Thomas Milligan, a doctor-turned-freedom-fighter, who can lead her to one Professor Docherty. Martha herself has become a figure of hope against the Master, rumoured to be the only one capable of killing him.
Meanwhile, on the Valiant, the Master is keeping the aged Doctor in a 'dog-kennel' tent as his humiliated prisoner, Martha's family as his servants, and Captain Jack Harkness in chains. Lucy Saxon is still his companion, but shows evidence of physical and emotional abuse. The Master shows the Doctor the world he has created: the new Time Lord Empire. Across the planet, warships are being built to wage war on the rest of the universe. The Doctor has "only one thing to say", but the Master doesn't want to hear it. After a failed attempt by the Jones family, Jack, and the Doctor to gain control by stealing the Master's laser screwdriver, the Master sends out a transmission intended for Martha. Watching in Docherty's lab, she sees the Master suspend the Doctor's capacity to regenerate and age him by a further nine hundred years, shrinking him into a tiny, frail creature. Instead of being dismayed, Martha draws hope from the Doctor's continued survival.
Though the Toclafane have proven to be virtually invincible, Martha reveals that she stumbled upon one that was struck by lightning, and with the data gathered from the incident Docherty is able to replicate the required conditions. Upon examining the sphere thus captured, they make a horrifying discovery: the Toclafane contain the conscious remains of the humans from the year 100 trillion. There was no Utopia, only more darkness, and with everything dying around them the humans cannibalised and regressed themselves, becoming the child-like Toclafane. The Master brought them back in time using the TARDIS, which could only travel between Utopia and present-day Earth. The contradiction of the Toclafane killing their own ancestors is made possible by the paradox machine built by the Master. Martha is horrified when the Toclafane quotes young Creet that she met on Malcassairo, telling her that the Toclafane have shared memories of the last of humanity. When questioned as to why it wishes to kill its own ancestors, the Toclafane responds, "Because it's fun" followed by maniacal laughter. Tom subsequently shoots it dead.
When Docherty asks if the rumours about Martha are true, Martha reveals a gun, developed by Torchwood and UNIT, purportedly able to kill a Time Lord and prevent the ensuing regeneration. Martha has retrieved three of the four chemicals needed for the gun from their hiding places around the world, and has returned to London to find the fourth. After Martha and Thomas depart for a shelter in Bexley to hide, Docherty (who is desperate for information regarding her missing son) reveals their whereabouts to the Master.
The Master thus comes to Earth's surface to capture Martha, killing Tom, destroying the special gun and taking her back to the Valiant. He intends to execute her before the Doctor and her family, at the moment his fleet is launched. As the clock counts down, Martha reveals the real reason she travelled the globe. It wasn't for a fictional anti-regeneration gun, or to fight back, but merely to talk. She told everyone about the Doctor; specifically, she told everyone to think of the Doctor at the same time the Master plans to launch his fleet. Docherty's betrayal was expected, engineered by Martha so that she would be brought on board the Valiant to rejoin the Doctor. Combined with the Master's Archangel satellite network, which the Doctor has had an entire year to get in tune with, this has the effect of charging the Doctor with the combined psychic energy of the people of Earth. This enables the Doctor to restore his youthful physiognomy and end the Master's control. As the Master cowers, the Doctor says the words the Master was afraid to hear: "I forgive you."
With the Master out of the picture, Jack rounds up some soldiers to destroy the paradox machine, but is delayed by the Toclafane. The Master, using Jack's vortex manipulator, teleports himself and the Doctor to Earth, threatening to detonate his fleet and take the Earth with it. The Doctor knows that the Master can't kill himself, and manages to teleport both himself and the Master back to the Valiant just as Jack destroys the paradox machine, rewinding time to just after the US President is killed and just before the Toclafane arrive. All those on the Valiant remember the events due to being at "the eye of the storm", but nobody else will know of the Master's reign of terror in "the year that never happened".
The Master, now defenceless, is handcuffed and stands before the Doctor. The Doctor announces that, since the Master is a Time Lord, he is the Doctor's responsibility and will be imprisoned on board the TARDIS. Francine Jones is talked out of shooting the Master, but Lucy Saxon, with a glazed expression, seizes a gun herself and shoots him. Rather than be a prisoner for the rest of his lives, the Master lets himself die, refusing to regenerate despite the Doctor's desperate pleas. Just before dying in his opponent's arms, the Master muses on the constant drumming in his head, wondering if it will finally stop, and with a smile says, "I win", leaving the Doctor to weep for his lost adversary and fellow Time Lord. The Doctor cremates the Master's body on a pyre. However, after he leaves, a female hand wearing red nail polish is seen taking the Master's ring from the burnt-out pyre, with malevolent laughter echoing in the background.
In Cardiff, Jack decides to remain behind to look after his team, "defending the Earth". The Doctor disables Jack's vortex manipulator to keep him from jumping through time unsupervised. The Doctor then tells Jack there's nothing that can be done about his immortality: it seems likely he'll never be able to die — though he isn't sure about aging. Thinking about what he might look like millions of years from now, Jack confesses his vanity and recalls how, as the first person from the Boeshane Peninsula to join the Time Agency, his good looks earned him the nickname "the Face of Boe".
With the TARDIS repaired, the Doctor is ready to move on. Martha, however, has decided to stay so she can look after her family and finally qualify as a medical doctor. She gives the Doctor her phone so they can keep in touch and says she will see him again, but when someone is in love and it's unrequited, they have to get out: "this is me getting out". Leaving in the TARDIS, the Doctor begins to relax in the console room chair — until the ship is suddenly shaken with great force, and the bow of a ship smashes through the TARDIS' wall. Picking up a lifebelt, he finds "Titanic" written on it, to which he can only respond, "What?!"
 Cast Notes