Last of the Time Lords was the thirteenth and final episode of the third series of Doctor Who. It marked the departure of Jack Harkness and Martha Jones as companions and the apparent death of the Master. It also indicated that Time Lords can stop themselves from regenerating if they so desire, and left viewers with a clear hint about the Face of Boe's real identity.
It wouldn't be until four years later in the 2011 story The Impossible Astronaut that the reason why the Doctor burned the Master's body, instead of burying it, was explained. The power of regeneration is sought by several species, and they would tear an entire planet apart for just as single cell. Thus a dead Time Lord must have their body cremated.
One year later, the Master and the Toclafane are rulers of Earth, which is torn apart by a year of hell. The Tenth Doctor has been aged 900 years, and Jack Harkness and the Jones family have been reduced to slavery on the Master's ship, the Valiant. The only hope for everyone on Earth is Martha Jones, now a legend amongst humanity. As the Master prepares to turn the Earth into a giant warship that will ultimately engulf the rest of the universe, Martha must trek through dangerous territory to destroy him, but tragedy awaits her, the Doctor and her family on the day that will pit humanity against the stars...
One year after the Master's takeover and decimation of Earth, the Earth (Sol 3) is closed from space traffic as it is entering extinction. On a beach on the coast of England, Tom Milligan directs Martha's boat in. She returns to the UK for the first time since the Toclafane invasion, having travelled the world. She tells Tom she has to talk to a Professor Alison Docherty and asks him why he is allowed to travel. He says it is because he is a doctor. Martha is happy she is travelling with a doctor. Tom tells Martha that she has become a legend around the world as the one person who can kill the Master, and asks her if this is true. She does not answer him.
The Master enters the deck of the Valiant, singing and dancing to Scissor Sisters' "I Can't Decide". He kisses Lucy, who shows signs of physical abuse, before taunting the aged Tenth Doctor by dancing around the room with him. He says there is one day until launch.
The Doctor refuses to speak. He only responds when the Master mentions that Martha has apparently returned to England. He tells the Master to leave her alone. The Master tries to force him to talk more, but knows that the "Toclafane" broke the Doctor's hearts when he realised what they are. The Doctor says he has just one thing to say, and the Master knows what it is, but the Master walks away. Francine is forced to be a waitress for the Master. Clive and Tish are also working on the Valiant. Tish's job is to feed Jack, who is chained to the engines. Tish gives Jack a hand signal to explain her plan, and Jack winks in acknowledgment.
Martha and Tom walk up a hill and see an enormous statue of the Master at the top of it; Martha comments that the Master has even carved himself into Mount Rushmore. Looking out at the miles of countryside in front of them, they see thousands of spaceships being built. Martha explains that thousands more are being built across the world, Russia being turned into a big shipyard, and that the Master is preparing for war with the rest of the universe. Suddenly, two Toclafane arrive and demand an explanation for Tom's travelling. He presents identification that he is allowed to travel and the Toclafane taunt him and move on. Tom asks Martha how the spheres didn't notice her, and she reveals that she is still wearing her TARDIS key perception filter, and that is how she has managed to travel the world.
Tish continues to spread her hand signal of three fingers, indicating that they will rebel at 3:00 pm. As the Master picks a girl to give him a massage and insults Lucy, Jack manages to break free of his chains, Clive pours water over all the technology and equipment, and Francine throws the Master's laser screwdriver to the Doctor. He points it at the Master and says once more that he only has one thing to say and the Master knows what it is. The Doctor tries to use the screwdriver against the Master, but it refuses to function for him. The Master, who was never worried, simply laughs at the Doctor. Jack is shot dead (again) by the Master's guards. The Master explains that the screwdriver has isomorphic controls and it only works for him, before taking it back and punching the Doctor to the floor. He demonstrates by torturing Francine and forcing her to apologise. She does so and the Master warns everyone that siding with the Doctor is not recommended. The Master continues to insult the Doctor and decides to take his revenge.
Martha and Tom arrive at Professor Docherty's workplace. She is trying to fix a television so they can watch a transmission from the Master. They are successful, and the Master speaks to the world. He comments that he has heard that tales of Martha have given them hope, but asks them how much hope does the Doctor have, and on camera ages the Doctor a further 900 years. On the television, the Doctor appears to be dead, and the transmission ends with a word of warning to Martha to surrender. On the Valiant, a tiny, disfigured creature emerges from the Doctor's clothes: a thousand-year aged Doctor. Martha is undisturbed, saying she knows the Doctor is still alive.
Martha tells Professor Docherty that she came to see her so that they can catch themselves a sphere: she has a CD containing the data of a Toclafane struck down by lightning in South Africa. Professor Docherty manages to produce enough electricity to simulate the conditions. Tom attracts attention by pulling out a gun and firing a few rounds into the air. A Toclafane comes flying towards them, and Professor Docherty activates the field to disable it. They prepare to find out what is inside.
Upon examining the sphere thus captured, they make a horrifying discovery: the sphere contains the conscious remains of the humans from the year 100 trillion. The Toclafane claims 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 100 trillion and here. 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, whom 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", and laughs maniacally. Tom is sickened and horrified by this and 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 comes to Earth's surface to capture Martha, killing Milligan, 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.
But as the clock counts down, Martha starts to laugh out loud, prompting the Master to angrily demand to know what she finds so funny. Martha now reveals the real reason she travelled the globe: it wasn't for a fictional anti-regeneration gun, with the Doctor himself pointing out that he would have never asked Martha to kill, nor was it 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 planned — engineered by Martha so that she would be brought on board the Valiant to rejoin the Doctor. Combined with the Master's Archangel Network, which the Doctor has had an entire year to tune to the frequency of, 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 (ignoring the Master's orders to stop) and end the Master's control. The combined psychic energy gives the Doctor great power and he is not only able to restore himself with it, but it shields him and temporarily grants him telekinesis with which he removes the Master's laser screwdriver from his hand. As the Master cowers against a wall, the Doctor says the words the Master was terrified 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 would never kill himself, and manages to teleport both himself and the Master back to the Valiant just as Jack destroys the paradox machine; this causes all time to reverse. Time reverses to the moment of the Paradox machine's activation, just after the US President was killed and just before the Toclafane arrived. All those on the Valiant will remember the events of the previous year 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 was". The Master tries to run but ends up running straight into Jack who recaptures him.
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 heartbroken Doctor in uncontrollable tears for his lost adversary, now once again left as the last of the Time Lords.
The Doctor cremates the Master's body on a pyre. He takes a burning torch and ignites the pyre, quickly swallowing up the Master's remains. After watching his old enemy and former friend burn up in front of him, he strides away from the funeral ceremony with a bitter look in his eyes.
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. When Jack protests, the Doctor rebuffs him by saying, "I can't have you walking around with a time travelling teleport. You could go anywhere, twice. The second time to apologise." 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 ageing. 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." Martha and the Doctor, realising the Face of Boe's true identity, are surprised and delighted.
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 number 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." Martha promises that she's going to call him again, and when she does, he'd better come running. As she heads out of the TARDIS, she parts with the words, "I'll see you again, mister." The Doctor smiles fondly at her and watches Martha take her leave.
While the TARDIS takes off, events flash back to the Doctor cremating the Master. Nothing appears to be different. However, after he leaves, the Master's signet ring drops out of the flames and lands on the ground, flaked with ashes, as though it were guided out of the fire by some unknown force. A female hand wearing red nail polish takes the Master's emerald ring from the burnt-out pyre, while the latter's malevolent laughter echoes in the background.
The Doctor, now in possession of his severed hand, sets the TARDIS controls — until the room is suddenly shaken with great force (because he did not have the TARDIS shields up), a foghorn bellows very loudly, and the bow of a ship smashes through the console room wall. The Doctor jumps out of the way and stumbles over his cockpit chair to the floor. As he recovers from the collision, he exclaims, "What... What?!?", looking up in disbelief at a puncture in his TARDIS, where a large vessel has broken through the TARDIS hull from the outside. Several panels in the console room have been ripped loose, along with an oxygen supply cable that has dislodged from the ceiling, swinging freely and gushing out a jet of air. Covered in rubble, the Doctor slowly recovers from the crash as the sound of the ship's clanging bell echoes through the room. He sees bits of his TARDIS strewn about the console floor, along with something new that doesn't belong in his ship at all. Picking up a lifebelt, he finds "Titanic" written on it, to which he can only respond flatly, "What."
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- The Master - John Simm
- Francine Jones - Adjoa Andoh
- Tish Jones - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
- Clive Jones - Trevor Laird
- Leo Jones - Reggie Yates
- Lucy Saxon - Alexandra Moen
- Thomas Milligan - Tom Ellis
- Professor Docherty - Ellie Haddington
- Lad - Tom Golding
- Woman - Natasha Alexander
- Sphere Voices - Zoe Thorne, Gerard Logan, Johnnie Lyne-Pirkis
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- As he leaves, Jack tells Martha and the Doctor that he was called the Face of Boe in his youth.
- The Master and Lucy travelled to Utopia.
- The Master's laser screwdriver has isomorphic controls.
- The Master refers to Rose Tyler, saying Martha is useless compared to her.
- The Master calls the hundred-year aged Doctor "Gandalf".
- The Master's funeral pyre takes place on Earth.
- Although the events of the so-called Year That Never Was are negated, several key events still occurred and as such are known to the residents of Earth.
- Alison Docherty mentions that she misses both Deses from Countdown and says, "Who would have thought we'd miss Bill Gates".
- The Doctor wants to take Martha to the planet Meta Sigma Folio.
- Thomas works for a peripatetic medical squad.
- The Master opens a rift in the Braccatolian Space.
Story notes Edit
- This episode is the fifth of a continuous story arc (the end of one episode immediately leading into another) which begins in the Torchwood episode Captain Jack Harkness, develops in the Torchwood episode End of Days, switches over to Doctor Who in Utopia, develops further in The Sound of Drums, and concludes here.
- This is the second consecutive series finale to end with the Doctor saying "What?" in utter confusion, the first being Doomsday.
- This episode has two directors, Colin Teague and Graeme Harper. In the DVD audio commentary, Freema Agyeman says that Colin had a injury by falling down the stairs and some scenes with Martha Jones in the episode were finished off by Graeme Harper.
- Jack returns to Cardiff for series two of Torchwood. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang takes place immediately after this one (although it is suggested in the later episode that some hours or possibly days pass before Jack actually reunites with his team — it's daytime when he leaves the Doctor, but night when he finds the team).
- Two versions of this episode exist — the full-length version, and a shorter 47-minute edit. A number of scenes are excised from the shorter edit, notably the "Sol 3" introduction to the episode, the Master singing and dancing along to "I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters, and sections of Martha's conversations with various resistance members. This shorter edit likely originates from BBC Worldwide's need for a standard-length edit of the episode to sell worldwide. It appeared on streaming services including Netflix and Hulu Plus, and is the only version currently available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and other online video storefronts - presently, the only way to get the full-length broadcast version of the episode is to purchase the DVD or Bluray release.
- The sound of the Master's laugh can be heard while a finger with a red painted finger nail picks up the Master's ring. The character who picked up the ring is seen in The End of Time.
- The Doctor states a desire to meet Agatha Christie, foreshadowing The Unicorn and the Wasp in which he follows through with this wish, with Donna Noble.
- The title Last of the Time Lords had previously been reported as a working title for one of the (ultimately aborted) big-screen adaptations of the series planned between 1989 and 2005; a poster showing the title Doctor Who: Last of the Time Lords even appeared in some film trade publications.
- Lucy, who was very loving towards her husband in The Sound of Drums, in this episode appeared to be very afraid of him, and she even had marks around her eye. According to the commentary this is because the Master's power went to his head and he started to physically abuse her. This is one of the reasons she joined in saying the Doctor's name, and shot the Master after he was defeated.
- This was the final episode to give screen credit to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for its help in co-funding the series; the CBC would continue its involvement in series 4, but would not be credited on screen.
- The Toclafane's origin is similar to that of the Somnus Foundation in the audio story Singularity. Singularity also featured technology that focused the collective psychic energy of humanity, like the satellites in this story.
- The episode features the surprise revelation that Jack was once known as the Face of Boe, suggesting that the character encountered in The End of the World, New Earth and Gridlock is in fact a future version of Jack Harkness. Writer Russell T Davies reportedly tried to backpedal from this in the DVD commentary, leading to speculation as to whether this is actually the case. However, multiple interviews on DVD and in other media by producer Julie Gardner and actors David Tennant and John Barrowman have all indicated without ambiguity that Jack is destined to become the Face of Boe. According to Gardner during a panel presentation at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, Barrowman wasn't aware of the revelation until fairly late in production.
- At the scene where Jack reveals he was called the Face of Boe, several people can be seen in the background taking pictures at the location of the Torchwood lift.
- While previous regenerations of the Doctor imply regeneration is a partly involuntary feature of Time Lords, the Master's choice to die rather than regenerate shows that a Time Lord has some control over his regenerative process. This is supported by Romana I's regeneration in Destiny of the Daleks where she is seen "trying on" various forms before settling on the final version of her new body. In his eleventh incarnation, the Doctor would also claim he could regenerate at will as a threat toward Mr Clever.
- In a deleted scene, before leaving the Doctor, Jack recites the "the 21st century is when it all changes and you've got to be ready" monologue heard at the beginning of all Torchwood episodes. Fragments would later reveal that Jack is (perhaps subconsciously) paraphrasing the last words of former Torchwood Three member Alex Hopkins.
- 8.61 million - Final Ratings
- 0.86 million - BBC Three Sunday repeat
- The Toclafane were rumoured to be an early form of Dalek created by the Master. This was proved false.
- As Freema Agyeman's departure from the series had been previously reported, there were rumours that Martha Jones might die in this episode. This was proved false.
- Some have claimed that it is Donna Noble (or maybe even Lucy Saxon) who picks up the ring after it falls from the Master's grip near the end of the episode. Russell T Davies jokes in the audio commentary of this episode that it was the hand of the Rani. In The End of Time the hand was revealed to be that of a prison warden who was a devotee of the Master.
- As the producers intended, the cliffhanger leading into Voyage of the Damned raised the question as to whether the TARDIS had collided with the real Titanic, which gave rise to fan speculation in the interim as to how this episode would reconcile with previous references to the Doctor's involvement with the ill-fated vessel. (TV: Rose, et al)
Filming locations Edit
- Cwrt-y-Vil Road, Penarth
- Nippon Electric Glass UK (Trident Park), Cardiff Bay (Lower decks of the Valiant)
- RAF St Athan (MOD St Athan), Vale of Glamorgan
- South Luton Place, Adamsdown, Cardiff (Street where Martha confronts the Master)
- Aberthaw Power Station, Aberthaw (Exterior of Professor Docherty's lab)
- Vaynor Quarry, Trefechan, Merthyr Tydfil (Location of the Doctor and the Master's fight)
- Whitmore Bay, Barry Island (Location of when Martha arrives by boat onto beach)
- Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff (Martha and the Doctor bid Jack goodbye)
- Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff (Location where Martha gives Professor Docherty flowers)
- Treforest Industrial Estate, Upper Boat, Pontypridd
Production errors Edit
- When the Master attempts to use his laser screwdriver on the psychically empowered Doctor, the laser light from the prop is reflecting off the lens of the camera he is pointing it at, which tells you there is a camera there.
- When the Master uses his laser screwdriver to age the Doctor, while he is in fast motion, on the TV screen Martha is looking at, you can clearly see Lucy's arms are also in fast motion.
- The "Toclafane" are future humans, who went to Utopia. (TV: Utopia)
- Earth is referred to as Sol 3. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)
- UNIT has a base in central London. (TV: Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons)
- The idea of a devastated London overrun by rabid dogs was first shown in PROSE: Blood Heat.
- The TARDIS has previously held back a paradox from PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon to PROSE: The Ancestor Cell.
- The Master's greatest fear was once revealed as an image of the Doctor towering over him and laughing. (TV: The Mind of Evil)
- The Master, shortly after being shot by Lucy Saxon, says to the Doctor, "It's always the women." This is a reference to him being shot by Chantho earlier, exclaiming, "Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate." (TV: Utopia)
- Jack Harkness later obtains the missing digit needed to reactivate his Time Agency wrist strap's teleportation functions from Martha Jones following her use of Project Indigo. ( TV: The Stolen Earth) The Doctor again deactivates this function shortly thereafter. (TV: Journey's End)
- The Doctor claimed that the TARDIS had isomorphic controls, (TV: Pyramids of Mars) then later actually encountered a device with such. (TV: A Christmas Carol)
- The Master mentions companions who could absorb the time vortex. (TV: The Parting of the Ways)
- The Master mentions the Third Doctor's battles with the Sea Devils (TV: The Sea Devils) and the Axons (TV: The Claws of Axos) and how he closed the rift at the Medusa Cascade.
- The Master uses the line, "How 'bout that, I win." near his death. The Doctor spoke a similar line ("I win, how 'bout that?") after destroying what he believed to be the "last" Dalek. (TV: Dalek)
- Between Martha's departure and the Titanic crashing into the TARDIS, the Doctor met up with his Fifth incarnation. (TV: Time Crash)
Home video releases Edit
- This has been released with Utopia and The Sound of Drums on the Series 3 Volume 4 DVD.
- Part of the series 3 DVD box set, released in 2009.
- Part of the series 3 Bluray, released as part of the Series 1-7 box set in 2013, then released as a standalone set in 2015.
- It was also released on iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play. The version for sale on these services is the shorter 45-minute edit.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: Last of the Time Lords
- Last of the Time Lords at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Last of the Time Lords at The Locations Guide