This week’s episode –
The plot? Who cares. There was a plot? Not really — it was more of a “Doctor Who Greatest Hits” collection: A location that was obviously a quarry; some refugees that need help doing something; the plucky survivability of mankind; some vague monstery-things; a base under seige; running through corridors, etc. None of it really mattered a toss.
It served as a background for the bits of true focus — the reintroduction of The Master, and some nice answers about Jack Harkness.
The whole fob-watch thing was a brilliant solution to the ‘you’re the last of your kind/you are not alone’ paradox. The Master survived because at the time of the destruction of the Time Lords, he wasn’t one. He had gone into hiding, having re-booted himself as a human, with his true identity hidden stored as a “data backup” in the watch (just as the Doctor had done in Human Nature). A neat solution. Of course, we don’t know how he got out of the last mess we saw him in (being thrown into the Eye of Harmoney in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie), nor do we know why he felt that he needed to hide. But that’s cool — some mystery is always a good thing.
The regenerated Master, played by John Simm (AKA “Mister Saxon”) looks to be, to quote Jack’s assessment of the 10th Doctor, “cheeky” — far more snarky and almost playful than any of the previous dead-serious incarnations:
“Why don’t we stop and have a nice little chat while I tell you all my plans and you work out a way to stop me…. I don’t think!”
It was also nifty to hear about how Jack had gotten from the future to present day Cardiff (explaining along the way why we had flashbacks of him in World War 1 in Torchwood.)….and, more importantly, why the Doctor left him in the first place. The idea that the Doctor’s Time Lord senses make him AFRAID of Jack, because Jack is “wrong” is very, very cool.
“You’re a fixed point in time and space. Unchanging. A Fact. You shouldn’t be.”
The fact that this ended on a cliffhanger, making it our first “three parter” in the new show, was unannounced — but it doesn’t really matter. The final two-parter is the real story. This was just the set-up. (Plus, the “cliffhanger” is a false one — the gun is on the mantlepiece already — anybody watching the episode knows that the Doctor is going to repair Jack’s “burned out” Time-Travel wrist-thingie that they made sure to show us, and they’ll use it to travel to present-day London because Martha recognized The Master’s voice as Saxon’s.)
So, the short version: Negligible, unimportant plot, serving as a mise-en-place for the serving up of some tasty character and continuity nifties.