Hard to give my impressions of this one, since so much of it will depend on how it turns out in the final episode.
That said, I was somewhat disappointed. As an old-school Who fan, I’m having adjustment problems to John Simm’s portrayal of The Master. There’s far too much Cesar-Romero-as-The-Joker in there for me. Way too much over-the-top humor. I recognize that there’s no reason that every Time Lord shouldn’t drastically change during a regeneration (after all, the Doctor’s personality is all over the place from incarnation to incarnation)….but this is way beyond what we’ve seen from The Master before. The boldly-lettered cartoon packet of dynamite? The gas attack? “Here come the drums!”? I just don’t know. Feels…..forced.
Waiting for the big reveal, too — what are the Toclafane? I expected that to be the cliffhanger revelation, but no. We just got concerned-Doctor-face as the Master gloats. Ho-hum. There better be a big pay-off there.
In fact, the best things about this episode were the things it only mentioned in passing or showed in brief glimpses — “I saw the Dalek Emperor use The Cruciform”; “We were led before the Untempered Schism”; etc.
UNIT has a helicarrier. As
We got to see Gallifrey, big fuck-off collars and all. That was nice. Also, for the first time, establishment on-screen that there are children on Gallifrey, dismissing the fan-favorite novel-invented “Looms” theory (read the New Adventures section of this wiki entry for details).
Still, I’m waiting to see how it turns out. The season has been somewhat uneven, with brilliant episodes (Blink) and god-awful ones (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks), so I’m not 100% convinced that Davies will pull this one out in the end.