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The Sound Of Drums

ShowDoctor Who / Series III / Episode 13
First Broadcast2007/09/15 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDr Who Guide
Previous EpisodeUtopia
Next EpisodeLast of the Time Lords

A fair episode that covers a lot of ground. The Doctor, Martha and Jack escape back to Earth after the Doctor fixes Jack's Time Vortex Manipulator. They find that the newly elected Prime Minister Harold Saxon and the Master are one and the same. The figure out how the Master is controlling everyone and follow him to the Valiant where they find the TARDIS. But the Master is triumphant. His paradox machine tears open space and time. Six billion Toclafane invade the Earth. The Master kills Jack and ages the Doctor 100 years. Martha escapes. The Doctor can only watch in misery as the Earth is overrun, setting up for a dramatic season finale.

I found this episode tried to cover too much ground and seemed jumpy as a result. There were some interesting bits though. The most obvious one is that the mystery theme for the third series, the identify of Mr. Saxon is resolved. He is the Master. We find the Master was resurrected by the Time Lords to help fight in the war. However he fled and hid himself as a human when he saw the Emperor Dalek take control of a key Time Lord location. The Doctor explains what happened afterwards, ie. how he destroyed the daleks and Time Lords to end the war.

We find out a bit about the Master's past. The Doctor gives us some new insights into life on Gallifrey. Children are exposed to the power of the time vortex. Some are inspired, some run away and some go mad. It's implied the Master went mad. The Doctor admits he ran away and is still running.

Martha makes a joke about the Master being the Doctor's secret brother or something. The Doctor dismisses this as Martha watching too much TV. But it's something that's been speculated about in the past, ie. the Doctor and the Master being related in some way.

The Master has an earthly wife, who seems to be aware he is not who he says he is. And she's keen to see "the end" - presumably the invasion. At one point, the Master offers her a jelly-baby - a reference to the fourth Doctor.

The Master has a laser screwdriver - a clear attempt to one-up the Doctor and his sonic screwdriver. It has Lazarus technology built into it. Coupled with the Doctor's biological pattern obtained from his severed hand, he uses a reverse Lazarus to age the Doctor.

The Valiant is a sky-ship designed by the Master, built around a cannabilised TARDIS. The TARDIS is now a paradox machine - whatever that is.

The Doctor's severed hand demonstrates some long-term script planning. Severed in the tenth Doctor's first Christmas special, it was preserved by Jack in Torchwood and re-introduced in the previous episode seemingly so the Master could use it here.

Lots to resolve in the season finale.