I knew you had it in you Russell T. Davies. After two average mini-movies to round out David Tennant’s run as the Doctor, we finally got a tale with some meat on its bones which managed to both play with (and brutally deconstruct) the notion of the time-traveling adventurer as well as introduce space zombies into the Doctor Who canon. While the episode wasn’t as terrifying as say “Blink” or “Midnight“, this reminds me that beneath Russell T. Davies conventional sci-fi telling shell, he has some darker recesses of his mind that he isn’t afraid to unleash on British (and thankfully now American) audiences. After I finish this review I will be left with “The End of Time” (parts one and two) which means my time with David Tennant will finally be over, and I’m stilling trying to wrap my mind around that fact. It’s a weird thing to say, and he will be sorely missed. After an adventure like this though, we are reminded why we’ve loved him so much and for so long.

It is the year 2059 and humanity has made its first (small) colony on the moon. Adelaide Brooks (Lindsay Duncan) is a stalwart woman who has dreamed about exploring the stars ever since she was spared as a little girl by a Dalek during the invasion that cost the Doctor his beloved Rose. When the Doctor arrives, it can obviously only mean trouble for this group of pioneers. The Doctor knows who every single colonist within the Mars domes are because, as it turns out, they all die in a mysterious accident that has never been solved. Of course, since it’s the Doctor, he shows up on the day that they’re all supposed to die. When an unknown microbe slips through the water filtration system (the water is gained from the glaciers on the planet), the crew slowly starts to succumb to a disease that turns these previously docile humans into blood-thirsty zombie creatures with the ability to expel large quantities of water from their bodies (it’s cooler than it sounds. I swear). This event is a fixed point in time so the Doctor knows there is nothing he can do to stop this disaster, but as he’s forced to witness these brave explorers suffer their “fate”, will the Doctor choose to try and fight destiny?

As I said in my review of “Planet of the Dead“, I prefer my Doctor Who to be creepy and terrifying and leaving me wondering why exactly British parents let their children watch this sort of emotionally scarring television. Since “The Waters of Mars” is about space water zombies (once again, cooler than they sound) and being forced to make terrible choices for the greater good of humanity, this episode certainly veers hard into the more mature and dark territory that I prefer from my favorite time-traveling Briton. Lindsay Duncan made for a fierce and brave supporter for the Doctor who turned out to be able to make tougher decisions than he was capable of. The episode teases you by playing around with what the Doctor thinks he knows about fixed points in time, and then it punches you in the face as hard as it humanly can with its tragic and heart-breaking ending. Russell T. Davies is hellbent on breaking the Doctor before his tenure is up, and he keeps coming closer and closer to turning the Doctor into a ruined shell. I can only begin to imagine what sort of hell he’s going to put him through before he finally regenerates at the end of “The End of Time.”

I’m glad that I’m going to take a break after David Tennant’s time as the Doctor ends because I don’t really know anyone that prefers Matt Smith as the Doctor. I know people (a lot of people) who prefer Stephen Moffat as head writer of the series, but I don’t know any people that actually prefer Matt Smith to David Tennant. We shall see how that goes though. I’m going to finish the first season of Mad Men as well as watch Twin Peaks and Angel before I return to the Whoniverse. Yet, I’m speaking prematurely here because we still have “The End of Time” to go (both parts), and so I have to mentally prep myself to say goodbye to the Doctor (and make sure I have tissues handy for the crying that will ensue).

Final Score: B+

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