(Belated) Whodensday: Waters of Mars Spoiler and Discussion Post!

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Image: David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide stand in a greenhouse on Mars, with a small wheeled robot in front of them. Behind them are several humanoid figures dripping in water, with gaping cracked mouths.

The Waters of Mars, the second Doctor Who stand-alone special for 2009, written by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford, aired in the UK on Sunday night, and is due to air in Australia, on ABC1, on Sunday December 6th. As I’m sure a number of people here have already seen it, consider this an open spoiler and discussion post. Please consider anything that has aired in the UK fair game — but please DO NOT spoil for the Christmas and New Year specials, beyond what we saw in the trailer at the end of the episode.


Personally, I loved The Waters of Mars. Although it was quite bleak in some ways, I did not find it nearly as depressing as Children of Earth: in this instance, I think that RTD managed to strike the right balance between darkness and hope. I thought it had a few problems, particularly relating to Adelaide’s encounter with the Dalek in 2009 (after all, the Daleks were planning to destroy the universe within days — if they were aware that Adelaide’s death in 2059 was a fixed point, then they would be aware that their plan would fail), but overall I thought it was a fine episode.

I found the emergence of the dark!Doctor at the end particularly thrilling, and I love that his darkness stems not from malice, but from his desire to save people. It showed exactly how much the Doctor needs his companions and is lost without them, and it tied in nicely with all the hints of darkness we’ve seen previously, in episodes like The Runaway Bride.

I’m really looking foward to seeing how this develops in the following episodes — was Adelaide’s suicide enough of a wake-up call for him, or will the “Time Lord Victorious” wreak havoc throughout the universe?

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21 replies

  1. Oh, I am looking forward to catching the whole thing. Lindsay Duncan is one of my favourites, and I’m not spoiler-adverse, so I don’t mind knowing some of the secrets before I see it.

  2. I really liked it too and I think the Martian villains were really well executed – just the right balance of realism and all out creepiness. Can’t wait for Christmas.
    Also – bikes.

  3. I have a soft spot for the Ice Warriors, so I like that the Doctor’s mention of them constituted quite good press.

  4. I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know. I mean, some of it was fun, and the Mars colony was well-realised. But I was left with feeling I’d just watched yet another Doctor Who special where they introduced a cool new female character, then killed her, just to move along the Doctor’s character development.

  5. That’s a good point, Lauredhel, Adelaide’s death did seem slightly fridge-y — though I think this was concealed somewhat, by our knowledge that she was doomed from the beginning.
    In a lot of ways I liked Adelaide’s death, however, because of all the complicated issues it raises in relation to fixed points in time and predestination.

  6. I was getting tired of zombies, but after these comments I’m looking forward to the episode.
    (Considering you could set your watch by the fateful deaths of strong women, I’m not surprised this episode continues the theme.)

  7. Adelaide’s death didn’t strike me as fridge-y, because it was a) at her own hand and b) a gesture of defiance to the “time lord victorious”. Yes, you’re a being so powerful that you can alter the laws of time effectively at a personal whim but matey, you can’t control a single human being with free will!
    I really liked the fact that the Doctor went free-range, but I thought he changed back too quickly at the end and was then panicked that he’d gone too far. Would have been better to end the story with him still compromised, to be reigned/guided back in during the last special where he moves to regeneration. After Pompeii and the ‘tough’ bluntness, I had expected the doctor to have a more stand-offish reaction as in “Well I gave you your life. If you want to throw it away, then more fool you.”
    Otherwise, ehhkcelent!!!
    On a personal note, I’m not sure I’m going to follow the series into the new regeneration. They’ve done such a great job with Tennant that I don’t see how the new series will stack up against it.
    I think I’m getting old.
    Oh, and his Hamlet is being released on DVD on the 4th of January. Just too late for the Xmas stockings unfortunately.

  8. I loved it.
    The bit with the dalek was the least convincing part for me – both in why it didn’t kill her and why the inspired her to go to Mars.
    I also think the killing off of Adelaide was somewhat mitigated by the idea of her grand-daughter. But I’m not entirely sure.

  9. I agree that the Dalek part doesn’t work once you have time to think about it.
    I really liked that it shows the writers know he’s in the wrong. I hope that means they know he was wrong to “save” Donna against her will, and that his actions then will come back to bite him on the bum!
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Science heroine =-.

  10. I really found most of this episode to be InfoDump after InfoDump, with some good scenes mixed in. I didn’t really enjoy it until Ten went “What the heck am I doing? I am the LAST of the TIME LORDS! I AM THE END OF TIME!” and went all around doing his saving people thing, except all “I’m evil, deal with it”. (Well, for certain definitions of evil.)
    I really liked Adelaide’s reaction to the “little people” comment, I thought it was spot on.
    Can we talk about what the closing trailer had in it?

  11. *Loved* it. Been raving about it all week.
    BTW, there’s a 3 minute preview clip for Children In Need charity of the next ep The End of Time out (also fab), plus a couple of mini installments of the animated story Dreamland out as well, as of today.

  12. Anna– yes, please talk about the closing trailer.
    I’ll do a post on the Children in Need preview this Wednesday, so we can discuss that seperately.

  13. Donna Donna Donna Donna Donna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Anna — I too am very excited about Donna, but also rather fearful. I hope that these two episodes will have the theme of “the Doctor dealing with the consequences of his actions” (including wiping Donna’s memory), but after Children of Earth, I fear that Donna’s death may be one of those consequences — and that would rip me to pieces. 😦
    (This is pure speculation, btw, not based on anything spoilery, other than the trailer.)

  15. [If I can spell my own name right this time.]
    Donna’s gonna kick his furry white butt. And then yell at him. “Time Lord Victorious? What sort of arsehole name is that! Oi, Space Boy, I’m gonna kick you so hard you’ll feel it forever!”
    I have this crack!theory that Young Red-haired Companion is regenerated Time Lord Donna. Or something. I don’t know. But Donna! DONNA!!!!

  16. Anna, I really hope that you are right about Donna kicking Ten’s butt. I really can’t see any way in which Donna might die that would reconcile me. She better be alive and reasonably happy (preferably with memories intact) at the end, that’s all I can say. No effin fridging.
    Bit apphrehensive about possible “fobwatches for everyone”, hafta say.

  17. We finally got to see it here in NZ! (God I hate our TV broadcasters.)
    Regarding the Dalek thing, in my head the whole “it knew your death was fixed” was more of an instinctive thing – not the Dalek itself thinking “shit, can’t kill this little girl, time/space continuum etc etc” but more a kind of intuitive, gut-instinct, “leave this one alone” feeling.
    So gutted Adelaide died, and agree with lauredhel that it’s very OH COME ON RTD GIVE US ONE SURVIVING KICKASS WOMAN, but very very happy that it was basically a big middle finger to omnipotent!wanker!doctor.
    If Donna is in any way horribly mistreated in End of Time I am just going to have to quit the series. If she’s horribly mistreated AND the Doctor whinges about Rose bloody Tyler I’m quitting anything with RTD’s fingerprints on it forever.

    Rose? Martha? Donna? Christina? Sarah Jane? Gwen?
    It’s not like there’s a dearth of suriviving kick-ass women in RTD’s work (and I maintain that Donna is kick-ass regardless of whether or not she remembers the Doctor).

    • These pesky actors, they keep on getting offered roles that expand and extend their career, and thinking that taking those opportunities are more important than the Whoniverse! Or being veterans who just like to do the occasional guest role to keep their hand in, rather than committing to recurring episodes that would involve too much time away from the garden and the grandchildren, or from their own dream project. Some of them are really keen on a great death scene for their showreel, too! A writer can’t just park all of them in sinecures at Torchwood or UNIT for later narrative embellishments, that sort of repetition might be seen as unimaginative, and that’s not good for the writer’s career, and if someone who’s great at creating kickarse characters stops getting work, who’s to say that another writer will create characters that we enjoy as much?
      Doctor Who has always been about ordinary people finding the resolve within themselves to kick arse in extraordinary circumstances, and the thing about kicking arse (especially if one isn’t actually trained in special arsekicking skills) is that it is risky. Since the danger and death surrounding the Doctor is one of the recurring and overarching themes of 40 years worth of narrative, then if the kickarse people never never ever suffered or died or diminished as a consequence of taking extraordinary risks, I’m not sure that I’d find the Whoniverse as compelling as I do. Drama needs tragedy as well as triumph, and if characters we care about never ever die or diminish, then it’s just another action adventure show.

  19. Almost missed this last night, saw it just by chance on the TV guide. Does anyone know when the Xmas special is on?

  20. I expect that it will hit Oz screens around about the Australia Day weekend, going by last year.

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