I deliberately waited until I’d seen both episodes of this two-parter before making any comments here, mainly because the first part was so good, so promising, that I was a little scared the second part would be a colossal let-down. I needn’t have worried. In fact, this two-parter has been so enjoyable it has actually made me look back at the earlier episodes with a somewhat critical eye. Looking back at my Who Reviews, I’ve been exceedingly positive about the series (apart from New Earth which still rankles), but compared to this adventure, even the better episodes look like pale, sickly cousins to the real thing. In short: this adventure is everything I imagined Doctor Who to be.
Quick story synopsis for the uninitiated: The Tardis arrives on a Sanctuary base on a remote planet which - impossibly - is suspended beneath a black hole which is sucking in everything around it but the planet. “How could this be?” the Doctor wonders. “That’s impossible!” Quite. But there it is, being all impossible. We quickly learn that there is a strange energy source emanating from below the planet’s surface - an energy source powerful enough to stop a planet being sucked into oblivion. Before the Doctor and Rose can say, “Oh well, let us know how it turns out, guys, we’re off,” the Tardis gets lost - pulled down into a giant chasm after an earthquake - leaving our duo stranded and contemplating a future without time travel, a future with shared accommodation and (gulp!) a mortgage! There’s nothing for it but to venture down into the pit and find out what the heck is going on down there. What the Doctor finds deep down in the bowels of this planet appears to be the Devil, or at least a creature which insists it has existed since “before time” (the Doctor quite rightly asks what the hell that means, “before time”) and is therefore the original idea which sparked the notion of The Devil in our universe. It’s a very interesting concept and one which is never completely resolved - even the Doctor is unable to fathom the truth here. Naturally, the Beast is trying to escape from its eternal imprisonment, but the Doctor (with a convenient but joyful reunion with the lost Tardis) saves the day, almost sacrificing Rose in the process, but not quite.
The episodes together are a satisfying whole and I hope the new Doctor ventures to more alien worlds (instead of hanging around that bloody London estate all the time!) This Doctor Who story has raised the bar higher than ever and I hope the two-part season finale is able to live up to this standard. One important point to mention, though: the Beast character said that Rose would “die in battle”, which she became naturally every concerned about. At the end, the Doctor dismissed it as a lie by the Beast (she didn’t die in this battle) but I have a strong feeling this is an omen pointing to a (very near) future battle. There is a growing sense of tragedy about the climax to this series, and if I were Rose Tyler, the next time I popped home to see dear old Mum on the estate, I’d start looking at some life insurance policies. Seriously.