- One of the most inspired ideas to come out of the first part was the explanation for the "sound of drums" that the Master constantly hears--that the four-beat pattern is the sound of two hearts beating--a Time Lord heartbeat. The fact that it's "real" suggests that it's somehow connected to the return of the Time Lords themselves. One possibility as I see it is that the Time Lords have somehow either placed themselves into the Master (using dimensionally-transcendent technology, surviving in a similar way to the Daleks with the Genesis Ark) or that the Master somehow absorbed the Matrix, which contains the memories and bio-data of all Time Lords, living and dead. The best thing about this is that it would give some further explanation to the Master's survival of the Time War. In "Utopia," the Doctor says that even the Time Lords didn't go to the end of the universe, and in "The Sound of Drums," the Master claims that the Time Lords resurrected him knowing he'd be the perfect warrior for the Time War. Instead, he ran away to the end of the universe and hid as a human.
Seriously, if the Time Lords expected a soldier from the only Time Lord they've been able to control less than the Doctor, then they're dumber than any of the scoffs would suggest. But what if the Time Lords anticipated the Master's cowardly turn, or perhaps even engineered it? The Time Lords send the Master away with their essences somehow stored within him, anticipating their own destruction and knowing that the Master is a master of staying alive even when he oughtn't. Think of it this way: if the Master ran off on his own, as he suggests in "The Sound of Drums," then how'd he get to the year 100 Trillion? He didn't appear to have a TARDIS on Malcassairo, and it seems like that would have been a good place to go after regaining his memory (for that matter, wouldn't he need it for the Chameleon Arch?). He made various trips between the 21st Century and 100,000,000,000,000; if he had a TARDIS that wasn't locked between those two eras, wouldn't he have used it?
But if the Time Lords had sent him there, then that little plot hole is tied up fairly neatly. And that's just the kind of fannish plot-bit that Davies tends to notice, reference, and tie up (whether or not it needs to be).
- Gosh, that was a long bullet point, wasn't it?
- One question remains with that scenario: the drumming. It's "real," which suggests that it has something to do with the Time Lords--perhaps the sound of the Matrix or the Time Lords stored in the Master's head. If that's the case, then how has the Master been hearing the sound since he looked into the Untempered Schism? Is it a false memory? Has he only been hearing the sound since his resurrection? Or did the Time Lords know about the sound already and just exploit it? I sure am overthinking this.
- One possible method of Time Lord resurrection--and one which makes use of the current cliffhanger, while also putting them at odds with the Doctor immediately (and coming right in line with the Time Lords' aloof pragmatism)--would be for them/the Master to use the Immortality Gate to transform the people of Earth into the fallen Gallifreyans. In other words, the resurrection of the Time Lords would come at the (potential) cost of the human race--no doubt an acceptable sacrifice from the Time Lord point of view.
- I wonder what's going to happen with Wilf. All signs point to Time Lord, but that almost seems like a waste. Although it would give a convenient excuse to give Bernard Cribbins a continuing role in the post-RTD series, and that could only be a good thing. Regardless, the fact that he's seeing this mysterious woman in white suggests that there's something not-quite-normal about him, and that's without getting into the way he keeps meeting up with the Doctor.
- Speaking of characters who keep meeting up with the Doctor, I really hope Donna Noble gets a nice happy ending; the most recent clip from Part 2 shows that the Doctor's prediction of her mind burning up is beginning to come true, but I doubt that she's just going to go all Scanners in the middle of a street in Chiswick, while the Doctor is unable to do anything about it. Somehow, the Doctor-Donna is going to make a return, for better or worse. I hope the Doctor is able to cure her condition; maybe he'll absorb the regeneration energy from her as part of his regeneration process, thus solving the meta-crisis.
Plus, the way her story ended by negating all the character growth she'd gone through was pretty awful, just from a narrative point of view. In a perfect world, she'd regain her memories (safely) and be reunited with Lee McAvoy, her stuttering suitor from The Library.
- More on Donna: so far, she's the only human who hasn't been Master-converted who doesn't have a convenient excuse (i.e., Wilf was in that radiation-shielded chamber). I imagine that this is because of the whole Time Lord meta-crisis thing, so it certainly seems like it'll be resolved--or at least addressed.
- I sure hope the Vinvocci and Naismith do something this episode. Furthermore, I'm curious to see how the leaked scenes with Luke Smith and Rose, as well as the intriguing-looking scene about the Journal of Impossible Things, manage to fit into the plot. Between the resolution of the Master race (which, frankly, I expect to be within the first fifteen minutes or so) and whatever's going on with the Master and the Time Lords, I don't envision a whole lot of room for what appears to be a long, protracted goodbye.
- There's a rumor going around (thanks, io9!)1 that Matt Smith isn't playing the Eleventh Doctor, but a young First Doctor. The reason behind this appears to be entirely that Smith's TARDIS is styled like Hartnell's. I think this is pretty obviously false, and someone on the Gallifrey Base forums had the best reason: if he sticks around long enough, then what? Do they have him regenerate into Patrick Troughton? No, Smith is going to be a step forward, not backward. In the next decade or so, though, someone at the BBC is going to have to figure out how to give the Doctor another set of regenerations (not that there isn't a precedent), or we're going to run out of series.
- I suspect, given Moffat's "they're back" comment, that the status quo for Series 5 will include the resurrected Time Lords, back in their role as cosmic bureaucrats. I suspect that we might see the Doctor as a fugitive once again, possibly for his role in ending the Time War--and killing the Time Lords in the process.
- Things I'd like to see in the (near) future: the Doctor and the Brigadier, the Eighth Doctor, more playing with time travel (e.g., the first meeting with Martha in "Smith and Jones," all of "Blink").
- Things I'd like to see less of in the future: deus ex machina, 21st Century London (I don't mind doing a lot with Earth, or even Great Britain, but can't we see more of a variety of time periods?), Rose Tyler.
- You know, as much as I love that the Doctor is a cerebral hero who solves problems with his wits rather than his fists, I wouldn't mind seeing a bit of Venusian Aikido during Matt Smith's tenure.
- And, well, that's the bulk of it. Britain gets "Part 2" in about ten hours, and I'll be cutting myself off from the spoilernet around that same time. I'll have thoughts about Tennant's swan song, and the Series 5 preview material that's supposed to follow--up as soon as I can. In the meantime, good night, and Happy New2 Year!
1. To be fair, io9 takes a pretty skeptical approach to the rumor, but it's also the place everyone seems to be using as a source for the claim.
2. Admire my restraint, that I didn't say "Happy Who Year!"