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I have two Epic Posts on the docket, another post I should be writing, and about a bajillion American series clamoring to be caught up on.  Naturally, I went with this last night instead.

Doctor Who, "The Waters of Mars"
NIGHTMARE FUEL.

Suffice to say, unlike the last two, that blew my mind in the manner to which I am accustomed.  Terrifying!  So terrifying, the crazy eyes and cracked mouths and dribbling streams of water on all the infected hosts!  *shivers*  [Edit: NO.  DO NOT RUIN MY FUN BY COMPARING THEM TO ZOMBIES, INTERNET.  ZOMBIES ARE MUCH, MUCH, STUPIDER.]

And even though it was basically cruel to drum up a parallel version of Impossible Planet/Satan Pit (at least he's not in the brown suit?), devoid of Rose, I'm going to let it slide since they managed to create a crew that was every bit as interesting and personable as that one was.  Was especially exciting when I recognized the doctor from a role on SJA.  Pity about how near everyone met tragic and untimely ends.

At least they let Mia Bennett live, which is fortunate because she was just too pretty to believe.  I liked everyone fairly equally, I thought, but every time she popped up I'd be totally mesmerized by her beauty.  And Steffi, I liked her a lot too, and burst into tears right along with her at the end. 

The flashaway cuts to online news articles were a very effective storytelling device.  They started to get a little repetitive towards the end, but for 90% of it, enthralling.  Except for the part where I counted at least four mechanical errors a copy editor should have caught, my favorite being "unexplicable." 

Also effective: the echoes of lines spoken in days past coming back to haunt us.  *goosebumps*

And just...all of the emotion in this hour.  Mostly sheer terror or broken-hearted weeping, not a whole lot of laughing (was some, at the very beginning, but kind of like how there is some laughing at the beginning of Lord of the Rings), and a substantial chunk of time for 'numb horror' as this show did its best to try and take my hero away from me, to shatter my childlike trust and faith in the Doctor, and very nearly succeeded. 

(then I found out parts of the internet heartily agreed, which would be okay, but apparently all the anti-Ten(nant) sentiment that went into hibernation somewhere in season 2 is coming back in full force as they channel their energy into WOO, TIME FOR CHANGE, GO ELEVEN!  Bastards.  The point is, nothing will take away my faith in Ten.  If anything, this episode just gives me thoughts about what sort of personality Rose is taming over in Pete's World - cheers me up quite a bit to think that somewhere, this crazy version does have someone to ground him.) 

Was there filler? I can't remember.  I'm not sure there was, because I started out with every intention of watching only the first two minutes, then just five; repeat over and over until I realized I could not pause this baby for a second.  It was so gripping to watch him grapple with the realization that he couldn't do anything to help them, he had to let it happen.  His struggle to accept his own helplessness - or sometimes outright harmfulness; see also, Pompeii reference where I wanted to BAWL LIKE A BABY - broke my heart. 

Those silent moments of slo-mo right before he leaves for good, and the whole sequence where he's walking away as people fall left and right just minutes from escape, were AMAZING, and I knew he'd come back, but I didn't want him to.  I thought all the emotional power lay in us having to accept the fact that no matter how much you told yourself not to, you got attached to these characters in less than 30 minutes, and having to watch their pre-ordained doom play out with no hope was the boldest, cruelest thing since "Children of Earth."  But it was stunning, with the result that when he showed , I kicked things.

But then it somehow got even more amazing, with a brief restoration of happy, fast-talking action hero Doctor before he devolves into the crazed and borderline deranged I CAN DO ANYTHING Doctor, who is simultaneously beautiful and terrible - mostly terrible - to watch.  Hey, now seems like a good place to switch over into running commentary for the end:

"It's taken me all these years to realize - the laws of time are mine, and THEY WILL OBEY ME!"  I'm starting to think Doctor's head will just get overinflated until it bursts from ego, and he'll die that way. 

"For a long time now I've thought I was just a survivor, but I'm not.  I'm the winner.  That's who I am: the Time Lord Victorious."  Yeah.  Definitely death by overinflated ego. GOD, he needs Donna to keep him in check.

"Is there nothing you can't do?"
"Not anymore."
  Really?  So you can go fix Donna, who will then slap your head on straight?  No, you can't, can you. 

[Incidentally, it is theoretically possible that Donna is still hanging out in 2059 London, and I wish mightily that you would pop in and visit her.  Or, if that involves naughty timeline crossing (which it seems you're no longer too fussed about, being as that's a law of time and apparently under your new purview), at least go check up on her in secret?  You know you want to.   Do it for me.]

...REALLY, ADELAIDE?  REALLY?  You're going to set this whole dying thing on motion**?  Damn it, Doctor, your savior complex is going to become much more literal than you ever planned on --

OH, GEEZE, HOW DOES HE NOT HAVE A SUICIDE RADAR.  COME ON.


[**Not knowing much about the finale, still riding on early suspicion that his death would be a long and drawn-out affair, I thought maybe she was going to shoot him with something that, being a Time Lord, wouldn't kill him outright but would put the end in motion, not poison, but something that worked along the same rate, giving him maybe another couple of days to a week.  I didn't really think it through, plot/enemy-wise.  Plus, I thought the Master was due to show up at the end of this episode, so I'm proud of the way my memory blurs and represses details ASAP.]

"I've gone too far."  Oh, Doctor.  :(  You look broken again.  "Is this it?  My death?  Is it time?"  *hugs* 

That's a powerful ending, though.  Even though it requires mad spoiler-dodging at this point, I love reading all the reviews about how Ten is terrified of his impending demise, which is fascinating considering that the Doctor usually seems to dash around pell-mell in high-risk situations all the time, and he's already regenerated several times; I can't imagine it was ever quite so much of an issue before, and it's not like this will be his last chance, either.  ...I don't really know where I'm going with this, I just know that I'm more attached to Ten than ever before.  Even if every possible facet of his life is steeped in tragedy.

Except Sarah Jane!  Remember her?  Remember how she lives on 13 Bannerman Road surrounded by a pack of adorable moppets, and her life is so full of love and sunshine that even you couldn't muck it up if you'd stick around for the happy parts once in a while?

Leftover Thoughts
-As always, my ear is trained keenly on any new tune in the background music, wondering when and if I'll ever get a title and an MP3 track for it.  I really loved it in the last scene, especially the instrumental interlude around the Cloister Bell.  Murray Gold's still doing the score for season 5, right?  Because that is one link to the gross new show I'll have to keep connected. 

[Edit: OH!  Recreated music from the specials.  I don't know whether to get attached to these now, or hold out hope that the original songs will show up on a series 5 soundtrack, in which case I don't want to get attached to versions that are a little bit off.  But..."Call of the Ood."  That is too pretty for words.  And it's quite cheery playing 'A Very Merry Christmas' from TND.]

-Only the Doctor could ride a flame-shooting Segway wearing his Serious Face of Seriousness

-Gadget Gadget was actually kind of cute, though.  Almost as cute as the pretty little songbird in the garden dome.

-The Doctor speaking random alien languages = always great.  But then they kind of dropped that potentially interesting angle without follow-up. 

-Even though Roman didn't stand out as a favorite, his quiet and brave little ending was the most effective of all.  Damn you.

-Was impressed by the callbacks to TSE/JE.  And like many things, the scenes with 9/10-year-old Adelaide moved me to tears.   

-"Three knocks is all you're getting!"  Heh.

-"Starlight in her soul."  Beautiful phrase!  Places to use it: fic title, fanmix title, or words on a collage for the Companion of your choice.  Also acceptable: a horse name, such as "Starlit Soul."

-"Imagine you're in Pompeii, and you try to save them, but in doing so you make it happen."  *bawls*  I desperately want Donna there to hold his hand again.  Even with his expressions obscured by the helmet, that farewell speech to Adelaide was some of the most brilliant writing I've seen around here in ages.

-Seriously, the Doctor's whole shaky demeanor at the end killed me. 

Reaction to the Trailer
Donna!  LUCY SAXON!  This "knock four times" business is definitely working for me as a Secret (Mini) Season Password.  And the Master: NOW MORE AWESOME THAN EVER BEFORE.

"The end of time itself."
. . .
*BAWLS*
Nooooooo!  Not acknowledging it as truth, still!  Not acknowledging it even if stupid cheap impostor replacement "Eleven" is poised to crash into screens everywhere in two weeks!  I HATE YOU ALL.

Up Next: I am miraculously unspoiled about the finale, still.  I mean, I am spoiled as far as the spoilers were available before it aired - to some extent, anyway; I know the companion, villain, I think I know all who's back as guest stars - but so far I have not seen one picture, one GIF, one quote or even a spoilery reaction line on someone's blog.  This is pretty magical for three months out, but I'm still going to play with fire and try to hold out longer, because once I see it - it's over.  Done.  The culmination of more than two years of always having a stockpile of new material waiting beside me.  Series 5 and its horrible mountain of changes are dead to me, so this is it.

It may have already happened, but I've never dreaded something so much in my life.
--------------
EDIT: Hey, speaking of posts on the docket...

Glee, 1x13, "Sectionals"
Because apparently I had half of this sitting around on LJ already, and it was a surprisingly simple matter to finish it up. You may want to start with the initial episode reaction, though.

1. "Feelings."  "Gone."  Argh!  AND AGAIN I SAY: You know those vows you make at the altar?  This is exactly the sort of stuff they are talking about.  I'm glad we got to see Terri again (and gladder still about hearing that she ain't leaving without a fight), with her endearingly earnest - if clumsy - talk about lowered expectations and seeing a therapist, but it kills me that he can just wipe everything out in an instant.   Which frankly I refuse to believe he has.

[edit: Look!  I found you a beautiful post-episode Terri fic.  Do you see who I see yet?]

2. Wow, I do not have much use for Emma in this at all.  Between her stupid freak-outs/useless leadership, and her dumb sad 'look at me in my wedding dress of rejection' pose, everything aggravated me.  I tried to feel that twinge when she told him he was resigning, but the best I could do was feel sad that yet another part of Will's life was about to spin away from him, leaving him with absolutely nothing familiar to use as an anchor. 

3. Seriously, Emma, I like what you say about how he just left Terri, but you're not really making a good case for guys to leave their wives before trying things out with their maybe-soulmate.  At least give the man some hope for the future before you run off.  Otherwise, the message i get is that it's not worth the risk of winding up alone, so choose adultery first!

4. Remember how the ending depressed me, because I didn't see any way for them not to run with it after a romantic-hero ending like that?  I've been feeling more optimistic lately.  Plus, even though the sight still turns my stomach, once the internet got all snarky about it too, now I sort of...want to defend it on principle of romantic-heroism everywhere? Like, if Pam had shown up on Jim's doorstep in Connecticut and asked for a do-over, WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OPPOSED.

5. I am officially over Mercedes.  Between her bitchy buddyship with Kurt, intensely juvenile personality (she's a freshman, right?  She has to a freshman) and one too many big-voiced songs, "I Am Telling You" was the last straw.  I hate that song more than anything on earth.  I think I hate it - and any and every song that sounds like it - even more than rap, so if that's all she is going to sing from here to eternity, plus random yowling on the group numbers, I have no use for her.  

6.  FIGHT, ROUND TWO.  Watching Finn punch Puck's face off will never not be entertaining, but we all know I am just in it to see Mr. Schue pull him off and break it up again.  But the general meltdown that followed was quite lovely, even if in subsequent rewatches, I spend it all really, really wanting to know how Quinn is going to work this out with Mr. Schue.  Come on!  They're standing right next to each other.  I must know!

7. The Redemption of Quinn: not a storyline I'm on board with.  I want none of this sad-eyed, "I have hurt so many people" speechifying, nor any of these "raising Baby by myself" notions, because that is BORING.  Granted, 'alone' is better than 'with Puck,' but not by much.

8. And show, since you have closed down all my other escape routes, Quinn's baby needs to go up for adoption and never be seen again.  I'm warning you.  I'm all over pregnancies, but I've got no use for newborns once they arrive, unless there is a dashing father waiting in the wings, and here there is not. 

I want no part of this let's-all-raise-a-baby crap that Secret Life of the American Teenager tried to feed me.  You remember Secret Life, that show I famously drove off the edge of a cliff as soon as she decided to keep her kid and not be romantically involved with either his father or his quasi-adoptive father?

9. Way to slip the Brittany/Santana thing in there under the radar.  Immediate reaction: "OH!"  O.O

[9.5. Santana's admission that Glee is kinda the best part of her day...made my life.]

10. Very much liked the not-a-pep talk in the locker room between Mr. Schue & Finn.  When my Will/Rachel chemistry is in short supply, I'm happy to bask in the heartwarming aspect of these two.

11. Oh, that's it, Deaf School.  I gave you a pass last time.  This time you're all getting whipped with cedar switches for torturing "Don't Stop Believing" like that, and not only for torturing it, but for taking away the song with which New Directions could win freaking nationals, because it is still the best thing they ever performed individually or collectively.  There are plenty of other songs, like Imagine, that you could work with.

12.  Speaking of which, the songs they did perform?  MEH.  I may love Rachel, but her solo was the worst song ever.  Shouty, not musical, no heart or substance, and so big that we might as well have had Mercedes up there after all.   

13. On second that, reversed my opinion on "Can't Always Get What You Want," which at the time I thought was fairly boring and inferior to "Jump," probably because I've just internalized as Dr. House's unofficial theme song, but now I've seen Crystal Bowersox knock it out of the park on Idol, so I'm open to other voices.

14. The best part was still Mr. Schue losing it in the choir room while listening over the phone.  Okay, for that, I forgive his lack of actual presence. 

15. However, never forgiving this show for finally exposing me to "My Life Would Suck Without You," which does not deserve to be a hit because it's a horrible title (and chorus).  What have I told you about judging things by their titles?  That's right, always do it, and punish things sight unseen and sound unheard ON PRINCIPLE.  I don't care if it's a great song, musically; you don't admit that and you don't buy it.  Fortunately, turns out the song is just as bad as its title implies, so I can't be tempted towards hypocrisy on that count.  

16. I really wish I could have enjoyed the medley performance of all the dance styles from the season without having to put it on mute, basically, is what I'm getting at.  Because it was a wonderfully sweet idea on paper.

17. For as much as I hate Sue, I love when she's around for scenes that involve Will getting in her face and being Very Threatening.  Especially knowing he will emerge victorious!  And this was lovely --
"Bring it on, William.  I'm reasonably confident that you will be adding revenge to the long list of things you're no good at it.  Right next to being married--"
"Don't."

18. Watching Quinn put Sue in her place was marvelous.  Watching Figgins officially put her in her place and (temporarily) throw her out of the school, while Will beamed in silence on the sidelines, was utter glory.  Possibly my favorite part of the entire series to date.  VINDICATION: IT'S SATISFYING. 

Conclusion: Not the best, and not the worst.  Right in the middle of the pack, as far as season rankings go.  Speaking of which, my order of best to worst:

10
7
1
5
12
11 
13
3
4
2
9
6
8

I am too lazy to look up any of the titles again, but any real Gleek will be able to mentally match the number to the episode.
-----------
And...
Overall Retrospective-Type Thoughts
I'm not sure how I feel about the split season.  I think it worked very well for season 1 (so far), having a largely self-contained arc that could stand on its own if necessary, which a lot of freshman shows don't get.  Even though the pacing was insane, with a thousand ideas an episode and mini story arcs opened, developed and closed in single hours, as a whole it was a tightly woven framework and pretty  enjoyable every step of the way. 

But I wouldn't like it to continue in this fashion.  Not only are split DVD sets a hassle and a pain, it's set in a school.  That is like the one setting on earth whose calendar would correspond perfectly - perfectly! - to the normal American TV schedule.  Even Friday Night Lights can't pull that one off.  But you could!  Let's plan for that.

I am already full of nostalgia about this perfect gem of a fall 2009 storybook.  And of course it wasn't perfect at all, but somehow the overall effect was.  I can still remember exactly how I felt about each airing, can feel the fwoosh-bam-smack collection of September unfolding into week-by-week October, the spike of November's installments, and then the last two popping off before Christmas.  Sometimes I almost want this show to have a limited run - which I never, ever, ever, ever, say - just to keep it this well-paced. (And/or because I don't understand how the actors, especially the main stars, are not already dead of exhaustion.) 

Other times, I wonder how long this magic will last before the backlash kicks in.  Anything that starts this big can't possibly sustain itself for long, can it?  I predict that in season 2, people start whining about how much the show sucks these days, and leave in droves (or say they're leaving in droves, but actually the ratings stay solid, keeping it on the air so that everyone on the internet can keep complaining about it). 

Prove me wrong, general public.  Prove me wrong.

Up Next:  Glee pretty much dropped off my radar in December, and I haven't thought about it at all.  My enthusiasm/squee levels are operating at about 10%, and it's hard to remember why I was so crazy about it last fall, so I hope that comes back when the show does.  Right now, I'm mostly trying to scrub my brain of the news that Ryan Murphy listened to the idiots and agreed to revisit Puck/Rachel as a result.  *shudder*

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