Thursday 30 June 2016

213 - The Two Masters

An idea so simple, I cannot believe it hasn’t been done before. The Doctor can meet his other selves so why not The Master? And this meeting of The Master (Geoffrey Beevers) and The Master (Alex Macqueen) is what this story is all about. Its also incredibly complicated – the sort of complicated that makes Moffat’s “timey-wimey” nonsense seem trivial by comparison, to quote Blackadder “it twists and turns like a twisty turny thing” and to misquote Eric Morecambe, this is a story with all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. Ok, lets start at the beginning.
 The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is lured to the ship of the Rocket Men (remember them, slightly rubbish Space Pirates now even more down at heel and a bit of an intergalactic joke) by the Old Master (Geoffrey Beevers) . The Master then goes on to slaughter the whole crew apart from Jemima (Lauren Crace) who becomes the surrogate companion for this story and forces the Doctor to take him aboard the TARDIS – because the Master’s TARDIS has become inoperable due to travelling through an area of Space/Time that just doesn’t exist any more – in fact these null spaces are appearing all over the universe and are getting worse, they are even affecting the Doctor’s memories as he has no recall of the previous two stories in the trilogy (And You Will Obey Me & Vampire of the Mind) – the Master also informs the Doctor that he is locked in battle with an enemy worthy of his attention – a future version of himself, his enemy is none other than The Master (Alex Macqueen) . And this is where it starts to get REALLY complicated.
 This is a story that really demands your attention, it needs to be listened to and digested and mulled over. It is also told out of sequence – after the events of the first two episodes, we segue back to the beginning of the rivalry between Master Beevers & Master Macqueen which is in fact a very clever bit of continuity – long time Whovians will immediately get the reference to the Old Master going to Terserus and being recovered by a certain Time Lord Chancellor….
While both incarnations of the Master and their machinations take centre stage, The Doctor is somewhat sidelined by proceedings which is a shame, as the underlying plot of a renegade Time Lord known as “The Heretic” and the cult following his teachings is a very McCoyesque story right in the “evil since the dawn of time” mould and maybe if this were a stand alone release rather than a culmination of a trilogy with only one Master & Doctor number 7 I would feel more invested in the story rather than having to re-listen to several sections to confirm what I had just heard.
 So dense, complex and really quite confusing. After a stellar opening story in “And You Will Obey Me”, a second part, “Vampire of the Mind” that ticks all the right boxes to get you interested “The Two Masters” seemed to miss a few beats – it tries to do a lot, to tie up the threads from the previous stories whilst being a compelling story in its own right, and it is, it really is in parts. Macqueen & Beevers are both stellar as The Master and I was genuinely intrigued by the Terserus scenes and how they would pan out – but ultimately this feels like one enormous set up that doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. Sorry if I appear like a Heretic, but I award this 6/10.

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