If the Master has one thing going for him, it is simply this: he always survives. So, for all that stories like this one suggest an end to the road for the character…well, we know he’ll probably be back at one point in time or another. It’s basically what he does.
Besides, I think I want to address something else right now.
This is more or less the last episode to show Martha as the Doctor’s main companion. The character makes a couple guest appearances in the future, but this is her last hurrah. It is a bit appropriate that we see what a Martha rescue looks like. As the Master continues to age the Doctor more and more, leaving him a tiny bad CGI gnome of person, Martha is traveling the world, working with a resistance group, and gathering data for a gun that kills Time Lords according to UNIT and Torchwood files. She even meets up with one guy who looks a lot like Lucifer because Tom Ellis played that character later on in his career.
But no, while the Master holds Martha’s family (save brother Leo) as servants on his flying aircraft carrier, the Doctor in a cage, and Jack hooked up to security devices, it’s all so Martha can save the day. The Doctor whispered a quick plan, so when a contact tells the Master where Martha is and she’s captured, even after he destroys the gun she’s been collecting, all she can do is laugh.
Why? Because Martha, as an aspiring physician, would never kill anybody. It was all a trick, and the Master fell for it. All she was really doing was traveling the globe, telling people about the Doctor, and telling them to all think of him at the exact moment the Master’s fleet, full of rockets for a new Time Lord Empire and his Toclafane sidekicks, are ready to blast off. That, using the Master’s own Archangel wireless grid, revives the Doctor, giving him some temporary superpowers, and they manage to get the TARDIS back, send the Toclafanes back where they came from (the year 100 trillion because they were just the heads of the last humans the Master had taken away from the end of the universe and made into his servants, rigging the TARDIS to prevent things from going bad if they “killed their own grandfathers” so to speak), and thus, the day is saved thanks to…well, Martha mostly. The Doctor does some work at the end, but Martha spent a year setting things up. The Master does die, but only because his human wife/companion saw the light and shot him and he refused to regenerate, even if it meant spending the rest of his time with the Doctor.
Apparently, the Master can decide not to regenerate? Regardless, he is the kind of guy who won’t do it just to spite the Doctor and leave his greatest enemy lonely for all time. That…sounds about right.
But what about Martha? She opts not to travel with the Doctor anymore. Only a handful of people remember what happened, but that includes her parents and Tish, and they need her. Instead, she sees that pining for the Doctor is a waste of time when she could find a bloke that will look her way, and that’s much better. That’s a rather healthy attitude, and I would say good for the character. It’s emotionally healthier that way.
And I will say, Martha did set up quite a good contrast to the character she was frequently indirectly compared to, namely Rose. She wasn’t Rose, and they didn’t try to make her into Rose aside from being in love with the Doctor. Martha was more intelligent to Rose’s empathic. Not that Rose was dumb or Martha cold, but Rose’s strength was in how much she cared for people, even making a Dalek care when she accidentally shared some of her DNA, and later coming to the rescue for the Doctor at one point by making a somewhat emotionally-based decision to supercharge herself and go fight the Daleks all over again. Martha was not that impulsive, thought things through, and even though she did have a good bedside manner (as any good physician preferably should), she often asked smart questions and made intelligent observations. Both acted as good foils for the Doctor, one by making him care and the other by shaking him out of his funk. Plus, in the end, Martha walked away of her own accord. Rose was…forced off to the mutual dismay of both herself and the Doctor.
As for Jack, he will go back, with the Doctor’s blessing, to Torchwood after leaving a cryptic clue that he may somehow become the Face of Boe. The Doctor can’t help him die, but he likewise doesn’t say that, if Jack is that giant head, he will eventually.
So, that was it for this series. That would mean the Christmas special is up next. The last time there was one of those, the Doctor found some mystery bride in the TARDIS after he flew off alone.
This time the Titanic crashes through the wall of the TARDIS.
That could be much worse.
Better Call Saul “Coushatta”
The X-Files “Duane Barry”
Killing Eve “It’s Agony And I’m Ravenous”