‘Tooth and Claw’ provides an excellent story, packed full of excitement, energy and classic elements aplenty. Heroism and deceit, violence and innovation, fear and elation. We know that Queen Victoria can’t die, mustn’t die, and yet we see the peril she faces and the people who give up their lives in her name.
However, the incredible episode really shines in the conclusion. If you want to have a model for your adventures, look here for how to handle your ending. Yes, you want resolution, the chance to set the world right again and put an end to the plans of the villain – and yet… There should be more. The ending of an adventure should provide threads to continue on beyond the bounds of the current story.
In ‘Tooth and Claw’, we have the obvious introduction of the Torchwood Institute and the implications of a British Empire aware of aliens threat. Also, Queen Victoria suffers an injury at the hands of the Lupine Wavelength Haemavariform, leading to the possibility that down through time the cells of the werewolf might surface again within the Royal bloodline. Further, what repercussions might Victoria’s banishing of the Doctor have. While we know that Torchwood will later seek him out, what impact might it have on later adventures – as any time spent in Victorian England after 1879 might attract the attention of people aware of Victoria’s edict.
Less obvious perhaps, but we also have the thread that Prince Albert and Sir Robert’s father clearly had their own understanding and theories about the werewolf. Given Prince Albert’s meticulous preparation of the Koh-i-Noor diamond it would not be too much of a stretch to suggest something like an occult gentlemen’s club might exist, patronised by the Prince. Similar to the London-based Ghost Club, of which Charles Darwin was a member, such an organisation might seek to gather knowledge about matters of the Unknown and look to arm itself against it.
It’s a great episode – and by following it’s example you can create adventures that provide a great gateway to future encounters.
Perhaps, on repeated viewing, I’ll learn to appreciate the conclusion of The End of Time. Perhaps, with time, I will see the deeper layers and enjoy the writing. Right now, I feel let down. I appreciated elements – The Master developed as a character and his bargaining at the end with both sides made for some great acting. I fair wept when the Time Lords made their return, all those high golden colours, all that pomp and ceremony. The threat of the Time War breaking out across the cosmos.
Alas, it was not to be. The Time Lords could not return. The Master could not just live to see another day, perhaps a little wiser to his role in the life of The Doctor. The Doctor, battered and bruised, would not be returning to the life of a renegade, chased by the Time Lords for his role in their ‘defeat’. No, instead we had to erase and rewind – sending the Time Lords back into their Time Locked prison, apparently taking The Master with them (as he represented a loose end, a practical means to their escape in the future). Despite seeing a massive planet looming over them, the people of Earth will probably shrug off events and continue to live as normal. And The Doctor survived a protracted regenerative cycle long enough to scoot around half of time before collapsing in the TARDIS and turning into Matt Smith – conveniently releasing energy to wreck the interior (and windows) of the time machine and warrant a makeover come Spring 2010.
I didn’t engage with the final sacrifice – which failed utterly to match up to that made by Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor. I shed a couple of tears – when The Master sacrificed himself and Sarah Jane saw the 10th Doctor for that last time – but, when the 9th Doctor regenerated I was sobbing. I had tissues at the ready this time and didn’t use a single one of them. I welled up emotionally more on the return of the Time Lords than I did when the 10th Doctor cried out that he didn’t want to go. I felt that the ‘prize’ of seeing his companions for the last time succeeded only in stemming the emotional tide, turning the regeneration into a moment of relief rather than sadness. Someone commented on Twitter that they’d been left tapping their foot, almost begging for The Doctor to just die and get it over with.
I would have preferred a less carefully orchestrated handover of a blank slate between Russell T Davies and Steve Moffat. A few loose ends more wouldn’t have gone adrift. I realise that Steve wouldn’t want the baggage of keeping characters that Russell had created, but I doubt it would have hurt to the ongoing story too much to have… well, some ongoing story!
As I said, I may mellow in time and repeated viewing. Then again, I might not. I shall report back if any revelations strike me and I undergo a regeneration in my jaded opinions of this festive effort…