The end of the Ravenous branch of the Eighth Doctor’s life begins as the first two episodes of Ravenous 4 get off to a slow start before setting up the big two-part finale. But how does the sudden inclusion of The Master into the story affect things? Well…
Seeking respite after their battle with the Ravenous and hoping to find a quiet place where the Eleven can recuperate, the TARDIS crew visit the Still Foundation. But all they find is a small band of survivors under siege from a terrifying predator. A predator that hunts by sound.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The Doctor and his three “companions”, complete with Helen looking only mildly perturbed, for a change!
Although the two stories are different in tone, they do share one thing in common: good dialogue! The Doctor and Helen somehow trust The Eleven, but Liv doesn’t, and she makes no bones about airing this fact to everyone. A scene where Liv pulls a gun on him is slightly undercut by the fact that we all know she won’t just shoot him dead, and he knows that as well. Still, it gets Liv in trouble with The Doctor later, and leads to that old chestnut of The Doctor being called out on the whole “no guns” rule when he willing watches other people use weapons and die in his name.
Then in Episode 2 we add the old melty Master himself, who plays off of Eleven really well. This is a Master post Eric Roberts / TV Movie, one that is struggling to hold on the husk he keeps reverting to. Hearing The Eleven almost feel in awe of his survival instincts, and hearing the Ravenous in his head salivate at a body that has lived so long and ingested so many odd things to keep himself going made sense as well. Then the two eventually meet up with The Doctor, and the trio are great fun together, especially with the scene where The Eleven reveals his great plan and the Ravenous begin to devour The Master, The Doctor’s reaction is great, wanting to be eaten instead, then having to be dragged away as his talks about the fact that he knew him all his life, unlike say, The Eleven, who is therefore painted as he should be: a crazy villain.
I once again enjoyed Mark Bonnar’s Eleven, there is a scene with all his inner past selves discussing their future self’s plan and how they resent being kept out of it, all the while a Ravenous lurks in their with them. It once again showed how fun it is to hear all his other selves and their unique personalities brought to life by Bonnar. I’m looking forward to the conclusion, even if the existence of The Twelve in the Time War stories kind of takes some of the drama away from it…
The Good, The Bad and the Melty!
While all this fun talking was going on we had two stories going on as well. The first episode saw everyone having to whisper due to an unseen enemy that hunted by sound, with the eventual catch that the enemy was the planet itself, which was… alright I guess. The second episode was classic “Master dominates a population until The Doctor arrives” story, with the melted Time Lord hoarding all the planet’s water and only giving it slowly back to them if they dig for him (he hoped to find the tomb of Artron, another famous Time Lord of old) Neither story was bad, but they were definitely put in the back burner for the sake of setting up the character relationships going into the finale.
Speaking of the relationships, so not only is The Doctor and Helen continuing to be super-naïve when it comes to The Eleven, but after another “selfless act of heroism”, Liv is soon on board with them as well, despite the fact she heard him talking to his other selves in the forest, something she doesn’t care to mention to The Doctor at all… The Eleven is a pure, unadulterated maniac villain to his very core, speech pattern and all. That’s what I love about him, so hearing The Doctor and his two companions be surprised when his reformation turns out to be an act was a little annoying, to put it mildly…
The fact that the cover to the finale of Ravenous features no Ravenous shows you how badly they’ve been presented…
Past versions of the Eleven in his head run down a list of ways The Master has kept himself alive to the Ravenous, including The Source from Traken (Fourth Doctor TV story “The Keeper of Traken”), the Cheetah race from the Seventh Doctor’s TV swansong “Survival”, and the Deathworm Morphant from the TV Movie. They also mention the “Tzun”, which is a reference to the Virgin New Adventure book “First Frontier”, but I wouldn’t really know about that…
Speaking of the TV Movie, when they reach Artron’s tomb they find it locked behind a retinal scanner, which then sees The Master shoot down Eleven’s suggestion to have The Doctor open it, saying that he “knows The Doctor’s retina can be unreliable”, which is a funny reference to the infamous “half-human” revelation from the Movie.
Other than those, there isn’t much beyond Liv knowing The Master and his weapons from the Dark Eyes story strand, Helen mentioning looking after The Eleven from the start of this story strand, and The Master recalling how his Eric Roberts incarnation escaped the Time Vortex, which was revealed in the Diary of River Song episode “The Lifeboat and the Deathboat”.
Ravenous 4 gets off to a slower start, before ramping up the excitement and cliffhangers leading into its big finale. The Melty Master has served a good purpose, but we know he’s not dead, and even if we didn’t (somehow) the cover of the boxset shows two other future incarnations of the Time Lord yet to appear… In other words, it’s got me excited for the next story, which is all it was meant to do, in the end, but because of that doesn’t stand up too well on its own…