There were 3 specials:
The Planet of the Dead which could be skipped. It had really great and funny moments between the Doctor and UNIT, contrary to his normal interactions with them in his 10th incarnation. But I hated the ending and thought it took away from the Doctor's character. It really just didn't mesh with what the character arc we've already seen. Plus I really didn't like Lady Christina.
Waters of Mars. Excellent, oh just fantastic. This is also a very dark episode, very very dark and it's so well done. The Doctor is alone and certainly not at his best. His choice? Change the history (future) of Earth and hence the entire solar system, galaxy, and universe...or watch people die. He's helpless. This isn't the first time he's had to make that choice but it's significant in that he has no companion to show him another way--that choice he continually speaks of. And words....every word Russell T. Davis chooses for the Doctor is deliberate. But then they usually are.
What would you do? Better yet, would you be able to watch it happen? Or would you succumb and try to change things knowing the consequences?
The End of Time
I stayed up until nearly 1am watching this because once you start there's just no stopping!
First I have to ask: What's with these mothers? Every single one of them is a self-serving harpy with no respect for their daughter or said daughter's choices. "I don't want you to do that so I'm going to tell you I'm going to be all alone and you must stay with me." Jackie Tyler, Francine Jones, and Sylvia Noble all used their "I'm your mother" card to berate their daughter's choices, belittle their daughter for said choice, and go from being a concerned mother (which I'm not knocking) to a mother who'd rather their daughter never do anything and stay with them than experience life. I have very little respect for them.
The Master returns in another fantastic performance by John Simm. Love him! Even if there isn't any singing and dancing. Pity. The Master says something there that makes me think it's really about the whole Who-verse. Not just him, not just that incarnation or regeneration, but the Doctor. Very specifically the Doctor. When I say Mr. Davis doesn't use words arbitrary? Totally meant it.
"This body was born out of death. All it can do is die." (End of Time part 2)
Got me thinking. The Ninth Doctor was born from war and died for love. The Tenth Doctor was born from love and sacrifice. What did he die for? The first thing the Tenth Doctor saw was Rose (The Parting of the Ways) and the last thing he saw was Rose (End of Time part 2). He died for love, hope, friendship, yes. But most of all his belief in himself, in right and wrong, and in the choices he's made. He can't change the past, he knows this, accepts this (sorta), it's his Prime Directive (kinda), but still...still. What if?
There's always a choice. Except when it's the end and there isn't. There really isn't.
What does that make the Eleventh Doctor? He's born from sacrifice and hopelessness. Makes me wonder what kind of man he's going to be.
This also marked the end of Russell T. Davis tenure at Doctor Who. I'll miss him, his way with words, his sneaky little plot points, his understanding of both the Doctor and the companions who help the Doctor along in his journey. Mr. Davis, you're a master, a true master. The threads you weave throughout each season and multiple seasons is unparalleled.
Oh...and your ability to make me cry. I'd hate you for that, but it isn't often a TV show can make me teary-eyed let along cry. You've managed it in the finales of Series 1, 2, 4, and The End of Time. If we say these were 5 series, then you aren't doing bad, 4 of 5 endings really got to me. Not that I didn't love the end of Series 3, the end with David Tennant and John Simm was exceptional. Because who else but the Master can pull off the crazed evil of dancing and singing his way through the finale?
As I said...phenomenal.