And so it begins, on the red planet, The Doctor encounters one of those “fixed points in time” that he can do nothing to change. But though he tries to back away from the doomed group of space pioneers, the Gallifreyan is about to drift into his darkest adventure yet.
Be warned, the rest of this post may spoil the life out of the story! [[The Waters Of Mars (Doctor Who episode)|The Waters Of Mars]] sees The Doctor on his own for his second adventure since leaving a brainwashed Donna Noble back at her mother’s house. He finds himself on Mars for a bit of an exploration and stumbles across a research base on the planet, Bowie Base One (more on that later).
He encounters Adelaide Brooke, the leader of the colony, who asks him to state his name, rank and intention. To which he replies “The Doctor, Doctor and fun.” The crew of this colony…not exactly a barrel of laughs. However, as The Doctor starts to identify the members of the crew, he realises that there’s a reason why he already knows their names. Why? Well, after checking the date, he realises that he’s arrived on Mars on the day that their colony is destroyed.
Yes, while The Doctor is getting acquainted with the crew, two of the members of the crew become infected by the water on the planet. (In a Total Recall-style storyline, they’re drawing their water from the glaciers under the surface of Mars). Initially, The Doctor tries to back away from getting involved, but Brooke gives him no choice when she confiscates his spacesuit.
Somehow, The Doctor sees the destruction of Bowie Base One as a ‘fixed point in time’ and resolves not to become involved in the fate of the colonists. However, as their situation becomes increasingly dire, we see The Doctor make quite a rash and far-reaching decision. He decides to intervene.
Although he explains to Brooke that her death sets off a chain of events, and that her successors become important to Earth’s intergalactic programme. However, as he watches the crew flounder to evacuate, something in him snaps. He decides to rescue them, throwing everything he believes about not interfering with “fixed points in time” out the window.
Brooke, on the other hand becomes hung up on The Doctor’s words, that her death “creates the future”. So, even though The Doctor saves her, she worries about the impact changing time will have for her grandchildren and the rest of the human race.
Bowie Base One
Bowie Base One is the name of the colony The Doctor comes across on Mars. It’s a brilliantly conceived hint at the end of the series. Think about it. The episode is set on Mars, with a group of settlers who are trying to sustain life on the planet. So that’s Life, On Mars then? And who wrote that song? David Bowie.
But back to Life On Mars – the link there, of course is that John Simm played Sam Tyler in that series, but also played The Master at the end of Series 3. And guess what? He’s returning for the final two episodes of [[David Tennant]]’s Doctor.
I can’t imagine, given how tightly the series arcs for Doctor Who are written, that any of this is a co-incidence.
Fixed Points In Time
It’s long been a belief of The Doctor’s that he cannot intervene with a fixed point in time. Those are events that cannot be changed under any circumstances.
On the other hand though, The Doctor recalls the power of the Time Lords, how they could mould the events of time. In possibly his darkest moments yet, he decides that he will be the ultimate authority in time. Possibly David Tennant’s scariest scenes in Doctor Who are those unhinged moments where he declares that the Time Lords controlled the laws of time and he can do that again, as the last of their race.
It was quite a shock to see Tennant’s Doctor becoming a little bit of a megalomaniac. Even when confronted by Brooke about how much power he weilded, he is arrogant and aggressive. He says “For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor. But I’m a winner, the Time Lord victorious.” Brooke walks away from him, disgusted, but has the final word when she shoots herself inside her house, preserving the flow of history.