One thing we learn is that the Doctor chose his own name.
Unlike the Master, who is bent only on dominating others (and chose a most appropriate name for that), the Doctor desires to save, to heal, to rescue, and to make people better… Or at least the best versions of themselves. This is the Doctor’s attitude to the Master as well. The Master has been driven mad by the drumming in his head, a consequence of gazing into the untempered schism as a child. This was something chosen for him. It was shown to him, for what purpose we are not sure. Even though the Master wants to destroy the Doctor, the Doctor’s aim is to fix him, to look after him, to forgive him.
But let’s get down to the story that unfolds here in this double episode: The Sound of Drums (3/12) and The Last of the Time Lords (3/13)
It is filled with incredible timey-wimey issues! The Master has captured the TARDIS, and ‘cannibalised’ it, in order to create a time paradox. He has been to the end of the universe and ‘saved’ the human race – in a way. Now he’s brought them back, in the form of ‘tochlophane’ (think lethal, flying metal balls with human brains inside), who will kill their own ancestors. (The Master says if he tells the Doctor who they really are his “hearts” would break!).
While this situation should create a paradox and cancel out their existence, the TARDIS is holding the future and past together. And so the Master, aka Harold Saxon, can rule the planet, build rockets to destory other civilisations in the galaxy and oversee the rise of a new Time Lord empire. As for the Doctor, well the Master has aged him, suspending his capacity to regenerate so he experiences all 900 years at once. But the Doctor has a secret weapon which he entrusted to Martha before she embarked on her year long journey around the globe: the power of the spoken word.
Though planet Earth is ‘closed’, bound for imminent destruction, Martha has become famous. Legend says she alone can kill the master! But not with a weapon; she will do it with words. She has been walking the earth, telling the story of the Doctor who saves, who has been saving humans for hundreds of years.
MARTHA: “I travelled across the world, from the ruins of New York to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went, I saw people just like you, living as slaves. But if Martha Jones became a legend, then that’s wrong, because my name isn’t important. There’s someone else. The man who sent me out there. The man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is the Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times, and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him. I know him. I love him. And I know what he can do.”
By telling everyone this story Martha unites the human race together, creating a telepathic field focused on the name of the Doctor. This is what unlocks the Doctor from his cage and brings about the Master’s demise. The Doctor is reborn, empowered, and offers forgiveness and healing to the Master (who incidentally is unwilling to accept the offer).
I almost feel there is no need to spell this out, but how much is this like the Gospel of Jesus, the message of the Word of God, who died for the world? How much is this like the Great Commission, the Gospel handed down and entrusted to the followers of Christ. We have a message far greater than any excellent Doctor Who adventure, a real story of love and sacrifice and rescue. Might we (I) never be more excited to share these stories than the most important story of Jesus Christ, who saves sinners.
For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
(2 Timothy 1:11-14)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
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The Titles of Christ in the midst of a whirlwind (from Seven Notes of Grace)