Five stars because David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins and John Simm deserve it...
I was worried after Part One. There seemed to be a lot of flailing loose ends, but... wow... Russell T. Davies really brought it together in Part Two. Whatever you want to say about Russell T. Davies, love him or hate him, you cannot deny that he leaves an impact, and "The End of Time" is no exception. As a life-long Whovian, I have to say, his writing for the Doctor is... monumental... and I know a lot of people don't like or appreciate the emotional vein in which he's written ~ even I have railed against it sometimes ~ but the guy knows how to tell a story, and he knows how to draw you in. He knows what strings to pull and which buttons to push, and that's the mark of a great storyteller. He flirted with returning the Time Lords, brought back their meanest, baddest one of all, and even introduced us, albeit fleetingly and mysteriously, to the Doctor's mother (or possibly Romana - I've heard arguments for both). By the end, he'd pretty much broken our favorite Time Lord, redeemed the Master, in a vague sort of way, and slapped the Time Lords back into the pits of the Time War.
Now, to the performances. John Simm, as the Master, was much less of a crazy caricature like he was in The Sound Of Drums and Last Of the Time Lords, and more of a creepy-crazy. The devouring of food and pounding of the head and the almost inbred insanity was palpable and gave a sense that this man, while a genius and the Doctor's equal on many levels, was falling apart at the seams, and Simm's performance was spectacular. You can tell how much he enjoys playing the part, that's for sure! Bravo! And a thumbs-up should go to Timothy Dalton as Rassilon. His growling, menacing portrayal of the Lord President almost made the Master look like a ten-year old amateur.
But the gems of these two episodes are the scenes between David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins. They are absolutely priceless. The dialogue and interaction between the two actors is so heartbreaking and subtle, and so well written. The dynamic between the Doctor and Wilf was simply perfection and really highlighted the range of both actors. It's just drama at its best, and we see a side of the Doctor that we're unfamiliar with: scared, uncertain, resigned, woeful, bitter even ~ a stark contrast to his happy-go-lucky nature ~ you name it, it's in there. His regeneration scene was a perfect metaphor for his wanting to hold on for as long as he could, but if he had to go, he was going to take everything with him.
As for David Tennant? I don't know what to say, except that he's absolutely brilliant, and he is going to be missed... SO MUCH! I never thought anyone could surpass Tom Baker, but Tennant did ~ in glorious fashion! The final twenty minutes of Part Two are so powerful, so wrenching, so unbelievably striking, and he proved why he is the most popular and loved Doctor among fans. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was Tennant, maybe it was the beautiful musical score, maybe it was the perfect storm of all those things... in any case, it was the perfect ending, for all involved, and I don't think we could have asked for a better departure for Tennant or for Davies, and I thank them for the years of enjoyment they've brought!
But as Ood Sigma said:
"This Song is ending, but the Story never ends..."
Bring on Matt Smith and Steven Moffat!
Long Live the Doctor!!!