Word Count: 1,011
Author's Summary: As the Master's prisoner, the Doctor gets to know the connection between pop music and world domination.
Characters/Pairings: The Doctor (10th), The Master (Simm)
Warnings: None...apart from mass murder on an apocalyptic scale.
Recced because: I find that even all this time and a number of re-watches later, I still have an ambivalent relationship with The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords. Sure, it's a deeply flawed two-parter (I won't have a word said against its prologue, Utopia, mind you - one of the very best Ten episodes, imho), and Magic!Fairy!Doctor and John Simm's more self-indulgent moments as the Master aren't to everyone's taste (or to mine, really)...but there's still something deeply compelling about it. I think in part it's that dark, pessimistic streak Russell T Davies shows in many of his better stories. When RTD allows himself to imagine horrible things in the context of Who (or Torchwood), he doesn't half imagine them.
Simm!Master has arguably been eclipsed by Missy in the NuWho Master stakes, and in the hearts of many fans, but there's something about him, something unhinged and disturbing. He's the Master with all of the brakes off, every pretension to being a gentleman-villain or cackling supervillain stripped away so that the pure evil and madness can bubble through. He actually does what the Master has spent a lot of time threatening to do, and on an almost unimaginably vast scale. Of course, at the same time he remains very much cackling a supervillain, but there are moments when the camp actually complements rather than detracts from the chilling murderousness of his actions, probably none more so than the all-singing all-dancing mid-story cliffhanger where he unleashes the Toclafane upon the Earth.
And this fic takes its lead from that moment and others in its consideration of Simm!Master in relation to his appreciation of popular music. In doing so, it absolutely nails his character and his relationship with Ten in that story, the traditional Doctor-Master "thing" stretched to its breaking point and taking on a new level of dysfunction. The conceit that as the Master gets more violent his taste in music grows more flamboyant is at once amusing and telling in what it tells us about the motivations behind him being the way he is (I think, ultimately, it's all about acting out for the Doctor's benefit). Ten's pain at being the captive audience for this show is also captured very well indeed, rising above run of the mill Ten!angst to evoke a genuine sense of sadness, horror and despair.
So if you like your Master fic dark and horrifying, you ought to like this one a great deal, as do I. Please go and have a read and if you agree, be sure to leave some words for the author.
It's sort of funny, really. Your typical movie villain's got a thing for classical; pops out the Vivaldi or the Puccini while he slices and dices or poisons or strangles, or he has his murders committed while he's attending a performance of The Magic Flute. Not the Master. He's a more modern sort of chap. Fits in with the rest of this particular regeneration: the broad smile, the designer suit, the book, the blonde wife.
Most of the time it's neither here nor there -- pop or rock music that fades into the background and that the Doctor can ignore while he keeps his aged head low and hopes that nothing will set the Master off today.
But then, inevitably, something does, and that's when the glam, the disco, and the Europop comes out.