Deifir de Morte takes The Doctor back to Forêt. Before it does that, it takes him to the 23rd Century, to witness the wedding of the Ninth Doctor and Rose. The mere paragraph in this story encompasses the events that take place in the last Unfinished Business story, Alliance of Unity II, and went online on the same weekend in November, 2006. It then took a slightly sad Doctor, full of regrets for what might have been, back to the arms of his tree-living sweetheart, Dominique. Of course, she still adores him and he doesn’t hesitate about sleeping with her. Meanwhile, his friends do their own thing, and discover the game of Bâton Haut, simply French for high sticks, which slightly resembles the originally Native American game of lacrosse, and slightly resembles the Irish game of hurling, and just a tiny bit the Wizarding game of Quidditch. The arena in the trees is something that developed from thinking about all of those games and then applying them to people who live in trees. Alex proving himself good at the game and revealing that he is part Irish and learnt to play hurley in Ireland when he visited his gran. It was the only way to get a game that is little known outside of Ireland into a conversation among Welsh Wyn and Manchester born Jasmin and Alec.

The death match, involving a sort of extreme Bâton Haut, dominates the story, as it should, since it is the title. The Doctor clearly doesn’t WANT to fight in that way, but not because he is a coward, or because he fears losing, but because he knows he CAN beat Éric, and he will have to kill him. Deifir de Morte IS a death match. This brings in a huge moral dilemma for The Doctor, who rarely DOES kill, and certainly not in hand to hand combat like this.

For a while, I toyed with the possibility of him not killing Éric, but humiliating him in some way, much like the end of the ‘death match’ in the second Karate Kid film, when the Karate Kid simply tweaks the nose of the earnest young Japanese challenger and makes a honking sound. The other possibility, given that they are on a high platform with no safety net, would be an accidental death, possibly with The Doctor trying to save his opponent, and his hand slipping before he falls. I rejected that scenario as having been done TOO many times already. Die Hard kept coming to mind, but there are quite a few other similar scenarios where that kind of thing happens. And I rejected the ‘humiliation’ idea for the same reason. Karate Kid II is too well known.

The Doctor actually being responsible for a death – he DOES deal the blow that kills Éric - there is no question of accident – was the only possible ending to the situation. If Éric had lived, or if he had died accidentally, the ‘honour’ would not have been satisfied and other challengers from his village would have come forward. It had to be complete. And the fact that it was something The Doctor would not normally do made it all the more startling. It doesn’t mean he was going to become a psycho after this and kill all of his opponents. But on Forêt The Doctor lives by different rules, a different morality than elsewhere in the universe.