This week’s Doctor Who re-watch includes back-to-back episodes where the Doctor almost loses Rose, inspiring millions of shippers including our first-time watcher Pete. Rose continues to be the most compassionate character in fiction, how can you not be in love with her?
Episode 7: The Idiot’s Lantern
Pete: I want to start off by saying talking about what this episode did wrong.
Andy: So you can move on to saying what it did awesomely?
Pete: First off; not enough Rose. Second; 1950s (omg so boring). And thirdly: NOT ENOUGH ROSE.
Andy: Haha, I’ll give you that one. Her first couple scenes are absolutely delightful, as she sasses Mr. Connolly over his Union (not Union Jack!) flag, and as you rightly pointed out, she was born to wear swinging fifties dresses.
Pete: Can we take a moment to talk about how fabulous the Doctor and Rose look? Like not only independently but as a unit. Rose was born to wear pink and that skirt is adorable. And those helmets, oh my god.
When Mr. Connolly first started being a jerk, I immediately thought: maybe this guy is an alien! Because the answer is always aliens on this show. But nope, just your everyday piece of garbage. It was amazing watching the Doctor shut him down and subsequently inspire his family to tell him to pack his bags. And Rose closing it out with the snark? Brilliant.
I’m not at all surprised that the Doctor is a feminist. He just has this air of…quick whats the opposite of doucheyness?
Pete: That’s the word…Air of fucking awesome about him.
Andy: I’m not usually inclined to hand out door prizes for male feminism, but it does take courage to call people out on their misogyny in the moment.
Another thing I like about this episode is that it shows Rose investigating independently. When the Doctor races off on his scooter, Rose pursues her own lead to Magpie’s television store. That was clever, and it takes courage!
Pete: I’m really not sure how I feel about the doctor leaving Rose like that. On the one hand he was going to lose them! On the other hand Rose got her face stolen because, wait for it…
Andy: Don’t wander off!
Pete: But I have to believe he did it because he believed that she could handle herself. And rightfully so, I might add. She tracked down the alien TV in a heartbeat and was only foiled because the Doctor hasn’t made her a spare screwdriver yet. (Please let that be a real thing.)
Andy: It’s also seems like such a Britishism to me to have this show take place during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. (Although it is charming!)
I wonder if British audiences get more out of the setting of this event than American audiences.
Pete: What happens in thirty years when the VCR gets invented? Is she going to jump out of the TV like the little girl from ‘The Ring’ every time someone watches it?
Andy: Don’t even mention The Ring around me. I still can’t walk past a static TV because of that movie.
Pete: When Mom kicked out her awful husband, I was pretty happy. I thought to myself, “Good, I hope he lives a sad, lonely rest of his life” but then Rose happened. I don’t know why I’m surprised. This is the person who befriended a frackin Dalek. I looked at that man and saw a monster. She looked at him and saw someone who needs saving. That’s just so inspiring I don’t even have the words for it.
Episode 8: The Impossible Planet and Episode 9: The Satan Pit
Pete: This was the best episode yet! It was just really my kind of episode. It had all the things I love about the scifi genre: there was a black hole, whacky gravity, the Devil himself, existential monologues…and on top of all that we have an undecipherable alien language (even for the Tardis) that somehow made everything more scary.
Andy: There’s no doubt that this two-parter ranks among my favorite episodes. (And not just for the fanfiction it inspired!) There’s a ton going on in this episode, and it rewards you for paying attention. Let’s start off with: Rose and the Doctor landing in the storage cupboard, and not being able to keep a straight face at the suggestion of leaving in the face of danger. There’s also a great little hint towards the identity of the prisoner when the Doctor figures out that the gravity field generates a power of six to the sixth power every six seconds. And then in a small little aside, we learn that Zedd is an archaeologist from the Torchwood archive.
Pete: Zach and the gang from the sanctuary base were the best group of secondary characters we’ve met so far. The previously mentioned Zach is just about the best leader you could ask for, especially when chilling on a planet orbiting a black hole. Ida felt a little like a wall for the doctor to bounce philosophy off of during their field trip, but she still had her own clearly defined personality (which not all side characters can boast). Not to mention how Jefferson’s eventual self-sacrifice felt far more tragic than, say, Sir Robert in ‘Tooth and Claw‘. Even Danny, who treated the Ood like non-human life forms, was enjoyable to have around — if only so we could judge him and feel better about ourselves.
Andy: What happens to the Ood this episode is nothing short of tragic. I often have a hard time accepting visions of the future that include slavery, because I genuinely believe that humans are becoming more empathetic and just (not to mention wise) as time goes on. I can’t reconcile the thought of of humanity spreading across the galaxy and still failing to understand that people are people. Danny tells us that the Ood like to serve (which is a pretty suspect claim to begin with, since it’s coming from a position of power) but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for humans to take advantage of that.
And I hate to say it, but…even the Doctor placed a single human life above dozens of the Ood, when he used his one trip to save Ida.
Pete: I don’t even know where to start when it comes to the treatment of the Ood. They were like the epitome of an innocent race and one or more asshats decided they didn’t even count as life when they programmed the life signs detector. This race of beings literally will die from lack of purpose if they don’t serve someone and this is how they are treated. Some people would say that even letting them serve is bad. (I would disagree because like I just said that causes them to die and that’s worse, isn’t it?)
Andy: It’s kind of hilarious to me that the crew just accepts the Doctor and Rose showing up on their base. (I mean,after their initial “how did you get here?” bewilderment.) Total strangers basically fall out of the sky, lose their ship, just put em on the duty roster.
Pete: One does not simply lose The Tardis. It’s like Sokka’s trusty boomerang: it always comes back. (Plus, there’s like eight more seasons. C’mon.) It was a bit concerning at first. I genuinely felt anxiety while watching the Doctor race to discover its fate. But we’ve seen it vanish from existence and still come back so it’s not as alarming to me as the Tardis not being able to translate something.
Andy: I think it’s a testament to the worldbuilding the show has done that we really get how serious that is. I also love it because it plays into the idea that the universe is full of unexplainable mysteries, some of them incredibly grand. Who were the people from before time who locked up this monstrosity?
Pete: If this is “the devil” then i wonder if “god” is the one that locked him up. (God here being some sort of life form or forms that also existed before time.) Where are they now? What if they became the Time Lords? I know it’s doubtful, but it’s a fun idea to play with in my head.
Andy: Ooh, interesting idea!
I think we also have to touch on the greatness of the human spirit, which even considering all the flaws of the characters, is remarkable.
“Why did you come here? I’ll tell you why. Because it was there. Brilliant! Just stand there, because I’m going to hug you. Human beings, you are amazing.”
Andy: There are obvious parallels to our own history – climbing Mount Everest, landing on the Moon, Manifest Destiny — but I think it also works on an individual level. Why does Rose travel with the Doctor? It’s wondrous and glorious but it’s also dangerous as hell. (Ahem, literally.) But of course…this is Rose’s choice.
Pete: I believe the devil when he says Rose is going to die in battle. It’s inevitable if you think about it. It’s a miracle of sorts that she and the Doctor have survived this long. We’ve had solar flares, alien invasions, holes in the universe, and broken a space/time continuum. The Doctor actually has died a few times now and the only reason he doesn’t stay that way is because he’s a Time Lord. Rose has no such luxury and everything has its time… I hate even thinking about this because Illidan was right, I am not prepared.
In this episode someone again is taking away Rose’s choice to stay with the Doctor and it’s not okay. But what is Rose’s response? In Grand Rose Fashion,instead of exacting revenge on them for being dicks, she saves them by killing the devil himself.
Images courtesy of BBC and Dimension Films. Please do not spoil Pete in the comments!