“I just sort of hitched a lift with this man. I didn’t even think about it. Don’t even know who he is. He’s a complete stranger.”
First proper trip in the TARDIS and the Doctor takes Rose to the end of the world. That sends a message. Welcome to Doctor Who, please remember that your entire planet will someday burn. Get ready for loss and pain. Get ready to feel insignificant and overwhelmed and totally alone with your feelings. Get ready to be a little scared of the Doctor.
I’m sorry, what is happening here? The world is burning in the distance and Nine is just casually posing for Rose? YES. This episode is the universe’s hottest club. It has everything: little blue men, Britney Spears, laser spiders, trees, bitchy trampolines, black velvet robot monks, and a great big head in a jar. AND THAT THING WHERE NINE DOES THIS.
A friend of mine had a dream last week that she was working at a store in her hometown mall and folding underwear for the display when Nine came in and started making this face at her, and if that doesn’t sound like a dream scenario to you, we need to have a talk.
Look at him go.
You absolutely can’t do any better than to hitch a ride with this stranger. It’s easy to see why Rose is so taken with him. He helps her call her mother from the year five billion. Then again, he also takes her to the year five billion, so second thoughts are understandable. The Doctor is such a mystery. He wants Rose to watch her home burn, and he doesn’t want to save it. He can’t even try to hide his excitement when their tiny fragile space station starts making ominous noises. He’s kind, but there’s something in him that’s always standing on the edge and wondering what if.
He needs Rose to see that. The end of the world is a terrible place for a first date, but that’s the point. The Doctor wants this thing with Rose to be real, so he shows her exactly where he comes from. He shows her what it means to watch your world burn. Then he takes her back home to the people and the concrete, pressing her on every side with all of the noise and life that she just lost. That’s the Doctor’s loss, and he waits to tell Rose until he feels she can really understand. Surviving means being on a ship that treats the loss of your world as high-class entertainment. It’s not just about being the only one to know the planet: It’s about being the only one to care.
“The end of the earth. It’s gone. And we were too busy saving ourselves; no one saw it go. All those years. All that history and no one was even looking.”
You guys, Billie Piper is exquisite.
Rose Tyler loves the world so much that she’s almost in tears over it. Her voice is cracking with compassion. She just survived a traumatizing experience and could easily be celebrating that survival, or maybe dragging Nine back to the TARDIS and telling him in her best wife voice to take her home right now. But instead her first thought is of her responsibility to honor the human race. All that history. And it’s not just the aliens on the ship who missed it—it’s everyone on the street, all of those people rushing around her when she gets back home. We’re too busy thinking about ourselves to notice.
Rose doesn’t work like that. She’s all compassion and maturity. Even when she gets overwhelmed and sputters inarticulately about aliens looking like aliens, she still takes the time to have real conversations with them. All of her feelings are so real. Everything with Rose comes from a place of passion; when she argues with Cassandra, it’s only because she feels so strongly that this “last human” is actually just a racist bitchy trampoline who has mistaken surviving for living. Even then, she can’t stand watching the Doctor let Cassandra die.
I love that moment when Rose is arguing with the Doctor, trying to get him to tell her who he is, and he snaps that only here and now matter. This is who he is. He wants to know that she can see good in him right now, because I think he’s still trying to convince himself that it’s in there. But from Rose’s perspective, this moment right here right now also includes her, so her feelings have to count as much as his. That’s a tremendous amount of self-respect for a nineteen year old in a new world. She cares about the Doctor, but she doesn’t defer to him. He’s getting her some chips, darn it.
These two are so married already. They go from challenging each other to bantering about jiggery-pokery in 2.8 seconds flat. They have each other’s backs, he holds her hand when she’s alone, and when he worries that it all might be too much for her, the only thing she needs from him is chips. That’s her answer. He asks her if she’s staying, and she asks if he smells chips. (Priorities. You’re doing it right.) Life with Rose and the Doctor isn’t going to be all danger and sadness. Sometimes they’re just going to go on adorable dates together. They’re going to make each other laugh, and she’s going to make him lighter. You can see it happening already. Some people would get all sensitive and ask this poor last remaining Time Lord what they could do for him. Rose doesn’t have to do that, because she gets him. She just got a taste of what he lives with every day, and she’s pretty sure she knows exactly what he needs, and she’s pretty sure it’s chips with her. She’s not going anywhere.
Bits and Pieces
The fact that he’s the last of the Time Lords feels to me like such an absolutely fundamental part of his character—roguish and burdened and searching for a home. It just fits. Good on RTD for making the Doctor new again.
I think this is one of the weirdest episodes of new Who. I mean that as a compliment.
ROSE: You think you’re so impressive.
DOCTOR: I am so impressive!
So are we gonna talk about that look he gives her while repeatedly pumping the controls of the TARDIS, or…?
“This is the year 5.5/apple/26.” It is very important to me that humans of the future actually number the years like this.
STEWARD: Who the hell are you?
DOCTOR: Oh that’s nice, thanks.
Good to see that technology is still uncooperative in five billion apple years.
“No, failed hullabaloo.”
“Whatever I am, it must be invisible, do you mind?”
“JABE, YOU’RE MADE OF WOOD.” The same friend who dreams of Nine watching her fold underwear also believes this to be (however unintentionally) the funniest line in all of Doctor Who.
I love everything about the way they use “Toxic.”
“Oh well it would be you.”
“This is the Bad Wolf scenario.”
Rose thinks the Doctor’s there to save the earth, but he’s not. Sometimes he can’t save everyone. “Everything has its time, and everything dies.”
“Bitchy trampoline.” Rose Tyler should be everyone’s hero.