Doctor Who Review: “The Unquiet Dead”–In the Box, Both of You

ROSE: “You can go back and see days that are dead and gone a hundred thousand sunsets ago. No wonder you never stay still.”

DOCTOR: “Not a bad life.”

ROSE: “Better with two.”

Rose Tyler gets it. This is her second trip in the TARDIS, and already she sees the Doctor’s life for all of its brilliance, all of those suns waiting on the horizon. But she’s also known since this man showed up at her door that he’s lonely, and that she’s as good for him as he is for her. They’re so glad they met each other that it’s literally the last thing they want to tell the world before they die. Rose and the Doctor are going down fighting. Together.

glad i met you

And that’s Rose, by the way, who tells the Doctor how it’s going to be. They’re going to stay strong, because she already knows the Doctor wouldn’t have it any other way, and she wants to do him proud. I love the little moment when they rush into the theater to find Gwyn and Sneed snatching the old lady’s body, and Rose yells “Doctor, I’ll get ‘em!” like she’s calling a volleyball or something. Open communication is very important between teammates. Rose has got this one, Doctor; you get the next one. It’s the same attitude she takes as they’re leaving the TARDIS, when she points her finger at him and tells him to stand down. He’s stepped into all sorts of old worlds, but now it’s her turn.

Walking in the past is pretty much the opposite of watching your planet burn. Rose was powerless and alone on that space station, and now she gets to literally leave a footprint in history. She might even rewrite her own world. It’s a little terrifying, but it’s also empowering, and Rose runs with it like the wild thing she is. She stands up for herself, protects Gwyn, and defends the right of the human race to be respected even in death. But of course the Doctor would want to save the Gelth if he’s the reason they’re dying in the first place. Even Rose and Nine’s flaws are just their best traits gone overboard. The Doctor’s guilt puts Gwyneth at risk, while Rose’s compassion leaves Gwyn feeling patronized.  They balance each other out. He’s still challenging Rose to broaden her perspective, just as she helps him not to forget the individual.

I love the way Rose looks at the Doctor the minute the Gelth bring up the Time War. If there is a fix out there for his guilt, it’s her. Rose is all about taking some of the burden out of the Doctor’s hands. If they die in a dungeon in Cardiff, it isn’t his fault. She chose to come. The women on this show own their life choices, thanks very much. Not even the Doctor can tell Gwyn to risk her life; it’s her call, and it kills her, but she saves the world.

Nobody expected Mark Gatiss to rewrite present-day England as an alien zombie funland (except maybe Mark Gatiss, who on second thought would totally do that), and the story kind of skirts around any real moral conundrum by making the Gelth evil, but the world is still changed. A servant girl saves history, even if no one knows, and a writer learns, like his characters, to wonder again. We can see history through new eyes. We can reboot a decades-old TV series. There’s always more to the story, and that’s why we keep going. I mean really, the title of Doctor Who is a question.

Bits and Pieces


beautiful rose

“I’ve changed my jumper.” Nine, you just wanted to see Rose dress up, didn’t you?

Get in loser, we’re going body snatching.

DOCTOR: “I mean it’s rubbish, that bit.”
DICKENS: “I thought you said you were my fan.”
DOCTOR: “Oh, well, if you can’t take criticism.”
The sass is reaching new heights here.

Nine would humbug Charles Dickens.



“What in Shakespeare is going on?” HA. Because Shakespeare coined the phrase “what the Dickens” and he’s Dickens. I see what you did there, Gatiss.

“I think this is my dance.” It’s getting hot in 1869.

hand placement, hand placement

hand placement, hand placement

ROSE: “Hi. Who’s your friend?”
DOCTOR: “Charles Dickens.”
ROSE: “Ok.”

“The things you’ve seen. The darkness. The big bad wolf.”

ROSE: “Seriously though, you can’t.
DOCTOR: “Seriously though I can!

So Dickens’s words will last forever, then. I love this show and its faith in books.

“Ready for this? Here we go. History!”

DICKENS: “In the box? Both of you?”
DOCTOR: “Down, boy.”

“Good smile, nice bum.”

ninth doctor


  1. YOU get Rose, like Rose gets Nine.

    “I love the little moment when they rush into the theater to find Gwyn and Sneed snatching the old lady’s body, and Rose yells “Doctor, I’ll get ‘em!” like she’s calling a volleyball or something. Open communication is very important between teammates. Rose has got this one, Doctor; you get the next one.” YES.

    I know (I know, I know) that the Doctor loves all of his companions for different reasons, but it’s easy to see why he falls so fast for Rose. From trip 1, it’s like Rose has been on the TARDIS with him forever. She knows what he needs before he even considers asking for it. Also, I snort-laughed at “Get in loser we’re going body snatching.”


      1. Have you watched the Doctors Revisited special for Nine? Neil Gaiman practically says the same thing you do. She GETS it. And that there’s nothing at all special about her except that there is.

  2. I have! I loved the way he put that. It’s so great when the team is as into these characters as we are.
    (Also I think I’ve been waiting for this weekend’s Doctors Revisited since about June? Can’t handle it.)

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