Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Doctor Who: The Parting Of The Ways (2).
This was such a good episode that I'm not sure where to begin. For a start, it was a very emotional episode, similar in tone to 'Father's Day'. And I have to admit, I did shed a tear or two at the end (and maybe in the middle somewhere, too). Too much heroism. Too much loss. And maybe I'm a big softie, too.
Since the beginning of the season, the Doctor's had a patchy run of things. At times he's been unlike the Doctor of old. His greatness has been spasmodic, he's made mistakes, and even tonight, in the last episode of the season, he almost failed. Not that it wouldn't have been a truly heroic failure—the Doctor and his small gang against the full-on might of the Dalek army—but against those kind of odds, it was always going to take a miracle. And a miracle is precisely what we got. The Bad Wolf, at first glance, a message spread throughout space and time, then later, Rose transformed, a god-like being endowed with the power of life and death.
After being thrown back to her own time by a Doctor devoid of ideas and resigned to almost certain death, Rose's frustration was palpable. How could she sit there, listening to Jackie and Mickey prattle on about pizza and coleslaw, when 200,000 years in the future the Doctor was dying? As far as Jackie and Mickey were concerned, Rose was in the safest place she could be. They had no concept of what was transpiring in the future, so to some extent Rose's outburst—that the Doctor is better, that a superior way of life does exist, and that you don't just capitulate in the face of danger, you stand up and fight—was as much a wake up call to herself as it was a justification for what she was about to do.
Rose's life has changed so much since meeting the Doctor—and for the better. There could be no going back. So when Mickey told her that to return would probably mean her death, Rose didn't need to think twice. Life in South London was a second rate existence compared to what she'd experienced with the Doctor. So she followed her heart and headed back to the future, where, transformed by looking into heart of the TARDIS, she managed to save the Doctor and tear Jack back from death's cold embrace. Was that the sound of the whole of womankind breathing a sigh of relief? Most probably. Likely a huge chunk of mankind, too.
And as much as this episode was about Rose, it was about the Doctor's journey, too. It was clear from last week's episode, as the Doctor stood inside the TARDIS, head pressed up against the door in a gesture of desperation and hopelessness, that things were bleak. And this week, after coaxing Rose into an empty TARDIS and sending her back to the safety of her own time, you could see in the Doctor's face that he thought his end had come. The emergency hologram confirmed it—activated because of death or mortal danger—a touching final message to companion Rose, about to become trapped in another time: safe, but utterly helpless.
Yet in the end, the Doctor proved himself better than the Daleks. He took the higher moral path. It may not have been the most effective solution, it may even have been the cowardly option (certainly from the viewpoint of the Daleks), but it was the right decision. The death of mankind was too high a price to pay.
I was sad to see Lynda (with a Y) go. She would have made a good companion. She may even have made a decent love interest for the Doctor, who certainly took a shine to her. I loved the scene where he awkwardly went in for the kiss, bailed out half way through, and instead settled for a polite handshake. I would love to have seen Lynda stay around for a little while longer—but it wasn't to be.
Jack's changed too from the selfish criminal we first met back in 'The Empty Child'. His speeches were heroic and his death fearless. When he said to the Doctor 'I was much better off as a coward,' we instinctively know that it's not true. Jack was never a coward—he just never had a cause. Until he met the Doctor and Rose and learned a new way to live.
And what is there to say about that regeneration scene? They're always the highlight of any season, and this one was no different. The ninth Doctor's closing speech was beautiful. It was draped in just the right amount of regret and pathos to bring Eccleston's reign as the Doctor to a satisfying conclusion. He tried to prepare Rose for the trauma—humorous to the last, he mocked his looks, bemoaned the things they never got a chance to do, and then burned out of existence in a brilliant burst of golden energy.
And the Doctor telling Rose she was fantastic, before conceding that he was fantastic too, held meaning for both the ninth Doctor and Eccleston himself. I'm not sure who else could've reinvigorated an old, tired series so successfully. So, fantastic? Yes... he truly was!
—If 'Bad Wolf' was a message for Rose, then why did it occasionally appear in a foreign language? Can Rose speak German, I wonder? Or French? Welsh? I'm guessing not.
—As Bad Wolf, Rose lost her cockney twang.
—That was some clever hologram. How did it know where Rose would be standing when it looked right at her?
—Fans of Torchwood will know that Rose bringing Jack back to life renders him immortal. Which is the basic premise of the show. For those of you who don't know about Torchwood, it's a Doctor Who spin-off series, with a more adult bent.
—The Emperor Dalek's cry of 'I cannot die' reminded me of Davros in 'Resurrection of the Daleks.' Of course, Davros came back. Maybe the Emperor Dalek will, too.
Jack: 'The extrapolator's working. We've got a fully functional force field. Try saying that when you're drunk.'
Jack: 'Don't I get a hug?'
Rose: 'Oh, come here.'
Jack: 'I was talking to him.'
Doctor: 'Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek home world? The oncoming storm. You might have removed all your emotions, but I reckon right down deep in your DNA, there's one little spark left. And that's fear. Doesn't it just burn when you face me?'
Doctor: 'Die as a human or live as a Dalek. What would you do?'
Jack: 'You sent her home. She's safe. Keep working.'
Emperor: 'But he will exterminate you!'
Jack: 'Never doubted him. Never will.'
Jack: 'I kind of figured that.'
Rose: 'I am the bad wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them in time and space. A message to lead myself here.'
Rose: 'I can see everything. All that is. All that was. All that ever could be.'
Doctor: 'That's what I see, all the time. Doesn't it drive you mad?'
Rose: 'My head.'
Doctor: 'Come here.'
Rose: 'It's killing me.'
Doctor: 'I think you need a doctor.'
Rose: 'What happened?'
Doctor: 'Don't you remember?'
Rose: 'It's like, there was this singing.'
Doctor: 'That's right. I sang a song and the Daleks ran away.'
Doctor: 'Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you. You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.'