Its the end of an era and boy does this Doctor go out with a bang.
Last time we were left on a cliffhanger. Rose is in the center of a newly resurrected Dalek fleet. All that stands between the Earths’ destruction is the Doctor, Jack and a battered old space station. The Dalek’s even have their Emperor, who due to the trauma of the Time War believes he is now a god, with the Dalek’s his fanatical crusaders sent to cleanse those who “are not blessed Dalek”
Its an important moment because, apart from the brief appearance of one earlier in the season in ‘Dalek’ we hadn’t seen them on screen for close to 20 years. In the time between and even before the end of the original Doctor Who run, they had become a sort of joke bad guy, something that frequent appearances on UK TV in comedy roles didn’t help. By refocusing the Dalek’s purpose but adding a hint of religious zealotry, itself in keeping with the current fears following large scale terrorist attacks on Western countries. Doctor Who has always been good at creating monsters in keeping with current societal fears and this refreshing of their evil worked well I think, even if it seemed to be mostly dropped by the time they appeared next.
Even the Doctor seems a little unsure of himself when faced with such a force. After his confrontation with the Daleks, we momentarily see him drop his guard and witness just how much the event has affected him. Everything he did has been pointless. Its now just him and the Daleks as its always been, only now he has no-one else he can go to for help.
In a way that makes him a scary as the Daleks. Hes certainly willing to go to their as far as the would if needed. So a plan is hatched. The Daleks will try to take the station now they know hes on board. Captain Jack and his list of volunteers will attempt to slow them down, giving the Doctor time to build up a delta wave, a sort of science fiction term for ‘bid death ray that will kill all the Daleks’. So they get set to their task, Captain Jack getting volunteers from the remaining contestants and booby trapping the levels of the station between the entry point and the Doctor. Only theres no time.
Until Rose jars something in the Doctors memory- there may just be a way to save everyone again! Yipppie!
But its not to be. Unwilling to let her die and break his promise again, the Doctor sends Rose and the Tardis back in time. His face paints the picture. He knows hes going to die, but hes not going to let her die pointlessly, or allow the Daleks access to time travel technology again.
Hes doomed, but at least he can save one person. Which is what he tells Rose via recorded message, in whats a pretty heartbreaking, yet humble monologue. Shes understandably distraught and though she tries to get back to her normal life with Micky and her mum its not possible for her anymore. Her travels have changed her into, not necessarily a better person, but just one that can no longer stand by whilst people need help.
So Micky and her mum reluctantly try to help. By opening up the hatch to the Tardis’ core, Rose hopes to be able to telepathically communicate with it and help the Doctor somehow. Cue montage and hints of Roses mum being a prostitute- Whats that about Doctor Who being a kids show Moffat?
Meanwhile things aren’t going so well in the future for humanity. Though some Daleks have stopped to board the station, the rest of the fleet have headed to Earth, bombing it with things that seem to be able to reshape the geology of the planet with their power. The Station’s defenders fall one by one, until all that remains is Jack, a few fighters and a flimsy barricade. The rest of the inhabitants who aren’t fighting them aren’t spared either, trapped on the bottom floor and killed in what is a pretty terrifying scenes. Even Lynda dies in the end.
Whats that about the New Doctor who being less gruesome than the old Who fanboys?
At that point though, hope arrives as the delta wave, that supposedly was going to take a few days to charge is ready to be used. Theres a reason for his deception though. The Doctor hoped it wouldn’t be ready, because he hasn’t the time to refine it. By using the weapon he would kill all the Daleks yes, but he would kill almost all of humanity too. The doctor tries to rationalise his decision to the Dalek Emperor, explaining humanity would survive in someway, despite all the damage it would do to the timeline. But in doing so, the Doctor would become what he fears the most. He would become just like he was in the Time War, no different to the Daleks.
So he chooses death. Hes a different person now and he can’t make the choices he did, even if it would save the universe. As he puts it when asked who hes is “Coward, any day”.
I suppose its good that at the moment Rose appears to take the decision away from him really. She absorbed the power of the Time Vortex and in doing so, absorbed it into her. Though this gives her the power to destroy the Daleks and resurrect Captain Jack, it comes at a price of her life. So the Doctor does what he does best and saves it. Even if it heralds one of the cheesiest lines ever.
So saving the day, the Doctor and Rose fly off into the sunset and alls well right? Rose even has handy plot amnesia, so theres no worry of a Donna occurring. Well, it seems that no-one is meant to absorb the power of the time vortex unless they want to die, so its regeneration time for the 9th Doctor. Eccleston gives what is probably my favorite goodby. Because I’m good I’ve gone and found a clip for you to watch too (though its been re-scored for some reason)
So it time to say hello to the 10th.
This episode is, to put in so few a words, fantastic. The pacing, editing, sound and acting is all top notch. To those who have seen the show before it may seem it may seem like I’ve skipped over a lot this episode and that because so much happens and almost half of it left unsaid or implied.
Theres a reason RTD is as renowned as his is and its because of episodes like this where something magical just happens. Ecclestion’s portrayal of the Doctor goes from an angry to one who has simply accepted his fate but is happy for the time hes had. Rose’s major transformation as a character will start to happen from now on shows how traveling with the Doctor changes you in a good way. Even minor characters get their own scenes to steal the show, Captain Jack becoming a badass, Micky getting a small amount of pathos as someone who still loves Rose but will never truly be loved back in the way he wants.
Hell even the people whos names I can’t remember get an arc of sorts, even if most of them end up dead by extermination. I could honestly write a book.
But my time is at an end. Though at some point I will be back to talk about the first season of Nu Who and the 9th Doctor overall, menoth22 will be taking his rightful place back covering the adventures of the 10th Doctor and beyond.