Not The Best First Date

Doctor Who – Series 1 – The End of the World. Written by Russell T. Davies

The first episode of Doctor Who wasn’t bad, so I kept watching the second. The episode opens up with the Doctor asking Rose “I’ll have another” Tyler where she’d like to go.  Then a flirtatious back and forth ensues during which she throws out years and he brags about where he’s taken her. Finally, she twinkles at him, “You think you’re so impressive.”  He says, with mocking indignance “I am so impressive. Alright, you asked for it.” and he spin spin spins the TARDIS knobs. When she lands, Rose and the Doctor spill out onto a bland platform and he opens a screen so we can all see the earth before us. He tells us it’s 3.3/apple/26. 5 billion years from 2005, and this is the day the sun expands. “Welcome to the end of the world.” He finishes credits begin.  Dude, that is sooo not how you flirt with a girl.

Credits. Blue and red vertigo.

Opening shot showed a spaceship above the earth, and we pan to Rose and the Doctor doing a fast Exposition walk about the outer space observation deck as they’re walk to the main room. Rose realizes that her home is about to explode and she’s the last human in existence. A Blue faced man is surprised to see them, and the Doctor introduces him and Rose and us to psychic paper, paper that will display anything the bearer wants it so.  Blue Man relaxes and they exchange pleasantries. The Doctor: “See – it says the Doctor plus one.  She’s my plus one.” He grins cheekily.  Hee – she’s my plus one.  I like that.

He explains that the paper is “slightly” psychic, and shows them whatever he wants. “Saves a lot of time.” So the writers are honest about theirs of a poor man’s plot device.

As the Blue Man announces names, a parade of aliens come on the platform. “The great and the good,” the Doctor calls them, by which he means “the rich.” At this point, I started to become afraid that Doctor Who would be one of those shows that introduces new aliens for the hell of it, just to up their sci-fi cred. The collection of aliens included (and I wrote their names as I heard them): Trees from the Forest of Cheem, the Mox of Valhoun, the Adherents of the Repeated Meem, the brothers Halk Pylee, the ambassadors from Binding Light…

The announcer voice drained on and mentioned a gift enchange as the Trees approach the Doctor and Rose. The She-tree gives them a small tree in a pot “a cutting of my grandfather,” and the Doctor did a quick pat of his pockets as he realizes his faux pas of not bringing a gift. He finds one and says, “I give you: air from my lungs.” Then blows in her face. Bwa! She-tree shudders slightly with enjoyment and says, “How… intimate,” looking him up and down.  “There’s more where that came from.” he answers cockily, and she purrs “I bet there is.” Meanwhile, Rose is watching the whole exchange with jealous eyes. Bwa ha ha! This was so unexpected to me, and so funny.

We are quickly introduced to host of the event, the Face of Boe and then talk to the Mox of Valhoun, who gives the gift of “bodily saliva” by spitting in Rose’s face. Eccleston is chuckling as the Doctor nods, “Thank you very much.” The Appearance of the Repeated Meem give them a small silver ball, and then we hear the announcer call forth a special guest, in memory of the dying world: the last human. The Lady Cassandra O’Brien. A metal frame is rolled out with a beige sheet stretched across it. There is a little face near the top of it, and it’s telling people not to worry about her appearance; she’s only had her chin done.  “And look at how thin I am. Thin and dainty.” (I thought this was a cheeky commentary with people’s focus on their appearance, though it may have been unintentional.   So many people today, men and especially women, take special pains to look “thin and dainty.” They starve themselves, cut on themselves. Is this how far people will be willing to go? Of course not, but how far is too far?) “Moisturize me, moisturize me.” She entreats her helpers and brings “relics” from the real earth, like a juke box, with incorrect facts about it.

“Earth death in 30 minutes.” A voice announces as Tainted Love from the juke box plays in the background.  Aliens milled about and Rose started trippin’ and runs off. The Doctor went after her, and we saw the Appearance of the Repeated Meem hand out more of their balls. (Hee) She-tree “discreetly” takes a photo of the Doctor, and then uses a little machine to “identify species” of the Doctor, and she learns where he’s from, which she pronounces as impossible. Then we see a silver ball from the Meems open up and a spider-bot crawls out of it.  The Musical Strings of Mischief begins to play in the background.

Rose is alone watching the sun explands and makes friends with a kind blue-faced plumber to whom she must give permission to talk.  The plumber goes back to work and sees the metal spider, and then one becomes two, who become many.  We see her feet pulled into the chute as she cries out. The Blue faced announcer is in his office and another spider-bot goes free.

Teleportation devices are not allowed, and they just found the blue box.

The Doctor finds Rose and checks in with her about everything she’s seen. She processes a bit, and then she starts to ask him personal questions about his past, which he dodges. He does explain that the TARDIS translates everything the aliens say into English. He becomes increasingly agitated until he finally bursts out. “This is who I am. Alright? All that maters is right here right now and this is me!”

Rose doesn’t let up and again demands he tell her.  He walks away from her and stands quietly looking out the window, at am impasse.  After a few minutes, Rose gets up and walks closer to him.  “Alright.  As my mate Shareen says, don’t argue with the designated driver.” He smiles and she comments how she wouldn’t get a phone signal to call for a taxi anyway.

The Doctor takes her phone and does some “jiggery-pokery” to the phone, which allows Rose to call her mother in the present day 2005.  Rose looks sad and happy at the same time, watching her home about to explode as she talks to her home, like every thing is normal. She’s trying to wrap her head that she just talked to her mum from 5 billion years ago. The ship then quakes, and the Doctor says, smiling, “That’s not s’posed to happen.”  We see the Blue Man scan the building for intruders and realize they have a spider problem. The spider deactivates the sun filter, the thing that protects the people on the ship. The blue faced man dies.

While the spiders scuttle about, the shot moves into the room where all the guests are milling about and we can hear the Mix of Valhoun say, “Indubitably, this IS the Bad Wolf scenario.” (I only point that out because I didn’t catch that line until many many many viewings of this episode later, and it’ll be important later.)

The Rose and Doctor walk into the room and he starts talking to the She-tree is named “Jade,” and she offers to take the Doctor to investigate (pollenate, Rose describes it.) Rose watches them walk away a little jealously, and she calls after him “and I want you home by midnight!” The Doctor and Jade are walking in the back hallways where the wires are kept, and Jade expositions about how the Platform works, that it’s pretty much unsinkable. The Doctor comments “I was on board another ship once; they said that was unsinkable until it ran into an iceburg.”

Cut to Cassandra talking a bit with Rose.  (‘Michael Jackson,’ Rose referred to her.) She says used to be a little boy and she lived in LA.  She reveals her self to be the last “pure” human, while the other humans “mingled,” because “mongrels.”  She surmised (incorrectly) that Rose wanted to be flattened as well, but Rose shuts her down.  “I rather die than live like you, a bitchy trampoline.” Heh.

The Doctor playfully asks Jade, “What a tree like you doing in a place like this?” as they begin searching down a pipe-lined hallway. He stops their progress progress to examine something on the wall and Jade takes this moment to reveals that she scanned him earlier and she knows what he is and where he’s from.  His face becomes stony at this point and he doesn’t move as she finishes, “I know where you’re from.” He’s silent. “Forgive me for intruding but it’s remarkable you even exist. I just wanted to say how sorry I am.” She puts a hand on his arm. The Doctor hasn’t moved, hasn’t blinked, just listened to her words. When the camera goes back to his face, his eyes are filled with tears. He looks at her and slowly covers her hand with his, though he remains silent. They hold like that for a moment before the Doctor returns to work. Nice job by Eccleston, there.

It’s interesting that, so many thousand years in the future this episode is supposed to take place, and she’s talking about it like it was something that happened recently. Perhaps it was so big that it always seems recent.

The moment passes and he takes them to what looks like the engine room where he sees a spider-bot. He examines it closely and pronounces it dangerous. Meanwhile, the Repeated Meem, having heard her say to Cassandra that she’s the last true human, attack Rose and throw her into a windowed room. The sun filter program, the one that protects the platform guests, has descended and there is a moment of fear that Rose would turn to ash like in Interview with a Vampire.  The Doctor goes back to the main platform to talk to his fellow riders about the spider-bots.  Cassandra is throwing accusations around, like maybe the Face of Boe set this up, because he invited them all. She was also begging to be moisturized, generally contributing to confusion until it becomes clear that she brought them.  She commands her attendants “At arms!” and tthe Doctor looks at her patiently with his hands on his chest and asks, “What are you going to do, moisturize me?” Hee! “With acid,” Cassandra affirms.

Money was an oft mentioned theme in this episode, I just realized. He told Rose about it, accused Jade of enjoying her wealth privilege, and accused Cassandra of plotting this whole thing. I wonder what that’s about?

Though it’s forbidden, Cassandra teleports to evacuate the platform, and the Doctor and Jade take off to restore the system.  Jade must sacrifice herself to help him reach the switch, which she does gallantly. As the Doctor is cautioning her about the dangers, she assures him she knows and tells him to stop wasting time, “Time Lord.”  (I just realized – this is the first time in the series that it’s mentioned he’s a Time Lord. This recapping business is cool.)

Several moments of chaos ensue while temperatures increase and threats to existence are cast. The doctor makes a daring dive after a Zen moment with the pretty vocalization in the background, and zeroes in on what he must do, successfully getting past the rapidly moving blade to reach the switch.  He does at the last possible second, and everyone is saved except Jade, who has burned and is indeed a pile of ash. But she was a tree, so that makes sense. The Doctor looks at her ramming mournfully, an then goes back to the main room tells Jade’s companions that she has died. He’s pissed, though, and walking purposefully. He reverses the teleportation field and brings Cassandra back to the platform. A few minutes after she returns, she realizes how hot it is and how dry she’s becoming. She pleads with the Doctor for pity, but he’s having none of it, even when Rose came to his side and said: “Help her.”  He says, coldly, “Everything has it’s time and everything dies.” He watches, stonily, as Cassandra explodes.

After some time, presumably, the Doctor and Rose reunite and Rose observed that no one noticed the end of the Earth. “We were too busy saving ourselves, no one saw it go.” (Was that another social commentary?) He took her hand as she began to cry in earnest and said “Come with me.”  In the next scene, Rose steps out of the TARDIS onto her 2005 London. She surveys the street thoughtfully.

The Doctor came to her side and said, “You think it will last forever, but it won’t. One day it’s all gone. Even the sky,” he finishes, looking up.  He looks back down and blinks several moments before confiding in her. “My planet’s gone.”  She looks at him, eyebrows knit together, and that pretty vocalization begins again. I think it’s the Doctor’s theme. “It’s dead. It burned, like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust. Before it’s time.”  “What happened?” Rose asked. “There was a war,” he answered, “and we lost.”  “A war wif who?” She asked and when he doesn’t answer she asked, “What about your people?”  He looked at her and said, “I’m a Time Lord. I’m the last of the Time Lords. They’re all gone. I’m the only survivor. I’m left traveling on my own ’cause there’s no one else.”  Rose’s compassionate heart is about to burst from this display of vulnerability. She offers, “There’s me.” He surveys her with a wee smile, and then asks her if she wants to go home, even after knowing the danger the danger of traveling with him.

“I don’t know,” Rose answers. “I want…” She sniffs and started looking around, distracted. “Can you smell chips?” She asks the Doctor.  He sniffs and starts laughing as he answers, “Yeah.”  She sniffed again and told him fervently “I want chips.” “Me too,” he said.  That was so cute.  Just as intent as Rose was about the Doctor she became about chips. She tells him they can pick up chips and he can pay, and when he protests she asks, “What sort a date are you?”  They walk into the crowd in pursuit of chips, smiling, spirits lifted. I think she’s holding his hand when she leans into his arm as they walk on.

Verdit: Okay.  I’ll keep watching.

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