Twinkle In A Father’s Eye

Doctor Who – Series 1 – Father’s Day, Written by Paul Cornell

I like this episode, and I liked it more on subsequent viewings.  There are parts of it that made me roll my eyes or cringe (Rose’s dad flirting with her, anyone?), but this episode explores relationships, with all their complications, and also of things being put right, and I like that. Full disclosure: Like Rose, I also have daddy issues, which you know, and am maybe more sensitive to this than the average bear.

The episode opens as Rose “I Hate Grasshoppers” Taylor is telling the Doctor the story her mother told her about how her father, “the most wonderful man in the world,” died. Rose wanted to go back to be there for him when he died and, though the Doctor is concerned for Rose, he agrees to take her there.

As she asks him if they could go, she doesn’t quite meet his eyes. The first time I saw this, that made me wonder if she was planning to try and save him.  After watching a few times, I think she was just very uncertain and hopeful, like she asked him to do something dear to her heart.

Credits. Red and blue vertigo.

November 7, 1987.  (Sidebar: I shattered my pelvis in ’97, and November 7th, 1997 was the official day I could start walking again. Ten years earlier, it was the day Rose’s father died. Proof the Doctor was at work in real life. 🙂

Rose and the Doctor find the scene of the accident, and they witness it, but she doesn’t go to her dad. She and the Doctor leave, but she wants to try again to get it right. I know she’s being dumb for this because of the danger she’s puts everything in, but I SOO identify with the regret of “if I had just done this one thing differently…” That is such a painful feeling, and I don’t blame her for going back. I don’t even know that I blame her, when they go back the second time, when she pushes Pete out of the way and saves him. How hard could that be to witness and NOT do something? And then after, she was so excited to see him alive, loving him.

They all three go to Pete and Jackie’s apartment, and the Doctor is being really polite to Pete, but he’s furious with Rose. Rose realizes what she’s done something bad, but wants to pooh-pooh it, like it’s not a big deal. I do blame her for how she acts after it, all sullen and childish and unwilling to take responsibility for her poor choice. Here the Doctor was being supportive, taking her back a second time, and she did the exact thing he told her not to do.  The Doctor maybe even feel a bit betrayed. I really liked him in this episode, the range of emotions he showed – caring, annoyed, defensive, patient – I think it shows the depth of his affection for Rose.  We will bear almost any cost for people we love.

He accuses her of using him to go back in time. She said her action wasn’t planned. “I did it again.” He says. “I picked another stupid ape.”  (Another one? Did we see the first one? Was he talking about Dumb Buck here?  I don’t think so.  Also, I hate it when he calls humans ‘apes.’) He accuses her of using him to go back in time, and he leaves. I hated seeing that, and was glad, on some level, that he couldn’t because the TARDIS is no longer the TARDIS – its just a blue box.

Pete and Rose go to the wedding, and he comments that he thinks he’s met her before. They get there and are almost hit by the car from earlier, from which Pete swerves as Rose calls out “Dad!” He doesn’t have time to ask her about that when they out of the car, though, as Jackie is waiting in front of the church for him. He hands his car keys to Rose thoughtlessly and runs to her Rose follows, and Jackie, holding the baby Rose, snarks at her and Pete. Rose snarks back, and that’s kind of neat to see. There’s a brief shot of the wee Rose with her eyes wide open, like, “Oh shit.”

Cut shot to the father of the groom is trying to convince his son that he’s making the biggest mistake of his life getting married, that he’ll “look back in ten years and which he could turn back the clock.” Interesting juxtaposition – the father of the groom warning that he’ll wish he could turn back the clock back, and here Rose did just that and it isn’t good. “I tell you, this day is cursed,” dad says. Dad’s a dick. This man’s dad is a dick. Rose’s is not. More juxtaposition, I just realized.

Rose tries to use her cell phone and hears, not a tone, but a male voice say, “Watson, come here, I need you.”

Throughout this episode, we’ve heard the screech of something kill random strangers, and it was a little freaky. This time we see the monsters, and they’re freaky, even after subsequent viewings.  They’re like a spider-grasshopper monster, and fast. The monsters come to the church where everyone is milling about outside, and we see the Doctor run up to protect them.  Inside, he explains to Rose that the grasshoppers have come to sterilize the wound in time that Pete’s continued existence is causing. Rose asks if it’s her fault, but the Doctor doesn’t say yes. He spares her that.

Later, he and Pete are standing by a window, talking. The Doctor sees the car circling around again, and I think he knows it’s looking for Pete, that Pete can run out there, kill himself, and set everything right. But he doesn’t say so. He doesn’t suggest that. It’s very loving. Instead, he says “It’s not important; don’t worry about it.”

As they are all waiting, and Pete approaches Rose and said that he thinks she his daughter. I thought that was a little convenient that he figures out the exact truth.  In a million years, that’s not an idea I would have had, so why did he.  But – it was cool to see Rose and Pete connect like adults, in a way they couldn’t have, a way she’s never had before. “My daddy,” she cries. (I would give anything for that.)

Cut to the Doctor hearing the story of the bride and groom and how they got together.  He looks at the bride and groom like the most magical things in the world.  “Street corner. Two in the morning. Getting a taxi.” Then he said, “I never had a life like that.”  And to think about it, he didn’t.  He’s 900+ years old, but hasn’t had that experience, and never will. It’s a sad truth of Time Lords, and this is the first we’ve heard him express that he won’t have that experience and wishes he could.

Cut back to Pete and Rose talking about what he’s like in the future. He finally asks, humbly, earnestly, like its super important to him: “Am I a good dad?’ She tells him about things he does for her, how he never lets them down, he’s always there.  It would have easy for him to accept that, but he doesn’t and his face falls a bit as she’s talking. He shakes his head slightly and says, “That’s not me,” such a model of adult responsibility. To be honest about himself and his own failings – if we could all do that with such dignity.

Later, Rose and the Doctor are making up and she’s owning up to what she’s done.  The Doctor, watching her and listening, considers her and says: “Just tell me your sorry.” She does, and he gives her a large Eccleston grin, grabs her face and hugs her. She feels the TARDIS key getting warm in his pocket (Is that a TARDIS key in your pocket or are you happy to see me?) and he says it’s “telling me it’s still connected to the TARDIS.” The key is telling you something?  <insert eyeroll>

Pete was listening to the Doctor and Rose, sees the car still circling around and determines that his death would rectify their problems. “This is my fault,” he says.  Rose starts to protest and he says, “No, Love, I’m your dad. It’s my job for it to be my fault.” (SUCH LOVE-KILL ME NOW!!!) They both start to cry and express appreciation for the few hours they had together. Jackie doesn’t want him to go, either, which is nice to see after they bickered the whole episode, and they get to express some love for each other. “I was never there for you.” He says to her, “I can do this for you.”

He goes out into the street where the car hits him, and Rose rushes to him to be with him when he died. We have a flashback of Rose’s mother telling her about her father, a different story from the one we’d heard before.


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