Doctor Who. The Parting of Ways. S1 Ep 13. Written by Russell T. Davies
I almost tried to quit watching Doctor Who again after this episode. I know that effort would be futile, however, and, by and large, this was a satisfying end to the season-long story arc.
This episode picked up where the last episode left their cliffhanger. The Daleks demand that Rose predict the Doctor’s actions and tell them what he’ll do, but she refuses. But never fear! Thanks to a force field that Jack has rigged up, the TARDIS is protected and able to materialize on the Dalek ship in front of Rose. Jack and the Doctor exit the TARDIS, and are fired upon, but the TARDIS’ protection field covers them. The Doctor taunts the Daleks, reminding them that Dalek legend refers to the Doctor as “The Oncoming Storm” and wondered aloud how they lived through the Time War. A low grating voice explains they survived “…through me.” The camera pulls back to reveal a brain with tentacles in a glass fluid-filled capsule. The whole contraption is propped up with metal legs and shields.
The Emperor explains that though the Doctor destroyed all the Daleks in the War, its own ship survived. It survived with its crew by hiding and silently infiltrating things on Earth, going after dead humans and using their genetic material into an army of Daleks.
“I get it…” the Doctor began to say.
“Do not interrupt!” “Do not interrupt!” “Do not interrupt!” Daleks around them command the Doctor, talking over each other. (Hee! This is funny.)
The Doctor has a great comeback for them: “I think you’re forgetting something. I’m the Doctor, and if there’s one thing I can do its talk. I’ve got five billion languages and you haven’t got one way of stopping me, so if anybody’s going to shut up…” (he turns to the Daleks, shouting) “… it’s you!” They all turn their “backs” on the Doctor.
Rose points out that makes Daleks half-human, an idea that the Emperor doesn’t like and calls blasphemous. A cacophony of commands in metallic voices rises up around them from the other Daleks: “Do not blaspheme! Do no blaspheme! Do not blaspheme!” like, all talking over each other. (Hee-hee! How can I take this seriously?)
The Emperor insists that its manipulation resulted in the cultivation of a “pure and blessed Dalek.” (Daaaaalek, it pronounces it.) This just reinforces for the Doctor that these things are keee-razy, and they bug outta there, back to the satellite.
The Doctor realizes that the satellite and Earth itself are vulnerable to a Dalek attack, and tries to think of a plan. Despite the Doctor’s earlier orders to evacuate, Lynda is still around along with about one hundred other people who could not get into the few shuttles on board. The Jerk that was playing against Rose on the Weakest Link is still on there looking for his prize credits. Keep looking, chump. The Dalek fleet begins to move towards Earth, the Emperor giving orders to purify the planet with fire and turn it into its temple.
The Doctor comes up with a way to fight back the Daleks, but it will take several days longer than the twenty-two minutes they have to build it. Rose stays with the Doctor to help him and Jack prepares to go off to fight and give them time. Before he leaves, he says good bye to Rose, placing both hands on her cheeks and saying, “Rose, you are worth fighting for,” (AWWW! We should all be told something so sweet!) and then kisses her passionately.
Then he goes to the Doctor. “Wish I’d never met you, Doctor. I was much better off a coward.” And kisses him as passionately as Rose. (Aww! I love this goodbye, to both of them. It shows the depth of the Jack Harkness character. He may act like a scamp, but at the core, he’s a loving and honorable person.) He’s able to rustle up a few helpers among the humans still on the satellite.
Rose and the Doctor are working until the Doctor hangs his head. When Rose asks how bad it is, the Doctor brightens up and says it can work if he can use the TARDIS to cross his own time line. He pushes her into the TARDIS and tells her to stay there while he powers up the Station. Once he exits the TARDIS, however, his expression falls and he points the sonic screwdriver at the ship, making it take off with Rose on board. Rose freaks out with what he’s doing, and she screams to be let out.
A hologram of the Doctor appears on the TARDIS and tells her in a hollow voice: “This is Emergency Program One. Rose, now listen, this is important. If this message is activated, then it can only mean one thing: we must be in danger, and I mean fatal. I’m dead, or about to die any second with no chance of escape.”
“No!” Rose cries, and the Doctor continues. “And that’s OK, I hope it’s a good death. But I promised to look after you, and that’s what I’m doin’. The TARDIS is takin’ you home.”
Rose is still arguing with the hologram, and the Doctor says more. “And I bet you’re fussing and moaning now, typical. But hold on, and just listen a bit more. The TARDIS can never return for me. Emergency Program One means I’m facing an enemy that should never get their hands on this machine. So this is what you should do: let the TARDIS die. Just let this old box gather dust. No one can open it, no one will even notice it. Let it become a strange little thing standing on a street corner. And over the years, the world will move on, and the box will be buried. And if you wanna remember me, then you can do one thing. That’s all, one thing.” The hologram faces Rose directly and says, with a full voice, “Have a good life. Do that for me, Rose. Have a fantastic life.” Sniff.
The TARDIS lands Rose in her London, and despite her near-hysterical jiggling of the controls, she cannot get it to work again. Outside, Mickey comes running down the street, having heard the distinctive sound of the TARDIS’s engines, and Rose hugs him, weeping. (I think Mickey thought she was weeping with joy at seeing him, but no. She’s devastated to not be with the Doctor. I feel sorry for him.)
Jack contacts the Doctor to get a sit rep: he finds out that the Doctor sent Rose home. The Dalek Emperor breaks in on their transmission to point that the weapon will kill both human and Dalek. This is counter to the Doctor’s wish, who doesn’t want to hurt humans. The Doctor replies that there are colonies in space and the human race will survive, but the whole universe is in danger if he lets the Daleks live. Jack tells the Doctor to keep working, and defiantly tells the Emperor that he has never, and will never doubt the Doctor.
Since they’re all talking, the Doctor asks “God-of-all-Daleks” how he managed to write “Bad Wolf all across time and space.” The Emperor denies having had a part in it, which the Doctor scoffs at. “They are not part of my design.” The Doctor is still skeptical, and the Emperor says “This is the truth of God.” (BWA-HA-HA!! I’m sorry, I know I should take him seriously, but it’s a brain-octopus in a glass capsule. I always, at the very least, snort a little bit at this.) Meanwhile, Jack and Lynda work together to prepare for and fight back during the Dalek attack.
On Earth, Jackie and Mickey are trying to persuade Rose to forget the Doctor and move on. Rose tells them that she cannot, because the Doctor showed her a better way to live. “You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say “no”! You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away!”
As Mickey is still trying to talk to her, Rose notices the words “Bad Wolf” scrawled in six-foot high letters on a paved public area of the estate, and also in the form of graffiti on the surrounding walls. Rose somehow “realizes” that these words are not a warning, as she had feared, but a message telling her that she can get back to the Doctor. (What the hell? How do you figure that? How convenient.)
Anyway, she runs back to the TARDIS, hoping that she’ll be able to get back to the Doctor and help him escape. Mickey follows her (story of his life, probably), and she tells him that the TARDIS is telepathic and she can communicate with it by getting at the heart of the TARDIS. It’s not that easy to open the TARDIS’ console, however.
Back in space, the Daleks get onto the satellite and start at the bottom floor and work their way up, killing everyone. Back to Rose, Jackie is in the TARDIS, also trying to persuade Rose to leave the Doctor alone. “God knows I’ve hated that man, but right now I love him, and do you know why?” Because he kept her safe.
Rose points out that her father would not have given up and then plays her trump card: she had a chance to meet him. Jackie scoffs but Rose reminds her of a blonde girl holding Pete’s hand when he died; that was Rose. Shaken and silent, Jackie flees the TARDIS. (This was a sweet little moment. I’m tight with my mom, and know the strength of the bond in that, particularly when it’s just been the two of them. It’s sacred. I could see that here.)
The Dalek fleet descends upon the Earth, bombarding the whole planet. The Emperor is starting to gloat. Jack and Lynda continue to fight individual Daleks, but they’re quickly overwhelmed. Lynda is killed, vacuumed into space. Jack is killed shortly thereafter, standing tall.
Jackie later returns to the TARDIS with a heavy-duty recovery vehicle. She tells Rose that she was right; this would have been the sort of mad thing Pete would have done. The chain of this recovery vehicle is strong enough to hold and tear the console open. Rose stares into the heart of the TARDIS, and energy from within the console flows into her eyes. The TARDIS doors close of their own accord, shutting Jackie and Mickey out, and the TARDIS dematerializes, intense light visibly streaming out of the TARDIS windows.
Just as the Doctor finishes readying the Thrown Together Dalek Weapon, Daleks glide into the control room. The Doctor threatens to use the weapon, and the Emperor’s like “Bring it on.” He points out that the weapon will kill both human and Dalek. He can become “the Great Exterminator,” to make the choice between coward and killer.
“Coward.” The Doctor says, stepping away from the weapon. As the Doctor prepares for extermination, the TARDIS materializes behind him. The doors open, the light from the TARDIS’s heart spilling out into the control room, and in the middle of it all is Rose, glowing brightly.
“What have you done?!” cried the Doctor.
“I looked into the TARDIS and the TARDIS looked into me.”
Horrified, the Doctor cried, “You looked into the time vortex, Rose; nobody is supposed to see that!”
The Emperor chimes in that this is the abomination, and a Dalek aims to shoot at her with its laser. Rose lifts up her hand and stops it, reversing it back into the Dalek; the Doctor looks on in surprise. “I am the Bad Wolf,” she says. “I create myself. I take the words… [she lifts her hand and takes the words from the Bad Wolf Corporation sign] …I scatter them, in time and space. [The words float away.] A message, to lead myself here.”
“Rose, you’ve got to stop this, you’ve got to stop this now!” the Doctor pleads. “You’ve the entire vortex running through your head, you’re gonna burn!”
She looks at him for the first time, her eyes glowing. “I want you safe. My Doctor. (Aww.) Protected from the false God. “ she said, referring to the Emperor, who then chimes in that it can’t be hurt, and is immortal. “You are tiny,” Rose corrects it. “I can see the whole of time and space, every single atom of your existence, and I divide them.” At this, she lifts her hand again, and destroys the Dalek in an explosion of golden dust. “Everything must come to dust. All things, everything dies.” (Just a little note here: She’s looking really juicy at this point, like, watery. Either tears or sparkles from her eyes are making her look like her face is flowing with water.)
She has the power of life and death, a power she doesn’t want to give up and again demonstrates when, outside the room and unseen by the Doctor, Jack Harkness suddenly returns to life. She’s like Jafar in Aladdin. She has PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER!!! Her “itty-bitty living space” comes in the form of pain, for the power is too much for her. At this point, we can see that she’s begun crying, so that may account for the juice I saw earlier.
The Doctor is pleading with her to stop. “The power’s gonna kill you and it’s my fault!”
Rose says, “I can see everything… all that is… all that was… all that ever could be.” The Doctor recognizes that, “But that’s what I see. All the time. And doesn’t it drive you mad?”
Rose nods and begin to croak that her head is killing her.
The Doctor, who is just in front of her, tells her to come closer and says, in the stupidest most scene-killing line we’ve heard. “I think you need a Doctor.” (Seriously, Davies, what the HELL? The scene was already a little much, but they were making it work. It was intense and we were there in it, and then this. I think I know how it feels to run headfirst into a Plexiglas window. Crosses that off bucket list.)
The Doctor recovers from this shitty line to lean in to kiss her – their first and most wonderful kiss – and he’s drawing the energy into himself, the golden light transferring from her to him through their lips. It was a little hott, and almost makes up for that shitty line. As Rose falls unconscious, the Doctor releases the vortex energies back into the TARDIS. Jack, who has been running to get back with them, makes it to the room only to see the TARDIS leave.
On-board, Rose awakens, remembering little of what has transpired. As she tries to figure out what happened, the Doctor notices a small ripple of energy sweeping across the back of his hand and his expression clouds momentarily. Uh oh.
“Rose Tyler. I was gonna take you to so many places. Barcelona. Not the city Barcelona, the planet Barcelona. You’ll love it, fantastic place, they’ve got dogs with no noses!” the Doctor begins, and then laughs. “Imagine how many times a day you end up telling that joke, and it’s still funny!”
“Then, why can’t we go?”
The Doctor assures her that maybe she will, and maybe with him, but not “like this.” She tells him he doesn’t make sense. “I might never make sense again! I might have two heads! Or no head! Imagine me with no head – and don’t say that’s an improvement.” He warns her playfully, and she smiles. The Doctor continues, “But it’s a bit dodgy, this process.” Rose’s smile fades. “You never know what you’re gonna end up with.” There’s a flash of light and the Doctor doubles over. After cautioning Rose to stay away from him, he explains. “I absorbed all the energy of the time vortex and no one’s meant to do that. Every cell in my body’s dying.” She asks if he can do something about it, and he says. “Yeah, I’m doing it now…” [he gives a pained smile] “Time Lords have this little trick, it’s sort of a way of cheating death, except, [his face falls] it means I’m gonna change.” [Pause] “And I’m not gonna see you again, not like this, not with this daft old face.” [Small awkward laugh] “And before I go…” “Don’t say that!” Rose begs him. “Rose, before I go I just wanna tell you – you were fantastic… absolutely fantastic… and d’you know what?” Rose shakes her head. “So was I.” They smile at each other for a brief moment, and then blazing energy courses through his body. The Doctor’s features change and he becomes his next incarnation. While my acceptance and adoration of this Doctor has grown exponentionally, the first time I saw this episode, I thought: HOLY CRAP!! IT’S BARTY CROUCH, JR.! I HATE THAT GUY! Barty says “Hello, okay…” gulps, and adds. “New teeth. That’s weird. So, where was I? Oh, that’s right,” he grins, “Barcelona!”
I still get sad seeing this episode, ’cause Eccleston was my first, and you never forget your first. As I said, I did grow to love Tennent as the Doctor (he’s actually my favorite, by a long shot), it took me awhile to warm up to him. I thought about giving Doctor Who up after this… Again.
Here’s what another blogger thought about this story arc. They bring up good point; check it out: