(text is totally unrelated to the picture, but the picture is too cute to ignore)
Sycorax Leader: You stand as this world's champion?
The Doctor: Thank you. I've no idea who I am, but you've just summed me up.
A Quick Note on the Pudsey Cutaway before I move onto the main episode: I love the Doctor discovering himself. “I’ve got sideburns!” Yes, yes you do. But at the same time, my heart breaks for Rose and the Doctor. To Rose, her Doctor is gone. And I’m sure it felt that way for a lot of viewers at the time. And I’m sure this is really painful for the Doctor for the woman that he’d come to care about so much, to not recognize him and to want him to change back (something he can’t do). He was afraid that Rose wouldn’t want to be with him if he changed. Poor Doctor. I love that she starts to believe him when he tells her the story of how they first met. “Run.” And she totally cracks a smile with the Doctor makes a crack at her mum. Love it.
The plot of this episode is really lame. Although… it DOES feature Ten having a sword fight with a Sycorax in pajamas. But really, for me, this episode is more about Rose and Ten’s journeys, both as separate characters and in finding out how they are going to relate to each other now that he’s changed.
For Rose, I really think that this episode is the beginning of her journey to being the more independent action hero that she becomes in series 2. At first she totally freezes up with the Doctor is down for the count. She doesn’t know what to do. So she runs. She hides in the Tardis.
But when push comes to shove, Rose stands up against the Sycorax all by herself. She takes what she’s learned by traveling with the Doctor and at least tries to stop the Sycorax. And ok, it totally doesn’t work and you can hear her voice quivering a bit, but she tries to be the Doctor when he’s not there.
Rose: I, um, I address the Sycorax, um, according to... Article 15 of the Shadow Proclamation. I command you to *leave* this world with all the authority of... the Slitheen Parliament of Raxacoricofallapatorious, and, um, the Gelth Confederacy, as, uh, sanctioned by the Mighty Jagrafess, and, ooh! the Daleks! Now *leave* this planet in *peace*! In peace.
And of course, for Rose, this episode is also about her (and the audience) accepting Ten as the Doctor. In the shopping scene with Mickey, Rose is still clearly upset by the regeneration and doesn’t really know what this all means for her. But I think the tide starts to turn for her when she asks him to wake up and save her, which he promptly does.
And then after the Doctor wakes up, for good and confronts the Sycorax, I think you can start to see Rose falling for him and believing that he’s really HER Doctor. It’s finally confirmed after he fights the Sycorax. “No arguments from me!”
The Doctor’s Journey in this episode is about discovering who he is as Ten.
The Doctor: [still recently regenerated] Am I... Ginger?
Rose: No, you're just sort of... brown.
The Doctor: Aww, I wanted to be ginger. I've never been ginger. And you, Rose Tyler, fat lot of good you were. You gave up on me. Ooh, that was rude. Is that the sort of man I am now? Am I rude? Rude and not ginger?
(I'm including the following scene just for the Doctor's fail!wink and Rose's bemused expression)
Sycorax Leader: [shouts] I demand to know who you are!
The Doctor: [shouts, imitating him] I don't know!
The Doctor: See, there's the thing. I'm the Doctor, but beyond that, I - I just don't know. I literally do not know who I am. It's all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?
[he winks at Rose]
The Doctor: Am I an old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor, a liar, a nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I've certainly got a gob.
I also like that right from this episode, we get a more playful Doctor than Nine was, as a general rule. Of course Ten would quote The Lion King. Of course he would. He loves Harry Potter and Agatha Christie and quotes Disney movies. I love Ten.
Sycorax Leader: I can summon the armada and take this world by force.
The Doctor: Well, yeah, you could. Yeah, you could do that, of course you could. But why? Look at these people: These human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet, and blinking step into the sun. There is more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than - No hold on... Sorry, that's the 'Lion King'. But the point still stands.
And at the end the Doctor chooses his clothes. :D And what epic clothes they are. (LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THE BLUE SUIT.)
For the record regarding the Doctor's actions at the end, I’m Team Doctor. I think Harriet Jones was in the wrong. I mean, I understand why Harriet did what she did. But I still think she had no right to kill the Sycorax based on what they MIGHT do and what MIGHT happen. Although by the same token, I think Harriet was a good PM and the Doctor probably shouldn’t have taken her out of power like he did.
Something else that I love about this episode is seeing Rose’s family become the Doctor’s family. From the very beginning of this episode, we see that Ten is a lot more cuddly than Nine was. He gets back to London and wishes Mickey and Jackie a Merry Christmas before collapsing. And then of course there’s that lovely moment after they save the day where Ten, Rose, Mickey and Jackie have an adorable group hug.
In series 1, there was no way in hell that the Doctor would have sat down with Rose’s family for Christmas dinner, but here Ten is! Pulling crackers and wearing a silly paper hat! Grinning like an idiot! Having fun! Because of Rose and her family, the Doctor isn’t “the lonely god” anymore. He has a family and it’s precious.
The final scene is just really great for looking at both the Doctor and Rose, so I’m going to transcribe it here.
Rose: And what about you? What are you gonna do next?
Doctor: Well, back to the Tardis. Same old life.
Rose: On your own?
Doctor: Why? Don’t you want to come?
Rose: Well, yeah.
Doctor: Do you though?
Doctor: I just thought… cause I changed.
Rose: Yeah, I thought cause you changed… you might not want me anymore
Doctor [grinning]: Oh, I’d love you to come!
Mickey: You’re never going to stay are you?
Rose: There’s just so much out there. So much to see. I’ve just got to.
I just love how they try to play it off all casually like Rose isn’t scared that the Doctor won’t want her anymore and that the Doctor isn’t afraid that Rose won’t want to travel with him now that he’s changed.
These lines really sum up how epic Rose and Ten are and why I love them so much.
Jackie Tyler: Well, I reckon you're mad, the pair of you. It's like you go looking for trouble.
The Doctor: Trouble's just the bits in-between! It's all waiting out there, Jackie. And it's brand new to me - all those planets and creatures and horizons! I haven't seen them yet, not with these eyes. And it is gonna be... fantastic!
And then he grabs Rose’s hand and they chat about where they’re going to go first. I love these two.