Rose... this is Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane, this is Rose.
I LOVE THIS EPISODE. SO MUCH. SO SO MUCH.
First of all, an interesting thing to note: this episode was written by Toby Whithouse, who is the writer behind Being Human, which I also adore.
Look! K-9 even played chess with the Doctor and the Doctor put his scarf around him!
Anyway, I really could not care less about the plot here (even though it’s actually not bad). Mostly I am focused on the return of SARAH JANE AND K-9. BUT ESPECIALLY K-9. I watched this episode way before I ever watched any Classic Who and I liked it well enough then, but after seeing a fair amount of Classic Who, I adore this episode. You see, K-9, Four and Romana I is one of my top 5 Team Tardises of all time. And I really loved Sarah Jane during her time on the show too. AND this episode has Mickey! I love Mickey! His is my favorite friend/family member of any Companion except for Wilf.
Also, GILES/UTHER/ANTHONY STEWART HEAD IS IN THE EPISODE. That just adds another level of epic and awesome.
The plot itself is a bit… out there. Aliens are using children (their very souls!- according to the Doctor) with enhanced abilities thanks to special oil there are being fed via chips to crack… the universal code? Ok. Whatever. It’s a decent plot and is interesting and different enough to not bring the whole episode down. Now, let’s talk about the characters!
First, I’m going to talk about Mickey because his journey here is the least complex.
Mickey Smith: Me... I'm their man in Havana! I'm the technical support. I'm the... Oh my God... I'm the tin dog!
Mickey Smith: Surveillance. If you ask me it's just another way of saying, 'Go sit at the back of the class with the safety scissors and glitter.'
Mickey Smith: That would be me talking to a metal dog, then.
And after this episode, Mickey joins the team full time. He’s decided that he’s not content being the guy who stays behind anymore. Now he wants to get out there and see the universe. What a change from the Mickey we first met in series 1. He's on his way to becoming a full fledged hero.
And now since the Doctor, Rose and Sarah Jane’s arcs are all kind of interconnected, I’m going to just talk about how they relate to each other in an attempt to give this recap some semblance of organization.
Let’s talk about the Doctor and Sarah Jane. The way that the Doctor’s face lights up when he sees her is just heart warming. He’s so proud of her for still being her investigative old self.
I’m not sure how I feel about the way that they retconned Sarah Jane’s departure. What really happened was that the Doctor was being a bit of a douche and not appreciating her, so she thought she’d teach him a lesson by packing up her stuff and leaving. But then she goes out into the console room and the Doctor gets a call from Gallifrey, calling him home and he tells Sarah Jane that she has to stay behind. So, she was sort of on her way out anyway, and the last we see of Sarah Jane, she’s happily whistling to herself as she walks away. But it’s a lot more dramatic to make it sound like the Doctor kicked her out and abandoned her. (see a youtube video of Sarah Jane’s departure for proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf7ie_SobKQ)
Sarah Jane Smith: I thought you died. I waited for you and you didn't come back and I thought you must have died!
The Doctor: I lived. Everyone else died.
Sarah Jane Smith: What do you mean?
The Doctor: Everyone died, Sarah.
Bringing Sarah Jane back allows for some nice little Time Lord angst. As someone from the Doctor’s past (pre-Time War), she can better appreciate what it means for the Time Lords to all be dead and for Gallifrey to be destroyed. Although she also knows what complete dicks they were, but fails to bring that up. Remember when the Time Lords basically sent the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry to Skaro in Geneis of the Daleks and were like “LOL. Don’t come back until you prevent the creation of the Daleks. We’re holding your Tardis hostage.”? (and then Sarah Jane totally tried to lead a People’s Revolution and it was awesome. But I digress.) Anyway, it was nice that it gave Sarah Jane a chance for closure. It was also a good exploration about what happens to the people the Doctor leaves behind.
Sarah Jane: Did I do something wrong? Because you never came back for me. You just dumped me.
Doctor: I told you. I was called back home and in those days, humans weren’t allowed.
Sarah Jane: I waited for you. I missed you.
Doctor: Oh, you didn’t need me. You were getting on with your life.
Sarah Jane: You were my life. You know what the most difficult thing was? Coping with what happens next- no, with what *doesn’t* happen next. […] We get a taste of that splendor and then we have to go back. […] You could have come back.
Doctor: I couldn’t.
Sarah Jane: Why not?
That hug at the end of the episode just makes me so happy. Sarah Jane was clearly hurting for so many years. It’s good to see her be able to get some closure and move on with her life (and get her own series. Lol).
This brings me to the other reason Sarah Jane was brought back: to give Rose a bit of a shock. I mean, Rose knows that the Doctor is old. She knows he’s been around for a while, but I think that it honestly never occurred to her that he traveled with other people before. I think that she felt what she and the Doctor had was special (and I would argue that what Rose and the Doctor had WAS different from the relationships he had had with previous companions) and was so caught up with the excitement of life in the Tardis that she never thought about the possibility that there had been others before her. So meeting Sarah Jane was a bit of a slap in the face. So of course when Rose first meets her, she’s going to be a bit rankled. And Rose isn’t the only one at fault here. Sarah Jane snipes just as much as Rose does. Also, Sarah Jane is a bit jealous of Rose. The tone in her voice when she asks if Rose was with the Doctor on Christmas Day is a bit heart breaking. This tension results in some amusing dialogue.
Sarah Jane Smith: I had NO trouble with space-stuff. I've seen things you wouldn't believe!
Rose Tyler: Try me!
Sarah Jane Smith: Mummies!
Rose Tyler: I've met ghosts.
Sarah Jane Smith: Robots, lots of robots!
Rose Tyler: Slitheen, IN Downing Street!
Sarah Jane Smith: Daleks!
Rose Tyler: Met the Emperor.
Sarah Jane Smith: Anti Matter Monsters!
Rose Tyler: Gas Mask Zombies!
Sarah Jane Smith: Real life Dinosaurs!
Rose Tyler: Real life Werewolf!
Sarah Jane Smith: THE LOCH NESS MONSTER!
Rose Tyler: Seriously?
But then it becomes awesome. Rose and Sarah Jane realize how silly they’ve been and they bond over how ridiculous the Doctor is.
Rose Tyler: With you, did he do that thing where he’d explain something t like 90 miles per hour and you’d go “what?” and he’d look at you like you’d just dribbled all over your shirt?
Sarah Jane Smith: All the time! Does he still stroke bits of the Tardis?
Rose Tyler [starting to giggle]: Yeah! He does! I’m like, “Do you two want to be alone?”.
The Doctor is not amused at Rose and Sarah Jane sharing a laugh at his expense. Lol. Poor Doctor.
Anyway, the fact of Sarah Jane and the fact that the Doctor had never mentioned her (or anyone else that he traveled with) causes Rose to reexamine her place in the Doctor’s life. Will he just leave her behind one day and then forget about her? (Series 3 proves that this was an unnecessary worry) How does she fit into his life? Should she stay with him? I love that little conversation that Sarah Jane and Rose have at the end of the episode.
Sarah Jane: Hey you! What’s 47 times 369?
Rose: It’s gone now. The oil’s faded.
Sarah Jane: But you’re still clever. More than a match for him.
Rose: You and me both.
Sarah Jane: Well, I better go.
Rose: What do I do? Do I stay with him?
Sarah Jane: Yes. Some things are worth getting your heart broken for.
I think that it’s interesting that this little moment of doubt that Rose has about her life decisions comes in an episode where Rose was working undercover as a dinner lady because really, without the Doctor, those kind of jobs would have been her future. In “Rose” after the Doctor blows up the shop where Rose works, Jackie suggests to Rose that she apply for a job at the hospital’s canteen. So it’s actually incredibly plausible that Rose would have been stuck working in a job like the one she’s working undercover in. Would it have been better for her to have never met the Doctor and just work a menial job? She wouldn't get her heart broken, but she wouldn't have seen all the amazing things that she's seen either. And of course, Rose chooses to keep traveling because that's who she is.
This transitions smoothly into the other major relationship that is explored in this episode. Rose has to reevaluate how the Doctor views her. Is she just another person in a long line of people he travels with and then leaves behind?
Rose Tyler: How many of us have there been, traveling with you?
The Doctor: Does it matter?
Rose Tyler: Yeah it does, if I’m just the latest in a long line.
The Doctor: As opposed to what?
Rose Tyler: I thought you and me were… Well, I obviously got it wrong. I've been to the year five million, but this, this is really seeing the future- you just leave us behind! Is that what you're going to do to me?
The Doctor: No. Not you.
Rose Tyler: But, Sarah Jane- you were that close to her once, and now... you never even mention her. Why not?
The Doctor: I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone you...
Rose Tyler: What, Doctor?
The Doctor: You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on, alone. That's the curse of the Timelords.
So is Rose just another person he's picked up along the way? The answer to that is “no”. The Doctor doesn’t ever plan to leave Rose. And as we see in The Army of Ghosts, Rose doesn’t ever plan to leave the Doctor. Now people say that Rose is clingy, but I would say that the Doctor is just as “clingy”. And besides, no one calls married people clingy. Committing to stay with someone is not clinginess. Rose and the Doctor ARE able to spend time apart from each other without falling apart (see “The Impossible Planet”, “The Satan Pit” and "The Army of Ghosts" for evidence of this). Anyway, I think this is the first moment where it is clear that the Doctor is in love with Rose (which makes the OOC-ness of the next episode that much more obnoxious).
As a closing thought, I thought we’d just take a look at Mickey and Rose. I think that by this point, they’ve firmly settled into the “just friends” role. And I love them as friends. That conversation they have near the beginning of the episode shows that Mickey is through waiting for and pining for Rose (lol. Even if Rose’s ego would like to believe otherwise.)
Mickey Smith: You see, what's impressive is we met her nearly an hour ago and I still haven't said "I told you so" yet.
Rose Tyler: I'm not listening to this.
Mickey Smith: Though I have prepared a little "I was right" dance which I can show you later.
And of course, I like that little bit of jealousy that Rose shows when Mickey joins Team Tardis at the end of the episode. She feels like Mickey is intruding on something that is HERS and it irks her. She’s not always the most mature person around, but in light of what she went through earlier in the episode, her sullen attitude makes sense. She already feels like she’s nothing special, and now Mickey is going to be coming along? I can see why it hurts. (lol. Only to be completely forgotten by Moffat at the beginning of the next episode, but that is a story for another day). Also, I didn’t talk about it much, but there’s a good natured friendliness and teasing between Mickey and the Doctor here that we didn’t quite get with Mickey and Nine. It warms my heart. They’re becoming friends! I like it.
Seriously though, this episode has everything! Some of my favorite characters from Classic Who, good character exploration, a decent (and original to my eyes) plot, AND we even get a bit of Time War Angst in that scene where Finch tempts the Doctor by telling him if they get the code they can use it to make it like the Time War never happened. Writing about it has reminded me why I love it so much. It’s one of my favorites from series 2, for sure.
P.S. If you’re here via the SPDN, you should comment! I like making new friends! Haha. Also it makes all the time I’m spending on this seem less procrastinate-y and more productive if I know people are reading the recaps.