2x08 “The Impossible Planet”
The Doctor: I don't know what's wrong with her. She's sort of queasy. Indigestion, like she didn't want to land.
Rose: [straight-faced] Oh, if you think there's gonna be trouble, we could always go back inside, and go somewhere else...
[Rose cracks up, and they laugh outrageously]
This episode and the next one are some of my favorite episodes of the entirety of Doctor Who. The relationship and character growth and exploration is fantastic. I love the writing. The Big Bad of the week is scary and ambiguous. The possessed!Ood are genuinely creepy. The secondary characters are brilliantly written. Even though they’re only in these two episodes, I feel like I’ve gotten to know them. So… let’s get this party started. I’m going to try really hard to keep this organized, but that might be a lost cause.
There’s something disconcerting about language so old that the Tardis can’t translate it. It’s not a major plot point, but it starts the episode out with that vague feeling of something being not quite right. It also adds to whole pseudo-mythology feel of the episode. The Beast is a great villain. I love the way the Beast possessed the computer. There is just something so supremely creepy about the calm computer voice sayings things like “He is awake.” And you’ve got to love that “Don’t turn around. Don’t look” moment with Toby. The hive minded Ood are really great as vessels of the Beast. I could go on for hours about how I love the ambiguity of the Beast. All those sixes that calculate how the planet stays in orbit. Is it Satan? Is it the orginal evil that all mythology comes from? Probably not. Come on. This is Doctor Who. But the fact that it is never determined who or what it is adds an extra air of creepiness to these two episodes. And then the background of it all we have this black hole, this monstrous thing devouring everything. In general, I love the haunting atmosphere of these episodes. The music is great. That bit of music when Scooti sees Toby standing outside without a spacesuit is just given that extra bit of drama with the haunting strings. The ruins of the decayed civilization also have that sort of haunting beauty to them. To sum up:
The Ood: [possessed by the Beast] Some may call him Abaddon. Some may call him Krop Tor. Some may call him Satan. Or Lucifer. Or the King of Despair. The Deathless Prince. The Bringer of Night. And these are the words that shall set him free.
Rose is so very Rose in this episode and I love her for it. Of course she recognizes that there’s something not right about the Ood and wants to help them (but the Doctor is much too busy to help an enslaved race… until series 4 that is. Haha) and treats them like the people they are instead of just servants.
Oh and here’s more of Rose being not clingy. (Seriously, where does fandom get the “Series 2 Rose is clingy” meme?) The Doctor wants to go explore what is down in the center of the planet. What does Rose do? Does she protest? Does she insist on coming along? Nope, she gives him a kiss on the helmet and sends him on his way, with instructions to come back to her.
As a Ten/Rose shipper, there is a lot in this episode to love.
That moment where the Doctor and Rose realize that they’ve been stranded is great. It demonstrates a lot of what I love about them.
The Doctor: I’ve trapped you here.
Rose: No, don’t worry about me.
[the space station shakes]
Rose:.. Ok we’re on a planet that shouldn’t exist, beneath a black hole with no way out. Yeah, I changed my mind. Start worrying about me. [she smiles a little]
[the Doctor pulls Rose into a hug]
The Doctor’s primary concern isn’t that he’s stuck without the Tarids and the Tardis is pretty much his whole existence. Who is he without it? But no, his concern is for Rose, that he trapped her there. And Rose’s first instinct is to make the Doctor feel better, even though she’s clearly a bit freaked out. I love how much they care about each other and understand the other person’s feelings. The conversation between the Doctor and Rose in habitation three is another key moment for them.
Rose: Can you build another Tardis?
The Doctor: They were grown, not built. And with my home planet gone... we're kind of stuck.
Rose: Well, it could be worse; this lot said they'd give us a lift.
The Doctor: And then what?
Rose: I don't know. Find a planet, get a job, live a life, same as the rest of the universe.
The Doctor: I'll have to settle down. With a house or something - a proper house with... with, with doors and things - carpets! Me! Living in a house!... Now that, that - that is terrifying.
Rose: You'd have to get a mortgage!
The Doctor: No!
Rose: Oh yes!
The Doctor: No, I'm dying, that's it, it is all over.
Rose: What about me? I'd have to get one too!
Rose: I don't know, we could have the same one, we could both... I don't know, share... or not. Whatever. I don't know, all sorts of...
The Doctor: Anyway
Rose: We'll see
The Doctor: [pause] I promised Jackie I'd always take you back home
Rose: Everyone leaves home in the end.
The Doctor: Not to end up stuck here.
Rose: Yeah, but stuck with you - that's not so bad.
The Doctor: Yeah?
It’s this brilliant awkward conversation. They’re both a little bit freaked out about the fact that they’re stuck, so they joke around a bit to relieve the tension. And then there’s a bit of awkwardness because both of them are always reluctant to put their relationship (whatever it may be) into actual terms. The Doctor doesn’t really do domestic. He doesn’t settle down and stay in one place. That’s scary for him. And the Doctor genuinely feels bad about the fact that Rose is stuck with him. He’s taken her away from her family, but Rose doesn’t want him to feel bad. “Everyone leaves home in the end”. Besides, being stuck in the future with the Doctor is better than anything that could have happened to her back in London with Jackie. She’ll deal. The look of hope on his face when Rose says that being stuck with him isn’t so bad just warms my heart. It makes you believe that even if the Doctor and Rose never get the Tardis back, they’ll be ok. They have each other and that’s a lot (don’t mind me… I’m just quoting some Bon Jovi lyrics. I have excellent taste in music. Haha).
Tinhatter moment: Danny says “Mysterious couple. How are you then? Settling in?”. And the Doctor and Rose don’t bother to correct him whereas with Donna and the Doctor they were always very quick to correct them. Ok. Taking off the tinhat now and moving on to the next episode.
2x09 “The Satan Pit”
A lot of times the 2nd part of a two part story doesn’t live up to the first part, but in my mind, these two episodes work perfectly together. In fact, it was really hard to separate the two episodes in the recaps because they were so well integrated and intertwined.
I didn’t talk about the secondary characters much in the previous episode, so I’m going to take a bit of time now to cover the main ones. I might reach back a bit into the previous episode, but whatever. I felt like this was a more organized way to go about things.
First up is acting captain Zachary Cross Flane. How epic is that name? He’s perfect as the captain who was never supposed to be captain. He’s been thrust in this position and he’s trying to do the best job he can. But he’s still clearly unsure about how to be a leader. And then he does it. He’s able to help save his team by being a captain, helping them even though he can't be down there with them.
Next, I’d like to talk about Mr. Jefferson. He comes off as a man who has seen a lot of war and fighting. He’s a bit gruff, but it seems to come from the fact that he has pain inside. I get the sense that he’s lost a lot. But he’s still able to die with honor.
Possessed!Toby: Mr. Jefferson, tell me sir. Did your wife ever forgive you?
Mr. Jefferson: I don’t know what you mean.
Possessed!Toby: Let me tell you a secret. She never did.
Just look at the writing in this episode! With that little bit of dialogue we get a sense of Mr. Jefferson as a more fully formed character. He’s a real person with a background and a history. And when he dies, we actually feel a bit sad.
And finally we have Ida Scott. According to the Beast, she’s a scientist running from Daddy. She’s a scientist, she doesn’t believe in religion and yet here she is, being faced with what claims to be the Devil. She’s scared to be left alone by the Doctor. Even though I’ve just met her, I feel sad when it seems as if she’s going to die, and a sense of relief when the Doctor saves her. Seriously epic secondary character writing.
This next bit of dialogue is pretty long, but it encapsulates everything that I love about this episode, so I’m posting it anyway. This one section of dialogue develops the secondary characters, presents a creepy bad guy and explores the Doctor’s beliefs.
The Doctor: If you are the Beast, then answer me this: Which one, hmm. Because the universe has been busy since you've been gone. These's more religions than there are planets in the sky. There's the Arkaphets, Christianity, Pash-Pash, New Judaism, San Claar, Church of the Tin Vagabond, which devil are you?
The Beast: All of them!
The Doctor: Then you're... what? The truth behind the myth?
The Beast: This one knows me, as I know him: the killer of his own kind.
The Doctor: [pause] How did you end up on this rock?
The Beast: The Disciples of the Light rose up against me and chained me in the pit for all eternity.
The Doctor: When was this?
The Beast: Before time.
The Doctor: What does "Before time" mean?
The Beast: Before time and light and space and matter. Before the calaclysm. Before this universe was created.
The Doctor: That's impossible. No life could have existed back then.
The Beast: Is that your religion?
The Doctor: [pause] It's a belief.
The Beast: You know nothing. All of you, so small.
The Beast: The captain, so scared of command.
The Beast: The soldier, haunted by the eyes of his wife.
The Beast: The scientist, still running from daddy.
The Beast: The little boy who lied.
The Beast: The virgin.
The Beast: And the lost girl, so far away from home. The valiant child, who will die in battle, so very soon.
Rose: Doctor, what does that mean?
The Doctor: Rose, don't listen.
Rose: What does it mean!
The Beast: You will die... and I will live!
I love the psychological warfare that the Beast utilizes. It’s playing on that little niggling doubt and fear that people have (whether or not they’re religious) that Satan might be real. It’s becoming the “stuff of legend” (except not in the epic way that the Doctor and Rose are, heh) to latch onto your deep and dark fears. The Beast gets into your mind and pokes at those things deep inside of you that you might hide even from yourself and exploits them.
Rose in this episode is absolutely a hero. By this point in her story, the Doctor has brought out the best in her and she’s becoming more and more like him. She refuses to let the team gives up and rallies them to fight back. Then in the end, she knows she can’t let the Beast get back to Earth, so she risks her own life to ensure that the Beast can’t leave.
She’s also clever. She figures out that the Beast couldn’t have killed them all, but didn’t. The Beast needs them alive and escaping. And that’s when she figures it out. The Beast is still in Toby. That’s my girl! Using her logic!
The Beast: [in the possesed body of Toby Zed] I am the rage and the vile and the voracity. I am the Prince and the Fallen. I am the Enemy, I am the Sin and the fear and darkness. I shall never die. The thought of me is forever; in the bleeding hearts of men, in their vanity and obsecrate and lust. Nothing shall ever destroy me. Nothing!
Rose Tyler: [Rose picks up a bolt gun and prepares to shoot the cockpit's front window] Go to Hell.
[she fires, the window brakes and then she unbuckles the seatbelt were the possessed Toby is sitting in. The Beast gets sucked out into the K37 Gem 5 black hole and screams in agony]
The Doctor’s storyline in these episodes is great too. He’s so tempted to go down into the pit, but thinks better of it and starts to head back up. But then he’s trapped down there and he can’t resist anymore. That impulse to just go down there is too much. He has to know what this thing that calls itself the Beast is. It exists outside of his paradigm and that doesn’t sit well with him. He has to struggle with what he believes in and see what this is all about.
Doctor: Have I got to beg an audience? Or is there a ritual? Some sort of incantation or summons or spell? All these things I don’t believe in, are they real?
In the end he comes to the conclusion that what he believes in is Rose. He believes in her humanity and her ability to survive.
This episode also serves as a great continuation of the exploration of the Doctor and Rose’s relationship that was started in the previous episode.
Zachary Cross Flane: [after hearing that the Doctor fell down a pit and there is very little time left to escape the planet] We're leaving.
Rose: I'm not going.
Zachary Cross Flane: Rose, there's space for you.
Rose: No, I'm gonna wait for the Doctor, just like he'd wait for me.
Zachary Cross Flane: I'm sorry, but he's dead.
Rose: You don't know him.
[beginning to cry]
Rose: 'Cause he's not. I'm telling you, he's not. And even if he was, how could I leave him... all on his own, all the way down there? No, I'm... I'm gonna stay.
Zachary Cross Flane: Then I apologize for this.
[to his crew]
Zachary Cross Flane: Danny, Toby, make her secure.
Rose: [Struggling and hysterical as she is grabbed and sedated] No! No! No! Stop! No! Let me go! Get off me! I'm not leaving! No!
Zachary Cross Flane: [to the now unconscious Rose] I have lost too many people. I am not leaving you behind.
See, I don’t see this incident as this weird clingy thing where Rose wants to stay behind with the Doctor’s body. She just has absolute faith in him, much like he has in her. The Doctor says that if he believes in one thing, “I believe in her.” The same is true for Rose. She’s seen the Doctor beat impossible odds and come out of seemingly hopeless situations time and time again. She knows the Doctor. He’ll get out of this and she’s not going to abandon him.
And the Doctor isn’t going to abandon her either. When the cable snaps and he and Ida are stranded by the pit he says, “I’ll get back. Rose is up there.” I love that he just states that as fact. There’s no question that he’ll get out of the mess he’s in. He is going to get back to Rose.
Of course this episode contains the infamous, “oh she knows” scene. Seriously, these two need to have a DTR.
The Doctor: If they get back in contact - if you talk to Rose - just tell her... tell her... oh, she knows.
The climactic scene in the Beast’s cave with the Doctor and the Beast offers a nice bit of insight into their relationship. Rose is not just a victim and the Doctor has faith in her.
The Doctor: [the Doctor has realized that, if he releases the Beast and destroys it, both he and Rose will die] So that's the trap, the great test, the final judgement, I dunno. But if I kill you, I kill her.
The Doctor: [the Beast laughs evilly] But that implies, in this big grand scheme of gods and devils, that she's just a victim. Well, I've seen a lot of this universe. I've seen fake gods and bad gods and demi-gods and would-be gods. I've had the whole pantheon. But if I believe in one thing... just one thing... I believe in her!
That hug at the end is just so completely epic. Seriously, the Doctor and Rose are just too cute.
Ida [over the comm from the team’s rocket]: But Doctor, what did you find down there? That creature. What was it?
The Doctor: I don’t know. Never did decipher that writing. But that’s good. The day I know everything, might as well stop.
Rose: What do you think it was? Really.
The Doctor: I think we beat it. That’s good enough for me.
Rose: It said I was going to die in battle.
The Doctor: Then it lied.
Ida: Hang on though, Doctor. You never really said. You two, who are you?
Doctor: Oh… [smiling] the stuff of legend.
The fact that that little ending scene in the Tardis was the last thing that David and Billie shot for series 2 just makes that line that much more poignant. Yep. David and Billie made an excellent team. They were the stuff of legend. I do love that in this episode that is all about "the stuff of legend", it ends with the Doctor and Rose being the real legends.
So in conclusion, I adore these episodes. They’re a great exploration of the Doctor and Rose as separate characters, as well as the way they relate to each other. The Doctor struggles with belief. Rose shows how much of a hero she’s become. The Beast is a terrifying bad guy, manipulating people, possessing the Ood. The concepts of belief and evil are explored. What is the nature of truth? Science? Religion? Really, these two episodes are just brilliant. They were the episodes that really made me fall in love with this show. They were probably the 3rd and 4th episodes of Doctor Who that I’d ever seen and they convinced me that this show was more than just a regular old sci fi show.