Moaning Mrytle is totally in this episode.
At the time I first watched this episode I remember being really bitter thinking “We have a limited number of episodes with Ten and Rose and we’re spending one of them with the an Absorbaloth?”. And to be honest, I still feel that way a bit. However, now I can appreciate the fact that we’re getting a look at what life for Jackie is while Rose and the Doctor are off having their adventures. This episode also touches on a major theme of series 2: Doctors and the monsters go hand in hand. It also kind of briefly addresses what Joan Redfern says to the Doctor in series 3. The Doctor kind of just jumps into these people lives, saves the day and leaves. He never sticks around to see the repercussions of his actions.
Elton Pope: When you're a kid, they tell you it's all... grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that's it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It's so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
I feel like that line sums up a lot of what series 2 is about. It’s kind of what Rose’s journey has been from series 1 up until now.
I do love that this episode is constructed as the story of Elton, but it’s not just the story of Elton, it’s also the story of LINDA. And that little montage at the beginning with LINDA really reminds of fandom a bit. We all get together to talk about a common interest, but then it evolves. We get to know each other, share stuff about our lives. We share creative endeavors (fanfic in fandom, Mr. Skinner’s novel in LINDA) and maybe make a little music (wizard rock, anyone?). In a lot of ways, fandom can become like this little community filled with different kinds of people, much like LINDA was.
I think the thing that makes this episode for me is Jackie. Poor Jackie. We see how lonely she gets, all by herself. Rose has left her, and then Mickey had become a friend for her, but he’s gone too now. So of course she reaches out for a friend. She keeps coming up with reasons for Elton to come around because she's desperate for some human connection.
Jackie: I get left here sometimes and um… I don’t know where she is. Anything could be happening to her, anything. And I just go a bit mad.
And then she thinks that she might have found someone who will be her friend, for real, only to find out that it really is all about the Doctor. Elton only cared about her because of her connection to the Doctor. Poor Jackie, that’s gotta sting.
Jackie: Let me tell you something about those who get left behind because it’s hard. And that’s what you become. Hard. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, is that I will never let her down. And I’ll protect them both until the end of my life.
I love Jackie. So much. Even when she’s hurting, she’ll be strong and protect Rose and the Doctor.
The Doctor and Rose are barely in this, of course, but I love what little they are in. I LOVE Rose’s hair and clothes in that scene in the beginning of the episode. The whole chase scene with the wrong colored buckets is so Scooby Doo, but I don’t even care. It made me laugh.
And then the Doctor takes Rose to go yell at Elton when she finds out that he upset her mum. And the Doctor and Rose work together to help Elton. She comforts him while the Doctor practically tries to help him. But I have to say the way that the Doctor helps Elton is a bit depressing. The end bit kind of bothers me, just because I think it’s a bit horrific to be slab of stone for the rest of your life.
As closing note:
Elton Pope: Turns out I've had the most terrible things happen. And the most brilliant things. And sometimes, well, I can't tell the difference. They're all the same thing. They're... they're just me. You know, Stephen King said once, he said, "salvation and damnation are the same thing." And I never knew what he meant. But I do now. […] Maybe that’s what happens when you touch the Doctor, even for a second. I keep thinking of Rose and Jackie and how much longer before they pay the price.