You know how much I like Jackie? Would you like to help me start the "Give Poor Jackie A Freakin' Break" Fund? Man. Not to mention Rose, and...well, everybody, actually. It's a surprisingly effective and touching story, built of the skin and bones of a million other classic time-travel tales in a most brilliant way. Rose not-so-unconsciously engineers saving her Dad's life, back when she was just a baby, which has, mm, both positive and negative effects. On the good side, Rose gets to cram a hell of a lot of really beautiful quality time in with him, mostly without him knowing that's what she's doing; she gets to see him as a normal amount of screwed-up person, which is always healthy for kids to do around Rose's age, if you can successfully accept it; we get to meet '80s Jackie -- she's a firecracker, if you can believe it -- and see her and Mr. Tyler in action together; and we get to see Jackie's unexpectedly tender relationship with Baby Mickey. We also get to meet Baby Mickey, who is very awesome and also falls in love with our Rose at this time, sealing his fate for good. It's surprising how real these characters have become, after only being in a fraction of the stories, but they inform so much of who Rose is that you know them better than you think, already. So all that's nice and tearjerky. Less positive: Rose, by saving her dad's life, rips a whole in spacetime and causes creepy reaper creatures to attack all kinds of people, wreck the marriage of what seems to be a pretty nice couple of youngsters, and -- oh, that's right. Kill the Doctor. (To be fair, he politely asks Rose not to fuck up all of spacetime approximately eighteen thousand times before this happens, so I suppose it's his fault for not going for #18,0001.) But as is de rigeur in these stories, the most heartrending thing possible comes to pass, and dear old Dad gives into his original fate, substituting his rightful death for the Doctor's wrongful one, and righting the universe. This, after admitting that he's a loser of a man and an even worse father -- and we get to see how meeting our wonderful Rose reverses both, and gives him a champion's death, and Rose a father she can really be proud of, instead of living on invented stories and outright lies. Fantastic.
My friend Karen remarked yesterday on how very large the Doctor is, and how very small Rose is, in terms of time and our understanding of time. Like the show constantly shuttles back and forth between the cosmic ("Dalek," "The Long Game" -- even "End Of The World)" and the particular ("Rose," "The Unquiet Dead") and points up the questions that apply to each. When we're in the Doctor's court, we take the long view -- the rational view (even when it turns out wrong, like with the Gelth) of an audience outside of Time. When we're dealing with Rose's stuff, we're in the position of normal people trying to comprehend a basically incomprehensible concept. That's extrinsic analysis, Death of the Author stuff, at heart, but I also think that it's a huge part of the show's whole myth: what happens when you go walking with a god? He's always had his companion there for our benefit. Some have complained about this new series that it's too much like The Adventures Of Rose Tyler (And Her Companion, A Doctor), and even having never been a fan until now, I can still see that. I've certainly felt oversold on the wonder of Rose Tyler, on occasion. If she never condescends to smile patronizingly at another member of the underclass it'll be too soon, for example. But I think that it serves to humanize -- well, "make the Doctor more relatable" is probably a better way to put that -- the story itself, to be able to put ourselves in her corner when we need to. Which in the long term makes it more of the Doctor's story, in some ways, or else it would be like The Sorceror's Apprentice, without Mickey: just this intense dude giving eyebrows and crazy-ass grins all over. Anyhow, interesting, and I wanted to mention it particularly this week, given that this episode is a great example of an episode that does both simultaneously: gets to the heart of Rose's relationships -- most intensely, to my mind, with the Doctor himself -- while also giving Time her due. This time, it's us caught between the absolute and the particular, and it becomes a lot easier to see how difficult some of the Doctor's decisions might have been up to now.
Zoom in on a photograph of one Peter Alan Tyler -- hotter, but less striking than Simon Pegg would've been -- as Rose voices over: "My dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Born fifteenth of September, 1954." Cut to Rose (I'd say around age six), snooping around the door of Jackie's bedroom, where her mother sits with photo albums on the bed. I'd describe the décor, but it's Jackie: you're already there. Whatever you're picturing, double it. Jackie invites her daughter in with a truly beautiful smile, and Rose climbs up beside her. Jackie points out a photo: "Who's that? It's your daddy. You weren't old enough to remember when he died. 1987. Seventh of November. Do you remember what I told you? The day that Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke got married?" We turn to a picture of Jackie with Pete, and Jackie smiles again: "He was always having adventures. Oh, he would have loved to have seen you now."