What's Past Is Prologue
The Doctor and Rose, Jackie and Mickey take off down the street, as the spell begins to work. Harriet rushes Alex, asking him urgently what the Doctor said. She begins to scream at the Doctor, fading into the distance. "Doctor! Doctor, what did you...What did you say, Doctor? Doctor?" He ignores her; so does the family. "I'm sorry," she whispers, heartbreakingly sad. Alex walks away; she's left alone in the street, in the center of the screen, alone and broken by responsibility. Broken by the Doctor for daring to think that she could act without his say-so; for questioning his champion status. For killing those who never could have killed, but only controlled with words and blood, for not taking the coward's way out that he loves so much. Like I said, they're both right. It's a question that comes up on the hour, every hour, these days: the ethics of deterrent action and preemptive strike. The request that you trust the untrustable v. becoming the untrustable yourself. The question of leadership is one that consumes this story and this season -- and The Tempest, naturally, which is all about who's usurping whose power, and who's earning it. And so Harriet's ending is despair: "Unless I be reliev'd by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults mercy itself, and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free." But he needs beg no pardon: that was another man, and in another life. This one's done no crimes at all. She's sorry, I'm sorry for her, so sorry, Ms. Prime Minister, I'm sorry you got caught between the earth and the stars. Screw Torchwood: pity is the Bad Wolf of the season -- pity and admission that you've overstepped humility.
A lovely Christmassy song, "Song For Ten," plays as the Doctor runs about the TARDIS closet, picking out his new outfit. "When I woke up today and the world seemed a restless place/ It could have been that way for me..." Mickey, Rose, and Jackie prepare a late Christmas dinner; Mickey starts to carve the turkey. "Then I wandered around/ And I thought of your face..." The Doctor finally locates the perfect brown suit: geek chic, skinny lines, retro but forward too, shiny and perfect. "That Christmas looking back at me..." He dashes off, with his finds, leaving behind a long burgundy scarf and clothes from all of the previous nine men he's had to be. "I wish today was just like every other day/ Because today has been the best day..." The Doctor stares at himself in the mirror for a million years, running his hand over his face, tasting his new teeth. Giving you time to memorize the new one. Checking out his sexy, in other words. "Everything I ever dreamed. Then I started to walk/ Pretty soon I will run/ Then I'll be running back to you." The Doctor finally gives himself approval, steels himself just a bit -- "Because I followed my star, and that's what you are" -- and leaves the wardrobe, shutting the door behind him and joining them at the table. "I've had a merry time with you," goes the song, and Rose and the Doctor pull a Christmas cracker; the Doctor wins, but he gives it to Rose anyway. "I wish today was just like every other day..." Rose pulls out a hot pink crown from the cracker and jokes that it should be Jackie's, everybody smiles and laughs, and Rose points to the television ("Because today has been the best day, everything I ever dreamed"), where Harriet Jones is drowning. The Doctor takes a pair of glasses from his pocket.