During July, my Meta Monday posts will all be about Doomsday. Today I’m tackling a popular fanon and explaining why I don’t subscribe to it.
I discovered when I started writing fanfic that a lot of people believe Rose only fell because the Doctor tricked her into going to Pete’s World. The thought is that if she hadn’t taken a second round trip through the Void, she would’ve been able to hold onto the lever the few extra seconds necessary to stay in our universe with the Doctor.
On the surface, that’s a plausible idea. Additionally, it plays into the recurring theme in Ten’s run of him overreaching–arrogantly making choices for someone else–and that having serious consequences. (If you think about it, the Master only had an opening to become Prime Minister because the Doctor had deposed Harriet Jones…)
So why do I reject this headcanon? Two main reasons–the narrative doesn’t support it, and it diminishes Rose’s role in Doomsday.
If the cause of Rose’s fall is the extra Void stuff she collected on that second trip, then there’s no reason for her to let go of her clamp. That entire sequence with the lever shifting to offline and Rose letting go of the clamp to push it up again is absolutely unnecessary if she was going to fall because of the Void stuff.
When you only have 45 minutes of screen time, you focus on the part of the story that matters. The episode gives no screen time to the idea that Rose’s fall is a direct result of the Doctor’s actions. There’s no line from the Doctor about it being his fault, how Rose would have been able to hold on if she’d had just a little less Void stuff on her.
In contrast, there’s a full minute devoted to her lever moving offline, the struggle to reach it and push it back up, and her subsequent fall. In the middle of an action scene, anything that gets a minute of screen time is The Point of the scene. If RTD wanted us to believe Rose’s fall was the Doctor’s fault, he’d have been better served using that minute later in the goodbye scene for some sort of line from the Doctor, as I mentioned above.
“But Nancy, if that’s true, what’s the narrative point of the Doctor sending Rose back to Pete’s World? If that didn’t happen just to make it possible for her to fall, why did he do that?”
Good question! And one with two answers.
That’s a character moment. The Doctor has a pattern of making choices for Rose to keep her safe. This is very much in character for him.
Rose’s choice to immediately come back raises the stakes for the conclusion. She tells the Doctor that she’s never going to leave him. She’s determined. Being with the Doctor is the life she’s chosen, and nothing will sway her from that. Then less than ten minutes later, she has to decide between staying with the Doctor, or saving the Earth. She has to decide, in essence, to break her promise to him.
And now we come to the other reason I dislike this particular bit of fanon. It strips Rose of all her agency in a scene that should be a powerful choice that she makes.
If Rose falls because of the Doctor’s actions instead of her choice, then her sacrifice is empty. She was always going to fall anyway, so what does it matter that she chose to let to go of the clamp?
That clamp represented safety. When she pointed out to the Doctor that they’d all be pulled in because they all had Void stuff, he held up a clamp and said he’d just hold on tight. The implication is clear: the clamp will keep them safe. And to reinforce that message, Rose doesn’t really struggle at all to hold on when she’s got her arm latches around the clamp. It’s not until she chooses to let go of safety that her fate is sealed.
The power of Doomsday’s climax comes from Rose’s choices and sacrifice. She’s sent to safety once, and she comes back because she chooses the Doctor over safety. And then when she’s given a second chance at safety–the clamp–she lets go of it when the choice is between her safety, or saving the Earth.
This is her “I could save the world, but lose you” moment. Just like the Doctor in World War Three, she has the obvious means to save the world, at her fingertips. And just like him, she knows that saving the world will mean losing him–though in this sense it’s metaphorical. The Doctor won’t die if she saves the world, but they will lose their life together.
And notice that Rose is stronger than the Doctor in both scenes. In World War Three, she is the one who accepts those consequences and tells him to do it. In Doomsday, as soon as her lever clicks into the offline position, the Doctor begs her to hold on. He knows the options as well as she does, and he can see the decision on her face. Instead of offering unwavering support like Rose did, he begs her to choose her own life.
When it comes to a choice between Rose and the universe, Rose is always more accepting of the consequences than the Doctor.
Rose willingly lets go of the clamp that had been holding her in this universe, with the Doctor, because she knows it is the only way to save the Earth. She falls as a direct result of that choice, which makes her loss a sacrifice she chose.
If we make this scene all about the Doctor’s actions, we strip her of her agency in the middle of her most powerful scene. A Rose who was always doomed to fall to Pete’s World because of the Doctor’s trick never had a chance to stay, which means it doesn’t matter what choice she made when the lever moved to offline.
In a way, I understand the appeal of this headcanon. It adds more pain to the Doctor’s thoughts and self-recrimination later, if he can blame the whole thing on himself. But outside of the fact that I doubt he had any problem blaming it all on himself regardless (that’s one of his superpowers), I really don’t like where that train of thought takes us.
Do you want to strip the female main character of her agency in order to cause more pain for the male main character?
Outside of the narrative reasons, which I believe are compelling evidence that this was not the intent in the script, this is why I reject this headcanon. It takes a key scene in Rose’s life and makes it about his pain instead of her choices, and that is the exact opposite of what I love about Rose Tyler.
That’s our main question, ya’ll. That’s what we want to answer.
Who is this guy?
And HOW DID HE BECOME PRIME MINISTER? HOW DID HE DEFEAT PM HARRIET JONES (yes we know who she is) FOR THE JOB? (COULD IT BE MORE THAN JUST MISOGYNY? HOW CAN WE KNOW FOR SURE?)
Was he a robot? A government experiment? AN ALIEN?
DID HE HAVE A ZIP IN HIS FOREHEAD?
WE JUST DON’T KNOW.
The Sunday Mirror called him a “modern Churchhill” but what do we know about him? We know more about his wife than we do him! Oh, we know what we were told, about how he went to Cambridge University, Rugby blue. How he won something to do with athletics. How he wrote a novel, how he became a successful businessman, how he got married. A whole life.
The Doctor and Harriet Jones + Actions and Consequences
Messing up with time always brings consequences. Harriet Jones was supposed to be Prime Minister for three sucessive terms and the Doctor knew that. By bringing her down, he made it possible for Harold Saxon (a.k.a. the Master) to be elected.
I had the great pleasure and nearly unbelievable opportunity to go see David Tennant tonight, for free, as part of the Screen Actors Guild Conversations on Broadway series. All credit and love must go to @fomagranfalloon, who told me about the event in the first place. I was so excited, but kept thinking that something was going to fall through or that it was all a crazy dream…
In the front row. For two hours.
Below the cut is a collection of what I was able to remember on my subway ride home, but ask me questions to jog my memory! I can probably remember more!
Title: A Place For Us To Dream (62/65) Rating: T Summary: —Doomsday AU— What would have happened if the Doctor’s lever had been the one to slip? If the Doctor had been the one trapped in the parallel universe? Rose has to pick up the pieces and carry on in his place. After all, someone has to be the Doctor. Characters: Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Pete Tyler, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones, Donna Noble Notes: This story was inspired by a number of things — namely badwolfrun trying to keep me entertained at work by sending me this ask, which became this graphic and this graphic made by MK, and subsequent discussions with MK and perfectlyrose. Enjoy!
snapped up as the time rotor ground to a halt. “It’s stopped,”
she said unnecessarily.
“What do you mean?” Donna demanded.
“Is that a good or bad? Where are we?”
“The Medusa Cascade,” Rose
murmured, examining the screen. It was beautiful. Donna didn’t care
much about that though.
“So, where are the twenty-seven
“Nowhere,” Rose said flatly. “The
Tandocca Trail stops dead. End of the line.”
“So what do we do?” Rose didn’t
answer. “No, what do we do?” Donna watched, horrified, as Rose
simply backed away from the scanner, expression going blank. “Now
don’t do this to me. No, don’t. Don’t do this to me. Not now. Tell
me, what are we going do? You never give up. Please!”