he showed me the whole of time and space. i thought it would never end. that’s what i thought. but then came the army of ghosts, then came torchwood and the war. and that’s when it all ended. this is the story of how i died.
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.
CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW DONNA FOUND ROSE’S SHIRT IN THE TARDIS CUZ I MEAN COME ON. DID THE DOCTOR TAKE THAT SHIRT OUT OF HER ROOM AFTER SHE WAS LOST BECAUSE IT SMELLED LIKE HER AND HE JUST WANTED SOMETHING PHYSICAL OF HERS TO HOLD TO HUG. HIS HAND CAN GRASP HER SHIRT, HER SCENT IS ON THAT SHIRT, AND SOME OF HER HAIR MIGHT BE AND SHE LOOKED SO GOOD IN THAT SHIRT. OR OR OR OR MAYBE BEFORE THAT WHOLE TERRIBLE ADVENTURE SHE WAS WONDERING WHAT SHE SHOULD WEAR AND THE DOCTOR IS TAKEN ABACK WHEN HE WALKS IN TO SEE ROSE TYLER DEFENDER OF THE EARTH IN NOTHING BUT HER BRA AND A PAIR OF PANTS JUST HOLDING UP HER SHIRTS INDIVIDUALLY IN THE MIRROR AND HE MAKES THAT FACE THAT FACE HE CANT LOOK AWAY BUT HE CLEARS HIS THROAT TO LET HER KNOW SHES NO LONGER ALONE. BUT INSTEAD OF YELLING AT HIM FOR PEEPING ON HER SHE SIMPLY TURNS AROUND AND SMILES AT HIM, SHAKING THAT SHIRT IN FRONT OF HER CHEST FLIRTATIOUSLY. “Are you enjoying the show, Doctor?” SHE SAYS AND THAT FACE OF HIS IS EVEN MORE OF THAT. HE CANT SAY ANYTHING BECAUSE GOD ITS BEEN FOREVER SINCE HES ACTUALLY SEEN A WOMAN LIKE THAT AND ACTUALLY FELT SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THEN SHE PUTS ON THE BLUE SHIRT AND TOSSES THE PURPLE ONE OVER THE RAILING AND SAYS “So, when to?”
After being shown a ‘better way of living your life’ by the Doctor in Series 1, Rose’s arc continues as she begins to become a hero in her own right. Albeit with a shaky (but courageous nonetheless!) start, Rose steadily gains independence and success in her travels, improving her investigative, problem-solving and leadership skills. This culminates in her being named Defender of the Earth after she sacrifices her life with the man she loves to save her planet. This arc continues into Series 4 and comes full-circle as she takes on the role of the Doctor in the finale.
Okay, everyone take a breath. This is a photoshopped comic that I’ve been working on for the last two days (hence the watermark). I know, I know, I wish it was real too. That’s basically the point I’m making. I was inspired by a post that @whoinwhoville reblogged the other day that Titan will be releasing a new Torchwood series and she mentioned “why couldn’t they do a Tentoo and Rose series?” Well, I’m inclined to agree. Because they would sell the hell out of that and this is basically my pitch for it. So, although it’s only wishful thinking (Come on Titan) I still hope you guys enjoy the artwork.
Another successful mission under their belts, the best team
at Torchwood One piled out of the Hummer at Canary Wharf.
Rose’s mobile rang just as Jake was inviting her and the
Doctor to the pub for a celebratory round.
“Hello?” It was the number from Piper’s nursery school.
“Mrs. Tyler? It’s Nurse Harris from St. Margaret’s School. Your
daughter’s a wee bit ill this afternoon. We’re going to need you to come pick
“Oh my god, is she ok?” Rose pressed the phone to her ear as
the team shouted and laughed and carried on around her.
“She’s resting in my office now, but she couldn’t keep her lunch
down. No fever though.” Rose could tell the nurse was very good at what she
did; she had a soft and reassuring voice to calm children and parents alike.
“Yes, of course, I’ll be right there.” Rose rang off and grabbed
the Doctor, who shot her a concerned furrow of his brow when he saw her upset. “Piper’s
ill. We need to pick her up from school.”
She doesn’t even flinch at the huge explosion behind her. She just keeps walking. I mean that right there has got to tell you she’s probably seen some serious shit while working for Torchwood and dimension hopping. As the episode progresses, you can tell that deep down some of those original characteristics of hers are still present but she’s also become more hardened, sort of like how Nine was when they first met.
But what I love about her most here is that she didn’t just sit back and allow herself to wallow or go into a deep depression after being trapped in Pete’s World. No, No, she persevered, she threw herself into her work and proved The Doctor wrong by making the impossible possible. Rose Tyler ‘Defender of the Earth’ and total BAMF!