"Oh, so I’m still the Doctor, then?”
My absolute favourite thing about Rose Tyler is the way she accepted the Doctor’s regeneration. She struggled for a bit, but in less than 24 hours, she knew he was still the same man.
If you question my counting, remember that this exchange:
(Rose throws him another sword.)
DOCTOR: Oh, so I’m still the Doctor, then?
ROSE: No arguments from me!
Happened immediately after the Doctor stated he was in the first 15 hours of his regeneration cycle. And really, taking 12-15 hours to wrap your mind around the fact that your best mate/the man you’re head-over-heels for can completely change his appearance isn’t much at all.
But what I love the most about this is that once she accepts it, she never waffles, never struggles, never goes back. It wasn’t, “Okay, you’re Doctor-esque at least… I can see that you have Doctor traits in you. I’ll accept you on a trial basis, but if you don’t act the way I expect you to, I’ll stop believing you’re the same man.”
Frankly, Rose does a better job accepting regeneration than Doctor Who fans do, and we have the benefit of knowing that it’s a narrative construct. (Or maybe that makes it harder to accept? I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting contrast to note.)
And years later, when she’s standing on Bad Wolf Bay for the second time, it takes her even less time to understand and accept that Tentoo is another regeneration of the Doctor. He’s still the same man. That’s what regeneration means–he’s the same man, with a new case.
I can’t think of a non-Time Lord who understands that *better than Rose Tyler. Her only concern, once she accepted he was still the Doctor, was if his changes were deep enough that he wouldn’t want to travel with her anymore. Once he assured her that he’d love for her to come, her last qualm was washed away.
On New Earth, when the Doctor references back to their very first trip together, she immediately jumps in with the reminiscing and says, “That was our first date.” (emphasis mine) I don’t think it was accidental on the Doctor’s part that he mentioned something from his previous regeneration, and I love that Rose does an unspoken, “Yes, I see your reminder that you’re still the same man, and I’ll raise it with a reminder of how close we were and still are.”
I love Rose Tyler because she has such an innate understanding and acceptance of who the Doctor is that despite how bizarre the concept of regeneration is, she knew he was the same man. Not a different version of the same man, or a different man who kept his name and memories but was a completely different person. The Doctor is the same man, always.
Rose’s understanding of that is one of the reasons I ship every Doctor x Rose Tyler. It’s not about her being more important than other companions. It’s about her knowing the Doctor, no matter his face, and loving him because she loves the deepest part of who he is. It’s canon that Rose loved three regenerations of the Doctor. Why wouldn’t she love any others she met?
And–flip side here–this is the same reason I love stories where Rose has been altered enough by Bad Wolf to regenerate. I love seeing him show the same completely non-superficial love for her. I know that it’s easier for him to accept because this is natural to him, but still. So often in media we see men who are fixated on the appearance of the women they’re dating. I want to see a man who can watch his beloved change her entire appearance and still love her just as much as he did before.
There are lots of other reasons to love Rose Tyler. Her courage, her determination to stand for what she believes in… But this is one of my favourites.
*There are a few who understand it as well as she does, or at least close to it. Sarah Jane and the Brig come to mind. But better? I’m hard-pressed to think of any.