Fandom: Doctor Who
Character: Rose Tyler
Email: nuit_belle at hotmail dot com
Spoilers: The whole first season and The Christmas Invasion.
Notes: Major, major thanks to firiel44 for looking this over (catching my mistakes!) and helping to polish it. Also, thanks to the people responsible for the Who Transcripts, which were incredibly helpful when writing this.
We are introduced to Rose Tyler at the start of the first episode of Russell T. Davies's Doctor Who. The title of the episode, appropriately enough, is 'Rose' and after a shot looking down on the Earth, the first person we see is Rose, waking up and going about her daily routine: leaving the council estate flat she lives in with her mother, taking the bus into London, working at a department store, meeting her boyfriend, Mickey, for lunch, etc. However, her routine is altered when she goes to take the lottery money to Wilson, the chief electrician, and finds herself surrounded by plastic mannequins. They're about to attack her when a stranger grabs her hand and tells her to run.
Rose has just met the Doctor (the Ninth Doctor, to be exact) and her life is never going to be the same.
In this first encounter, the Doctor tells her only the bare minimum: the creatures are living plastic, he's got a device to blow them up, she needs to get out of there, and not to tell anyone or she'll get them killed. Rose is confused, but she follows his orders, leaving the shop with the plastic arm the Doctor tossed to her.
When the Doctor shows up at her flat the next morning, Rose starts asking him questions. She's skeptical about his talk of aliens, but she keeps listening. She questions him about who he is.
Rose: Really though, Doctor. Tell me - who are you?
The Doctor: Do you know like we were saying? About the Earth revolving? It's like when you were a kid. The first time they tell you the world's turning and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standing still. I can feel it. (He takes her hand.) The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... (Beat. He lets go of her hand.) That's who I am. Now, forget me, Rose Tyler. Go home.
But Rose won't just go home and forget him. She looks up info about him on the internet and winds up with the Doctor again. He invites her into the TARDIS and she learns that he's an alien. They travel across London, looking for the transmitter controlling the mannequins (and every other plastic device) and the Doctor winds up trapped by the Nestene Consciousness. Rose saves the day by knocking the anti-plastic into the Consciousness. When the Doctor invites her back into the TARDIS (telling her it travels anywhere in space), she somewhat reluctantly refuses, citing her mum and Mickey as reasons to stay. The TARDIS disappears. Rose and Mickey start to walk away. Then it reappears and the Doctor sticks his head out.
The Doctor: By the way, did I mention, it also travels in time?
(He goes back inside, leaving the door ajar. Rose turns to Mickey.)
Mickey: Thanks for what?
She kisses him on the cheek and runs into the TARDIS.
Rose's relationship with the Doctor is a large part of what makes the show so enjoyable and fun to watch. As the people who work on the show note:
Rose is the Doctor’s equal in every way, apart from possibly his scientific knowledge. – Christopher Eccleston, Confidential: I Get a Sidekick Out of You
And they row. They have tiffs. They’re like a married couple. She’s not scared to say no to the Doctor, or challenge him equally, you know. I think that’s something that he finds quite brilliant about her. - Billie Piper, Confidential: I Get a Sidekick Out of You
She can also come up with ideas herself, and also be thinking about things herself, so, on the off chance that the Doctor’s not on the ball, she’ll be there. - Noel Clarke, Confidential: I Get a Sidekick Out of You
It’s a love story. You know, they kind of...it’s like love at first sight, in a way. - Christopher Eccleston, Confidential: I Get a Sidekick Out of You
Obviously, and fairly quite overtly, really, the subtext of this show is the Doctor is hopelessly in love with Rose. – Steven Moffat, Confidential: Weird Science
One of the things that I admire most about Rose is her compassion. She extends it to everyone she meets: Gwyneth, Adam, Jack, Harriet Jones (MP for Flydale North), even to the Dalek at first. She even asks the Doctor to help Cassandra when she's drying out. And despite the fact that Rose (and the Doctor, for that matter) get burned sometimes by the people they're trying to help (the Gelth and Adam, to name two), neither of them lose their compassion. And when the Doctor oversteps that line, as he does in 'Dalek', Rose is the one who shows that to him and reminds him of who he is, essentially. This essay would go far too long if I listed all the ways that the Rose/Nine relationship works for me and all of the perfect little moments, but here are a few quotes to help illustrate (bearing in mind that the delivery and the small things, like the way Rose looks at the Doctor, have to be heard and seen):
'The Long Game'
Rose: If you wanna be useful, get 'em to turn the heating down. It's boiling. What's wrong with this place, can't they do something about it?
Cathica: I don't know, we keep asking - something to do with the turbine.
The Doctor: Something to do with the turbine.
Cathica: Well, I don't know!
The Doctor: Exactly! I give up on you, Cathica. Now, Rose - look at Rose. Rose is asking the right kind of questions.
Rose: Oh, thank you.
The Doctor: Looks like it's just you and me.
The Doctor: Good.
The Doctor: (to Adam) I only take the best. I've got Rose.
'The Doctor Dances'
Rose: Doesn't the universe implode or something if you dance?
The Doctor: Well, I've got the moves, but I wouldn't want to boast.
Rose: You’ve got the moves, show me your moves. The world doesn't end 'cause the Doctor dances.
The Doctor: Rose, I'm-I'm resonating concrete.
'The Parting of the Ways'
Rose: I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words... [Rose lifts her hand and takes the words from the Bad Wolf Corporation sign] I scatter them, in time and space. A message, to lead myself here.
The Doctor: Rose, you've got to stop this, you've got to stop this now! You've the entire vortex running through your head, you're gonna burn!
Rose: I want you safe, my Doctor. Protected from the false God.
Emperor Dalek: You cannot hurt me, I am immortal.
Rose: You are tiny. I can see the whole of time and space, every single atom of your existence, and I divide them.
[Rose lifts her hand again, the Dalek that tried to shoot her disappears in an explosion of golden dust]
Rose: Everything must come to dust. All things, everything dies. The time war ends.
Emperor Dalek: I will not die! I cannot diieee!
[we see Rose's eyes light up, and the Dalek Emperor and his entire fleet disappear in an explosion of golden dust.]
The Doctor: Rose, you've done it, now stop.
[Rose stares straight ahead]
The Doctor: Just let go.
Rose: How can I let go of this? I bring life.
[we see Jack start breathing again and open his eyes]
The Doctor: But this is wrong! You can't control life and death!
Rose: But I can. The sun and the moon, the day and night... but why do they hurt?
The Doctor: The power's gonna kill you and it's my fault!
Rose: I can see everything. All that is...all that was...all that ever could be.
The Doctor: But that's what I see. All the time. And doesn't it drive you mad?
Rose: My head...
The Doctor: Come here.
Rose: is killing me.
The Doctor: I think you need a Doctor.
The Doctor: Rose Tyler, I was gonna take you to so many places. Barcelona. Not the city Barcelona, the planet Barcelona. You'll love it, fantastic place, they've got dogs with no noses! Imagine how many times a day you end up telling that joke, and it's still funny!
Rose: Then, why can't we go?
The Doctor: Maybe you will, and maybe I will, but not like this.
Rose: You're not making sense.
The Doctor: I might never make sense again! I might have two heads! Or no head! Imagine me with no head - and don't say that's an improvement.
The Doctor: But it's a bit dodgy, this process. You never know what you're gonna end up with
[a flash of light and the Doctor doubles over in pain]
The Doctor: Stay away!
Rose: Doctor, tell me what's going on.
The Doctor: I absorbed all the energy of the time vortex and no-one's meant to do that... every cell in my body's dying.
Rose: Can't you do something?
The Doctor: Yeah, I'm doing it now... Time Lords have this little trick, it's sort of a way of cheating death, except, it means I'm gonna change. And I'm not gonna see you again, not like this, not with this daft old face. And before I go -
Rose: Don't say that!
The Doctor: Rose, before I go I just wanna tell you - you were fantastic... absolutely fantastic... and d'you know what?
[Rose shakes her head]
The Doctor: So was I.
'World War Three'
The Doctor: There’s a way out. There’s always been a way out.
Rose: Then why don’t we use it?
The Doctor: Because I can’t guarantee your daughter will be safe.
Jackie: Don’t you dare. Whatever it is, don’t you dare.
The Doctor: That’s the thing. If I don’t dare, everyone dies.
Rose: Do it.
The Doctor: You don’t even know what it is. You’d just let me.
Jackie: Please, Doctor, please. She’s my daughter. She’s just a kid.
The Doctor: Do you think I don’t know that? Cause this is my life, Jackie. It’s not fun, it’s not smart, it’s just standing up and making a decision because nobody else will.
Rose: Then what’re you waiting for?
The Doctor: I could save the world, but lose you.
This last quote leads nicely into the other relationships in Rose's life. Her mother, Jackie, is a very important part of Rose's life. While they don't always agree with each other and while Jackie would be a difficult person for Rose to live with at times, they clearly love each other very much. Rose never meant to hurt her mother (it was an accident that she was gone for 12 months instead of 12 hours). However, after getting a taste of life in the TARDIS, Rose can't stay on Earth. Jackie reluctantly comes to accept how much the Doctor means to Rose - most notably by helping Rose get back to him in 'The Parting of the Ways' and by giving her implicit acceptance of Rose's leaving at the end of 'The Christmas Invasion.'
We don't get a lot of background on Rose's relationship with Mickey. Mickey has been a part of Rose's life for a long time (Jackie knows the young Mickey we see in 'Father's Day'). They were friends before they got together as a couple, and while they both obviously care a lot about each other, there isn't much of a romantic aspect to their relationship anymore. I think Rose knows this subconsciously (that bit of dialogue from 'Rose' that I quoted above right before she runs into the TARDIS). Rose wouldn't deliberately hurt Mickey, but she hasn't realized exactly what her leaving means to Mickey. In many ways, Rose expects things to stay the same, despite the length of time that she's been gone, as evidenced by this exchange from 'Boomtown':
Rose: You don't even like Trisha Delaney!
Mickey: Oh, is that right? What the hell do you know?
Rose: I know you. And I know her and I know that's never gonna happen. So who do you think you're kidding?
Mickey: At least I know where she is!
Rose: There we are, then. It's got nothing to do with Trisha. This is all about me, isn't it?
Mickey: You left me! We were nice. We were happy. And then what, you give me a kiss and you run off with him and you make me feel like nothing, Rose. I was nothing. I can't even go out with a stupid girl from a shop because you pick up the phone and I comes running. I mean, is that what I am, Rose? Standby? Am I just supposed to sit here for the rest of my life, waiting for you? Because I will.
Rose: I'm sorry.
Rose's lack of realization of how things have changed and how her traveling affects Mickey leads to disagreements.
'Aliens of London'
Mickey: Oh, he's dumped you, Rose. Sailed off into space. How does it feel, huh? Now you are left behind with the rest of us Earthlings. Get used to it.
Rose: But he would have said.
Jackie: What're you two chimps going on about? What's going on? What's this Doctor done now?
Mickey: He's vamoosed!
Rose: He's not! 'Cause he gave me this! [She shows him the TARDIS key.] He's not my boyfriend, Mickey, he's better than that. He's much more important than - [She breaks off as the TARDIS key starts to glow in time with the sound of the TARDIS engines]. I said so.
This exchange is important because Rose, when initially confronted by her mother and Mickey (as well as with her dad later on), will claim that the Doctor's not her boyfriend. But there's a sense of denial to her protests - everyone can tell how much she and the Doctor mean to each other. It's notable that in 'The Christmas Invasion' she's stopped denying it. Trying to deal with the new Doctor, Rose's confusion and hurt are evident to Mickey and Jackie in what Rose says and what she does.
Two other key relationships that Rose has during the series are with her father and with Captain Jack Harkness. Rose messes up in 'Father's Day' by saving her dad. She sees first-hand the effects that messing with past events can have (most especially the effect that the Doctor's death has on her). This time with her father gives Rose a chance to see his faults as well as his good parts: as he's saying goodbye to Jackie, Rose gets to see how much he loves Jackie and Rose. She learns that while he was not always responsible, he wasn't a coward. When he realized that Rose prevented his death and started the whole thing, he stepped out of the church and in front of that car in order to put things right, to restore not only the world but to return the Doctor to Rose.
When Rose first meets Captain Jack Harkness, she's swept off her feet. He's charming and flirtatious (plus willing to use and show off his 'Spock' technology). However, Rose soon sees beneath that once Jack reveals his con artist scheme. When Jack swoops in and grabs the bomb, Rose is the one who asks the Doctor what will happen to him and part of the reason why Jack gets invited onto the TARDIS. Jack obviously cares for Rose and the three of them become partners. Jack becomes a friend and more of a slight crush: witness the way Rose gets a little embarrassed when Jack kisses her. And when Rose has the power of the time vortex, one of the things she does is bring Jack back to life.
'The Parting of the Ways' is the episode which strips away all the other things and leaves us with an image of Rose, who she is and what she's willing to do for the Doctor. Her unfailing faith in the Doctor is seen in the previous episode 'Bad Wolf' with Rose repeatedly saying that the Doctor will come and rescue her from the (deadly) game. He and Jack rescue her from the middle of the Dalek fleet:
Rose: Feels like I haven’t seen you in years
The Doctor: Told you I’d come and get you.
Rose: Never doubted you.
The Doctor: I did. You all right?
Rose: Yeah. You?
The Doctor: Not bad. Been better.
Jack: Hey don’t I get a hug?
Rose: Oh, come here.
Jack: I was talking to him. [laughs and hugs Rose.] Welcome home.
While the Doctor's working on the delta wave, Rose tries to come up with another option:
Rose: I was just thinking...I mean, obviously you can't, but - you've got a time machine. Why can't you just go back to last week and warn them?
The Doctor: As soon as the TARDIS lands, in that second, I become part of events, stuck in the timeline.
Rose: Yeah, thought it’d be something like that.
The Doctor: There’s another thing the TARDIS could do. Take us away. We could leave. Let history take its course. We go to Marbella in 1989.
Rose: Yeah, but you’d never do that.
The Doctor: No, but you could ask. Never even occurred to you, did it?
Rose: [attempting to lighten the mood] Well, I'm just too good.
Immediately afer this conversation, the Doctor sends Rose away, back to London, to Jackie, and to Mickey.
Jackie: Listen to me. God knows I have hated that man, but right now, I love him - and d'you know why? Because he did the right thing. He sent you back to me.
Rose: What do I do every day, Mum? What do I do? Get up, catch the bus, go to work, come back home, eat chips and go to bed? Is that it?
Mickey: It’s what the rest of us do.
Rose: But I can’t.
Mickey: Why? Cause you’re better than us?
Rose: No! I didn’t mean that. [Pause.] But it was. It was a better life. I don’t mean all the traveling, seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. You know. He showed you, too. You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away and I can’t!
It is Rose who puts together the puzzle of Bad Wolf: realizing that if she can see it in her time, then it's not a warning, but a message. Rose sees that there might be a way to use the TARDIS to get back to the Doctor. And, with the help of Mickey and her mum, she does. Rose looks into the TARDIS and returns to save the world and the Doctor. I love how Russell T. Davies puts it in Confidential: The Last Battle, saying that Rose is "braver than brave and more loyal than anyone else in the universe.”
Not only does she use the power to destroy the Daleks, but she ends the burden that the Doctor has been carrying by having to deal with the Daleks yet again. The fact that Rose says, "The Time War ends," strikes me as very deliberate - Rose has witnessed the burden that the Doctor has carried - his loneliness, his grief for his planet and his people - and she not only saves him, but also does her best to take away some of that pain. And he in return does the same for her, because all Rose thought about was getting back to the Doctor and didn't stop to weigh the potential harm to herself. This scene, which I quoted above, is quite possibly my favourite scene of the series. You see the true depth of their feelings for each other and how the love they have for each other outweighs any other thoughts.
In some ways, Rose is a typical 19 year-old girl: needing reassurance about her t-shirt in 'The Empty Child', using gay as a pejorative in 'Aliens of London' and worry and confusion about what will happen with the new incarnation of the Doctor: “I thought, ‘cause you changed, you might not want me anymore.” ('The Christmas Invasion'). Rose changes during the series in both small and large ways. For example, the fear of abandonment is a theme throughout the first season, as well as in 'The Christmas Invasion' and one that, despite the events in 'The Parting of the Ways' (I'm speculating here) will almost certainly come up again in the second season, with Rose and Doctor #10. Rose and the Doctor get along very well, but a large part of the first season involves them learning the little things about each other, about their respective pasts (Gallifrey for the Doctor, Peter Tyler's death for Rose), etc. Rose doesn't want the Doctor to leave her behind and the Doctor doesn't want Rose to leave him alone, traveling throughout the universe by himself. In 'The Parting of the Ways' before he kisses her, when they're just looking at each other, it's a moment when they both see each other clearly and the love is incredibly evident. Because Rose doesn't remember exactly what happened on Satellite Five and because she immediately is forced to deal with the Doctor's regeneration, she takes a few steps backward, both in terms of her relationship with the Doctor and in terms of her own development.
However, despite the fact that Rose has a very hard time dealing with the Doctor's regeneration (and who can blame her, given that 1) he'd never explained the concept of regeneration to her until he was literally in the middle of the process and 2) Ten spends the majority of 'The Christmas Invasion' asleep, dealing with the aftereffects of the regeneration), Rose steps up when confronted with Sycorax.
Mickey: Don't you dare.
Rose: Someone's gotta be the Doctor.
Harriet Jones, Prime Minister: They'll kill you.
Rose: Never stopped him. [stepping forward.] I...um... I address the Sycorax according to... article fifteen of the Shadow Proclamation. I command you to leave this world with all the authority of the Slitheen Parliament of Raxacoricofallapatorius, and um... the Gelth Confederacy...as uh... sanctioned by the Mighty Jagrafess... and...oh, the Daleks! Now, leave this planet in peace!
This is purely speculation on my part, but I think that this conversation hints at how Rose makes a different companion for the Doctor. She's taking on the same sort of responsibilities that he does. She's more than just an assistant; she's learning the ropes of what it means to do what the Doctor does: travel to all sorts of places, fix history when it goes wrong, stand as the defender of the planet(s). I'm unspoiled for the second season (which began April 15th) and I can't wait to see what else Rose will do and if my speculation is right.