Here is the Guide for Parents!!
We didn’t always exist and, for each of us, I think, there is magic around those days of our birth.
There is extra poignancy and mystery for someone like Rose Tyler, whose father died when she was just a little baby. After seeing some of the wonders of the universe, she convinces the Doctor to let her see the day her dad died. The impact a father has on his kids is powerful, even if they’re not present. We imagine having a time machine and visiting our parents when they were young seems like a normal desire. But we could really go anytime, anywhere. We could go from the moon rings of Nubia, into the Antares maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames if we wanted to. We could watch the elephants of Hannibal descend on Rome. Or the first contact between humans and aliens.
But there’s something so existentially urgent about learning more about the two people who made us.
Pete’s shadow was cast tall across Rose’s life. Dying during her infancy, he represented a gap in her life that was never filled until a madman in a blue box materialized in her moment of greatest need and held out his hand.
The father who stepped in was the Doctor. As he had done with so many before her, the Doctor became a father figure to Rose.
There’s even a cute joke about Jackie giving the infant version of Rose to the Doctor to look after.
The Doctor is Rose’s surrogate father – but waitaminnit! Didn’t he like, fall in love with her?
He did fall in love with her. And I resented that storyline since the moment I heard of it. The Doctor doesn’t fall in love! He’s a father figure, like I said above. This story is just an overstated, underthought jab at modernizing one of the world’s most enduring heroes.
That’s what I thought until I looked carefully at this episode.
Without this episode, his affection for Rose would be really out of place. Besides there being nothing very special about her compared to previous companions. What was his interest?
It’s simple: Rose grew up.
The Doctor treated Rose like he would have any of his other companions before this episode. But Steven Moffat, author of the very next episode, has admitted that the title The Doctor Dances is a metaphor for sex. Although nothing like that is indicated by the actual show, the Doctor does demonstrate jealousy for Rose when she shows an interest in Captain Jack. Compare the Doctor’s disapproval of Adam with his disapproval of Jack.
Adam is like some dumb kid his daughter brings home. Jack is his competition. If his view of Rose’s boyfriends has changed, so has his view of Rose. What made him free to love her? She dealt with her issues; she’s an adult.
How did Rose become an adult again?
I’m no expert at adulthood. I moved out when I was 25. But I think that dealing with the unresolved bits of your past, which was presented in this episode, is a big hurdle we all have to cross.
Rose grew up hearing lies about her dad. It’s totally believable that Jackie would invent an heroic persona for her dead husband. When bad, or even mediocre, people die, eulogies can get pretty creative.
Rose then traveled back in time to meet her dad, where she learned the truth: he was kind of a loser. Though he only had a single weird afternoon, Pete demonstrated his love and provision for his daughter.
After learning that the time dragons, or whatever they were, had come because he didn’t die when he was supposed to, Pete complained, “It’s my fault all this has happened.” Rose answered (correctly), “This is my fault.”
And just before saving the day, Pete saved his daughter by saying, “No, love. I’m your dad. It’s my job for it to be my fault.”
Rose could see her dad as a normal person, which is a perspective most children do not have. And after that, she was able to see her dad as a hero; the first man to protect her. It’s obviously not the only step to adulthood, but it’s an important one. And it’s definitely harder for some people. But by shattering the magic of our parents and rebuilding a respect for them based on reality, people can grow up and get on with their lives. It’s the most profound way of releasing ourselves from the past and living where we are now. After all, “The past is another country.”
She goes from girl to woman in one 45 minute episode supposedly about time dragons.
Paul Cornell is good.
“Who says you’re not important?”
The Doctor asks this of the couple being married when they complain that the time dragons shouldn’t be bothering them because they’re not so special.
So many fans ask the same question of Rose for being portrayed as the one special companion. I contend that she was! I didn’t always think that way. I thought, if he’s gonna mope over anybody it should Sarah Jane or Leela or Peri. But in Rose, he met an adult. She was another of his adoptive kids when he first met her. Or so he thought anyway. But he didn’t have anything to teach her, not like he had to his other companions. Rose didn’t need him to be her dad.
The Doctor graduated from surrogate father to romantic interest. In real life, neither role is higher than the other. Also, in real life, there is no appropriate movement between roles. But with Rose, the Doctor actually gave his companion a chance to change and she did. She didn’t pale at the dangers of it, like Tegan did. She loved the adventure and used it to deal with her stuff.
So. The question.
The Church is called the Bride of Christ. How might Rose’s triumph over her past illustrate the Church’s ascension to the role of Bride?
It should be noted that the Doctor pursued her initially, though as a father. And it was by spending time with him and making use of the graces he offered, that she was able to grow out of her old role, leaving the father of her past behind.