Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

Doctor Who 1x05 "World War Three" rewatch-review

As I've stated elsewhere, once I finished season two of New Who, I was going to rewatch and review what I call my "Her Name was Rose" collection (click here for the full list of episodes).

For such an action-packed episode throughout, this one sure packs a wallop of emotion into here and there and then just lays 'em on heavily but beautifully in the last ten minutes or so. Of the recurring characters -- not including Harriet Jones -- I think that Russell T Davies did a fabulous job in plumbing emotional, relatable depths in all four of them.

We'd already begun to see a turn-around in Mickey during last week's first parter, but in this one, he literally saved the world. He did what needed to be done; and like the Doctor has had to so many times, he made the tough call because it had to be done. As did Jackie. I absolutely loved the scene between Mickey and Jackie where he's getting the final bit of information from the Doctor necessary to launch the missile at 10 Downing Street and Jackie tells him that she could stop him, and Mickey looks up at her and says softly, "do it." Such a simple moment, but so powerful, because he cares about Rose too, but they both realize in the moment, the needs of the many must outweigh the one, even a loved one. And that moment there more than any other is, I think, what softens both Jackie and Mickey to the Doctor, although neither would ever admit it.

As for Rose, there isn't much character movement for her, she's rather the catalyst for those emotional peeks into Jackie and the Doctor that we see. This nineteen year old kid who in a few short weeks is already showing just what she's capable of when her potential is tapped does so quite a bit here. In the cabinet room, she thought quickly and dropped the curtain on a distracted Slitheen (who we know much better as Margaret from "Boom Town" later in the series) to help her and Harriet escape. Later on, she was the one who took charge remembering earthquake protocol and possibly saving Harriet and herself (the Doctor would have just regenerated). And, of course, before that she pushed the Doctor to "do it," save the planet, no matter what, even if it meant dying herself. Selfish though she may be at times (and unreasonably jealous ... more on that later), Rose Tyler has a huge heart and has no doubt that when it comes to saving the many over the few, the many win out, even if she's one of the few.

Which leaves the Doctor for some good old character analysis. We got two key bits of his inner turmoil in this one. The first is his role as a Time Lord, as he tells Jackie over the speakerphone: This is his life, it's not all fun and adventure, it's making the difficult choices because no one else can or will. The quiet anguish in his voice as he said this was yet another echo of the effect the Time War had on him. Here he was once again -- on an admittedly smaller scale -- forced to potentially give up something he cares about for the greater good. And then comes the flip: The utter joy that fills his grin when someone else steps up and decides that she can and will make that decision. And she does it, leaving the Doctor free to do what he must do with the blessing of Rose, but more importantly, being able to relinquish the decision-maker role in this instance because Harriet Jones was right. SHE was the only one in that room who truly had the authority to make that call.

This shows how true it is that the Doctor, at least a part of him, does simply want to relinquish that role and just be with the woman he loves, be able to make the choice to choose the one over the many. We saw the seeds of what does play out in "Journey's End" this early on -- not necessarily pertaining to Rose specifically here, although again, she is the key here that is causing the anguish at his decision (Harriet doesn't even come into the equation for him, he's focused all on Rose). He doesn't have that option here, but we already see that a part of him wishes for it and in "Journey's End," with his Time Lord/Human hybrid self, he's finally able to choose that one.

Ah, that one ... that leads us to the other aspect of him that we get a glimpse into and it is an area we've been given plenty to ponder on before: His growing feelings for Rose. We have two scenes here that make it clear just how important Rose Tyler has become to him (and possibly a third scene that's more subtle and could just be my imagination). The first, of course, is the beautiful and gut-wrenchingly chemical scene where the Doctor explains that he could save the world, but lose Rose. And it's interesting because the dialogue could have played on such a different level, one more fit for an authority figure worried for a young person who has so much life to live that could be cut short because of him as opposed to how it does play.
    Jackie: Please, Doctor. Please. She's my daughter. She's just a kid.
    The Doctor: Do you think I don't know that? 'Cuz 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 are you waiting for?
    The Doctor: I could save the world, but lose you.
See, it could have played without any romantic subtext at all, especially with Jackie's line about her being "just a kid," and the Doctor's response of "do you think I don't know that?" But two things completely change the tenor and subtext of the scene. Firstly, Christopher Eccleston's voice. The timbre of aching love just fills every syllable, especially the you in "I could save the world, but lose you." This is not someone concerned about a youth losing out on their potential long life; this is a man devastated at the thought that he could lose the woman he loves. His voice develops this note that just grabs my heart and sets butterflies fluttering in my stomach. You hear that note in his voice and then the way he looks at her ... My God, the way he looks at her, such intense devotion and yearning wrapped up in a blanket of devastation at the thought of losing her. And it's all focused only on her, blocking out Harriet's presence, Jackie and Mickey on the other end of the line. How can anyone doubt that he's already grown to love her? Just look!



Oh, and Rose's reaction! It's almost *almost* better than his look. She takes what he's said, how he's said it, the way that he is looking at her and she absorbs it, you can see that, feel that in the slightest of shifting emotions on her face and then ... she smiles. Just the tiniest curve of her lips, but it's a smile, one of feminine knowledge. And I ask, how can anyone doubt that Rose had definite non-platonic feelings for this Doctor early on? Just look!



Better yet, absorb yourself, the beauty, the chemistry and power of the scene in all of its glory. Watch the clip below (via imeem) or download for better quality here.


Just, whoah. Plus, I think it should be mentioned here that although they don't see the way that the Doctor is looking at Rose (or her response), Jackie and Mickey DO hear that statement and the way he says it. That right there may be the key reason that the two seem to back off a bit when it comes to the Doctor and Rose because even just hearing that had to have made it perfectly clear that whatever else is going on, Rose is *incredibly* important to him and he will always think of the safest option for her.

There's one more scene that shows the viewer (but not Jackie and Mickey this time) just how crazy the Doctor is about Rose. After Rose tries to get him all domestic {snerk} over the phone, the Doctor lightly, breezily informs her that she can just stay there in one breath, and then in the very next, with his eyes racing he tempts her with yet another wonder of the universe and in every beat of every word he's saying dontstaycomewithmebewithmedontleaveme. He totally, *totally* is. And Rose totally, *totally* gets that. Watching her expression as he details their next adventure, you can see her brain working, thinking is he doing what I so know he's doing? even as she is being tempted and seduced by what he's describing. Both by the wonder of traveling with him and the man himself. As for the Doctor, he ends his plea -- because, really that is what it was -- with a simple "your choice," and again, his voice, his expression, the look in his eyes are all screaming, CHOOSE ME! And then he hangs up, and he has a quick moment where there's a sense that he's shocked that he did what he just did coupled at the same time with fear that it didn't work.

God, I absolutely LOVE Christopher Eccleston. He is such, such an amazing actor. Every episode that passes and I just find myself more and more in awe of his talent. He is just breathtaking, amazing, wonderful. Not enough superlatives. I. love. him. And, honestly, I rather dig Billie Piper too. I had found myself disappointed in a few of her acting choices last week upon my rewatch, but thanks to some elucidating comments, I decided that I was the one in error. She was on the ball, and she's just as much in this episode as she's been all along. As in awe as I am of Eccleston's talent, I often myself amazed that this young woman is able to so perfectly keep up and mesh so beautifully with him.

So much goes unsaid in this scene, written in their tones and facial expressions, their eyes, it's just some lovely, lovely acting. See? Watch the clip below (via imeem) or download for better quality here.


The third scene that may or may not further illustrate the Doctor's growing feelings for Rose is his face to face conversation with Mickey. Like in "School Reunion," the Doctor asks Mickey to join he and Rose on their adventuring and it was quite clear to me (and I think, most viewers) that his intention was to put a buffer between he and Rose and their growing closeness after their "humans wither and die" conversation. The same, I do believe, can be said about this invitation. The Doctor had revealed his strong feelings for Rose on two separate occasions in the last couple of hours. The first could be excused and dismissed in the heat of battle, but the latter -- a blatant plea disguised as temptation to keep her with him -- had no such excuse, and coupled with the earlier reveal made it quite clear to the Doctor *and* Rose that something was there.

So, Mickey showed that he wasn't quite the idiot that the Doctor had assumed, and here he was, a handy way to widen that ever-growing closeness between the Doctor and Rose before he did something stupid like choose her over the many. So, he asked Mickey to join them, good buffer. Again, I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. After all, it's very similar in situation to why the Doctor asked him in "School Reunion."

And if you take the whole comparison further, remember that he'd asked Sarah Jane first, and then Mickey ... and then Reinette (we'll just ignore Moffat's out-of-character take on the Doctor asking, and stick with how it *should* have flowed within canon) in the following episode, looking for someone, anyone to create that buffer between them. Here, when Mickey declines, the Doctor -- as in the series two episodes, doesn't stop there -- he agrees to let Adam join them in the very next episode, and a few episodes later (after doing an *incredibly* stupid thing for Rose), he asks Jack ... yet another attempt at a buffer.

Yeah, so, I do think it was deliberate and not just my shipper imagination overheating. He was falling fast and hard for Rose and he was afraid that he was going to do something really, really stupid if there wasn't someone, anyone added to the mix to keep him in check.

Which brings us to Rose. I pointed out above Rose's response to the Doctor's reveal in the cabinet room, as well as her take on him wanting her to stay with him. But still, she's not even remotely as there as the Doctor. She's still in denial mode overall. She enjoys the fact that she clearly DOES mean something special to him (the smile as illustrated above shows that clearly), but I don't think she quite realizes how reciprocal it is. Others do. Mickey obviously sees something there despite her denials; he just knows that there *is* something there. Her mother calmly mentions that she has to accept the Doctor now since Rose is infatuated with him. Of course, Rose denies it, but Jackie just ignores that denial because it's as obvious to her as it is to Mickey (and later Adam ... and Jack).

And that denial brings us to her idea about Mickey joining them. First of all, presumptive much? Rose just assumes that Mickey can join them, doesn't even ask the Doctor. Oh, she sooo knows that she has him wrapped around her finger and that he pretty much wouldn't deny her anything. So, she is very aware of it, but she's just aware of it from the Doctor's end, and is quite oblivious to her own infatuation with him. Oh, Rose. So young, so stupid. I mean, honestly, she gets momentarily jealous of Harriet. Yes, Harriet! They're in the middle of a major crisis on Earth, everyone she loves and knows could die, she could die, big, horrible, green aliens are killing people and when the Doctor compliments Harriet, Rose has a moment of "what's so great about her?" It's quick, but still ... And again, oh, it could be my shipper self seeing something that's not there, but jealousy is as big a part of Rose's character as it is Nine's. I mean, come on ... after the Doctor tells Harriet with a grin that she's "good at this," Rose glances briefly down with this look, and well, I see a Rose who is momentarily and so inappropriately jealous because the Doctor is praising someone who's not her. Oh, Rose.

Okey-dokey, one more Rose/Doctor moment and then I'm moving on. Again with the inappropriate, as Jackie and Mickey are fighting for their lives, the Doctor takes the time to snark at Mickey as Rose's choice of boyfriend ... again. (As Jackie calls out all of the vinegar-laden foodstuffs in Mickey's cabinets, he says "you kiss that man?") The proper time and place, you two. Harriet is so wasting her time admonishing Rose on her inappropriate joking while people are dying. Yes, it's usually Doctor/Rose lovey-dovey-ness or jealousy-related inappropriateness (see the Doctor/Mickey above, or Rose/Harriet higher up), but really, it's just these two and their jeopardy friendly ways. You make jokes, you take the time to be lovey-dovey or jealous in the middle of a crisis because there may not be any downtime in which to do so. That's the Doctor and Rose.

Just a bit of gush about one more character and then the plot. I've mentioned elsewhere, I'll happily state it again. I love Harriet Jones. So many moments of awesome with her: After the Doctor catches up with Rose and Harriet and Harriet makes her presence known, there's this exchange:
    The Doctor: Who the hell are you?
    Harriet: Harriet Jones. MP for Flydale North.
    The Doctor: Nice to meet you.
    Harriet: Likewise.
Just the beginning of Harriet's lovely show of manners, matched by the Doctor's, I might add. Later we see her correct the Doctor on the proper order of beverage offering ("You pass it to the left first"). As above where the Doctor offers the proper "nice to meet you" despite the situation, and Harriet responds in proper kind, here after Harriet corrects the Doctor's manners, he calmly apologizes and offers the alcohol to Rose ... on his left. And then later in the episode, as they are narrowing it down, her repeated "pardon the word" was hilarious. The line was funny, yes, the characterization of this woman who always remembers her manners, is always a lady is a lovely, defining character trait, but like last week and in her future appearances, it's the delivery. Penelope Wilton is just utterly delightful.

I had mentioned in my rewatch-review of Aliens of London ...
As for plot, ironically for all that I've complained about Davies' plots in his first two episodes, this has the tightest by far, and yet, I don't have much to say ... good plotting. Of course, this is the first of a two-parter. I may have more on the plot (and not so positive, but I remember having no issues while I did have some for both "Rose" and "The End of the World") in the review for "World War 3." We'll see.
Well, I've seen the conclusion, and I think the plot holds up pretty well. It's not brilliant, or the bestest plot ever, but unlike his first two efforts, there are no glaring plot holes or plot points that make you go "huh?" The villains are different and have a motive unlike any we generally see in alien-villains of any sci-fi show, and the character development flows organically with and within the plot. See, I said that Rusty got better at the plots. Yay!

Random observation time. Fun!

- First off, I mentioned above how awesome Christopher Eccleston is. Here's some more proof: Watch the clip below (via imeem) or download for better quality here.


I mean, don't you just get chills watching that? It's perfectly believable that Margaret's smile and giggles just die looking at that face, those eyes, hearing that utter certainty when he responds: "Yes. Me." Just, guh! How any heterosexual female can not want to just do Eccleston right then and there, I do not know.

- Another awesome scene, mainly for the incredible interplay between Eccleston, Piper and Wilton, is the "narrowing it down" scene. Just the rapid back-and-forth, the growing excitement, the feeling empowering all three of doing sometihng. Awesome.

- Speaking of the awesome ... before Donna Noble entered the scene, Harriet Jones had defined awesome for me. The way she took command of the room while the Doctor and Rose were having their intensely chemical, Shall we shag like the world's about to end right now? Yes, let's! silent communication by declaring that she would make the decision as the only elected official in the room. She's so kick-ass. I love her.

- Also, "You're a very violent young woman." She says to Rose. Hee. Awesome, kick-ass and oh, so proper. Great line, and Wilton rules on delivery, she really, really does.

- Another line I got a kick out (aided generously by delivery), was Margaret's gleeful reaction to the red phone in the Prime Minister's office. "It's actually red!" Hee, hee!

- I liked the Doctor wanting to know the name of the junior secretary; nice knowing that it's a continued Doctor trait (as he's always wanting to know and honor the names of those killed in battle in future episodes, even as Ten). Nice continuity there.

- So, I wonder if the Doctor's regeneration is what led to the different timeline in which Harriet creates Great Britain's new Golden Age. (Pete's World features Harriet's Golden Age that the Doctor mentioned at the end of the episode.) Of course, we know that in this timeline, the Doctor -- newly regenerated -- ended Harriet's career as PM not too long after it began. I can totally see that, because I could see Nine reacting to Harriet's call to destroy the Sycorax differently. Instead of imposing his anger upon her and ending her career, Nine would have just taken the guilt unto himself ... again. So, the lack of her Golden Age in this timeline makes sense to me; I think that RTD covered that nicely.

- Finally, I loved, loved the callback to "The End of the World." Even though Rose had been annoyed with the Doctor at the time, I loved that she remembered it and I just cracked up that she used his crack about his accent to Harriet here.
    Harriet: Who's not human?
    Rose: He's not human.
    Harriet: He's not human?
    The Doctor: Can I have a bit of hush?
    Harriet: Sorry ... (to Rose) But he's got a Northern accent.
    Rose: Lots of planets have a North.
    The Doctor: I said, 'hush.'
So, there's the Rose using his cheeky lines (oh, Rose), and then on top of that the wonderful back-and-forth, banter, by-play, pick a 'b' word, between the three actors, and it's another little gem of a moment.

- Finally, handporn! time: Sigh, yet another episode with only one hand-hold and this one is shared!! Waah! Still, it's a sweet moment with Rose and Harriet on either side of the Doctor huddled in a tiny cupboard holding hands as a missile heads directly for the roof over their heads.



Done.

  • Click the image for previous episode rewatch-reviews:


  • Tags: billie piper, christopher eccleston, doctor who, doctor/rose, rewatch-review, russell t davies, tv
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