Doctor Who Re-Watch: The Parting of the Ways

Strap on your seat belts! It’s finale time! Given how much I disliked Bad Wolf I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Parting of the Ways. Yes, even with the RTD literal deux ex machina and a host of Daleks playing the big bad and not for the last time. We’re skipping right past the opening titles sequence as it was entirely a recap of the previous episode and diving straight in…


The Alien of the Week

Ben: The Daleks! Turns out the Emperor of the Daleks ship survived the Time War, falling through space and time. Which is a neat turn of phrase, if not a slightly lazy way to have some Daleks survive. The true horror comes when we find out they’ve been using the contestants of the games to make more Daleks; breaking them down into the building blocks of life to create new life, new Daleks. But as the Doctor correctly surmises, they’re not pure Daleks, and Daleks abhor anything that isn’t Dalek; they hate their own flesh, their own existence, and it’s driven them insane.

Maureen: The Daleks on New Who have become a bit of a joke, re-occuring too often with sillier and sillier plans to deliver much in the thrills and the scares department. This finale is an exception to the New Who Dalek rule. The Dalek Emperors speech about “the refugees… the displaced… all come to us” and “This is perfection. I have created heaven on earth,” as well as the way we see Lynda, Jack and all of the trapped humans exterminated is truly chilling.

Ben: I did like how the Dalek God cast himself as the creator of life, opposing the Doctor (the destroyer and the oncoming storm). Although once the Daleks board the Game Station we see the Dalek’s aren’t exactly the nurturing type, as they go and kill the 100 or so unarmed humans in floor zero. And poor Lynda, Lynda with a Y with her crush on the Doctor gets the worst death of all. For that alone these Daleks deserve their ending, being dissolved into atoms by Rose. It made for a pretty great scene, the Dalek God shrieking that he is immortal, that he cannot die, followed by him dying.

The Companion/s

Maureen: This is such a dark episode, especially for the companions and the humans trapped on Satellite Five. I can see how Torchwood got as dark as it did. Kids show? What kids show?

Ben: Now this is definitely my favourite Rose episode of the season. For the first fifteen minutes she doesn’t do much other than blindly believe the Doctor will save the day, that everyone will live and nobody will die (except the Daleks). And then it all goes wrong and The Doctor sends her back home with one final request, to forget him and live her life. Which is really just unrealistic, Doctor. As we see in the scene in the fish and chips shop, Rose has been shown a better life, and she can’t go back to the monotony of her old life.

Maureen: What I found interesting about the fish and chip shop scene was how phenomenal an actress Billie was in it. She totally sold me on playing a nineteen year old, prone to emotional outbursts and temper tantrums. I might not like Rose much, but her behavior in these scenes at least felt believable.

Ben: In that fish and chip shop Rose mourns returning to a life absent from The Doctor, a life where she doesn’t stand up for what’s right when no one else will.

Maureen: This bit bugged me a little. There’s nothing stopping Rose from getting involved in politics (Harriet Jones style) or charity and living a life The Doctor would be proud of. But nineteen years old…

Rose: Catch the bus, go to work, eat chips… is that all there is? The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life.

Oh, use some imagination and initiative Rose. The Doctor literally told you the below and you still don’t get it:

Nine: Let the TARDIS die. Let it gather dust… if you want to remember me do one thing… have a good life… do that for me… have a fabulous life.

Ben: Yes, what she does instead is tell Mickey there’s nothing on earth left for her. Even the scene between her and Jackie was cruel, telling Jackie she was the one who was there as her father died, that he would want her to keep fighting. This Rose I don’t like, the Rose that will do anything, hurt anyone to get back to The Doctor. I get that she loves him, but that’s just harsh. It was nice that Mickey and Jackie came together to help her in the end, but she really didn’t deserve their help.

Maureen: I agree re Rose, but I like what Mickey’s response showed us about him. For the first time, I felt that Mickey cared about Rose, genuinely cared in a way that went beyond surface level. Take this exchange:

Rose: There’s nothing for me here.
Mickey: Nothing?
Rose: Nothing.
Mickey: Right. If that’s what you think…

And you know what he does? He damn well helps her anyway, and not only that, he stops her from giving up! For once Mickey added to, rather than detracted from, an episode!

Ben: I’ve got more to say about Rose. I mean we need to talk about the fact that Rose looks into the heart of the TARDIS and becomes a literal Deus ex Machina! This is peak Doctor Who and I just love it so much. For some reason, “I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself,” is a line that has stuck with me from the first time I watched this episode. BadWolf Rose just has so many iconic lines in this one sequence of genocide. And then we get the cheesiest line of all space and time, as the Doctor says “I think you need a Doctor” before kissing her, pulling the time vortex out of her head and into himself. It’s probably for the best she doesn’t remember any of it, living with committing genocide and also that level of cheesiness can’t be good for you.

Maureen: I agree that this bit was classic Who. It was outrageous. So outrageous it shouldn’t have worked, yet it does and RTD never figures out how to get it right again. Bad Wolf Rose is also my favourite version of Rose (it’s why I could stand her in the 50th anniversary). I agree with Ben that she has some truly astonishing lines.

Bad Wolf Rose: Everything must come to dust. All things. Everything dies. The Time War ends… I can see everything. All that is. All that could be.

Ben: Jack, on the other hand, had less of a fun time. On one hand, he gets a kiss out of both Rose and The Doctor. On the other hand, he sends a bunch of people to their deaths facing off the Daleks, including himself. It was definitely a dick move to lie to the volunteers, telling them the guns will work on the Daleks, that the forcefield will weaken the Daleks attacks, but someone had to slow the Daleks down while the Doctor worked on the Delta wave.

Maureen: I didn’t think that was a dick move on Jack’s part. I thought it was a way to keep panic at bay. What good would Jack telling humanity the truth about the Daleks have done? They had no way out.

Ben: I guess so. On the bright side, Rose brings Jack back! Yay!

Maureen: Yes! Long may Captain Jack reign. Neither Ben or I remember when Jack next turns up and how and both look forward to a reappearance.

The Doctor

Ben: The Doctor has finally learnt how to drive the TARDIS with some finesse! Apparating the TARDIS around Rose was a nice bit of magic.

Maureen: Yeah, to be honest, that was one of the only parts of the episode that made no sense to me.

Ben: Mmmm, I found the shot of the Doctor with his head to the door of the TARDIS as he hears the Dalek’s futile attempts to exterminate to be incredibly powerful. All this season we’ve been getting drip fed bits of information about the Time War, and the PTSD the Doctor suffers from his involvement in it. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s going through the Doctor’s head in that moment.

Maureen: Christopher Eccleston was seriously good this episode, and made me yearn for more Nine. He portrays The Doctor’s sadness, pain and rage, as well as his innate alien nature so well.

Rose: I knew you would come.
Nine: Good. I didn’t.

Nine: Don’t stand around chin-wagging… human beings, always standing around gossiping.

We also see more of why Nine cares for Rose in a romantic sense.

Nine: The TARDIS could leave and let history take its course.
Rose: You couldn’t do that.
Nine: You wouldn’t ask.

I’ve never bought Rose/Nine or even Rose/Ten and always felt that The Doctor would have grown bored of Rose eventually, but I did feel Rose was right for Nine in the situation he was in and where he was placed emotionally.

Ben: And then we get to the good stuff after The Doctor tricks Rose into the TARDIS and sends her back home through the magic of Emergency Program 1. We find out through the Dalek God (formerly known as the Dalek Emperor) that the delta wave can’t be refined, that it will kill Daleks and humans indiscriminately. A complete rehash of the Time War. The Doctor might not be able to bring about an end where everyone lives and nobody dies, but at least he can save Rose. In the end he can’t go through with activating the Delta wave, which is probably for the best. I don’t think the Doctor could live with becoming the Great Exterminator.

Maureen: What I like about Nine though is that there was always a suggestion that it wouldn’t take much to tip him over the edge. RTD also chips away at the perennial who is The Doctor question by having the Dalek Emperor mirror The Doctor. The exchange below reveals a lot about The Doctor:

Dalek Emperor: I want to see you become like me… all hail The Doctor. What are you? Coward or killer?
Nine: Coward any day.

I’ve always hated The Doctor as hero trope, the lonely God figure, so it’s nice to have a grand finale that bucks the trend. And then there’s the first New Who regeneration sequence…

Ben: Yes, the episode ends with this wondrously emotional scene between Rose and The Doctor. I’m not one for quoting the episode in big chunks, but that whole scene is just magic. I will agree with The Doctor when, in his final lines as the Ninth Doctor, he says he was fantastic. He really, really was.

Maureen: God, I still miss Nine. Unlike Ben, I am one for quoting chunks of episode. The Doctor’s regeneration speech is a good one. He says he can’t go to Barcelona and Rose asks why not. This is his wonderful response:

Nine: You can. You will. Maybe I will too. But not like this… Time Lords have a way of cheating death… before I go I just want to tell you you were fantastic. And you know what? So was I.

Ten is one of my least favourite of all The Doctor’s, but his opening lines were also… well… fantastic.

Ten: Where was I? That’s right. Barcelona!

Final Thoughts

Ben: This episode was peak Doctor Who and I loved it from start to end. I don’t really know what else to say. I give it a 10/10 and an “allons-y!”

Maureen: I too, thoroughly enjoyed The Parting of the Ways, literal deux ex machina and all. 10/10 inky stars

About InkAshlings

Maureen, Australian, young aspiring writer.
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5 Responses to Doctor Who Re-Watch: The Parting of the Ways

  1. Elisi says:

    This is a lovely post, and I should leave a proper comment. However the only thing my brain is capable of right now is leaving you a link to a post about Rose: It is one of my favourite fan theories, and might make her more palatable?

    • InkAshlings says:

      Bring me yo proper comment 😛

      Also, nice fan theory!

      • Elisi says:

        The theory is Quite Neat and makes sense of Rose’s behaviour. Also, I don’t think I replied to the previous post, but I still remember when I first watched Bad Wolf – we’d come home from the cinema after seeing Revenge of the Sith which had been rather underwhelming (we laughed at Darth Vader’s ‘Nooooo’ which I don’t think the film makers intended) and then decided to watch Bad Wolf… And I swear to god, the moment when the Doctor picks up the dust where Rose has been ‘evaporated’ was more affecting than the whole of the movie we had just seen. ❤

      • InkAshlings says:

        I love Revenge of the Sith. From when all the Jedi are killed on I choke up every time. And that ending with Leia and Luke seperated and the shot of Tatooine. Amazing. (I’m one of those people that enjoyed the prequels, with the exception of Phantom Menace). I was 15 when both Bad Wolf and Revenge of the Sith came out and I don’t remember my reaction to the end of Bad Wolf but boy oh boy do I remember how I felt at the movies watching Sith.

      • Elisi says:

        I am so happy you like Revenge!! Tbh I want to rewatch all the Prequels, being now more invested than I was before. 🙂

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