Welcome back, faithful viewer! It’s the second episode of the new series, which means it’s time for Rose Tyler’s first trip in the TARDIS. This is–dare I say–fantastic!
Let’s get right to it!
Making the bold choice to visit the future rather than the past, Rose lands with the Doctor on Platform 1, a space station in a distant orbit around a dying planet Earth. The great and the good (read, the obscenely rich) are due to gather on the station to watch the Sun expand and roast the Earth to cinders at last. Before long, however the macabre proceedings are interrupted by little metal creatures, who are crawling into the ventilation system and playing havoc with the stations inner workings, putting the lives of everyone on board in jeopardy. Of course, the creatures are just robots, which means they’re being controlled by someone on the platform. It’s up to the Doctor and Rose to figure out who it is and stop them before the expanding Sun takes the lives of everyone aboard the platform along with the doomed planet Earth.
To this day, faithful viewer, I don’t know what the Doctor was playing at by taking Rose to Platform 1 of all places. When you’re a renegade Time Lord with a penchant for traveling the Universe with humans, and you take up with a new companion who has never traveled in time or space before, you don’t take them to see their own planet get blown up. The fact that that’s exactly what the Doctor did really shows what an awful headspace he was in at this point in time. I’m appalled at and sorry for him at the same time. I hardly know what to think.
Overall, though, I must say that this is a fantastic story. If you think about it, the whole thing only took place in about three or four rooms, but the action was ginormous. It comes across as a futuristic, Agatha Christie-esque Whodunnit–at the end of which, the Earth gets blown up. And I have to say, I’m still in love with all the pop culture gags on display here. Britney Spears and Soft Cell revered as classical music? Slays me every time.
Speaking of slayers, this episode introduces one of the most fabulous villains of the new series. I am speaking, of course, of the Lady Cassandra O’Brien.Δ17. Allegedly the last pure-blood human in the Universe–actually a pair of eyes and a mouth on a flap of skin–Cassandra brings true glamour to the act of villainy. If you think about it, she really is a despicably shallow criminal. I mean, murdering several zillionaires, just for the money? How uncreative can you get? Especially considering that Cassandra is herself a zillionaire. But all the same, she’s incredibly funny, and even manages to have a bit of pathos going for her. More than any other new series villain (except maybe the Weeping Angels), Cassandra has managed to catpure the hearts of Whovians everywhere.
On a less-happy note, I must report that this is the first time the Doctor goes into detail about the events of the Time War. The story is famous by now: the Daleks went to war against the Time Lords, causing untold destruction to the Universe. The Doctor managed to end the war, but only by destroying his planet and his people, along with the Daleks. Having cone through the classic series, this is even more heartbreaking to think about. The Doctor, as long as we’ve known him, has never shown any affection for his home planet, or (with the exception of Romana) for any of his fellow Time Lords. But having a lousy home is better than having no home at all, and as impatient as he tended to get with his countryfolk, he surely never wanted them destroyed.
Least of all by his own hand.
–One quick note here, while we’re on the subject. I’ve noticed that lots of people don’t seem to know what to make of these first few new-series seasons in light of the events of the 50th anniversary special. My response to those people is this: Just because Gallifrey was saved eventually doesn’t mean it’s always been saved. Time is always in flux, and the past is no more permanent than the future. If we’ve learned anything from this show, we’ve learned that.–
And with that, Our Heroes have saved the world again. And now they’re off to get chips. All is well…until their next adventure comes along.
Stay tuned ’til next time, faithful viewer, when the Doctor and Rose help Charles Dickens save a few ghosts in time for Christmas…