Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who Review: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

Rose Must Die!

The foreshadowing began as early as episode two of this series, when Queen Victoria warned our time travellers of the fate that awaited them if they pursued “this terrible life”. The Beast in ‘The Satan Pit’ predicted it in a more direct fashion with: “the valiant child, who will die in battle so very soon…” All in all, things were looking pretty gloomy for Rose as we approached the season finale. Now of course, we can see that this was all a very cleverly constructed ruse to keep us watching. And it worked. In dramatic terms, to foreshadow something so heavily almost always means there’s a surprise in store. You can’t keep telling an audience one of your main characters is going to die and then duly kill them. That’s not very dramatic. That’s just cruel and depressing. If you are going to kill off a main character it’s usually best done with the element of surprise - there’s great drama to be had in shocking an audience with a big death. But in Doctor Who, the build-up towards what seemed Rose’s inevitable demise was merely leading the audience down one road only to surprise them with something better than a ‘mere’ death. The war between the Daleks and Cybermen was great and epic and fun, but the real highpoint of this episode (and the series) came with the separation of Rose and the Doctor in the final fifteen minutes. In this episode, we saw how good a Doctor Tennant is. Here, in the most dramatic moments of his tenure, Tennant played it perfectly. The fear and helplessness in his face as he saw Rose putting herself in such a dangerous predicament; followed by the scream of undiluted horror and pain as Rose was sucked into the void; to the moments of quiet mourning as he came to terms with losing her, not to death, but to the alternate world she had escaped to (saved at the last moment by her once-dead father). Tennant was at his very best in these moments. And the final farewell between the Doctor and Rose on a beach in Norway (Bad Wolf Bay, would you believe!) was truly touching. “I love you,” Rose says. “Quite right, too,” the Doctor replies, with a lump in his throat. Excellent. And I have to say, Billie Piper equipped herself admirably, too.
Respect to Russell T Davies and the rest of the Doctor Who team. They got it spot on.

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