Doctor Who, series 1.12-13: “Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of the Ways” by Russell T. Davies


This two-part story, including “Bad Wolf” and “Parting of the Ways” is the finale of the first series of the new Doctor Who, and it sets the bar high for future finales.

The Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack all wake up in different game shows. The Doctor has been selected to participate in Big Brother, Rose in The Weakest Link, and Jack in Extreme Makeover—where he is quickly undressed by two androids. There is something sinister about each of the games. In Rose’s game, if you are the weakest link, you’re disintegrated. In Big Brother, when you’re evicted, you’re disintegrated. In Jack’s makeover, they try to go a little too far when they try to give him a facelift, although he enjoys himself a little much before they try to kill him.

This is a great commentary on reality television—it is getting more and more incredible and excessive as it progresses. People are drafted into it, rather than applying—survival is the only reward. The games are controlled by the Bad Wolf Corporation, and Rose points out the consistent references to Bad Wolf throughout the season. It seems to be getting more important.

As it turns out, the games are housed on Satellite 5—where “The Long Game” took place. Someone other than the Jagrafess is in control of the station now—someone with a big, bad plan.

Captain Jack, after escaping his would-be tormentors, gets a really big gun and goes in search of the Doctor. He finds the Doctor, and they reach Rose just as she loses The Weakest Link and is disintegrated. This leaves the Doctor with nothing to lose. He reaches floor 500, and meet the controller, who finally breaks free of her masters’ grips for a short time in order to warn the Doctor of impending danger. He and Jack discover that the disintegrator is actually a transmat beam—transporting people across space in order to bolster numbers, to repopulate a species. An entire Dalek fleet waits at the edge of the solar system to invade and destroy the Earth—and Rose has been taken aboard one of their ships. And the Doctor is slightly irked.

You don’t make the Doctor mad. He charges the TARDIS headlong into 200 Dalek ships to save Rose and succeeds.

During the Great Time War, the Doctor wiped out all the Daleks and the Time Lords, but the Emperor of the Daleks survived and cultivated a new species from the humans he stole. They have remained in hiding for hundreds of years, slowly going mad in their fanaticism—hating humanity, yet surviving because of them. The Doctor, realizing that it’s a no-win scenario, sends Rose home to safety. When she gets home, she cannot get back into the normal routine of her life—she knows that the Doctor is still out there, fighting for humanity. She sees “Bad Wolf” written everywhere, realizing that it’s a message, linking the present and the future, telling her that she can get home, she just needs to communicate with the TARDIS and tell it that it needs to get back to the Doctor. To do this, she must look into the heart of the TARDIS.

When Rose looks into the heart of the TARDIS, she transcends time and space, godlike. She “can see the whole of time and space, every single atom of [their] existence, and [she] divides them,” wiping out the Daleks and bringing Captain Jack back to life, who died fighting the invading Daleks. She does not merely bring Jack back to life, but stops him from dying. He will always come back to life, no matter what injury. At one point, he is blown to bits, and he still regenerates and returns. However, this power over life and death, time and space, is too much for Rose—even for the Doctor—to handle. It will burn her up if she holds onto it for too long. So the Doctor saves her by absorbing the energy of the Time Vortex into himself, “and no one’s meant to do that.” This will eventually kill him, forcing a regeneration into a new form, the tenth incarnation of himself and our first view of David Tennant’s Doctor.

This storyline brings an end to Christopher Eccleston’s era as the Ninth Doctor. It’s easy to dismiss him in comparison to David Tennant’s longer run as the Doctor because he is so endearing (I’ll stop now, because believe me, I’ll rave about him enough in weeks to come…). Eccleston’s Doctor is dark and brooding, even angry at times, ranting about humans being stupid apes who keep making mistakes. Even so, he has his endearing moments, particularly in the final few episodes. He’s sharper in tone, prone to outbursts a bit more, but he is necessary to the story, as he moves away from the sins of his past and into a newer, brighter future. It would be good to see Eccleston back as the Doctor in a later special (there is a good amount of precedence for this), alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith, but only time can tell.

Memorable Quotes:

“I keep hearing those words everywhere we go: Bad Wolf. Different times, different places like it’s written all over the universe…if the Bad Wolf is in charge of this quiz, then maybe I’m not here by mistake. Someone’s been planning this.”

The Doctor: “You mind flirting outside?”

Jack: “I was just saying hello.”

The Doctor: “For you, that’s flirting.”

The Doctor: “This is what I’m going to do. I’m gonna rescue her. I’m gonna save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet. And then I’m gonna save the Earth. And then, just to finish it off, I’m gonna wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky.”

Dalek: “But you have no weapons, no defenses, no plan.”

The Doctor: “Yeah. And doesn’t that scare you death? Rose…I’m coming to get you.”

“Time Lords have this little trick. It’s sort of a way of cheating death. It means I’m gonna change, and I’m not gonna see you again. Not like this. Not with this daft old face…Rose, before I go I want to tell you that you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.”

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