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Also finished rewatching DW S2; I have to say I never paid all that much attention to DW, certainly not as much as to TW, so going back, especially after the end with all the threads tied up, and this time with a bit more attention to the patterns that run through the show and the parts that aren't strictly relevant to TW and Jack, is really rather fascinating. Four episodes in (New Earth and School Reunion) you can already see exactly the weak spots that will eventually lead to Ten's almost-downfall.

School Reunion is still my favourite episode; every single scene between DT and ASH is beyond brilliant. Actually better than the Doctor/Master stuff IMhereticO. What I don't understand is why it was immediately followed by The Girl in the Fireplace. OTOH, obviously, to further emphasise the theme of how relationships are always fleeting for him, but OTOH, leaving Rose behind on a non-functioning space-ship populated by creepy robots in the middle of nowhere (also of the 51st century) for someone he in the end doesn't actually want to be with anyway, since he considers himself 'very, very, very, lucky' to find a way out? Does this even make sense? I'm all for dark and ambiguous Doctor, or rude Doctor, but that's just being a completely irresponsible jerk, and IMO actually OOC. School Reunion is much more balanced, because it shows that it's hard for everyone, the Doctor as well as the companions. It has Rose and Sarah Jane bickering, but also bonding and laughing at and about the Doctor; it's fun and melancholy and thought-provoking all at once. TGitFP maybe works once (or at least it did for me, as far as I remember and as hard as I find that to believe), but when you actually start to think about it, it's just irritating.

Also, Love and Monsters, sue me. I don't understand why this episode gets so much hate. It's such lovely story about the fragility of human relationships with a great balance between a deceptively light tone and an underlying darkness that is almost TW-esque; you see all these tentative, fragile bonds forming, the guys from L.I.N.D.A., Elton and Jackie, and then being brutally and randomly torn apart again, and ouch. It's no surprise that Elton is the closest DW came (at least in the first two seasons) to an actual suicide that doesn't fall into the heroic self-sacrifice category.

Also really liked The Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, especially Mickey's arc there. The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit is more interesting if you look at it from an a bit less literal, more metaphorical point of view. New Earth, if only for the Face of Boe scenes, and even if I'm about 90% sure that the connection with Jack was a spontaneous S3 retcon.

The finale... *sigh* That worked for me exactly once, the first time; the emotional impact of the Doctor/Rose ending already wasn't really there any more the second time, and maybe it's because I'm getting older and more cynical, but it works even less now. Sleeping in Light it isn't, at least not for me. The daleks and cyberman bickering are funny, though. Especially the daleks.

Still don't like The Idiot's Lantern and Fear Her, and Tooth and Claw is a bit meh, too.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
elisi
Mar. 24th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
what I don't understand is why it was immediately followed by The Girl in the Fireplace. OTOH, obviously, to further emphasise the theme of how relationships are always fleeting for him
Oh I have meta on this. Except I never wrote it down... The basic point of it being that Reinette's life plays out within a few hours from the Doctor's POV, which is an extremely harsh way of showing the viewer exactly what he was talking about in School Reunion. Also something about Reinette being a mirror for Sarah Jane.

As for abandoning Rose, then I *know* I wrote about that once, but I can't find it. But the gist of it was that there was a situation where he was needed, so he went. Like... oh when he is ready to get himself blown up by the Sonatarans, just because he *needs* to give them a chance to change their minds. It's stupid, but that's the kind of man he is. That's what heroes do. (Does that make sense? I'm half-asleep.)
solitary_summer
Mar. 24th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
the basic point of it being that Reinette's life plays out within a few hours from the Doctor's POV, which is an extremely harsh way of showing the viewer exactly what he was talking about in School Reunion. Also something about Reinette being a mirror for Sarah Jane.

That part I do understand, although I still think it wasn't very well handled, because the moment he actually is in the situation where he would have had the chance to go on the 'slow path' with her at least for a while, he's not happy with that either and jumps at the first chance at a way out. For me School Reunion already made the point perfectly, but then the whole loss/loneliness theme is a very strong leitmotif in S2...

The thing is... I know Nine isn't Ten, but Nine couldn't even make the decision to launch the missile that would prevent World War Three because it endangered Rose and he'd promised Jackie to keep her safe, or as safe as he could. I'd understand it if there were bigger issues at stake, but to basically condemn someone he loves to an extremely uncertain fate and possible death to save a single woman he apparently suddenly loves more... Problematic, IMO. It's different when he dies to save Wilf, because that's his life, and his to give. If he never even asked Rose, that's horrible, and if she agreed, which I can't really imagine, that's equally problematic. There's a reason we never saw the scene when that decision was made, or any fall-out, but the silence is equally uncomfortable.
elisi
Mar. 24th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
The thing is... I know Nine isn't Ten
I think in many ways Ten is a reaction against Nine (coward any day), going too far in the other direction.

but to basically condemn someone he loves to an extremely uncertain fate and possible death to save a single woman he apparently suddenly loves more... Problematic, IMO.
Oh I don't think it's love when it comes to Reinette - or not romantic love - but more a fanboy thing. (See him with Adelaide, it's almost exactly the same dynamic.) The TARDIS would have take Rose home, so he wasn't abandoning her completely. Far more problematic, really, is The Satan Pit, where he lets himself fall down into the pit, half-expecting that it might actually kill him...

But - I'm off to bed. And S2 really is my least favourite season, for these and other reasons.
solitary_summer
Mar. 25th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
But Rose says she can't fly the TARDIS by herself, so at the very least he never bothered to mentioned this to her... Obviously she would have tried in the end, but at the time as far as she's concerned she believes she's stuck there.

The Satan Pit at least addresses the issue, with the Doctor and Ida talking about the urge to jump vs. the urge to fall. It's very clear that this is an ambiguous situation where the Doctor is pushed right up to and beyond the borders of his world-view and that this influences his actions. In TGitFP I'm really not so sure if we're supposed see a tragic romantic love story or a Doctor who is rather more dysfunctional and erratic than usual, or both.
elisi
Mar. 25th, 2010 07:35 am (UTC)
But Rose says she can't fly the TARDIS by herself, so at the very least he never bothered to mentioned this to her...
Emergency Protocol One (I think that's what it's called) - it took her home in 'Bad Wolf', so she knows she she won't be stuck on that spaceship forever. But she can't get to the Doctor.

It's very clear that this is an ambiguous situation where the Doctor is pushed right up to and beyond the borders of his world-view and that this influences his actions.
I can see that, but OTOH at that point the TARDIS is lost, and by jumping he knows he might abandon Rose to a life where she can't get back home ever. And not because he's trying to save a life (because Reinette would have been dead if he hadn't intervened) but because he's curious...

As I said, I'm not very fond of S2. I think it's very uneven writing wise, and the Doctor and Rose are just too... you know. Have you seen humansrsuperior's Blackout btw? Ten/Rose and absolutely excellent and unflinching.

Actually I'm also thinking that whilst the Doctor obviously loves Rose, he's also terrified (because he knows how the story will end), hence the running away.
calanthe_b
Mar. 24th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
School Reunion is still my favourite episode; every single scene between DT and ASH is beyond brilliant. Actually better than the Doctor/Master stuff IMhereticO. What I don't understand is why it was immediately followed by The Girl in the Fireplace.

I seem to remember something about them being aired out of order for some reason? Which is why Mickey's characterisation fluctuates so wildly between them, too.

I don't understand why this episode gets so much hate.

Possibly the implication at the end that a good girlfriend has minimal personality, no autonomy, and a mouth?
solitary_summer
Mar. 24th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
Possibly the implication at the end that a good girlfriend has minimal personality, no autonomy, and a mouth?

I've heard that argument before, and I'm not saying it isn't a valid interpretation, but for me personally speaking that isn't what the story or ending is about, not in the context of the episode, and not in the context of the whole season. I could maybe abstractly agree with it, but I can't see or feel it when I watch the episode, I simply can't. S2 is already all about loss and loneliness and the importance of retaining the ability to feel even in the face of the pain, because that's what makes us human. Then there's TIP/TSP, which is essentially about the precariousness of human existence with physical destruction/death threatening on one side, and the darkness lurking underneath/within us on the other, and after that L&M, which sort of zooms in, from the grand metaphysical perspective, black holes and devils, to the in comparison almost microscopic sphere of human relationships, but there you have the same sense of fragility, of constant threat. You see all those budding relationships destroyed again by death and betrayal, one after the other, until there's almost nothing left, and in the end an unconventional love is still love and something to be valued, because it means death didn't win, the monsters didn't completely win. IMO it's a what a lot of TW episodes are also about in a way, trying to salvage at least a little bit of love, of emotion, of human warmth from all that death that has neither meaning nor justice; to keep the darkness and despair at bay, although of course in TW half of the time it doesn't work.
calanthe_b
Mar. 25th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
an unconventional love

Whereas I see a character positioned a stand-in for the 'positive' fan audience shyly bragging to the audience about how it doesn't matter to him that his (female fan) girlfriend has been left effectively a quadriplegic after a violent and traumatic accident, because after all, she can still give him oral sex - the question of how/whether he recopricates being left entirely unaddressed, of course. I'm a little too aware these days of how sexist and misogynistic fandom can be, and how rarely fan spaces are physically safe spaces for female fans to overlook that reading, or minimise it.

I think the episode does form a part of the thematic argument you outline above, but not positively: it's the usually unspoken, violent, ugly, exploitative, selfish manifestation of 'trying to salvage at least a little bit of love, of emotion, of human warmth from all that death', because the ways people (particularly people with privilege) try to do that is not always good or healthy or respectful of others.

The problem is that the show itself refuses to recognise it as such.
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