The End of the World
The Doctor: Welcome to the end of the world.
Production Code: 1.2.
Doctor Who Season: S27 (Ep2).
Story Number: 158.
The introduction to 21st Century Doctor Who continues…
Like the transition between the first two stories of 1963 – and the first two stories of 2010 – these two stories flow into one another, this one starting where Rose left off, with Rose beginning her inaugural TARDIS journey. The sheer joy of sailing in the time machine is shown by the two leads. At this stage the revived show was wary of depicting an alien planet onscreen, so it’s the first of the season’s space-stations next. It’s impressive, as is the Star Wars cantina-like procession of aliens that greet our time-travelling duo. The time-period may seem outlandish, even silly, (the year 5 billion), but it’s actually a piece of hard SF: as that’s when the Sun would likely engulf the Earth, in the red giant phase.
The actual “action” of the story comes quite late on by regular Doctor Who reckoning, and Doctor and companion have time to relax and debate and Rose takes in the idea of time-travel. She even has a chance, thanks to her phone being “upgraded”, to chat to the mother she’s left in the past.
There’s a mystery plot going on in the background, but, in the foreground of the story, more talking: Jabe, one of the platform’s guests, manages to coax the Doctor out of his shell (while he wanders away from Rose and she assumes the more traditional role of companion-in-peril, a contrast to the previous ep), and the dialogue between the Doctor and the tree hints at a tragedy that has befallen the Time Lord, (more fully explained right at the end of the story.) It seems this trip might be a way of the Doctor reaching out to Rose, to get her to understand him more – she has the opportunity to watch the end of her world.
When the Doctor foils Cassandra, it’s with a particular lack of mercy. It seems behind the goofy grins the Doctor isn’t quite the warm space-traveller of old, something has hardened him. After the turmoil of the story, Rose is returned to her own time: she appreciates the “regular” life with a new perspective. She also understands the Doctor a little better too – over the course of the 90 minutes of the previous story and this, a new TARDIS team is established. She welcomes the change to her life, and the Doctor seems to be happier too with a companion by his side, as they go for some chips. Like the previous story, the emotional bond between the central duo is as important as the SF stuff, and like the previous story, very good Doctor Who.