Father's Day. A valid celebration of dear old dads everywhere, but for Rose Tyler it came with a twist. For her own father, Pete, had died when she was a baby.
Like many children in a similar situation, she can be forgiven for wondering what sort of a man he was, having only her mother's stories of him to go by- until the arrival of a Mancunian with a police box. Of course by now he has indeed mentioned that it travels in time, but the consequences of these temporal journeys are about to hit home for her in just about the most personal fashion possible, for she's about to spend her own Fathers' Day in 1987.
It was the year of Pete's death at the hands of a hit & run driver, but not before witnessing her parents' wedding, with a certain section of the vows coming far too soon in hindsight.
REGISTRAR: I, Peter Alan Tyler, take you, Jacqueline Angela Suzette PrenticeAnd soon he will, with his own eyes. The Doctor is apprehensive at the thought of such a meeting- wary of the games it could play with the established flow of time itself. Like many a guardian figure he wants to see his young charge happy while keen to warn her of the risk it poses.
PETE: I, Peter Alan Tyler, take you, Jacqueline Suzanne Suzette Anita
JACKIE: Oh, just carry on. It's good enough for Lady Di.
ROSE: I thought he'd be taller.
REGISTRAR: To be my lawful wedded wife, to love and behold till death us do part.
"Who's that? It's your daddy. You weren't old enough to remember when he died. 1987, 7th of November. Do you remember what I told you? The day that Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke got married. He was always having adventures. Oh, he would have loved to have seen you now."
DOCTOR: Where's this come from, all of a sudden?Aptly, their arrival in the late Eighties is soundtracked by the Communards' cover of the Jackson 5's Never Can Say Goodbye. Perhaps it's that very thought that drives her to change the course of the day's events by saving him from his recorded death! That decision could prove rather costly to the other guests at Stuart & Sarah's big day, though.
ROSE: All right then, if we can't, if it goes against the laws of time or something, then never mind, just leave it.
DOCTOR: No, I can do anything. I'm just more worried about you.
ROSE: I want to see him.
DOCTOR: Your wish is my command. But be careful what you wish for.
For the Reapers will come to sterilise time's wound, a result of Pete's continued existence on this mortal coil & the implied death of the Time Lords- the ones who would've taken care of any temporal mess. A fact which may add to the Doctor's guilt over his implied role in the War that saw their end alongside the Daleks.
"The entire Earth's been sterilised. This, and other places like it, are all that's left of the human race. We might hold out for a while, but nothing can stop those creatures. They'll get through in the end. The walls aren't that old. And there's nothing I can do to stop them. There used to be laws stopping this kind of thing from happening. My people would have stopped this. But they're all gone. And now I'm going the same way."Then comes the game-changer!
ROSE: I did it. I saved your life.A wedge is driven between the man in the leather jacket & his companion in the aftermath, Rose wanting her dad while the Doctor sees the bigger picture. Hardly pleasant for either of them- but ultimately time must be the victor, the resulting squabble irrelevant with echoes of Death In Heaven, Clara's love for Danny Pink of a more romantic nature but the basic mechanics of her rift with the man the Doctor would become three incarnations on just the same.
PETE: Blimey, did you see the speed of it? Did you get his number?
ROSE: I really did it. Oh, my God, look at you. You're alive! That car was going to kill you.
PETE: Give me some credit, I did see it coming. I wasn't going to walk under it, was I.
ROSE: I'm Rose.
PETE: That's a coincidence. That's my daughter's name.
ROSE: That's a great name. Good choice. Well done.
PETE: Right, I'd better shift. I've got a wedding to go to.
ROSE: Is that Sarah Clarke's wedding?
PETE: Yeah, are you going?
DOCTOR: Rose, there's a man alive in the world who wasn't alive before. An ordinary man. That's the most important thing in creation. The whole world's different because he's alive.At least an exchange with Stuart & Sarah, the bride & groom on this occasion, reaffirms the human touch of their leather-jacketed saviour against the Reapers.
ROSE: What, would you rather him dead?
DOCTOR: I'm not saying that.
ROSE: No, I get it! For once, you're not the most important man in my life.
DOCTOR: Let's see how you get on without me, then. Give me the key. The TARDIS key. If I'm so insignificant, give it me back.
ROSE: All right then, I will.
DOCTOR: You've got what you wanted, so that's goodbye, then.
ROSE: You don't scare me. I know how sad you are. You'll be back in a minute, or you'll hang around outside the TARDIS waiting for me. And I'll make you wait a long time!
"Who said you're not important? I've travelled to all sorts of places, done things you couldn't even imagine, but you two. Street corner, two in the morning, getting a taxi home. I've never had a life like that. Yes. I'll try and save you."Series One in a nutshell, really. Earth-centric, real human lives, alien dramas. Autons in Henrik's were a piece of cake of course, but here's the real thing. Love, death & paradox- what some might call three certainties, constants in an ever-changing human universe as demonstrated here.
The father who must die to save his daughter is motivated to meet his maker once more by his love for that daughter & the woman who bore her. Given that context it's tempting to brand Pete Tyler the true hero of the piece, with more metaphorical heart that the man in the leather jacket who can boast two!
PETE: The car that should have killed me, love. It's here. The Doctor worked it out way back, but he, er, he tried to protect me. Still, he's not in charge any more. I am.
ROSE: But you can't.
PETE: Who am I, love?
ROSE: My daddy.
PETE: Jackie, look at her. She's ours.
JACKIE: Oh, of course.
PETE: I'm meant to be dead, Jackie. You're going to get rid of me at last.
JACKIE: Don't say that.
PETE: For once in your life, trust me. It's got be done. You've got to survive, because you've got to bring up our daughter. I never read you those bedtime stories. I never took you on those picnics. I was never there for you.
ROSE: You would have been.
PETE: But I can do this for you. I can be a proper dad to you now.
ROSE: But it's not fair.
PETE: I've had all these extra hours. No one else in the world has ever had that. And on top of that, I got to see you. And you're beautiful. How lucky am I, eh? So, come on, do as your dad says. You going to be there for me, love? Thanks for saving me.
And though his daughter is indeed with him as he passes away, his death proving the ultimate sacrifice, some might say the real tragedy is that he was never the father he might have been in life. An ideal time to pause & reflect on how lucky those of us whose dads live on are, and spare a thought for those now without.
Apt, too, that next up for the Doctor & Pete's little girl/the companion with her mother's spirit would be The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances - a teenage mother at possibly the worst time to be one given the stigma associated with such a state of affairs in wartime society in the spotlight.