Recap / Doctor Who S27 E8 "Father's Day"

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Rose: This is my fault.
Pete: No, love. I'm your dad. It's my job for it to be my fault.

The one where Rose meets her late dad- and decides to fix that.

Written by Paul Cornell.

A flashback: Jackie Tyler is talking to her young daughter Rose, telling her of the day her father Pete was killed in a hit-and-run accident on the day of their best friends' wedding. A sad tale, dying alone on the street.

Present: Rose becomes nostalgic and asks the Doctor if it's possible to witness her father's death and be there for him when he dies. Landing a short distance away, they watch as Pete, getting out of his car carrying a wedding gift, is struck by a yellow car and knocked a good distance to the pavement. The Doctor tells Rose to go now to his side, but she freezes up. The moment has passed, and Pete is dead.

They back up against a wall, where Rose begs the Doctor to let her try again. The Doctor agrees, but sternly cautions her that they must be extra careful due to the presence of their selves from a few minutes back being there. From a different vantage point, they watch as Pete drops his gift, bends down to grab it...

... and then Rose runs into the street and pulls Pete safely out of the path of the car.

The earlier versions of the Doctor and Rose vanish. Pete, after recovering, thanks Rose and offers them a lift to the wedding, for which he was just about to get changed. The Doctor looks very sternly at Rose for about ten minutes while Pete invites them over to his house first and, once there, is quick to try to explain the severity of the matter to Rose, who truly didn't know about the consequences. Rose continues to think that Pete's just this guy, and the universe isn't going to fall apart because she saved him. The Doctor again chastises Rose, but she's having none of it. The Doctor storms out on his own. Once Pete's ready, he and Rose set off to the wedding in his car.

The Doctor arrives at the TARDIS, but on opening the doors, finds it nothing more than an empty shell. He races for the church knowing that Rose (and everyone else) are in danger.

Unseen by our heroes, large globs of Conspicuous CGI have started appearing in the sky, swooping down to consume unsuspecting humans.

Along the way to the wedding, Pete's radio starts to blare out anachronistic rap music, while Rose's voicemail messages just repeat "Watson, come here, I need you". They shrug it off by the time they get to the church, where the wedding party is congregating. They are surprised by the appearance of a yellow car, seemingly out of control, which nearly hits Pete before disappearing around the corner. Pete introduces Rose to the guests, including his wife Jackie carrying baby Rose Tyler with them.

As they mill about, a young Mickey Smith races to the group, warning them about something eating people. The crowd laughs it off until one of the beasts actually appears and snatches one of the wedding guests. The Doctor arrives and directs everyone inside the church. As the wedding party recovers, the Doctor explains the creatures are Reapers, which act like white blood cells, cleansing the wound in time created by Rose by destroying the living creatures within it. The great age of the church will give them time and protection, but eventually the Reapers will break through.

In private, the Doctor explains to Rose that normally, the Time Lords would have prevented paradoxes like this from happening. Rose apologizes, and the Doctor reiterates that just one man can be vitally important to the universe. He also warns her about touching her infant self, as that could cause further temporal damage. He suddenly pulls out the TARDIS key, hot and glowing. Racing to the centre of the church, the Doctor tells everyone to stay away as he uses the key to start materialization of the TARDIS within the church, a process that will take time and should not be disturbed.

The uneasy guests mill about. Rose finds that Pete and Jackie, though married, are in an uneasy relationship; nothing like what Jackie had told her. Rose talks to Pete more, and he starts to come to the conclusion that Rose is his daughter. When Jackie overhears Pete referring to Rose as his daughter, she is disgusted. Pete tries to point out that the woman is Rose, all grown up. Jackie refuses to believe it, so Pete does what's most natural to him: he thrusts baby Rose into Rose's arms to show Jackie how they compare.

That is exactly what the Doctor warned Rose about, and suddenly a Reaper appears inside the church due to the weakened fabric of space-time. The guests scatter as the Doctor races down the centre aisle; as the oldest being there, the beast will be attracted to him. The Reaper swoops down, grabs the Doctor in its mouth, and then hits the glowing TARDIS outline. A flash of light — and when everyone looks around, the Reaper, the Doctor, and the faint image of the TARDIS are gone; the TARDIS key sits on the floor, cold and dead.

Rose and the other guests start to give up hope as they see and hear more Reapers converging on the church. Pete, while looking outside, sees the yellow car pass by again. He starts to put two and two together, and realises he was meant to die earlier that day. Rose tries to tell him he's wrong, but Pete will have none of it. He has a tearful parting moment with Jackie, their child, and adult Rose. As soon as the car appears again, Pete rushes from the church, the Reapers on his tail, and jumps in front of the car.

The wedding crowd, outside the church, witnesses the accident, and starts to congregate around it. Rose, looking around, sees that those guests that were eaten by the Reapers are back, and no-one but her seems to be aware of the incident. As she watches, a hand falls on her shoulder — the Doctor, also back, tells her to go to her father now. Joining Pete by his side as he dies, Pete remembers the time fault, and smiles at Rose. She stays with him until he dies. As emergency vehicles converge on the scene, the Doctor and Rose slip away, walking back to the TARDIS hand-in-hand.

A flashback, again, but different this time: Jackie tells young Rose of the day her father died, and an unknown woman that stayed by his side after the accident. Rose recounts in a voice-over of her appreciation for Pete, "the most wonderful man in the world".

One of the more emotional episodes of Doctor Who, if you couldn't tell.


Tropes:

  • All There in the Script: According to the script, the driver of the car which kills Pete was named Matt.
  • Arc Words: The words "Bad Wolf" appear graffitied on the lower yellow smiling poster on the wall the Doctor and Rose hide behind on their second travel back.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Pete and Jackie in their Last Kiss.
    • The Doctor and Rose, who make up after their fight and walk away Holding Hands after much tension.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Said by the Doctor at the beginning of the episode.
    The Doctor: Your wish is my command. But be careful what you wish for.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The first clue the Doctor gets that something has gone horribly wrong is that the TARDIS is not bigger on the inside; its interior is that of the prop police call box, as it was for part of "The Wheel in Space". Then the Reapers show up...
  • Broken Pedestal: Rose's horrified expression when she realises everything Jackie said about Pete wasn't true. Later subverted as Pete turns out to be an incredibly brave, well-meaning man, and who does anything, even if he has to sacrifice himself, to save his little girl.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Rose goes back in time to visit her father before his death but ends up saving him from his fatal accident. The resulting tear in the fabric of reality lets through a host of aliens who feed off time energy and kill a lot of people.
  • Call-Back: The Doctor says, "I've picked another stupid ape" in reference to Adam in "The Long Game".
  • Clock Roaches: The Reapers.
    • This also means that Tlotoxl was right when he said that heeding Barbara would mean the Aztecs' destruction, and also explains why, following the events of "Earthshock", the Fifth Doctor was unable to go back and rescue Adric, who ironically died trying to do something that, had he succeeded, would itself have caused a time paradox.
  • Close Enough Timeline: Rose convinces the Doctor to let her visit her dad, Pete, in The '80s (who was struck and killed by a car when she was a baby). In a split second decision, she saves his life. This causes a problem. Time starts warping, the offending car gets stuck on an infinite loop, and scary time monsters appear to destroy the whole area and stop reality from tearing itself apart. Eventually Pete realizes what's going on, and that him being alive is what is causing the problems. He then decides that only he can save everyone by sacrificing himself to the looping car. At the end of the day he still dies, but in this timeline he gets to live a little longer, spend time with his grown-up future daughter, and be a hero for once. A Pyrrhic Victory if there ever was one.
    • The ending also reveals that the circumstances of Pete's death were slightly altered; at the start, Jackie said he died alone, whereas at the end she says a mysterious blonde woman held his hand until the end. Guess who?
  • Death Glare: Nine is NOT happy with Rose saving Pete. Extra bonus points for him having just said in the previous episode that he "takes only the best" and he's "got Rose".
    • Additionally, that previous episode also marks the first time the Doctor has kicked a companion out for bad behaviour, so his threats to leave Rose behind are all the more credible (except at the end when he admits he was never gonna leave her there).
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "Don't. Touch. The Baby." which Rose then does, of course. (At least it was by thoughtless instinct, not by intentional disobedience or due to curiosity as a character flaw.) This leads to the Doctor actually dying in that time line.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Reapers feel like an important addition to a show that revolves around time travel, but they're never seen or mentioned after this episode, even in cases a where a paradox should lead to their appearance. "Father's Day" also suggests that merely seeing or interacting with your past version, even if this doesn't cause a Grandfather Paradox, is inherently dangerous. That idea is never again brought up either, and in later episodes the Doctor and other time travellers don't seem to be to concerned about meeting their past selves.
  • Foreshadowing: When the Reapers are striking the stained-glass windows of the church, several times their shadows are seen pressed against the image of Jesus Christ's crucifixion: One man who died to save the world from the mistakes of others in the past.
  • For Want of a Nail: Rose saves her father from being killed by a hit-and-run driver. This leads to... flying dragon demon things trying to unmake reality.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We see Pete's wedding gift breaking instead of Pete getting hit by the car.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: The start of a Running Gag not only with Doctor/Rose, but with almost every other Doctor/Companion in the New Series.
    Pete: Listen, don't worry about him. Couples have rows all the time.
    Rose: We're not a couple. Why does everyone think we're a couple?
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • After Rose destroys the timeline by saving his life, Pete Tyler allows himself to be run over by the car that was meant to kill him to restore it.
    • The Doctor qualifies too, as he bought everyone some time by shielding Pete and his family and pointing out he was the oldest being so the Reapers should come for him first (in the street outside before everyone got into the church, they didn't, so the reminder was worth something). He was saved by Pete in the end, like everyone else, but it doesn't mean the sacrifice wasn't there. Well, for a given value of "wasn't".
  • Historical In-Joke: The whole of time itself begins screwing up due to interference with someone's death, causing such stuff as a phone ringing which when picked up treats the listener to "Watson, come quickly, I need you...", the first words ever spoken through a phone, by Alexander Graham Bell.
  • Holy Ground: The Reapers can't get into the church, not directly because it's holy, but because its status as a holy structure has kept it in place for a very long time and therefore it's exceptionally "solid" to them.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Rose ignores the Doctor's warning about interference and stops her father from dying, despite seeing firsthand exactly what happens when you ignore the Doctor.
    • The Doctor's not too clever there, either. Why would he take the girl with daddy issues to the exact point where her father died? Conversely, in his defense, he did warn her not to fuck up history when he did consent to take her there and gave her explicit instructions on what to do to avoid that, but the point that he grossly underestimated her emotional issues still stands.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight in the case of baby Rose; however, the kids on the playground (except for Mickey) weren't so lucky.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Rose goes back in time and saves her father's life, creating a Temporal Paradox and prompts the Reavers to start eating people. Her father ends up setting things right by throwing himself in front of the car that was supposed to have killed him, but this time Rose is there and comforts him while his life slips away, thus altering her own past in a trivial way that doesn't affect the greater march of time. This also affects the driver, as the accident is no longer a hit-and-run.
  • Kid from the Future: Rose meets her parents and infant self.
    Jackie: Her dad? How are you her dad? How old were you, twelve?
    Pete: Jacks - listen. This is Rose.
    Jackie: Rose? How sick is that? You give my daughter a second hand name? How many are there? Do you call them ALL Rose?
    Pete: Oh, for God's sake, look! It's the SAME Rose!
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: After all her complaints, it turns out that Jackie's taste in men was not so different from Rose's.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Rose goes back to when she was a baby and saves her father. She has to fend off some flirting from him right at the start, but he eventually figures it out more or less on his own. Later, after overhearing that the nineteen-year-old Rose is Pete's daughter but missing the "from the future" part, her mother is understandably squicked by the appearance that her husband a) fathered a child when he was about twelve and b) gave her the same name as the baby they currently have together.
  • Merged Reality: The timeline is restored with Pete's death, but the exact circumstances were altered.
  • Moral Dissonance: Several viewers suggested that Rose seemed to be rather Easily Forgiven by the Doctor for what she did compared to Adam, who was kicked out of the TARDIS just one episode previously for doing pretty much what Rose did in this episode (trying to change the past for personal benefit) with much more devastating consequences in Rose's case. A deleted subplot in the previous episode would have suggested that Adam's motives were partly to find a cure for his father's arthritis, which would have even made their basic motives — sparing a parent — more or less the same.
    • However: Rose, unlike Adam, doesn't try to justify her shortcomings and fully accepts the blame. They both got the same Death Glare from the Doctor initially, and the same threat to be left behind, the difference is in their reaction. It could also be a matter of first impressions. The Doctor has been with Rose for longer, and so knows that he can trust her more readily. Meanwhile, Adam's mistake occurred on his very first trip in the TARDIS, and so the Doctor has no guarantee that he wouldn't pull a similar stunt again. And the Doctor would be more understanding about someone wanting a family member back than enriching himself.
  • Mundane Solution: Peter eventually realizes that the Doctor is going out of his way to try and resolve things in the most complicated manner possible, and that the easiest fix is to just put time back the way it was by dying in the car crash.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: The main reason for Rose's aforementioned Broken Pedestal towards Pete; Jackie only ever told Rose the good things about him, so Rose never got the whole truth.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Rose holding her younger self causes the Reapers to break through. This is a bit of a Call-Back to the Fifth Doctor story "Mawdryn Undead", where the meeting of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's two selves causes a massive blast of energy. The Third Doctor story "Day of the Daleks" called it the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nice Job Breaking Time, Rose.
    • But also averted in that Rose's interference actually makes things better in the end; Pete and Jackie get a great big good-bye kiss and Jackie is visibly less bitter as she tells the revised story. This time the driver stopped and Jackie is forgiving; "It wasn't his fault, he was just a kid." Rose gets to meet her father, and Pete dies to save the universe knowing that nobody will ever know - except the one person who matters most: his little girl.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The TARDIS' interior vanishes, leaving behind an empty police box.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor and Rose have just had a falling out, and he goes back to the TARDIS, to give both of them time to cool off. He opens up his little blue police box to find... it's a police box. Cue beat of sheer horror, followed by running back as fast as he can.
    The Doctor: ROSE!
  • Older Is Better: The Doctor states that older buildings offer better defense from the Reapers.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Jackie Tyler, do as I say! GO! AND CHECK! THE DOORS!"
  • Reset Button: Rose rescues Pete from dying in a hit-and-run. Problem is, he's supposed to die, and his survival unleashes the Reavers, which is only defeated by his Heroic Sacrifice, which (arguably) resets the timeline back to its original state.
  • Rubber-Band History: Three points of history are changed without any adverse effect: Pete's death is witnessed, he doesn't die alone, and the driver who hit him stops and turns himself in to the police. In fact, there are indications that if Rose had saved Pete the first time, the change might've gone OK. It was doing it while her and the Doctor's earlier selves were there that messed up the timeline beyond the limit. Plus, when the Doctor is trying to summon the TARDIS into the church, he seems pretty sure that he can fix it so the Reapers will go away without Pete having to die. Of course that was before Pete gave Baby Rose to Adult Rose, letting the Reapers invade the church and kill the Doctor and cause the TARDIS to vanish.
  • Screw Destiny: Rose travels back in time to be by her father's side when he dies. She ends up saving his life because she can't bear to watch him die. Then the world starts to dissolve, and the trope is subverted.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The episode establishes that some points in time can't be changed (known as fixed points, they are usually major historical events but they could be more personal ones) without causing disaster, but other points are in flux and can be changed to varying degrees.
  • Shout-Out: The Lamb and Flag pub is mentioned.
  • Timeshifted Actor:
    • We meet Rose Tyler as an uncredited baby and as a child played by Julia Joyce, and at age 19 by Billie Piper.
    • Mickey Smith is played by Casey Dyer, while as an adult he's played by Noel Clarke.
  • The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Kinda enforced (by the Reapers) rather than being a logical result of the time interference, but tragic nonetheless.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Pete Tyler being alive creates a paradox, and anything else would make it worse. So yeah, interacting with one's past self makes sparks, and a paradox fills the air with gas fumes (sort of. Not really at all, but if that helps just think of it like that).
  • Tricked Out Time: You can visit the exact same point in time repeatedly so long as you don't make your past self experience something you don't remember experiencing.
  • Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Rose gets the Doctor to take her back in time to the day her father died, and when she meets him she discovers that he isn't the wonderful man "always having adventures" that her mother described, he's a gadabout looking for the his next get-rich-quick scheme. However he does make a Heroic Sacrifice when he learns that he was supposed to have died but Rose saved him from being hit by a car and changed the world for the worse.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Rose travels back to November 1987, where we see her as a baby of about six months old (according to series 2's "Rise of the Cybermen") except there are repeated references to her being 19 in her first season, which starts in March 2005.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Except that you can, since all that Rose initially wished for was to hold injured Pete so he doesn't die alone, and she succeeds in that. All in all, the changes that were actually done were enough to make his story slightly less tragic: see Rubber-Band History above. And he could even have been saved in the end, had he not given little Rose to big Rose to hold. So probably subverted after all.


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