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Recap / Doctor Who S27 E1 "Rose"

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...aaand we're back, after an intermission the size of several Bibles!

The Doctor: I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?
Rose Tyler: Rose.
The Doctor: Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!

Original air date: March 26, 2005

The one where it all began — erm, continued — again.

Written by Russell T. Davies, this story is perhaps the most significant episode of Doctor Who since the very first one back in 1963, owing to the titanic hiatus that preceded it. The show hadn't aired a single new episode since the TV movie in 1996 and hadn't actually been a television show since being cancelled upon the conclusion of "Survival" in December 1989, over fifteen years prior. Meanwhile, public memory on Doctor Who had grown heavily stereotyped against its favour over the decades, with the general public remembering the show as a camp and narm-heavy affair full of dodgy sets, strange music and monsters made of bubble wrap and tin foil. As a result, this story not only had to live up to the expectations of fans who'd been waiting for Doctor Who to be Un-Cancelled since Margaret Thatcher was still prime minister, but it also had to crush persistent negative perceptions of the 1963-1989 series and prove that Doctor Who could be relevant for and appealing to the new millennium.

With that, we have the very first story of what is now dubbed the revival series of Doctor Who; everything before this point is considered the classic series.

Meet everygirl Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper: she has an overprotective mum , a dead dad, a nice but aimless boyfriend, and a dead-end job in a department store. In short, This Loser Is You, only probably a bit prettier.

One evening, after her workplace closes, Rose is asked to hand lottery money to the chief electrician. Unable to find him, she gets mysteriously locked in a room full of mannequins, which hang around being creepy and then attack. Rose is backed up to a wall, facing death-by-mannequin, when her hand is grabbed by a stranger who yells "RUN!" and we're into the first chase of the new series.note 

It ends sort of abruptly when the pair make it into a lift, followed so closely by a mannequin that the stranger (the Doctor; it's not like no-one saw it coming) can pull one of its plastic arms off. Rose's reasoning skills impress the Doctor enough that he asks for her name, introduces himself, and advises Rose to run like hell before the bomb he's going to plant goes off - apparently, for him, very little has changed: he's still causing havoc wherever he goes.

Rose happily obliges. The Doctor, on the other hand, does exactly what he does best and makes stuff go boom: the building goes up in flames and Rose is out of a job and thoroughly confused. She goes back home while passing a strange blue phone box, where her mum Jackie is enjoying the excitement perhaps a little too much: phoning everyone, assuring them she's still alive, and trying to get Rose interviews, preferably well-paid ones. Rose is understandably angry. Boyfriend Mickey turns up and tries to take his almost-dead girlfriend out to the pub, ostensibly to comfort her, but really so he can watch football. Rose asks him to get rid of the arm. Mickey chucks it in some random bin and calls it a night. It's not really his fault — it's only the series premiere, so he hasn't learned that random alien weirdness that turns out to be hostile should be stomped into bits, set on fire, and the ashes stomped into bits just in case.

Next morning, Rose is jobless, which is why she's home when the Doctor — having traced the plastic arm to her flat — turns up. The Doctor examines himself in the mirror for what is apparently the first time, talks to Rose and gets attacked by the plastic arm, which, having re-entered the flat in the night, was hiding behind the sofa. Rose thinks he's kidding around with the arm, until it flies off him, redirects towards her in midair and tries to kill her. Rose and the Doctor escape after the Doctor defeats the arm and start contemplating their navels. Apparently, the plastic people want to take over the world. They make puns. The Doctor leaves in the TARDIS, a.k.a. the "mysterious blue box"; the new audience, like Rose, is not meant to know what it is just yet.

Rose goes to Mickey's house and hops on the Internet. With quite possibly the worst Google-fu seen in modern TV history (starting with the word "Doctor" and looking surprised when totally-not-Google gives her actual medical doctors), she tries to find information and eventually stumbles across some random conspiracy-theory website run by some random guy.note  Then she dragoons Mickey into driving her over to conspiracy theory guy's place, where they discover that he’s a pretty normal guy named Clive — even has a wife and kids. He tells Rose all sorts of things that we know to be true (or at least his perspective of these things), but naturally Rose doesn't believe him, and she bails at the first opportunity.

Meanwhile, Mickey has been eaten by a plastic wheelie bin, which spits out a plastic copy of him who, despite looking like a life-sized Ken doll, manages to fool Rose into believing he's the genuine article. The two drive to a pizza place, badly, where the fake Mickey is obsessed with the Doctor and keeps repeating the same words, babe, sugar, baby, sweetheart. The Doctor tracks them down and causes the fake Mickey to fall apart through the power of dodgy CGI and propwork (just because they have a bigger budget now doesn't mean the show's immune to laughably terrible effects; at this point it's part of the appeal). They escape into the TARDIS, which has both had a hell of a makeover and gotten a lot more cramped since we last saw it in 1996 (incidentally bringing it closer to the size it had throughout seasons 1-26; blame the lack of a movie-sized budget per episode). The Doctor tries to fly to the plastic people HQ but fails. He and Rose have a half-angry half-curious all-expository argument, among other things featuring the Doctor getting defensive about his Oop North accent. They discover that the base is under the London Eyenote , go down there, and see the plastic controller, which the Doctor calls the Nestene Consciousness, who's gone from looking like dodgy tentacles in a box to being a blob of lava with a face. The real Mickey's there, freaking out. The Doctor tries to talk the Nestene out of it; except the Doctor has been involved in something big and terrible that he couldn't stop from destroying their nutrient planets, nor any other worlds that were destroyed in the conflict — which has made the Nestene extremely unwilling to trust him. The Nestene discovers the anti-plastic the Doctor has, goes crazy and activates all the plastic people (also known as the Autons, but they aren’t identified as such in this episode) in a repeat/homage to its debut appearance in 1970. Jackie, who's out shopping, is attacked by evil plastic robot brides. Clive, also out shopping, gets a moment to enjoy seeing his theories verified before the verification of his theories shoots him with its Arm Cannon.

Rose uses her bronze medal gymnastics skills to knock a plastic person into the Nestene, which also sprinkles it with the anti-plastic it took from the Doctor. It dies. The Autons give up and the Doctor, Rose and Mickey escape in the TARDIS as the base goes up in flames.

They arrive near home, where Mickey goes into pseudo-PTSD from being the Nestene's prisoner. The Doctor offers to take Rose on his travels across the universe. She declines. He vanishes. And apparently doesn't come back for a good century in his time (a playground for writers in the expanded universe of the series) before a pressing thought hits that he forgot to tell her something. Then he appears again and says, "Did I mention, it also travels in time?" That's right, a Columbo moment from across time and space.

Rose gives Mickey a kiss and this goodbye:

Rose: Thanks.
Mickey: Thanks for what?
Rose: Exactly.

And leaving her boyfriend in sadness and depression, she leaves to have happy-go-lucky adventures with Christopher Eccleston.

A novelisation written by Russell T Davies was published in 2018.


  • Aliens of London:
    Rose: If you are an alien, how comes you sound like you're from the North?
    The Doctor: Lots of planets have a North!
  • All There in the Manual: Rose's line about her ex-boyfriend Jimmy Stone ("Look where he ended up") was expanded by Russell T. Davies in an article for Doctor Who Annual 2006. He was a twenty-year-old musician, playing guitar in local band No Hot Ashes. After falling for Jimmy, Rose dumped Mickey, left school, moved out of her home and lived with him in a bedsit. Their relationship ended in tears five months later and she was left £800 in debt, while Jimmy was in a camper van to Amsterdam with a woman called Noosh. He later ended up in prison, serving eighteen months, and then started to work as a door-to-door salesman, selling brushes.
  • All There in the Script: The surname Finch was used for Clive and his wife in the production notes, but not in the on-screen version.
  • And Another Thing...:
    • After their first meeting, the Doctor ushers Rose out of the building and slams the door behind her, then opens it again and sticks his head out to exchange the introductions they didn't have time for while they were running from the Autons.
    • At the end of the episode, the Doctor goes so far as to dematerialise the TARDIS before coming back to add one more thing: "Did I mention it also travels in time?"
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: When Jackie realizes her daughter has brought a rather attractive gentleman home with her, she starts practically purring while fiddling suggestively with her dressing gown. The Doctor is nonplussed to say the least.
  • Arm Cannon: The Autons have this with those wonderful unfolding hands of theirs.
  • Astronomic Zoom: The very first shot of the new series is a view of Earth from space that zooms in on England and ends in Rose's bedroom.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Shop window dummies come alive and kill people, while Mickey is swallowed by a wheelie bin.
  • The Atoner: The default state for the Ninth Doctor, brought to the forefront here by his guilt over not having saved the Nestene's planet — among countless others.
  • Background Halo: The Doctor with the London Eye behind him.
  • Big Bad: The Nestene.
  • Bookends: "Rose" forms this with "Survival" for the wilderness years of Doctor Who, when it wasn't being produced as a regular TV series by the BBC. Both stories involve the Doctor and his companion, a girl from a council estate, investigating mysterious goings-on around contemporary London which revolve around alien infiltrators, who are in turn connected to an old enemy of the Doctor's.
  • Brand X:
    • Henriks, the department store where Rose works, is quite clearly modeled on the famous department store Harrods: from the handwriting-style logo to the facade and the prestige.
    • Rose looks the Doctor up on the Internet using the Obviously Not Google search engine "".
  • Burp of Finality: The Nestene garbage can burps after swallowing Mickey. However, it hasn't eaten him, only captured him, and he turns up again alive and well later.
  • The Bus Came Back: The revival wasted no time doing this, bringing back the Nestene Consciousness, which hadn't been seen since the Third Doctor's era.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Rose and the Doctor parting the first time, as quoted at the top of this page, as the Doctor and Rose officially introduce themselves before the Doctor tells Rose to "run for her life" from the impending bomb explosion.
  • Celibate Hero: Lampshaded when the Doctor points out to Rose's mum that nothing is going to happen. The scene was probably put in there to avert fan worries over the countless He Is Not My Boyfriend moments to come. Nine of course would be proven dead wrong.
  • Character Title: "Rose".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The London Eye appears for a split second near the beginning.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: The Doctor first meets Rose this way. "Nice to meet you Rose. [brandishes bomb] Run for your life!"
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor takes an instant to read The Lovely Bones; a probable nod to the high-speed reading ability implied by Susan back in An Unearthly Child.
    • The Auton shop window dummies coming to life and attacking people on the street is an obvious nod to "Spearhead from Space". This time, unlike back then, the show is actually able to show them breaking the shop window glass onscreen.
  • Continuity Snarl: When the Doctor pulls the arm off the Auton in the shop's lift, the arm is solid plastic. Later, when Mickey tosses it into the rubbish bin, the arm is hollow. Later, when it tries to strangle the Doctor back Rose's flat, it's solid again.
  • Diegetic Switch: During Rose's introductory montage, the music repeatedly does this, turning into in-store music every time Rose is shown at work in the department store, except for the last time, which takes place after the store has closed for the night.
  • Don't Ask, Just Run: In fact, the Ninth Doctor's first line is for Rose to run, establishing him pretty well.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: The sonic screwdriver has a visible effect when used on the lock that never gets used again in the revival series. RTD stated this is because it would've eaten into their budget significantly had every shot of the screwdriver being used been modified to use the same effect.
  • Easy Impersonation: Auton Mickey looks nothing like the real one — presumably this is for the audience's benefit, and it's less noticeable in-universe.
  • Elevator Escape: The Doctor and Rose manage to escape from the Murderous Mannequins by running into the lift, although the Doctor has to rip the arm off of the one in the lead first.
  • Entry Point: Clive's webpage, one of the Alternate Reality sites for the first Russell T. Davies era, is shown on-screen,
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The Ninth Doctor's first line is "Run!", which pretty much sums up the entire show in a single word. His "rotation of the Earth" speech also counts.
    • Rose is introduced getting out of bed and going about her daily routine.
    • Jackie's first scene is her coming on to the Doctor.
  • Establishing Series Moment: In one word, Christopher Eccleston does a fair job of summarising the entire show: "Run".
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • How exactly Rose failed to catch on to Plastic Mickey's fakeness will be a question left to the ages. Maybe she was too focused on the mystery that is/was the Doctor.
    • The transmitter's a large, round, object. There's a large Ferris wheel on the other side of the Thames. Ekhm.
      The Doctor: What?
      [Rose nods at the London Eye, behind him]
      The Doctor: What is it?
      [She nods at the Eye again, possibly smirking]
      The Doctor: What?
      [She nods again, definitely smirking]
      The Doctor: ...Oh! Oh! Fantastic!
  • Foreshadowing: The Doctor checking his appearance in the mirror and making remarks about it implies that he may have recently regenerated.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Nestene lost its protein planets in the Time War and mentions "constitutional rights" as it explains its invasion plans to the Doctor.
  • Funny Background Event: Rose casually makes tea while the Doctor is strangled by an Auton arm in the background. She's not much more concerned when she actually sees it, as she thinks he's faking.
  • Ghost Butler: Rose is in the basement of the shop where she works, and starting to think things are a bit creepy, when the door slams shut behind her. To her credit, she instantly runs to it instead of passing it off as the wind and carrying on.
  • Googling the New Acquaintance: Rose decides to research the Doctor by searching "Doctor" on... "Search-Wise", which predictably brings up a huge number of irrelevant results. So, she narrows the search to "Doctor Blue Box", which brings up a relevant result improbably quickly.
  • Hand Wave: When Rose lampshades the Doctor's northern English accent, he claims it's because "Lots of planets have a north."
  • Hugh Mann: Rose should've been tipped off that something was off with Mickey when he suddenly looks like a plastic mannequin, his hair is an obvious wig, his skin is waxy, he can't drive, and he suddenly stammers like a skipping-record on words of endearment. Somehow, Rose doesn't realize what's going on until the Doctor shoots a champagne cork through his head. Sure, she's never been very observant when it comes to Mickey, but come on...
  • Incompatible Orientation: When the Doctor is in Rose's living room, he looks at a tabloid and mutters, "That won't last, he's gay and she's an alien."
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: The Nestene Consciousness emits a series of incomprehensible rumbles and shrieks, but the Doctor is able to understand and carry on a conversation with it. The only intelligible thing it says is "Time Lord".
  • Internal Homage: The opening shot, of the Earth hanging in space, references the Third Doctor's first story, "Spearhead from Space", which has a number of similarities to this episode: both the first stories after a hiatus; both presenting a dramatic increase in production values as compared to what had come before; both starting with a new Doctor, companion and setting; both being written as jumping-on points for newcomers; both involving the Autons.
  • Invading Refugees: The Nestene Consciousness were fleeing the Time War.
  • Is This a Joke?: After escaping the pursuing Autons, Rose assumes that they were students pulling a prank. The Doctor sarcastically responds "Well done" before disabusing her of the idea.
  • Jumping-On Point: The Doctor is reintroduced slowly and from the perspective of his companion-to-be.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Nestene's base is under the London Eye.
  • Little "No": The Doctor's response when he realizes that Jackie is trying to flirt with him.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The Nestene Consciousness. The anti-plastic causes its whole underground facility to explode, with the TARDIS barely escaping.
  • Losing Your Head: The Doctor pulls Auton!Mickey's head off, and he lampshades the trope:
    Auton!Mickey: Don't think that's gonna stop me...
  • MacGuffin Blindness: The Doctor is looking for a big round antenna in the heart of London in which the Nestene Consciousness may have hidden its transmitter. As he's saying this, right behind him framing his head is the London Eye (a giant Ferris wheel). Rose spots it, but she has to point it out three times before the Doctor catches on.
  • Martial Pacifist: Rose suggests the Doctor just use the anti-plastic first thing. He insists on giving the Consciousness a chance to leave peacefully, starting a trend for the whole RTD era.
  • Murderous Mannequin: A whole army of 'em.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Susan Foreman's birth name in the Expanded Universe is "Arkytior", which is Gallifreyan for "rose". The first companions of both series were named Rose.
    • Clive shows Rose a photo of the Doctor in the crowd at the Kennedy assassination. The first ever episode of Doctor Who was broadcast in Britain on November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination.
  • The Nth Doctor: Christopher Eccleston makes his debut as the Doctor.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Precisely what the Doctor was doing at the Kennedy assassination, the eruption of Krakatoa and the day the Titanic set sail has never been explained, although the next episode elaborates on the latter; apparently the Doctor ended up "clinging to an iceberg".
    • The Doctor mentions being at the eruption of Krakatoa in "Inferno" — although that doesn't explain why the drawing in the diary page is of the Ninth Doctor, when it should be of the First or Second. Amusingly enough, a 10th Doctor comic the following year has him and Rose at Krakatoa.
    • The Doctor, on the TARDIS' doors: "The assembled hordes of Genghis Khan couldn't get through those doors, and believe me, they've tried."
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Nestene Consciousness' lair is two parts OSHA-compliant handrails, and the rest definitely not, complete with a nice platform opening up to the Nestene's pit.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Time Lords are extinct, the TARDIS' interior has changed dramatically, and the Doctor shows up after having just recently regenerated (and changed his wardrobe) offscreen.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: For a given definition of sexy. Well, Jackie tries, anyway.
    Jackie: I'm in my dressing gown.
    The Doctor: Yes, you are.
    Jackie: There's a strange man in my bedroom.
    The Doctor: Yes, there is.
    Jackie: Well, anything could happen...
    The Doctor: No.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: For some reason (probably to avoid losing those not familiar with the series proper), the Autons are not called such. They are referred to as Autons in the credits, though.
  • Oblivious to Hints: Doctor, does Rose have to wave a picture of the London Eye Ferris wheel in your face before you get with the program?
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Doctor, upon realising that Auton!Mickey's head is melting, which will stop him from tracing the signal back to the Nestene Consciousness.
    • He also has this when it's revealed the Nestene Consciousness has teleported the TARDIS into its lair and is going to activate all the Autons in London.
  • One-Word Title: First name of Protagonist Title.
  • The Oner: We're treated to a long, long tracking shot of Rose and the Doctor walking through her neighbourhood while having a conversation.
  • Out of Job, into the Plot: Isn't it convenient that Rose has just lost her employment?
    Rose: I'm only at home because someone blew up my job.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: We only get a couple of quick glimpses, but Rose's bedroom is very pink indeed.
  • Properly Paranoid: Clive has spent years collecting information about the Doctor and building theories about him, most of which are right. Rose ignores his warning that death is the Doctor's constant companion. Within hours, aliens have attacked Rose and are killing people all over London, including Clive. Which just goes to show that spending too much time In Harm's Way is a good way to be mistaken for the cause of said harm.
  • Put on a Bus: Rose's mother and boyfriend are simply left behind in 21st century London, with the Doctor's assurance that she can return to them mere minutes after she left if she wants to. It doesn't actually work out that way in future episodes, but on paper it's a perfectly plausible promise to make.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A subtle one. If you're rewatching this episode after you've seen "Doomsday", then you will realize that the music that's playing when the TARDIS interior is seen for the first time is the same tune that plays in "Doomsday". There's also the fact that the gap between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors is much different from what it initially appears to be...
  • Rubber Man: When the Doctor launches a champagne cork at Auton Mickey's face, one of the eyes bulges out and it collapses in on itself with an audible "BOING!"
  • Rule of Three: Rose has to point out the London Eye to the Doctor three times before it dawns on him what he's looking at.
  • Self-Deprecation: Nine pauses to crack a joke about his prominent ears when he looks at himself in the mirror, after entering Rose's flat. Seems War did not get his wish. The ears are not less conspicuous this time...
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    The Doctor: So it needs a transmitter to boost the signal.
    Rose: What does it look like?
    The Doctor: Like a transmitter!
  • Shut Up and Save Me!: The Doctor is being attacked by a plastic hand. Rose continues talking to him while she's in the kitchen, and even when she walks into the room, she initially thinks he's mucking about.
  • Sound-Only Death: The audience is not shown the effect of the Auton's Arm Cannon on poor Clive, only the gun firing and his wife screaming.
  • Starfish Aliens: As noted by Davies in the 2006 Annual, the Nestene Consciousness, under "temporal stress" caused by the Time War, mutated to a creature made of plastic. Its new form resembles a giant molten blob.
  • Stealth Insult: Just before she runs off with the Doctor, Rose tells Mickey thanks. When he confusedly asks what for, she responds with a simple "exactly". She's basically calling him useless right to his face.
  • Super-Speed Reading: "Mmm, sad ending." (With The Lovely Bones, if you wanted to know.)
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Jackie thinks that working at the shop was giving Rose "airs and graces".
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Clive's wife is surprised that Rose has been reading her husband's website.
    Caroline: She's been reading the website about the Doctor, and she's a she?
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When an Auton lowers its gun on Clive, he looks at it with bitter resignation like he imagined he'd go out like this one day and just knows he is totally screwed.
  • Time Zones Do Not Exist: The opening shot of the Earth from space quite clearly shows it to be daytime in North America, yet when we see the clock in Rose's bedroom it's established to be 7:00 AM in Britain — in other words, a time corresponding to 2:00 AM Eastern Time, which is definitively nighttime in North America.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked with Plastic-Mickey, who is disturbingly artificial.
  • Walk and Talk: The Doctor and Rose have a long walk outside Rose's apartment building, filled with exposition talk.
  • Weaponized Landmark: The London Eye is used by the Nestene Consciousness to broadcast controlling signals during the (brief) Auton invasion.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A double whammy — for the Eighth Doctor, and the unseen event that created the Ninth Doctor. We don't know how the Doctor ended up with this new face at this point in time, only that his change in appearance was recent. In fact, a good eight years will roll by before those curiously missing bits of the Doctor's life are bridged in two stories.
  • When Props Attack: Deliberately played for laughs with Eccleston's thrashing and gurning while the severed Auton arm is supposedly strangling him. Probably a conscious Self-Parody of similar scenes in the 1970s Auton stories.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Clive reveals that the Doctor was present at the assassination, with the tone of his voice suggesting he believed the Doctor something to do with it. It's never mentioned again, but the implication from the photo (and given what we know about him) is that the Doctor's curiosity, once again, got the better of him and he was actually there to find out for himself what was going on. The Expanded Universe has actually gone into JFK as well, with one story claiming he was assassinated by a time-traveller from 1996, though that was retconned in the 2016 addition to the book.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode is essentially a heavily compressed and modernized adaptation of "Spearhead from Space" from Season 7, which introduced the Third Doctor, although instead of featuring UNIT teaming up to fight the Nestene, the Doctor instead seeks help from a random store worker and her boyfriend.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: In the e-book The Beast of Babylon, the Doctor has an adventure after he left Rose at the end of his first episode. He then returns to Rose, from her perspective, within a minute of him departing. We later indirectly learn in "The Day of the Doctor" that he'd been gone a century from his perspective, the events of The Beast of Babylon being the final outing, before returning to Rose.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Played with when Rose meets Clive, who has information about the Doctor (whom she has kept mysteriously bumping into). Initially, he starts off presenting his theories about why the Doctor keeps popping up in different parts of history in a calm and reasonable fashion and presents a relatively plausible theory that she'd be likely to believe: they're all different men who are related and sharing a code name. Then, as he gets a bit carried away with having an audience, he starts getting a bit more worked up and intense, until he's convinced that Rose believes him fully and so blurts out his real theory (which is quite close to the truth): that they're same man, and the Doctor is an immortal alien. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't quite won Rose over before this, who leaves believing that he's a nutcase.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 1 E 1 Rose


The doctor explains his accent

Rose asks the doctor about his accent and he gives her an explanation.

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