Check it: this episode made me fall in love with the Doctor and the series. Aliens! Future people not knowing what jukeboxes or iPods are! The Doctor dancing amazingly to Tainted Love! LADY CASSANDRA. The following is the exact exchange my friend and I had:
“So…. I’m supposed to fall in love with the Doctor, right?”
“Yes. That is a fact.”
“Good. It took about 1.5 episodes.”
“Sounds about right.”
Let’s do this, people.
We start right where we left off, with Rose running into the TARDIS to follow this leather-jacketed alien through time and space. I know Rose, the jacket does it for me, too.
Where would you like to go, Rose? Forwards? Backwards?
Forwards we go! Buttons, dials, noises… they bicker delightfully over how far to go. Am I the only one who would want to see the New Roman Empire? I bet its bitchin’! Rose flirts a little and they land in:
A hotel lobby from Star Trek: TNG. Oh, but it does have a nice view of Earth. The Doctor is telling us that humans get so worried about being hit by an asteroid that we forget to think that maybe we survive until the end of the sun. Which, you know, is kind of a downer but hey! If we survived Justin Bieber we can survive anything.
The Doctor explains it is the year 5.5/Apple/26. Or, you know, 5 billion years in the future. I’m going to go ahead and assume Apple took over the world and declared a new time era named after itself like old kings used to do. Oh, who am I kidding? I plan to do the same.
And this is the day the sun expands. The end of the world!
Well, Rose is only slightly freaked out. Slap him, Rose.
We see some future-y space station that some future-y space shuttles are docking on. Reminder everyone: this space sport forbids weapons, teleportation and religion. I… what? I want to know the backstory!
Awwww, drinks in the Manchester suite after Earth Death! I bet the future makes a good, crisp Tom Collins.
Rose wonders if there are going to be ‘people’ watching with them. The Doctor tells her some sort of people will be there. Mostly aliens, by the way.
“The great and the good are coming to watch the planet burn.”
I love everything that comes out of this man’s mouth.
Rose, not being as dumb as the first episode suggested, knows that an expanding sun would take millions of years to take out the earth. How can we watch it in a few minutes?
Well, Rose! Let me explain future intergalactic bureaucracy to you! Actually, I won’t, because that was a Star Wars movie and it sucked.
Blah blah blah planet and sun held by the National Trust and gravity satellites and technobabble.
Rose, clever girl, knows that continents should have shifted. Well, the National Trust put them right back! But the money has run out, so now nature takes over. In about, oh, half an hour. I sense a dramatic countdown coming!
A stuffy blue concierge is wondering where the hell our two heroes just came from, thank you very much! This is a maximum hospitality zone! Who do they think they are, huh? Future space-Kardashians?
The Doctor pulls out a blank piece of paper and it apparently fools Blue Concierge into thinking they have an invitation. the Doctor has psychic paper that shows whatever the he wants them to see. Ooooo that’s fancy. I’ll take one.
The Doctor and Rose are announced and what seem to be child slaves scurry about them.
Blue Concierge starts to introduce some other guests. Alien time! Yes! We have some… trees? From the planet Cheem? Oh, I see! They are kind of trees.
Then there is Moxx of Balhoon (THANK GOD for closed captioning or I would have no idea how to spell any of this). He reminds me of that little alien that lived in the jeweler’s head in Man in Black. You know, the one who put the galaxy on his cat’s collar?
“The Adherents of the Repeated Meme” These are what now? The people who run Cheezburger Network?
Then some other funky aliens come by but whatever, the tree people are about talk to the Doctor!
Tree Lady gives the Doctor a cutting from her grandfather. Hee. The Doctor gives the air from the lungs. This makes Tree Lady all hot and bothered. Word, Tree Lady, word.
The Face of Boe is quite literally a giant head in a jar. I LOVE IT. All futures should have giant heads in jars. That’s why Futurama is going to come true, kids.
And now we get introduced to the last human. The Lady Cassandra O’Brien of Delta 17. YES. She is a piece of parchment with a face! THIS IS ALL I EVER WANTED FROM LIFE. SHE IS AMAZING.
She just got her chin taken away and look at how thin she is! Thin and dainty! And her entourage have to keep her constantly moisturized. I didn’t even know I wanted this character and now I want her forever and ever. Her father was a Texan, and her mother was from the Arctic desert. They were the last to be buried in its soil and she has come to honour them.
As a gift, Lady Cassandra has brought the last known ostrich egg. Did you know, that the ostrich had a wingspan of 80 feet and could breathe fire from its nostrils? I won’t lie, that does sound SO MUCH COOLER than today’s boring, non-fiery ostriches.
Also, she brought a jukebox in excellent condition. She calls it an iPod and it holds music from some of humanity’s greatest composers. So it starts to play Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. Marry me, Lady Cassandra.
I should also note that right now, right here, is when I fell in love with the Doctor (and, by extension, the show). Right as he does his dancing to Tainted Love. Christopher Eccleston, I’m sure you are a delightful human being but you are of average looks. However, I totally want Christopher-Eccleston-as-Doctor-Who. Just, yes, I will have you. I will go into your crazy blue box and travel the universe with you and make awkward flirting noises with you.
So during this whole process Rose has been slowly descending into madness and it’s all coming to a head. She needs out. Out out out. The Doctor chases after her but gets stopped by Lady Tree and discreetly scanned.
The Cheezburger Meme People are giving their sphere gifts to everyone. Blue Concierge even gets one! Don’t feel too special, BC, everyone has a gotten a LOLcat.
Tree Lady’s fancy iPad mini is having a hard time identifying the Doctor’s race. Well, until it does and she’s all “That’s not possible! You must be broken! Stop playing around and tell me what he is!” Apparently, the Doctor is form somewhere quite mysterious.
Rose is hiding in another room, staring at the sun. A Blue Lady in a worker’s coverall comes by. Did we ever learn what the Blue Species is called? Can I give them a name? I’m going to name the Blue Carsons. After Downton Abbey’s most hilariously eyebrowed Butler. Rose and worker Carson chat for a bit, and we discover the lady (Raffalo! A name!) is a plumber sent to fix the Face of Boe’s pipes (I’d say DIRTY but, he’s just a face. Does he have any plumbing?).
Lady Blue Carson says she is from Crespallion. I reject that information. She is from the planet Downton Ab-blue and her species is called Blue Carsons. You can’t tell me different!
Aaaaand Rose has finally realized that she just ran away with a complete stranger in a crazy box. Well, Rose, most of us realize that when we wake up in Montreal with not enough recollection of how we got there, but kudos for going the farthest!
We seem to be staying with Raffalo as she is investigating the plumbing. If I know my story tropes, she’s going to die soon. Sorry, Raffalo. She finds some metal spidery thing with a laser sight directly from my nightmares and it brought friends. Yup. She’s dead now. I hate being right.
Blue Concierge is in his control room, communicating with the blips. The LOLcat ball he received has opened up to release one of the nightmare spiders. Never trust a LOLcat.
Rose is sitting alone in a lovely room with amphitheatre seating, looking at the sun, talking to a plant, waiting for Earth death. She has a LOLcat ball of her very own, and OH GOD MORE METAL SPIDERS.
We discover that the Doctor awesomely parked the TARDIS in the wrong spot. Of course he did! The child salve/Ewok people have parked his hip for him and given him a ticket. At least we know valet parking made into the future.
The Doctor comes in and finds Rose, realizing she has probably gone a little insane by this point. Rose opines that the aliens are so alien and that they somehow speak English? The Doctor explains that the TARDIS gets into your head and translates for you. Rose justifiably freaks out that the TARDIS got into her brain without her permission.
Rose then tries to get some info from the Doctor, but he doesn’t want to give any info. He says all that’s important is right here and right now! Oh sweet Jesus, he has an awful past, doesn’t he? Boring, law-abiding folk never say that shit. I bet he has like six wives all across the universe.
Rose decides to let the matter drop (“Don’t argue with the designated driver!”) and pulls out her useless phone. The Doctor, using some “jiggery-pokery” and his screwdriver do some finagling with the phone and KAZAAM! Rose can phone home like a slightly-less terrifying ET.
The station rumbles and the Doctor, with delight in his voice, says “That’s not supposed to happen!”
And we’re back to Blue Concierge. Apparently, everything is fine! Nothing to worry about! And then he finds the metal spiders. They scan him and press buttons on his keyboard. The window filter descends and he is roasted alive. Oh. He was fun! In a fussy, British way. Bye BC!
The Doctor comes back to main room, worried that the engines sound about 30 Hz higher than normal. He relays this information to Tree Lady, who is all “I’m a tree. I care not for metal sounds! But I could help you solve this mystery… in my pants.”
(Also, is Rose your wife? Partner? Concubine? Prostitute? No? So we can totally bang later? GOT IT.)
Tree Lady and the Doctor go exploring, discovering this place has no real staff, as it is all automated. I have a feeling humans learned not to automate everything like, a thousand times by the year five billion and yet did it anyway.
Essentially, if they get into trouble, there’s no one who can help them. The Doctor labels this revelation as ‘Fantastic!” because he is secretly a serial killer, I guess? Tree Lady is not as worried as I think she should be.
LADY CASSANDRA! Apparently, she grew up on Earth as a little boy (!), in the Los Angeles Crevasse. Apparently, Lady Cassandra is the last ‘pure’ human as the rest of the species had interbred with the rest of the universe. And OF COURSE she would call them mongrels. Because she is the crazy grandmother you had who was horribly racist but she taught you how to play poker and knock back bourbon.
Lady Cassandra is wondering is Rose would like to be awesome and flat like her? Cassandra (correctly) points out that Rose is indeed in possession of a chin. Rose also (correctly) points out that Lady Cassandra is a bitchy trampoline. Do you see why I want Lady Cassandra around forever?
Back to Lady Tree and Doctor. Apparently, Lady Tree is a direct descendant from an Earth jungle! Lady Tree is saying everything and nothing about the Doctor. She knows where the Doctor is from, that he is remarkable, and that she’s very sorry. Doctor tears up a bit then gets back to work. Yup. He totally has a horrific backstory.
The Meme folk attack Rose and drag her away.
The Doc and Lady are in a giant cavern with giant fans. Doc pokes around a bit and finds a spider hiding behind a panel. The Doctor attempts to Sonic it, but Tree Lady whips out a vine and catches it. The Doctor quickly realizes that the spiders are for sabotage.
With the traditional hymn of Britney Spears’ Toxic (!!) playing from iJukebox, the aliens gather to watch the end of earth.
Doctor and Lady realize what happened to Blue Concierge, and find that it's going to happen again… to the room Rose is in! Dun Dun DUNNNNNN!
Rose panics and yells for the Doctor. “Oh, well it would be you.” He deadpans. YES.
Some back and forth with the technobabble and the Doctor realizes Lady Cassandra is behind it all! Also, the Meme people aren’t real. But why, Lady Cassandra? Why? Oh, money. Flatness costs a fortune, you know. She uses the totally illegal teleportation device and escapes.
Doctor and Tree Lady go down to the engines to restart the computer, because that will solve everything apparently. And OF COURSE the Doctor has to go through the rotating fans. Tree Lady stays behind the help the Doctor, even though a lot of heat is about to pass right by there. She calls the Doctor “Time Lord”, which I assume we will learn about eventually. I have a feeling knowledge will come in drips and drops on this show.
Doc is taking his sweet time getting through the spinning fans. Don’t look back! Just go! Tree Lady just caught fire and is now dead. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY, DOCTOR. Also, Rose is about to die. Step up your game! He makes it and the observation deck has shields just in the nick of time.
The Doctor is PISSED now, people. And he gets all clever and works out how Lady, my Lady teleported away. And he’s clever enough to teleport her back.
Without her lackeys moisturizing her, Lady Cassandra starts creaking in the heat and actually explodes. The Doctor refuses to help: everything has its time, everything dies. I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER, LADY CASSANDRA.
Rose contemplates the end of the Earth, and that she missed it while trying to live: All the years, all the history, and its all gone. With no one looking. Taking her hand, the Doctor leads her back to TARDIS. They arrive on London in Rose’s time (I assume). The Doctor further depresses Rose by reminding her that all of this will be gone, even the sky. Also, his planet is gone and dead, by the way. It burned like the Earth, before its time. There was a war, and they lost. Our Doctor is the last of his people, the Time Lords. He travels alone because there is no one else. Rose doesn’t know if she wants to go with the Doctor or go home. But she does want chips. And the Doctor can pay. Of course, he doesn’t have any money. Rose sighs and says it’s her treat. There are only five billion more years til the shops close.
Final thoughts: One of the reasons I delayed watching Doctor Who is because I had a strong feeling that this was going to be my reaction: complete and utter dependency. Once I started, I was going to have to watch it all, right away. And with 50 years of history, this was going to be very intense. There are comics and novels and specials and I want to know more. But first I’ll just settle in and watch the next adventure. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Bonus! Lady Cassandra GIFs!