The Parting of the Ways
The Parting of the Ways was the thirteenth and final episode of the first series of the revived series of Doctor Who. It concluded the Bad Wolf story arc. It also was the final regular outing for the Ninth Doctor, and saw the departures of actors Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman (until Utopia), director Joe Ahearne, and executive producer Mal Young. It established a visual metaphor for regeneration that would remain fairly standard into the present day as of April 2014(every regeneration from then on with the exception of the Master’s in Utopia would appear like that), following which viewers got their first glimpse of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.
From a visual effects point of view, viewers were treated to a massive army of Daleks and Dalek spaceships. At the time of broadcast, it was the most expansive view of a Dalek army that had yet been portrayed on screen, taking the record from Planet of the Daleks.
The Daleks turn on Rose Tyler and demand that she predict the Ninth Doctor’s actions, but she refuses. The Daleks detect the Doctor’s TARDIS flying in real space towards the saucer, and launch missiles against it. The missiles detonate, but thanks to the tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator taken from Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, Jack has rigged up a force field around the TARDIS that protects it. The TARDIS materializes on board the Dalek saucer, around Rose and the single Dalek guarding her, which Jack destroys with the gun he improvised on the Game Station. As the Doctor examines the wreckage of the Dalek, he muses that since it is now apparent that the Daleks survived the Time War, the Time Lords died for nothing.
The travelers exit the TARDIS, and are immediately fired on by the surrounding Daleks, but the extrapolator’s force field continues to protect them. The Doctor taunts the Daleks, reminding them that Dalek legends call him “the Oncoming Storm”, and even though they claim to have eliminated all emotion, he is sure that, deep inside, the Daleks still feel fear when faced with him. He asks how they survived the Time War, and is answered by a low, grating voice, “They survived… through me.” The voice is that of the Dalek Emperor, a Dalek mutant suspended in a transparent tank of fluid, flanked by panels of armour and topped by an equally gargantuan Dalek domed head. Around it floats an entourage of black-domed Daleks.
The Emperor explains that though the Doctor destroyed all the Daleks in the War, its ship survived: “falling through time — crippled but alive”. The surviving Daleks spent centuries hiding in “the dark space”, silently rebuilding, infiltrating Earth’s systems, harvesting humans and converting the genetic material into an army of Daleks. When Rose suggests that makes the Daleks half-human, the Daleks cry out that the remark is blasphemy. The Doctor is surprised that the Daleks even have such a concept. The Emperor declares: “I reached into the dirt and made new life. I am the god of all Daleks!” Even though it used human genetic material, only one cell in a billion was fit to be nurtured, and the Emperor insists that its manipulation resulted in the cultivation of “pure and blessed Dalek”.
Horrified, the Doctor realizes that the Daleks have been driven insane by the human values they have absorbed, becoming self-loathing fanatics who hate their own genetic makeup, which makes them deadlier than ever. The travelers re-enter the TARDIS, and the Doctor returns them to Floor 500 of the Game Station.
The Doctor orders the two remaining programmers to turn up the transmitters so the Daleks cannot trans-mat aboard the station. Earth is ignoring the station’s warnings since it stopped transmitting and is simply sitting there defenseless. Despite the Doctor’s earlier orders, Lynda Moss is still on board, unwilling to leave him. In any case, there were not enough shuttles, and there are still about a hundred people on board, on Floor 000, including Rodrick, Rose’s main opponent in The Weakest Link, who is still looking for his prize money. The Dalek fleet begins to move towards Earth, the Emperor giving orders to purify the planet with fire and turn it into its temple.
The Doctor begins dismantling the panels in the control room. The Daleks have left him an enormous transmitter, and to Jack’s disbelief, the Doctor is proposing to build and transmit a Delta wave, an energy wave that will fry every brain within radius of the blast. Unfortunately, a wave of this magnitude would require three days to build up, and the Dalek fleet will be upon them in twenty-two minutes. The Doctor must work fast.
Jack attaches the extrapolator to the station’s systems so the Daleks cannot simply blast the station out of the sky, but it will not prevent them from physically invading to stop the wave. Jack concentrates the force field on the top six levels of the station, so the Daleks will have to enter at Floor 494 and work their way up to Floor 500. Rose stays behind to help the Doctor build the wave while the others, armed with bastic bullets which can breach Dalek casings, go down to Floor 000 to try to scare up volunteers to help hold back the Daleks. Jack kisses both Rose and the Doctor good-bye.
On Floor 000, only a few join the defenders. Others, like Rodrick, do not believe that the Daleks still exist. Jack warns them all to stay on Floor 000 and keep quiet, even if they start to hear the sounds of battle above; if they do, hopefully the Daleks will not notice them. On Floor 500, the Delta Wave starts its build-up, but when the Doctor checks to see how long it will need to build, he hangs his head in dismay. When Rose asks how bad it is, the Doctor brightens up and says it can work if he can use the TARDIS to cross his own timeline. He ushers her into the TARDIS and tells her to stay there while he powers up the station. Once he exits the TARDIS, however, his expression turns somber, and he points the sonic screwdriver at the ship, making it de-materialize with Rose on board.
Rose finds the TARDIS doors locked, and a hologram of the Doctor appears, explaining to Rose that if she is receiving this message, then the Doctor is either dead, or about to die with no chance of escape. Emergency Program One will take her home, and the TARDIS will not return for him for fear that its technology will fall into the Dalek hands. He asks her to just let the TARDIS molder away and die, and, in remembrance of him, to have a fantastic life. The TARDIS lands Rose at her estate in the 21st century, and despite her near-hysterical jiggling of the controls, she cannot get it to work again. Outside, Mickey comes running down the street, having heard the distinctive sound of the TARDIS’ engines, and Rose hugs him, weeping.
When Jack contacts Floor 500, he finds that the Doctor has sent Rose away. When Jack asks if the Delta Wave will be ready, the Dalek Emperor breaks in on the transmission, noting that even if the wave is completed in time, it will not be able to discriminate between human and Dalek; it will wipe out all Daleks and humans within its long range. The Doctor replies that there are colonies in space and the human race will survive, but the whole universe is in danger if he lets the Daleks live. Jack tells the Doctor to keep working, and defiantly tells the Emperor that he has never, and will never, doubt the Doctor. The Doctor questions the Emperor on how it managed to scatter the words “Bad Wolf” through history, but the Emperor replies that these words were not part of its design.
Jack places Lynda in an observation deck which has a heavy door that will hopefully hold the Daleks out for a time. From the deck, Lynda will monitor the station’s sensors and update the rest of the humans on the Daleks’ progress. Through the window, they see the fleet decelerate into Earth orbit, and thousands of Daleks begin to stream out from the saucers towards the station. The Daleks force the airlock on Floor 494, and begin to work their way up. They took the internal lasers off-line and ruthlessly exterminated the first batch of defenders, whose bastic bullets have no effect as they melt against the Dalek force fields (Jack’s information about the effectiveness of the bullets is out of date).
In the 21st century, Jackie and Mickey try to persuade Rose to just get on with her life. Rose tells them that she cannot, because the Doctor showed her a better way to live, just as he showed Mickey: you do not just give up, you make a stand and fight for what is right. As Mickey tries to reason with her, Rose notices the words “Bad Wolf” scrawled in six-foot high letters on a paved public area of the estate, and also in the form of graffiti on the surrounding walls. Rose realizes that the words are not a warning, but a message, telling her that she can still get back to the Doctor. She runs for the TARDIS, hoping at least to help the Doctor escape. She tells Mickey that the TARDIS is telepathic, and to make contact, they need to get inside it, open the console to get at the heart of the TARDIS. However, their first attempt to pry the console open by hooking a chain to Mickey’s car is unsuccessful.
On Floor 495, the Daleks encounter the Anne Droid from The Weakest Link, and it effectively manages to dispose of three Daleks before another one shoots its head off. To Lynda’s horror, instead of flying up to 496, the Daleks travel down to Floor 000, exterminating everyone left there. In the TARDIS, Jackie tries her hand at persuading Rose to give up, but Rose tells her that Pete, her father, would not have given up; she knows this because she met him. Jackie does not believe this, until Rose reminds her that a blonde girl was there holding Pete’s hand when he died and Jackie saw her from a distance; that girl was Rose. Shaken, Jackie rushes out of the TARDIS.
On 2002nd century Earth, the fleet descends, bombarding the planet, the outlines of the continents distorting on Lynda’s screen (notably Australasia) as they are devastated by the Dalek bombing. The Emperor proudly proclaims that he has created heaven on Earth. Meanwhile on Floor 499, Jack organizes the last stand against the Daleks, telling the defenders to concentrate fire on the Dalek eye-stalks. This works against one Dalek, but the others overwhelm the barricades. As a Dalek squad with an Assault Dalek begins to cut through the doors to Lynda’s position, another squad floats in space outside the window of the observation deck. One Dalek fires at the window, shattering the glass and exposing Lynda to the vacuum of space, killing her. Jack, the only human on the game station still alive retreats towards Floor 500, still firing vainly at the oncoming Dalek squads.
Back in the 21st century, all attempts to open the TARDIS console have failed and Rose starts to consider giving up but Mickey won’t allow her to, knowing how important returning to the Doctor is for her. Jackie then returns to the TARDIS with a heavy-duty recovery vehicle, loaned from an acquaintance who owes her a favor. She tells Rose that she was right; this would have been the sort of mad thing Pete would have done. The heavier chain of the recovery vehicle holds, and the console tears open. Rose stares into the heart of the TARDIS, and energy from within the console flows into her eyes. The TARDIS doors close of their own accord, shutting Jackie and Mickey out, and the TARDIS de-materializes, intense light visibly streaming out of the TARDIS windows.
Jack runs out of ammunition and is exterminated at the doorway to Floor 500 just as the Doctor finishes readying the Delta Wave. The Daleks glide into the control room, and when the Doctor threatens to activate the wave, the Emperor dares him to do so, to become like it — “the Great Exterminator”, to make the choice between coward and killer. The Doctor hesitates, and then says he would be a coward any day. As the Doctor prepares for extermination, the TARDIS materializes behind him. The doors open, the light from the TARDIS’ heart spilling out into the control room, and in the middle of it all is Rose as Bad Wolf, glowing brightly. In answer to the Doctor, Rose tells him she looked into the TARDIS and it into her. The Doctor tells her that she looked into the time vortex, something no one is supposed to see.
Suffused with power, Rose easily stops and diverts a Dalek blast. As the Emperor calls her “the abomination”, Rose explains that she is the Bad Wolf and proceeds to scatter the name of the Game Station’s owners through time and space, to lead herself to this point. She can now see all of time and space: the past, present and all possible futures; all she wants is the Doctor to be safe and protected from the Daleks. The Emperor declares that she cannot hurt it as it is immortal, but Rose proves the Emperor wrong by waving her hand and killing him. All the Daleks — emperor, fleet and those on Earth — are destroyed. Rose declares the Time War has ended. However, the power continues to stream through Rose, and she is unwilling to let go of the power of life and death, a power demonstrated when outside the room and unseen by the Doctor, Captain Jack suddenly returns to life. The Doctor tries desperately to get her to relinquish what she has been given, but Rose weeps that she cannot cope with the power coursing through her body.
The Doctor knows that the power will kill her, so he pulls her close and kisses her, drawing the energy into himself. As Rose falls unconscious, the Doctor releases the vortex energies back into the TARDIS. Jack makes it to the control room only to see the TARDIS de-materialize without him.
On-board, Rose awakens, remembering little of what has transpired. As she tries to figure out what happened, the Doctor notices a small ripple of energy sweeping across the back of his hand and his expression clouds momentarily. Turning back to Rose, he tells her that he was going to take her to so many places, like Barcelona — the planet, not the city, and that perhaps he will, just not as he is now. Rose does not understand what the Doctor is talking about, until he buckles backwards in pain. The Doctor tells her that absorbing the vortex energy into himself has damaged him, and every cell in his body is dying as they speak. Trying to both ease Rose’s worry and explain the process of regeneration to her, the Doctor tells her that Time Lords has a “trick” that allows them to “cheat death”, but he will have to change, and this incarnation will not see her again. The Ninth Doctor’s last words to Rose are, “Before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.”
With that, the Doctor grins from ear to ear and remains smiling to the very end. Moments later, he tilts backward with a swift jolt, blazing energy courses through his body, and before Rose’s astonished eyes, the Doctor’s features change and he regenerates into his next incarnation. His short hair grows out rapidly into thick brown locks, and as the energy recedes, he raises back up with a different face, looking quite nonplussed.
The new Doctor says hello and begins to introduce himself somewhat incoherently. He then interrupts himself saying, “New teeth. That’s weird.” He wonders where he was going to go, before saying, “Oh, that’s right. Barcelona.” As Rose stares at him in great shock, the Doctor smiles.