Author: Lara (larakailyn)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: The (9th) Doctor/Rose Tyler
Spoilers: Explicit spoilers for the whole arc of the current series of Doctor Who that just finished airing this past weekend in the U.K. with references to the classic series (First through the Seventh Doctor) and the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie “The Enemy Within” (the Eighth Doctor). Please don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled for the current series!
Author’s Notes: A lot of information in the writing of this was found on Wikipedia and TV.com in order to refresh my somewhat scattered memories of the show over the years and to double check some of my facts, especially in regards to the past reincarnations of the Doctor. Forty years worth of canon is a lot to remember! Also, everything in this essay is based on television canon, not books or audio due to their sometimes conflicting nature. And finally, I apologize for the length of this – it sort of evolved as it went along and it became evident just how important this relationship is to the fabric of the current series! Please don’t kill me.
Thanks: To jeanne_dark and leyenn for betaing this monster for me and giving me some great comments and help and to taraljc for being a great support while I was writing this.
“I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”
– The Doctor and Rose, “Rose”
With that rather hurried introduction while running away from murderous shop dummies, Rose Tyler finds herself drawn into the life of the Doctor, a mysterious time traveler whose ship, the TARDIS, looks like an old-style blue police call box on the outside. He shows her that a universe she never thought possible does exist, and when she later decides to join with him in his travels, she also discovers a kindred spirit in a man who’s not only nearly a millennia older than she but also from another world.
It is in this relationship that many people, including myself, have come to see a deep friendship possibly turning into much, much more.
Back in Time: My History with Doctor Who
My parents are science fiction fans, and from the time I was little, I was brought up on SF shows, mostly Star Trek and Doctor Who. I’ve known about Doctor Who ever since I can remember – the episodes were on the television in our house when they were aired, and I could identify the Fourth Doctor from an early age. My mother often talked about the Fifth Doctor as well and how the actor (Peter Davison) also used to be on All Creatures Great and Small, another British favorite of hers.
I can pinpoint my first real personal interest in the show, however, developing when I was ten years old (circa 1985) while my family was on a tour to London and Paris. During our time in London, we visited Madame Tussauds where one of their prominent wax figures was Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, complete with his long coat and scarf. My mother was so excited upon seeing him and took a picture of me hugging him (which we unfortunately lost during a move). Later, in Paris, on the night my parents, grandparents and most of the other adults were out at the Moulin Rouge, the teenage girl from the tour who my parents had hired to baby-sit my brother and me read us a bit from the novelization of “The Stones of Blood” (a Fourth Doctor era story).
When we returned to Germany where we were living at the time, my interest had been sufficiently piqued. I was the one who began to seek out the Sunday matinee showings of complete stories on AFN (the Armed Forces Network), which at the time were running Fourth Doctor era stories. For years, I always remembered the scene from “The Seeds of Doom” where the tentacles of the mutant alien plant were surrounding the outside of the English manor home and waving around in the air. I also checked a few books out of the Air Base library though I can’t remember which ones they were now, other than they were mainly Fourth Doctor stories as well.
Once we returned to the USA, I continued watching the show (again complete story marathons/omnibuses) on Sunday nights on PBS. During that time, I was finally introduced to the other Doctors, most especially the Fifth Doctor, who became my other favorite Doctor alongside the Fourth Doctor. Since then, I’ve always normally watched Doctor Who when it’s been on.
When it was announced in late 2003 that the BBC had re-commissioned Doctor Who after having canceled it in 1989, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see it. And I wasn’t disappointed when it began running – the humor, the fun, all the things I loved about the original series were there, along with some new things. There was foreshadowing (the Bad Wolf clues) and a Doctor/Companion relationship that captured my imagination like no other before.
The Last of His People: The Doctor
“I'm a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords. They've all gone. I'm left traveling on my own because there's no one else.”
– The Doctor, “The End of the World”
The Doctor can be hard to describe because as years pass by, he’s literally never the same man. He’s from Gallifrey, a planet 250 million light years from Earth in another galaxy, though he has also claimed that in addition to his Gallifreyan heritage, he is half-human on his mother’s side (a revelation that was and continues to be a rather controversial and uncertain in fandom circles). In any event, because of his otherworld biology, he has two hearts and the ability to regenerate up to twelve times if he’s mortally injured, giving him a total of thirteen incarnations.
The catch is that when he does regenerate, his entire look and personality also changes, which can cause both conflict with the people who knew him before and problems for the Doctor himself as he is forced to reorient himself within a new body and to a new outlook, which is sometimes complicated by temporary paranoia and amnesia. In each incarnation, however, he retains many of the same traits – namely an innate curiosity (especially regarding humans) and a wish to help almost anyone and everyone in need – as well as his TARDIS, a living and probably sentient space and time ship that allows him to travel anywhere and anywhen, normally in the company of other people (both human and alien). These people are known as his companions.
At the start of the current series, he’s been through eight regenerations and nine incarnations:
- The First Doctor – A grandfatherly type with an Edwardian air about him, the original Doctor was a renegade who stole his TARDIS from the Time Lord Council and ran away from Gallifrey. He was first introduced after this had happened, traveling with his granddaughter Susan and sometimes using the name Doctor Foreman. There have been questions as to whether Susan was his biological granddaughter or not, but nothing has ever been said definitively canonwise to say that she’s not. This Doctor regenerated when he finally succumbed to old age.
- The Second Doctor – A seeming clown and coward (though looks can be deceiving), he appeared almost as a cross between Moe Howard and Charlie Chaplin. He was forced to regenerate when the Time Lord Council exiled him to Earth for breaking their Time Laws, mainly on the grounds of his tendency to interfere.
- The Third Doctor – More action-oriented than the previous two, this Doctor could be described as a foppish James Bond. Until regaining his TARDIS so he could travel again, he worked with UNIT, a United Nations task force that was charged with defending Earth from alien threats and led by his friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. His regeneration took place after he was poisoned by eradiated cave crystals on the planet Metebelis III.
- The Fourth Doctor – A bohemian type with unruly curly hair, a long coat and an even longer multi-colored scarf, he had a fondness for jelly babies and was one of the more eccentric incarnations of the Doctor, as well as one of the most long-lived (and as a result is the Doctor most people know). He regenerated after falling from a large radio telescope on Earth while trying to stop his long-term nemesis the Master from destroying the universe.
- The Fifth Doctor – The youngest version of the Doctor seen so far, this one was the most outwardly vulnerable and human of all his incarnations to date. His connection to Earth was reinforced by his choice of a cricketer’s outfit for clothing, which also gave him more athletic air. After he and his companion Peri were both infected with the disease Spectrox Toxaemia on Androzoni Minor, he regenerated when he chose to save her with the only vial of antidote they had available.
- The Sixth Doctor – The extreme difficulty of his regeneration due to the disease caused this Doctor to at first be erratic and violent, to the extent that he even attacked Peri and tried to strangle her. When he had finally sufficiently recovered, he was rather bombastic with a loud patchwork coat to match his personality. This Doctor went through another trial in front of the Time Lord Council before being able to continue his travels. A renegade Time Lady named the Rani caused his regeneration when she forced his TARDIS to crash on the planet where she had fled in her exile.
- The Seventh Doctor – At first a bit clownish like his second incarnation, this Doctor later showed himself to be quite dark and manipulative. His clothing choice reflected this by being rather bright and somewhat mismatched to begin with before becoming darker and more subdued. He was shot by gang members in San Francisco upon stepping out of his TARDIS and later died on an operating table while undergoing surgery. His regeneration didn’t take place until hours later due to the anesthesia he was given reacting badly with his Gallifreyan body chemistry.
- The Eighth Doctor – Not much is known about this incarnation in on-screen canon though he seemed to be a romantic type with the sensibilities of a Byronesque hero, which was reflected in his choice of an Edwardian suit and cravat. He has the distinction of being the first Doctor to have kissed a woman on-screen. The cause of his regeneration is unknown though it appears most probable that it occurred during the last great Time War.
Through all his lives, we are never told his given name, only that the Doctor appellation was apparently self-appointed and that he was known as Theta Sigma in the Prydonian Chapter of the Academy he attended where he achieved his status as Time Lord. He apparently hates this nickname, though. In addition to adopting various aliases such as “Doctor Foreman”, he has most often used the name John Smith during his travels, mostly while working with UNIT.
At the start of the current series, the Doctor is in his ninth incarnation and is somewhat enigmatic as he can be manic, excitable, and a total flirt one moment, then melancholy and nostalgic the next. This Doctor is obviously very much affected by whatever happened in the more recent Time War. We know that he was forced to set off a weapon that not only – or so he thought – destroyed all of the Daleks, a race that was one of his greatest enemies, but also lead to the destruction of Gallifrey and all of his people. It may have also caused his regeneration. His choice of rather simple clothing – a battered dark-brown leather jacket, plain jumper and black trousers – in comparison to the rather loud outfits of his previous incarnations reflects his position as a war-time soldier and orphaned survivor.
The Doctor obviously misses his home despite his past problems with the Time Lord Council and, in many ways, is quite lonely. Because of this, he seems to latch on quite quickly to Rose when she joins him as his companion. He also seems more willing to kill now when he has to than he used to (though he still hates guns), especially when he crosses paths with a Dalek, and especially when someone he cares about – namely Rose – is in danger.
A Rose in Bloom: His Companion
“I've got no A-Levels, no job, no future, but I'll tell you what I have got: Gaolford Street Junior High Under 7's Gymnastics Team. I got the bronze.”
– Rose, “Rose”
When we first meet nineteen-year-old Rose Tyler, her life is fairly routine. She lives with her widowed mother Jackie in a Council flat on an estate just outside of London and left school, probably after her GCSEs but without any A-Levels, because of her ex-boyfriend. She gets up every morning to go to work at Henrik’s department store, where she’s a shop assistant, and spends every lunch time with her current boyfriend Mickey, who’s about five years older than she.
It’s obvious, however, that she’s quite curious and wants more from life. After first encountering the Doctor at Henrik’s, where he saves her from shop dummies that are being controlled by an alien consciousness, then meeting him again when he shows up at her flat, Rose decides to investigate him instead of sitting back and letting him disappear from her life. She also shows her curiosity through her decision to leave Mickey behind when the Doctor asks if she’d like to go with him on his travels through space and time. And her first choice of destination is to go forward in time to see the future.
In addition to being curious, Rose is quite bright. She saves the Doctor’s life by using her long-dormant gymnastics skills, an action that is no doubt part of the reason he asks her to accompany him. This trait allows her to adapt to the life of a time traveler as she quickly learns to deal with the strange and unusual. She also shows herself to be fairly compassionate, first to a worker she meets on an observation station as the Earth is about to destroyed by the Sun going supernova and then to a young servant girl in Victorian England who ends up sacrificing her life to save the world.
For all her good traits, though, Rose is not perfect, which just serves to make her well-rounded. Despite her ability to handle adversity and oddities, she still has some growing up to do, especially when it comes to facing how she left her boyfriend behind. She didn't think much beyond what she was doing at the time when she left Mickey to go with Doctor, and she's being forced to face that her choice does have consequences. Her original disappearance before the Doctor took her home the first time (to a year after they left though they intended for it to be only 12 hours later) caused Mickey to be questioned several times as a possible murder suspect, and she left a second time without resolving things between the two of them. When she meets up with him again during a stop-off in Wales, she discovers that he’s moved on with his life and is dating someone else. She’ll never be able to go back home and have everything be the same. It's not something she likes, but it's something she'll live with. Mickey won't be there as a fallback if her new life doesn’t work out.
She has chosen the Doctor and her life with him, time and time again, and now she has to embrace that life, to make it what she wants and live without a safety net.
Better with Two: A Look At the Doctor and Rose Together
The Doctor and Rose first meet each other in the episode “Rose” when, as mentioned before, he saves her from being killed by mannequins that have come to life in the shop where she works. He gets her safely out of Henrik’s and tells her to get out of the area before blowing the place up. Rose doesn’t think she’ll see him again until he shows up at her flat, searching for the arm of one of the dummies that Rose had taken with her when she ran.
Rose finds herself curious about the Doctor’s story and why he’s there, taking the appearance of murderous plastic dummies (known as the Autons) in stride – not quite believing but still willing to listen. As she tries to get him to explain to her about what’s going on, they share their first real moment when he takes her hand as they stand out on one of the estate roads. The Doctor then tells her to forget about him and disappears into an old-style blue police call box, which has vanished seemingly into thin air when Rose turns around again.
Refusing to just forget about him, Rose does some digging. This leads her to a conspiracy theorist named Clive who runs a website that has tracked the Doctor’s movements as he’s traveled through time. During her investigation, she soon crosses paths with the Doctor again after Mickey is kidnapped, at which time she learns that not only is he an alien but also he travels in the police call box – the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) – that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. She deals with this revelation rather well, and he finds that she’s a valuable ally to have along when she figures out that the Nestine Consciousness controlling the Autons is located below the London Eye. They take each other’s hand as they run across Westminster Bridge, and during the showdown with the Consciousness, she saves him from being killed.
After they escape, he asks her if she’d like to come along with him to see the wonders of space. She says no at first, a decision that seems to hurt him, but his desire to have her come along is apparently so strong that he returns to ask her a second time. At this point, when he tells her that the TARDIS also travels in time, she agrees to come traveling with him and leaves Mickey behind.
“You think you’re so impressive.”
“I am so impressive.”
– Rose and the Doctor, “The End of the World”
The Doctor seems thrilled to have someone he can share his adventures with and allows Rose to choose whether they start by going forwards or backwards in time. In fact, he seems keen to show her everything he can and take her anywhere she wants – almost as though he’s a beau out to impress a girl he’s interested in. When Rose chooses to go forward in time, he takes her 5 billion years into the future, to the last day of Earth, where they watch the sun go supernova from onboard a space station. Of course, as this is the Doctor, trouble soon crops up, forcing him to race to save the observation platform they’re on, and Rose learns first hand how dangerous – and amazing – this life is going to be.
During “The End of the World”, we see some real development in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, she realizes that she’s gone off with a complete stranger and tries to get him to tell her about himself, though he refuses to answer at first. Later, when she wants to call her mum, he adapts her mobile phone to allow her to call the past. Quite a gesture for someone who claims to have a problem with domesticity.
Despite the fact that they’re still getting to know each other, they already have an easy rapport that allows Rose to joke about his sex life and being home by midnight when he heads off with Jabe, a guest at the end of the world gathering, to figure out what’s wrong with the platform. The Doctor returns favor with a jab when he has to save her from being burned to a crisp. Later, while comforting her about seeing the end of her world, he opens up to her and tells her that his own world is gone, destroyed before its time during a war.
He’s alone in the universe now, the only survivor of a once long-lived race. Rose tells him that she’s there, which causes him to ask her if she really wants to continue traveling with him now that she’s seen how dangerous it can be. She decides to stay with him, giving up the life she knew and forming the beginnings of a bond that continues to grow stronger throughout the rest of the series run. His status as a virtual orphan causes him to grab hold tight to their friendship and do anything he can to make sure she stays with him.
He starts by planning to show her around 1860 Naples on Christmas Eve in “The Unquiet Dead”. She finds herself intrigued by the Doctor and understands why he never wants to stay still for long – there’s so much to see from the past to the future. However, something has drawn them off course, and they find they’ve ended up in Cardiff, Wales, in 1869, where they are soon trying to stop the Gelth, gaseous aliens who are trying to come through a rift (a weak point in time and space) and take over the earth. When Rose is kidnapped for seeing too much, the Doctor is so intent on getting her back that he pretty much hijacks Charles Dickens’ carriage to follow her abductors, and he keeps an arm protectively around her waist once they find her at the house that’s the focal point for the rift.
During this episode, Rose starts to take on the duel role of the Doctor’s Conscience and Devil’s Advocate, pointing out when she feels he’s doing something wrong or losing sight of what’s going on. The Doctor, in turn, teaches her that races from other planets don’t have the same moralities and values. It shows that they are willing to see each other as equals and are coming to trust each other enough that they can speak openly in any situation.
“We’ll go down fighting, yeah?”
“Yeah. I’m so glad I met you.”
– Rose and the Doctor, “The Unquiet Dead”
When the Doctor and Rose are faced with possible death, they show the team they’re starting to become by standing together, hands locked together. He admits his growing affection for her when he tells her that he’s glad he got to meet her, a sentiment Rose echoes in return. They get themselves out of the danger, however, and a servant girl named Gwyneth sacrifices her life to stop the Gelth and heal the rift.
After that in “Aliens of London”, the Doctor takes Rose home for what is supposed to be a short visit so she can see her mum Jackie and get some of her belongings. Expecting to have arrived back 12 hours after their departure, they soon discover Rose has been gone an entire year. Her mum and the police suspect a sexual relationship between Rose and the man who has taken her “traveling,” leading Jackie to slap the Doctor.
The idea that they are together is one that continues with people they meet throughout the entire episode (and pretty much the series), including Mickey, despite Rose’s insistence that he’s “much more important” than that. We also see more of the Doctor’s impatience with domesticity although his giving the TARDIS key to Rose (effectively giving her the keys to his “home”) shows that he’s willing to include her in his own version. He even shows a bit of jealousy with Mickey, engaging in a bit of a game of one-upmanship with him and willfully getting his name wrong.
Of course, when aliens crash land a ship in London, the Doctor is called to 10 Downing Street to help with the potential threat and uncover an alien conspiracy, and Rose goes with him. When the officials there don’t want to let Rose in to a high-level meeting, The Doctor insists that he doesn’t go anywhere without her, won’t leave her behind. He has to attend the meeting alone in the end, but it shows how much he’s come to view her as his partner in such a short amount of time
“I could save the world but lose you.”
– The Doctor, “World War III”
When they later learn that the aliens are planning to destroy the world, the Doctor is hesitant to put his plan to stop it into action – not because he’s worried about it working but because it might end up killing Rose in the process. The look he gives her as he says he could save the world but lose her speaks volumes about his feelings, how he doesn’t want to have to sacrifice her even though he knows he might have to. Rose, in turn, shows her willingness to die for him and for the rest of the world by telling him to go ahead and implement his plan, no matter what happens to her.
Everything turns out all right in the end with them surviving a bombing on 10 Downing Street, thanks to Rose’s idea to take cover in a reinforced closet in the Cabinet Room. Jackie decides to put up with the Doctor after this, claiming that she might as well since Rose is “infatuated” with him. Rose claims she’s not, but this sort of denial is par for the course for these two throughout the entire series. When Rose extends her mother’s invitation for dinner, however, the Doctor then does what some feel is his most manipulative moment – he basically forces Rose to choose between either staying at home or returning to traveling with him, and he uses the amazing things he can show her as the carrot to influence her decision. She, of course, decides to go with him. While the move is undeniably calculated, it shows how much he wants Rose with him, even to the point that he asks Mickey to come along, though he refuses.
In the following episode “Dalek”, we learn about the Doctor’s part in the recent Time War when he had to set off the weapon to stop the Daleks, causing the annihilation of the Time Lords as well. This episode shows by turns a vengeful and anguished Doctor as he is forced to deal with his counterpart – the only apparent Dalek survivor of the War that they find in a wealthy American’s secret “museum” collection. One of his most distressing moments is when he’s thinks he’s lost Rose after he’s forced to shut an underground bulkhead to contain his foe. Certain the Dalek must have killed her, the Doctor rages against the American who didn’t allow him to kill it earlier.
“What good are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?”
– The Dalek, “Dalek”
Upon the Doctor learning that the Dalek has not killed Rose, the relief on his face is obvious. The Dalek tells him that it will kill her if the Doctor doesn’t release the bulkhead, referring to Rose as “the woman you love.” The Doctor’s expression is one of surprise, which can be interpreted in several ways, including that he can’t believe the Dalek was able to read his feelings when it was possible he didn’t even realize himself. He refuses to “kill her again” and punches the button to open the bulkhead, again showing his feelings in his refusal to ever sacrifice Rose, no matter what happens.
Rose again becomes the Doctor’s Conscience in this episode. The Dalek hasn’t killed her because it absorbed her DNA earlier to regenerate itself and began changing as a result, developing emotions and losing its imperative to destroy all life not Dalek. She stops the Doctor from killing it, telling him that doing so when it’s weakened would make him just like the Daleks, something he would never want to become. She doesn’t want to lose the Doctor she knows and cares about. Her words reach him, and the Dalek, disgusted by what it’s become, ends up destroying itself instead. An intense hug between the Doctor and Rose was cut from the episode at this point, but he’s still evidently glad to have her back and even allows her to bring along Adam, one of the American’s former employees, in a teasing scene between the two of them.
They quickly find out in “The Long Game”, though, that Adam is a liability to have around. The Doctor teases her about him at first, especially when he passes out after they reach Satellite Five in the year 200’000, and she teases the Doctor back, showing camaraderie between them that never materializes with Adam.
“It’s going to take a better man than me to come between you two.”
– Adam, “The Long Game”
Even Adam can see that the Doctor and Rose are inseparable, despite what appears to be a very fleeting interest in Adam from Rose. And later, when they discover there’s a secret on the satellite, Rose and the Doctor are pleased when it’s just the two of them that have to go deal with the mystery, taking each other’s hand to show their solidarity in the face of whatever danger awaits them. The Doctor later tries to send her back, worried for her safety, but Rose simply tells him, “Tough.” She’s in it with him no matter what.
Adam, meanwhile, has used the trip into the future for selfish purposes, letting himself be altered so he can download information to take back with him to the past. As soon as the Doctor discovers this, he takes Adam back to his home, destroys the information and leaves him behind despite his pleas to be taken along. The Doctor tells him that he only takes the best with him as his companions – and he has Rose. The scene shows how much trust he has in her, even if her so-called “boyfriends” irritate him.
Not that Rose is beyond making mistakes, as we see in “Father’s Day”. And neither is the Doctor. Rose asks him to take her back to the day in 1987 when her father Pete died so he won’t die alone – not once but twice because she’s unable to go to him the first time. The Doctor agrees even though he knows he shouldn’t because he’s willing to do anything for Rose. She then reacts on instinct and saves her father from being killed the second time, causing a temporal wound that puts the entire world in danger.
Her actions cause the Doctor and Rose’s first huge argument. Rose is so excited about getting to know her father (who also thinks the Doctor is her boyfriend) for the first time in her life that she doesn’t understand why saving one insignificant man would cause such a problem. For the first time since they’ve met, the Doctor actually questions her motives for agreeing to travel with him since she only said yes after he told her the TARDIS also travels through time. When Rose says that he’s just upset he’s no longer the most important man in his life, the Doctor ends up taking his key back and storming out, much like in any domestic row.
Despite the fight, the Doctor’s first thought upon discovering that time is out of whack is for Rose, and he immediately goes to find her. He reaches her just before she’s attacked by the Reapers, dragon-like creatures sent to sterilize the temporal wound caused by Rose saving her father. Unlike Adam, Rose is truly sorry for what she has done and would change it if she could. The Doctor apologizes for his own reaction and forgives her when she says she’s sorry, hugging her tightly. Even though he knows that the only way the fix things is for Pete to die, he doesn’t want to put Rose through that pain again and searches for a different way to fix everything, showing how much he is willing to risk for just one person.
He even ends up sacrificing his life for her and the others, including her father. While Rose is numb with grief over losing him, Pete realizes that the only way out of this for everyone is for him to die and that the Doctor knew this but didn’t say it because of his feelings for Rose. Pete then steps out in front of the car that originally hit him and has been stuck in a loop ever since Rose changed things. His sacrifice restores the Doctor and everyone else who was taken by the Reapers, and in the end, Rose is able to be there for her dad at the moment of his death. The Doctor is in turn there for her, taking her hand and leading her back to the TARDIS.
In the following two-parter, “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, which takes them to World War II London in search of a dangerous alien object that’s crash-landed, the relationship between the Doctor and Rose is brought more into focus with the arrival of Captain Jack Harkness, a Time Agent from the 51st century. Because Rose is young, she doesn’t always get the way the Doctor does things, such as when he refuses to scan for alien tech and instead asks people if they’ve seen a crash. She finds this a bit irritating because, in a way, he’s not playing the way she wants him to. It’s something she has to learn to understand.
“I want to find a blonde in a Union Jack. A specific one – I didn’t just wake up this morning with a craving.”
– The Doctor, “The Empty Child”
So later when she’s saved by Jack during an air raid, she finds herself intrigued by this roguish time agent. He's an idealization of what she would like to see in her relationship with the Doctor –scanning for alien tech and offering her a touch of romance by dancing with her (which becomes a pretty obvious metaphor for sex). So while it's fairly clear to me at least that by this point Rose loves the Doctor, she doesn't know if he loves her back that way, or even could – though he seems to as well due to his actions regarding her in all the previous episodes. Jack then comes along and offers the perfect view of what she'd like from the Doctor. She doesn't know if the Doctor will ever return what she'd no doubt like from him, so of course, she's attracted to Jack.
However, showing that she still wants to know if the Doctor can dance, she spends part of the second episode trying to get him to do so. When he has trouble dancing with Rose the way she has with Jack, it almost leads her to give up on him; however, he then shows her that he can dance in his own way. By doing this, the Doctor demonstrates that he does have those feelings, that he can show them to her in his own way. And she changes her own tact a bit to meet him. Instead of continuing to force him to dance the way she thinks he should with her, she dances his way. That's what Rose is learning, and that's what takes place in any relationship – a compromise as both people in the relationship learn to deal with the other and the way they do things.
The next episode “Boom Town” doesn’t have as much in the way of isolated Doctor/Rose interaction though we do see that Jack has become an important and accepted part of their team, and there’s also a nice hug between the two of them when Rose gets a rather tongue-twisting alien planet’s name right. What this episode looks more at is the consequences of Rose choosing to go with the Doctor and leaving her then-boyfriend Mickey behind. When they meet back up with him in 2006 Cardiff, ostensibly so Rose can get her passport from him, she agrees to go on a date with him, during which she finds out that Mickey has been seeing someone else. He can’t wait for her forever and has decided to get on with his life, meaning he doesn’t plan to be there as a “back-up” should things not work out for her.
She had never realized before how much what she decided to do was going to change her and those she left behind. At her age, it's probably very hard to imagine such changes happening - it's all supposed to be an adventure, after all. But it's something that's changed her life, and she's now realizing that she can't just go home and expect things to stay the same. She's living without a safety net now, and Mickey making her face that is an unsettling truth that she has to learn to deal with.
Much of this series has seen Rose growing up, and she’s now finding out that her actions have consequences she didn't intend or think through when she first entered the TARDIS. She wanted to break the humdrum of her life. She didn't consider much beyond that, and now, she's being forced to face it. It's not something she likes, but it's something she'll live with. She chose the Doctor and a life with him a long time ago, and she continues to choose him, as is shown when she runs to find the Doctor when Cardiff is put in danger by the rift they originally helped close in 1869 in “The Unquiet Dead”. Given a second chance, she probably would have still chosen the Doctor, but she might also have done things differently regarding Mickey.
In the penultimate episode “Bad Wolf”, Rose and the Doctor are separated for pretty much the entire episode after they and Jack are kidnapped off the TARDIS and are transported back to Satellite Five 100 years after the events in “The Long Game”. There, they are forced to take part in deadly versions of the reality shows we know today, especially in the UK – Big Brother, What Not to Wear and The Weakest Link. Once Jack and the Doctor escape their game prisons, they track down Rose, only to see her disintegrated before their eyes by an android version of Anne Robinson.
The Doctor goes almost completely catatonic at the sight of her ashes on the floor, dropping to his knees and running his hands through them. The sense of loss is etched deeply on his face, and for several minutes, it appears that he’s shut down while he allows himself to be arrested by Satellite security. In the space of less than an hour, the Doctor has learned that his life has been manipulated so that he’s caused more harm than help and has watched his best friend – someone he loves – die.
But he hasn’t given up. He soon recovers enough to use this as a ruse to catch the guards out and stage an escape with Jack and a woman named Lynda. They go to the Satellite’s main operations floor where they discover that Rose is still alive – the disintegration beam is actually a transmat beam. And she and everyone else who have been “killed” have been teleported to a location at the edge of the solar system.
“I’m coming to get you.”
– The Doctor and Rose, “Bad Wolf”
They soon discover that Rose is being held hostage by a group of Daleks who have somehow survived the Time War. The Daleks threaten to kill Rose unless the Doctor surrenders, but he refuses, declaring that he’s going to save her and take out the rest of them. The implication is evident – no one threatens her. He then tells her that he’s going to get her out, and it’s easy to see from the look on her face that she believes him.
If all that hasn’t shown how much these two have come to care for each other, we certainly know by the end of the finale episode “The Parting of the Ways”. The Doctor begins by making good on his promise to save Rose by heading directly into the Dalek fleet and materializing the TARDIS inside the main ship, right over where Rose is standing, which causes her to appear inside.
Once she shares a hug with the Doctor as well as Jack, it’s time to worry about the fate of Earth. After finding out what the Daleks have planned, they return to Satellite Five where they begin planning for the invasion. The Doctor shows how much he cares for Rose by tricking her into the TARDIS and sending her home to her time because he knows that his only chance of stopping the Daleks is to destroy Satellite Five and the Earth as well. As he has shown time and time again throughout the entire series, he doesn’t want her to die and will not sacrifice her if he can help it.
“I want you safe. My Doctor.”
- Rose, “The Parting of the Ways”
Rose, however, doesn’t take this sitting down and refuses to stay put while the Doctor is risking his life – especially when she discovers that the Bad Wolf messages left everywhere throughout the season have been meant for her. She enlists her mother and Mickey to help her open the Heart of the TARDIS, so that she can return to the Satellite. When she does, she ends up taking the soul of the TARDIS within herself, which allows her to save “her” Doctor, Jack, the Satellite and Earth from the Daleks by using the ship’s power to practically just wipe them away.
Once she’s stopped the threat, the power she’s taken on becomes too much for her, and the Doctor knows this. He won’t let her die, of course, so he kisses her, taking the TARDIS’ power into himself and releasing it back into the ship. The short time he holds the power overwhelms him, though, and he regenerates – but not before giving Rose a very clear indication of his feelings by telling her how much there is that he wanted to show her.
“Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.”
- The Doctor, “The Parting of the Ways”