Rose comes to the realisation that she can travel to any point in time, and uses the opportunity to visit her father, who she never knew. She witnesses his death, and as she laments that he died alone, she convinces the Doctor to go back so she could comfort him. Instead, she saves his life, causing a paradox and attracting the attention of the Reapers, creatures that feed on paradoxes which would result in...
|Seriously, who designed this??|
This story desperately wanted to explore how paradoxes work, but because it's an episode of Doctor Who they had to shoehorn a monster in somewhere. It is clear they wanted to explore a variation of the grandfather paradox- Rose knows how her father died so goes back to save him, but if he lived then she wouldn't have had a reason to go back. The usual resolution of this paradox is the victim dying a completely different way, which proves the time-traveller's attempts useless in the face of destiny. That may be a bit depressing for a family show, so they dwell more on the butterfly effect- even an insignificant nobody could have a profound effect on history, based on all the little things adding up. Throughout the episode the Doctor keeps reminding us that nobody's unimportant, and that countless variables made things the way they are. Now they couldn't think of an appropriate way to wrap up the story, so along come the Reapers, ensuring the only thing changed in the history books is that Pete committed suicide rather than get killed in a freak hit-and-run incident. Personally I would have preferred the alternate ending in which Pete survives and is motivated to build a successful business empire as seen in Rise of the Cybermen, but understandably they needed Earth to remain unchanged for future stories.
|A touching father-daughter moment.|
First Impressions: Not entirely sure what's going on, but it's alright
In Retrospect: Reapers are annoying, and why haven't they showed up in the countless other paradoxes throughout the series?
Why am I still watching this show when every episode seems to have such terrible flaws?
Next Time: The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances