I believe the last time I actually watched this episode in full was upon broadcast. That means it’s been nearly 8 years since I sat down and watched the whole 45 minutes of it. It must be that my 9 year old self was not as appreciative of high quality drama as I am now, because let me tell, you this is phenomenal. Father’s Day is packed with so much emotion, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch, and everything about it is perfect. Not only that but it fits the show well as it makes excellent use of the complex nature of time travel. I just can’t believe I’ve never developed such a love for it until now, what was wrong with me?
I fear for this episode I can’t really discuss a variety of topics as it is very straightforward, for me it can be summarized into two main features, emotion and time travel. So let’s start with the time travel element. This episode has done the best in the series to truly flesh out the ideas of time travel, so far we’ve just had going to different locations; this episode evaluates more the opportunities and implications of it. If you had access to a time machine of course you’d want to meet a deceased loved one, or even rectify it. The episode has the best I’ve seen in terms of paradox plots. The idea that this causes a wound in time that must be rectified is intriguing. This introduced us to the reapers, who were an interesting concept, bacteria that take advantage of the paradox and sterilize the wound. The story could have easily gone down a different path where the Doctor could have repeatedly bellowed at Rose due to the paradox until Pete realized what was right. However this would have been too dark for Eccleston and the idea that Pete made the choice of his own accord made the episode even more sorrowful.
Now onto the emotion and drama of the episode. In this episode it’s not just that there are emotional moments, it’s that nearly every scene with Rose and Pete is bloody heartbreaking. The first example would be as Rose must first watch her father die; it’s a horrible thought and an idea that plays out beautifully. Billie Piper’s acting was phenomenal, you truly sense the toil she is going through watching this. Further scenes with her and her father also have a gloom about them. For instance her introduction to Jackie is difficult for her to watch. She imagined them as this perfect couple, yet it becomes apparent their relationship has noticeable issues. Jackie frequently chastises Pete for being a failure; it is even implied that Pete cheated on Jackie previously. This breaks Rose’s heart as her fairytale image of her parents marriage is broken. Pete’s realization that he is Rose’s farther is a moving moment but what follows is upsetting. The script does well to present Rose’s difficulty in conversing with her deceased father. This is apparent as Pete questions his future self, to which Rose has no reply. It’s also a moving scene where Rose describes her make-believe relationship with Pete, the life she always desired.
One of the cruelest things the episode does is give Rose and the audience the indication that Pete might make it through, as the Doctor finds a solution. However this comes to an abrupt stop when Rose has physical contact with her younger self, providing the paradox that gives the Reapers the strength to break through the church. Having the Reapers consume the Doctor was a powerful story choice as it removes any safety net we feel, the Doctor can’t save the day. Pete comes to the realization that the only way out is his demise. As I said this is cruel as it had given Rose and the audience hope, but now the only way out is by Pete’s death. The most heart-wrenching moment is between Rose, Pete and Jackie as Pete prepares to face death. The part that strikes out to me is Pete recalling all the things he didn’t do, but Rose knows he would have. Murray Gold’s score does an amazing job at capturing the drama and emotion of this scene and the episode as a whole. Probably the only nice thing about this episode is the idea that Pete was able to die in a kinder way. He met his future daughter, got to see what she was to become and was so proud of her. In some ways he died a happy man, by hid Daughter’s side.
Overall I would say this episode does a fantastic job at capturing the sadness and emotion of death, drama at it’s best.
Note: From now on I shall be doing a Doctor moment of the week, weather moving, powerful or just down right funny
The Doctor: [to the baby Rose in 1987] Good girl. Yes, you are. You're not gonna bring about the end of the world now are you?