We’re back! After a week away we’re travelling back in time to 1987.
Talia just wants to leave and get to the grading, and Lucia’s is officially put on the feelings bench for the first (but not the last) time.
Grab your tissues, it’s time to discuss “Father’s Day”.
Lucia Kelly: Hello and welcome to the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast.
Talia Franks: Can you say that with a bit more energy? (Lucia laughs) I know this is a sad episode, but really.
Could you sound any less enthused? (Imitating Lucia) “Hello, and welcome…”
Lucia Kelly: I – I – I prefer to think of it as somber and calming. Let’s just ease into it today. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: “Hello and welcome to the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast.”
Lucia Kelly: This is your guided meditation. Close your eyes and confront your father issues. (Lucia laughs.)
Alright. Hello and welcome to the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast!
Talia Franks: I’m Talia Franks, media critic, fan fic enthusiast, and emotionally compromised time traveler.
Lucia Kelly: And I’m Lucia Kelly, expert at applied analysis, and a bit of a Del Boy.
Talia Franks: A Del Boy?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. It’s what Rose calls her dad. It’s a reference to a TV character, but it’s basically like, ” Happy-go-lucky and a bit useless”.
Talia Franks: (Talia “aah”s in understanding) (Lucia laughs) More to the point, we’re here today to talk about “Father’s Day”, Episode Eight of Series One of Doctor Who.
Lucia Kelly: “Father’s Day” aired on May 14th, 2005. It was written by Paul Cornell and directed by Joe Ahearne. (Lucia sighs) For those of you keeping track, that’s the same guy who directed “Dalek”, so you already know what we’re getting into. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: Reminder, time isn’t a straight line. It can twist into any shape. And as such, this is a fully spoiled podcast. We might bring things in from later in the show, the comics, the books, or even fan theories and articles.
Lucia Kelly: With that out of the way, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but this is the last time we can be here, so let’s get in the TARDIS. (Transition wobbles)
Hey there. This is Lucia from the future. This episode covers some triggering subject matter. So we wanted to put in a content warning for discussions of death, self-sacrificing and suicide, and ableism. Please take care of yourselves. Now let’s get back to the show. (Transition wobbles)
Talia Franks: This episode makes me so sad. I’m just going to cry. I cried through the entire title sequence. I cried through this entire episode. I was just – puddle of tears. I just –
Lucia Kelly: No, literally the opening shot, the fact that the opening shot is this still photograph, exactly the kind of photograph you find in little funeral pamphlets? Like they’re exactly the kind of photos that you use as either a missing persons or as the cover photo for a little funeral pamphlet, like I’m immediately in tears. I’m immediately emotional. (claps for emphasis)
Talia Franks: I was sobbing. The minute that Jackie patted the bed for young Rose to come up (Lucia: Oh my God…) with the little photo album, cue sobs and – I’m getting emotional just talking about it, I was wearing a white t-shirt and you would’ve thought I’d entered a wet t-shirt contest. It was soaked in tears.
Like literally, used up a quarter of the tissue box. It was a mess. I was a disaster. I kept having to pause, cause I couldn’t see the show through my tears. It was bad. This is why I don’t watch this episode. I only watched this cause you made me. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: I adore this episode. I do. Which makes – which makes sense for me, God.
I think it’s a beautiful episode. I think it does so much work. This is the episode where we find out all about Pete. This is where we get Rose’s tragic backstory. We have more context for Jackie and it just hurts. It hurts all the way through.
Talia Franks: This episode hurts so much that I almost don’t want to talk about it and I’m going to make you edit this one just so you know.
Lucia Kelly: That’s fine. So Rose has this concept. She has this idea. She tells the Doctor about her dad, and basically her dad was the victim of a hit and run accident. No one found him. No one saw him. By the time the ambulance got there, he was dead. And what Rose says to the Doctor is that she wants to be that person. She wants to make sure that her dad doesn’t die alone. And this is – like I said, I think this episode is brilliant. I think it does so much work. (Lucia sighs) It makes no sense that the Doctor would agree to this. The Doctor would not agree to do this. Because he knows, like even if everything went right, and that’s all that Rose did, is that she held Peter’s hand as he died, so many things could go wrong.
It’s just way too big a risk and the Doctor’s been with Rose for a while now. He knows what happens when Rose is around people – like, Rose does have a bleeding heart, and she is impulsive, and she is this force for reckless goodness, there’s no way that this wouldn’t end in disaster.
Talia Franks: I am just, what bothers me the most is why it’s so bad that Pete is alive.
Lucia Kelly: Here’s the thing, I think it matters because Rose matters. I think what actually matters is the Doctor is this – like, the Doctor is a point of flux, right? The Doctor is always going in and out of different points in space and time, and Rose being with the Doctor affects everything that happens, but in order for Rose to even meet up with the Doctor, Peter needs to be dead. Because the trajectory of Rose’s life, that takes her to be living in the projects, and working the clothing shop, and being Mickey’s boyfriend, like all of the stuff that led her life to the point where the Doctor can take her hand and tell her to “Run!”
One of the major points in her life, that affected everything else, was Peter’s death. So if Peter doesn’t die, Rose’s life is completely different, and she isn’t where she’s meant to be in order to meet the Doctor.
Talia Franks: So, I have to admit, I think a lot of my frustration with “Father’s Day” is not exactly frustration with “Father’s Day”.
It’s frustration with the facts that what happens in “Father’s Day” is never revisited, and it’s like “Father’s Day” is never returned to, because re-watching it again, there’s so much good about this episode, and it’s hard for me to watch knowing that it’s all wasted and it’s – it feels like it doesn’t matter. It feels like nothing in this episode matters and that’s what makes me upset. Is that everything in this episode eventually gets undone later and it makes me angry.
Lucia Kelly: I wouldn’t say that at all. I think it matters so much. I think (Talia: Not that -) “Father’s Day” gives us –
Talia Franks: I’m not saying – what I’m saying specifically – this episode makes me so angry for a variety of different reasons – okay, let me back up, so one of the reasons this episode makes me angry is because Peter, this ordinary man, being alive and everything, it creates these monsters, the Reapers, that never show up again, even though (Lucia hmms in agreement) all sorts of different points, where time is in flux, they never show up again, and the thing that just makes me so furious is how differently Rose Tyler is treated compared to Amy Pond, and it is just not fair, because Amy gets her parents back with no repercussions. She gets her whole family back. She gets her whole life back and nothing happens. It’s all reset. It’s all fine. She gets her tiny little dad and her mom and they’re all fine. And she’s all good and no Reapers happened to her! It makes me so upset. And it makes me so angry to think about how Rose touching herself undoes everything, but Amy interacts with other versions of herself and that doesn’t do anything.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: I just hate all of it, and the discontinuity in how it just ends up not mattering, and throws so much of the good stuff about this episode away like it never happened. And also, there’s this moment in the episode where the Doctor is just so vulnerable with Rose. It’s when he’s watching the baby and Rose says “Can’t do anything right, can I?” and then he says, “Since you asked no, so don’t touch the baby” and then she’s like, “I’m not stupid,” and then he’s like, “You could have fooled me.”
But then all of a sudden he’s stops the anger, he stops putting on the front, and then it’s almost like he crumbles in on himself and he says, “All right, I’m sorry. I wasn’t really going to leave you on your own, but between you and me, I haven’t got a plan, no idea, no way out.”
And like, that kind of vulnerability, that kind of breaking down of his walls, is something that we never see from the Doctor ever again, they’re never that vulnerable with another companion. Ten is never that vulnerable with anyone. Ten is all bravado and swagger.
This scene, if I were to describe it, this scene feels like grasping onto the branch of a tree. Like when you’re touching a tree or touching a piece of wood and you can feel all the subtle imperfections of it. And that’s how you know that it’s a raw piece of wood, and that it’s bark, and I feel like with every other Doctor, when you’re talking to them, it’s like a polished piece of furniture.
If that makes sense.
Lucia Kelly: It does, and I really liked that metaphor.
Talia Franks: And this moment, feels like you’re touching the bark of the tree.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
I definitely think of all the Doctors, the Ninth is the rawest, the Ninth is the one that’s closest to the surface. (Lucia sighs)
So for some reason, the Doctor agrees – and the only reason I can think that he would agree to this is that’s what he wants to do with his own family. This is a gift that he’s giving Rose that he can’t give himself. That’s the only reason I can think of, because literally everything else screams “Don’t do this!”, which yeah.
So we turn up in 1987, and Rose freezes, of course she does, this is so much to ask of her. This is so much to ask of herself. She’s only 19. And she wants to do this incredible thing. I think watching the early episodes really emphasizes what an unfiltered force for good Rose is, like at her best, and like with all good fatal flaws, her best quality is also her worst quality, like, her need to do good, the fact that she’s compelled to do good, often leads her into terrible consequences because she doesn’t filter herself and she doesn’t stop to think.
She just does the thing. Big Gryffindor Energy.
Talia Franks: Big Gryffindor Energy.
Lucia Kelly: And so, she begs the Doctor to go back and do it again because she was too late, by the time the ambulance got there he was dead, we hear the sirens, and the Doctor agrees, which is where like, I really don’t have time for him. Okay, you agreed to do it once, but she had the chance.
No. Don’t do it. Bad. Very bad. Stop.
Talia Franks: Like, really Doctor.
Lucia Kelly: Does it feel like they’re breaking character to make this happen? It kind of does to me.
And also, the Doctor is so much angrier, like the Rose and Doctor dynamic is subtly different in this episode than it is anywhere else. (Talia mhmms in agreement) And it’s a lot angrier, it’s a lot more confrontational, in a way that doesn’t feel true to either character or their relationship.
Talia Franks: Yeah.
It feels weird, also there’s this moment where like, he forces her to say that she’s sorry for saving her dad’s life?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah!
Talia Franks: Which is –
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: I hate that.
Lucia Kelly: I hate that moment.
Talia Franks: I hate that so much.
Lucia Kelly: But then there are other moments that absolutely feel like the Doctor.
Talia Franks: Yeah. The moment when he’s talking to the couple that are getting married.
Lucia Kelly: Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke.
Talia Franks: Yeah. He says, “Who said you’re not important. I’ve traveled to all sorts of places done things you couldn’t even imagine, but you two, street corner at two in the morning getting a taxi home, never had a life like that. Yes. I’ll try and save you.”
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Which speaks again to this weird dichotomy that we’ve seen a few times now, where the Doctor like, like this is the same episode where he calls Rose “a stupid ape”.
Talia Franks: He’s got a weird complex about humans.
Lucia Kelly: He’s got such a weird complex about humans. The Doctor’s the stupid ape. The Doctor’s the stupid ape for letting this happen.
But they go back a second time, and Rose, spur of the moment, Big Gryffindor Energy – so the Doctor says, explicitly, “You have to wait.” Like, “I understand it’s hard, but you have to wait until the first us moves, otherwise you’re going to create a paradox, and that’s bad. Don’t do that.”
Also, quick sidebar, the editing in this whole sequence, the doubles, doing all of that? Brilliant work. Excellent work. It’s so smooth. It’s so clean. It works so well.
But of course, instead of waiting, Rose literally pushes past them, and ends up saving her dad, and immediately everything starts going wrong, like immediately.
Talia Franks: I thought one of the most brilliant moments in this episode was – the use of music in all of these episodes is great, but the Doctor’s walking towards the TARDIS, and in particular, when he opens the TARDIS and it’s just a police box.
Lucia Kelly: Yep.
Talia Franks: I thought that was just a brilliant moment,and like, his panic when he opens it, and it’s just a police box.
Lucia Kelly: I laugh every time that scene happens. I’m so sorry. It’s so funny to me.
Talia Franks: No, it’s funny! (Lucia: Every -) It’s a fucking hilarious scene. It’s funny, but it’s also just so brilliant and I love it.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, no, I adore it. I adore that moment. I love the fact that we get to see the quote unquote “actual interior” of the TARDIS, and it’s actually a story reason, and like, all of that, and I get that it’s meant to be this really serious, intense, scary moment, and every time I’m like “lol, easy day for production,” (Lucia and Talia laugh)
Yeah, and this is where the shift happens. This is where the rift between Rose and the Doctor really starts.
So, Rose goes back to the flat, it’s the same flat that Rose and Jackie live in currently but it’s redesigned completely differently, a nd so she’s still in this mind space of – cause the other thing that’s been happening is that her whole life Jackie has been telling Rose about a very specific version of her dad, that is very rose-tinted, and part of the heartbreak of this episode is those rose-tinted glasses being forcibly removed from Rose’s eyes, and seeing her dad as a real person and as someone who had flaws and who wasn’t perfect, and wasn’t this crazy, innovative entrepreneur businessman, he was kind of useless, in terms of every day, going from day to day, putting meals on the table, providing a stable life for his family. The fact that Jackie is so down to earth and Pete is so in the clouds provides real tension in their relationship and in their life, and that’s something that Rose has never been privy to.
Talia Franks: Yeah. It makes me think a lot about Alternate Universe Pete.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: And whether or not this Pete would have grown into a similar Pete, how that would have shaped Rose’s life.
Lucia Kelly: I’m not sure. I think this world Pete, I think Rose’s actual dad, was always destined to be on the trajectory that he was. I love the characterization of Pete. I adore it. I think it’s so beautifully realized. I think it’s so well done. The actor who plays him is spot on casting. He looks perfect. He acts perfect. Shaun Dingwall. He’s got his head in the clouds. He never quite focuses on any one thing. He’s got all these ideas, but none of the disciplines, (Talia mhmms in agreement) but he’s smart, right? Like, he gets things, and he can see things clearly, in a way that no one else around him really does, which is why he gets what’s happened so quickly. And the fact that he is all these things, and also, like, in a heartbeat, so so quickly, with such clarity and conviction, at the end, when he realizes what needs to be done, there’s no hesitation, absolutely none. He fully recognizes what he needs to do when he does it.
Talia Franks: I think the most upsetting thing to me, about this episode, it isn’t the fact that Pete dies, it isn’t the fact that Rose loses her dad, it isn’t any of the obvious things that made me cry at first.
It’s the way that the narrative of how Pete died changes, because it changes his death from being a complete hit and run accident to his death being a suicide.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. I think, from the way Jackie frames it at the end, I’m pretty sure she still thinks it was an accident, like she says “No one knows why he ran out,” in this way that – from the way that Camille Coduri delivers that line, does not make me think that Jackie thinks that Pete was suicidal.
Talia Franks: Okay. That’s the way that I had interpreted it. And it just made me upset.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. I think it’s more of a mystery. Because I don’t like how the narrative changes at the end. Because if everything goes back to the way it was then surely – like it’s quite unclear – what do the people who went to the wedding that day, what is their memory of that day?
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: Because it’s different now.
Talia Franks: That’s why I said, “I don’t believe you,” when you said you thought that this episode was going to get a five on science, because (Lucia huffs a laugh) the science does not work. The science makes no sense. It has not been explained. I don’t believe it. It’s fake.
Lucia Kelly: I might – (Lucia laughs) – I might’ve been optimistic. In terms of large scale, I think the science works, in terms of minutiae, it doesn’t.
Talia Franks: Especially if we want to hold up, comparing the science to other examples in Doctor Who, like I said, the existence of Amy breaks everything that happens to Rose and it pisses me the fuck off.
Lucia Kelly: So, Rose gets to see inside the apartment, and it’s full of all of Pete’s stuff, top to bottom, all of his failed projects, all of his new starting projects, and she’s just in the euphoria of having saved her dad. She’s not thinking about anything else, and the Doctor is just furious with her.
Which – (Lucia sighs)
Talia Franks: I mean, I get it, I get it. Cause he makes the point of she wasn’t interested in traveling with him until he said time machine.
Lucia Kelly: I don’t believe, like –
Talia Franks: No, I – I – I get it. I get you might not believe that’s her motive, and I don’t believe that’s her initial motive either, but I can see why he can think that’s her motive. (Lucia hmms in consideration)
Lucia Kelly: I think the most likely thing that happened is that when he said “Time machine,” she was thinking about, “Oh, so I don’t have to like, explain my absence.” I think that was her motive, because the thing that stops her, initially in Episode One, is being like, “I have responsibilities and I can’t just go swanning off.”
So then the Doctor comes back and was like “You can swan off and be responsible.” And she’s like, “Okay. Bet. Let’s go.”
Talia Franks: Yeah, no, that’s what I think, and that’s where I think Rose was, but I think now in the context of Rose having asked him to go see her dad and then explicitly gone against what he said.
I think he’s like, “Oh, she was just playing me.” (Lucia hmms in disgruntlement) That’s not what actually happened, but I can see how he’d thinks that’s what happened, because that’s what makes sense to me. I would think the same. Like, I know, because I know Rose, that that’s not what actually happened, but I can see from his perspective why he would think that.
Especially because she follows it up with saying “I know you’ll still be waiting for me.”
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. That’s a little – that’s a little –
Talia Franks: I don’t like that.
Lucia Kelly: This is the start, it’s messy all the way through, but the relationship between Rose and the Doctor is really wrong for this whole episode, their dynamic is so off, and it frustrates me.
Talia Franks: It’s so uncomfortable. I really don’t like this episode. It’s making me super uncomfortable. Can we just skip to grading it?
Lucia Kelly: No. (Talia groans in frustration)
And this is also where we start with the jokes about the fact that Pete is Rose’s dad and doesn’t know about it. So there’s the one side of that dynamic, which is Pete starts acting like her dad without, like that kind of goofy dad’s side character archetype, he’s suddenly acting like that, without really knowing why.
And then there’s also that really awkward, awful scene, which continues to be perpetuated throughout the whole thing, because of Jackie, of Pete and Rose being sexual with each other. Which, thank God, Rose, shuts down immediately, and is like, “No, no, no, wrong, wrong, bad.”
But because later on, when Jackie – (Lucia sighs)
Talia Franks: The look of disgust on my face. I am very disgusted. This whole thing is disgusting. I am completely disgusted.
Lucia Kelly: So we meet Jackie and – (Lucia sighs) Basically, it turns out that Jackie and Pete do not have a perfect relationship, by any means. It’s heavily implied, but left ambiguous that Pete cheated on Jackie at some point, and then because of that, and because Rose, as a young, attractive blonde who Jackie doesn’t know, triggers that whole thing for Jackie, Jackie is really aggressive towards Rose and really looking for an argument with Pete, throughout this whole episode, until like, the very end, which is awful.
Talia Franks: It’s so upsetting and I hate all of it. I just hate all of it. I just don’t want any of it. Can we just get to grading?
Lucia Kelly: No.
Talia Franks: This is –
Lucia Kelly: No, because we’re going to talk about it.
Talia Franks: This is why you belong on the feelings bench. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: I have one golden light. I’m pretty sure we see Mickey’s mum.
Talia Franks: Yeah. Before she gets murked.
Lucia Kelly: It’s the best I can do.
Talia Franks: Also, that’s not a golden light because she’s a Black woman that gets murked. I don’t care for it.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: Also, Mickey imprinting on Rose, like a mother chicken? The fuck?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: For why? Why you do this? No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Lucia Kelly: And it’s again, just really doing Mickey such a disservice, including, there’s a moment before, when Pete asks, if Rose has a boyfriend, to which she responds, “I did have,” No! You still do. You never broke up with him. You never had that conversation. You still have a boyfriend.
Talia Franks: Including that you get upset about Trisha Delaney in three episodes, so why are you all up here with Adam, and “Oh, I did have,” and then you get all upset. Excuse you? Excuse you?!
Lucia Kelly: Mickey deserves better. (Snaps for emphasis)
Talia Franks: So much better.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. So we get young Mickey. All of his friends get eaten. His mum gets eaten. He runs to the church. He imprints on Rose. It’s a bad day for Mickey.
And then everyone sees these crazy, wingéd, reptilian monsters, that look so, so bad and wrong. And everyone piles into the church, because the older something is, the safer it is, apparently. The groom’s dad dies, and no one’s mad about it cause he’s awful. (Lucia laughs) The vicar dies, which is slightly more upsetting.
I hate the groom’s dad. With a passion. He’s so awful.
Talia Franks: I hate him so much.
Lucia Kelly: And the fact that he’s talking to the bride’s friends, and trying to get the bride’s friends to get her to stop the marriage as well? Like –
Talia Franks: I hate all of it.
Lucia Kelly: It’s so awful!
Talia Franks: Especially because they’re both clearly bisexual and I support it so much. (Lucia laughs) No. Okay. They both give off – no, okay, tell me that those two did not give off huge bi vibes.
Lucia Kelly: Oh, they do. Absolutely. (Talia giggles) I spotted that little earring, that little bi bob cut. (Lucia and Talia laugh)
Talia Franks: There’s no way that that couple is not high key bisexual. That is the most bisexual couple I’ve ever seen on television. Icons.
Lucia Kelly: Let them be bi in peace. Let them raise their little family. The fuck? Leave them alone. (Lucia laughs then sighs) The Doctor yells at Jackie, it’s very upsetting.
Rose asks the Doctor if it’s her fault, and Pete overhears this, and this is the first inkling we get that Pete’s starting to work everything out. (Talia mhmms in agreement) We have that sweet moment between the Doctor and Stuart and Sarah, and then, Pete basically figures out that Rose is his daughter from the future. And then they have a really sweet convers – like, all of the conversations between Pete and Rose make me cry. The dynamic between them is so tender and so soft, and so fragile, right? Like you’re aware, the entire time, that there’s no way that Pete’s going to live.
The way the whole episode is set up, I don’t think there’s a moment where the audience genuinely believes that Pete will get to survive.
And it’s so heartbreaking to watch Rose try and protect him, not only physically, literally save his life, but the fantasy she builds of their life together, and the way that she doesn’t want him to know that he died is just – (Lucia breaks off in a sound of despair)
Talia Franks: You’re going to make me start crying again. I don’t wanna cry on the podcast. Can we just skip to the grading?
Lucia Kelly: No! We have to go through all of it, in excruciating detail, (Talia groans) because that is what we have promised the public. (Lucia laughs)
So eventually, finally, the Doctor and Rose make up, and the Doctor tells Rose very explicitly “Do not touch the baby. Don’t do it.”
Talia Franks: Hey, it’s not her fault that Peter puts the baby in her arms! It’s not like she was going to drop herself!
Lucia Kelly: No, I get that. I feel like that’s something that the Doctor should have told everyone, like at the same time, he’s at the pulpit being like, “Don’t touch the key. We’re going to get out of here,” at the same time, also be like, “And also the blonde and the baby? Keep them apart. You don’t need to know why, but it’s important.” (Talia and Lucia laugh) Also, can we talk about Christopher Eccleston with his little jacket off? Oh my God?! It felt intimate. It felt sexy. I don’t know why.
Talia Franks: That sweater is so ugly. (Lucia laughs) I hate it. I have an issue with that jumper. I have an issue with that jumper. It is ugly. It is an ugly jumper. Christopher Eccleston, he’s cute, but that jumper is ugly as fuck.
Lucia Kelly: I think it was just the f- because I don’t think we ever see the Doctor without the jacket on, in any other scene. He’s always got the jacket on, and then it was off. And I was like “This feels like too much. Am I allowed to look at this man without his jacket on? (Talia laughs) Oh my goodness.” (Lucia laughs)
A brief spark in a very sad episode, because then what happens? (Lucia sighs) Jackie accuses Rose, there’s this whole misunderstanding about who Rose is, and what Rose means to Pete, and then Pete puts the infant Rose in big Rose’s hands, and paradox happens, and everything breaks! (Lucia sighs)
Talia Franks: Hate that for all of them.
Lucia Kelly: And the Doctor gets eaten and the TARDIS collapses.
Talia Franks: And then (Lucia sighs) Pete dies, and then –
Lucia Kelly: No, no, no, because what happens first is that Pete goes to Rose and – I was already crying. I was weeping during that conversation, because, oh my God, he’s so gentle with her, and he’s so like – the way he takes care of her, and you can see underneath all of – like, this idea that Pete is not really built for day-to-day life. He’s a dreamer, he’s a thinker. And that means that on a day to day, he’s pretty useless. But at the core of him, the very center of him, is a man who truly, deeply cares. He’s the man you want in a crisis. He’s built for crisis. He’s built for big things. He’s not built for everyday, and that it is through Rose saving him on the day he dies, that he truly gets to live, and to die again.
Talia Franks: Yeah, but I hate that message.
I hate that message so much. I feel like that message is problematic and I hate it. And I want to stab it. (Stabs for emphasis)
Lucia Kelly: Please expand. Please tell me all your thoughts.
Talia Franks: So one, I hate the idea of people being useless, and I hate the idea of people who are creative, or dreamers, or thinkers, or whatever, not being able to focus, and not being able to achieve their dreams.
I feel like the idea that Pete is distracted, or the idea that Pete was always on that trajectory, or the idea that Pete was never going to be able to accomplish anything, is ridiculous. It’s messed up. It’s ableist. And I hate it. I hate it so much. It stresses me out and the idea that the only thing he was good for is dying just bothers me so much. It’s – No!
I don’t think that sacrificing oneself is a worthy goal. I don’t think that it’s a good thing. I don’t think that it’s ever a good thing. I think that sacrifice, however noble, is always a waste.
And I think that the idea that any one person is useless, the idea that he was never going to be able to achieve his dreams anyway, it’s just sad and disappointing, and leaves me with so many yucky feelings in general. It’s just so upsetting, the idea that he thinks he would be such a terrible father that the best thing he can do for them is die reeks of problematic suicidal ideation to me, and it’s horrible.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, I think. (Lucia sighs) I think the episode does have a few of those messages, but I also think, I don’t know, I think it’s clear that – when I say “Peter’s useless, Pete can’t do anything, Pete can’t provide for his family.” That’s – what I’m talking about is how other characters view him and how the narrative frames him, I think what the episode does is prove that he is in fact capable, and that he does have capacity and he does have –
Talia Franks: Does it? Because, the episode seems to just say that all he’s good for is dying.
Lucia Kelly: No. I think what the episode does, is show the power of self-conviction, because what we see throughout the whole episode is that Pete is receiving messages, from all sides, that he’s not worth it, right? Particularly from Jackie, which, in Jackie’s case, that comes from a place of fear, that Jackie is terrified that they’ve brought a baby into this world and won’t be able to provide for her and that her life will be unstable. And so all of these problems that were always under the surface, like even as early, we see their marriage, we see their wedding vows, and Pete gets Jackie’s name wrong. So from the very beginning, they’ve got these issues where Pete never quite commits to things.
Talia Franks: Yeah, but – S o I guess, the biggest reason that I struggle with this characterization of Pete is because I read Pete as being neurodivergent and so all these criticisms of Pete feel to me as really ableist, and everything that’s being said about him feels like it’s being seen through a very neuro-typical and judgmental lens, that feels unfair to him, and so that’s really adding to a lot of my distress about his characterization and the way the other characters treat him.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, I see that.
And I do think that it’s really unfortunate that the episode is set up so that Pete’s death is inevitable. We establish, regardless of why, Pete’ s death is a fixed point in time, it does have to happen. So there is no way out of it.
And so, from my perspective, I see it as – within the context of the story, I find it an empowering moment when Pete’s lived his whole life up to this point without a tether? Like, he’s tetherless, and it’s through Rose’s intervention and the Doctor’s intervention that when he does – like, it’s the difference between the Pete we made at the very beginning dying, and the Pete that we see at the end dying. Pete goes on an arc as well, and I think the Pete at the end has a much clearer and more positive view of himself than the Pete at the beginning does.
And even though he does sacrifice himself, even though he does die, I see it as a happy ending for him.
Talia Franks: I refuse to see anything that ends in someone sacrificing themselves as a happy ending for that person.
Lucia Kelly: And that’s totally fair.
Talia Franks: If that’s the end, that is not a happy ending for them.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. Like within the context of what’s possible for him, like, if – if –
Talia Franks: If they die, it’s an automatic lose. It’s an automatic fail. Death is an automatic fail. Automatic no. Automatic zero. That is a hard line for me.
Unless it’s in a universe with an established after world, which this is not one of those, unless there is a substantial established point, unless the story continues – Alt. Pete does not count.
Lucia Kelly: No, no, no. I was going to bring up the library, the ending scene of the library, there’s a heaven scene with River and all of her archeology buddies.
Talia Franks: That doesn’t count.
Lucia Kelly: Okay. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: They’re trapped in a computer with the same five people for the rest of eternity. That sounds like hell rather than heaven. I’m just saying, I would rather die than be trapped with the same five people.
Lucia Kelly: Well, you don’t have – you have the whole world. You don’t have to stay with them.
Talia Franks: No. Hell. No.
Lucia Kelly: Alright.
Talia Franks: Actually, River wasn’t contained to the library, so nevermind. River could leave the library. So I take it back. Cause River could travel around the universe, but River Song is a whole other problem.
Lucia Kelly: River Song is a whole other problem, which – You don’t want to talk about “Father’s Day,” I don’t want to talk about River Song. River Song makes me so angry. (Lucia sighs) But we’re going to have to – Let’s finish “Father’s Day”. Okay. We’re nearly done. (Lucia sighs)
Pete walks out. He gets hit by the car, and Rose gets to hold his hand as he dies, and we find out, at the end, that Rose has changed the history a little bit, so the story that Jackie says at the very beginning about how Pete dies is different to the story we get at the end.
Talia Franks: So does Rose have double memories now?
Lucia Kelly: I’m not sure. I think she does. I think it’s an eye of the storm situation, where if you’re the one at the center, you remember both.
Talia Franks: That’s what happened to Amy.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Okay. So Talia, what was your least favorite and favorite moment of “Father’s Day.”
Talia Franks: I want to get this done with as soon as possible, so I’ll say my least favorite was probably the Doctor saying that he picked another stupid ape to travel with. My favorite is when he was talking to Stuart and Sarah and said that, of course he would save them.
Lucia Kelly: My least favorite moment is probably the same as yours, actually, that first argument? It’s just so awful. I hate it. No, actually my least favorite moment is when Jackie and Pete are fighting, and specifically the moment where Jackie gets it into her head that somehow Pete had Rose when he was 11 and all that kind of stuff. It’s just so awful. That whole dynamic is so awful.
And I get that somehow they needed to get Rose and baby Rose to touch. I don’t feel like making Jackie and Pete’s relationship that dysfunctional was the way to do it, and it’s also a real disservice to Jackie, which I always hate.
Talia Franks: And also I feel like it is so hurtful to Jackie to make her think that Pete named their daughter after a daughter he already had.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
My favorite moment is the final conversation between Pete and Rose. I know it’s very sad. It’s still my favourite moment. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: You’re benched. (Lucia laughs)
Just go. It’s where you belong. Sleep on there now. It’s your home. (Lucia continues laughing)
Lucia Kelly: I will. I’ll make it my throne. Demand things from on high.
I think Pete was the Hero, and I think Rose was the Adam.
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: Yep. Or –
Talia Franks: If Rose is –
Lucia Kelly: Or is the Doctor the Adam?
Talia Franks: I don’t –
Lucia Kelly: Because honestly, like all this happens because the Doctor doesn’t –
Talia Franks: Can we say that the Rose-Doctor dynamic is the Adam?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah! (Talia giggles)
Talia Franks: Like it’s not –
Lucia Kelly: Yeah!
Talia Franks: – them individually. It’s them together.
Lucia Kelly: Do you know what? Do you know what this episode dynamic reminded me of, actually?
Talia Franks: What?
Lucia Kelly: It reminded me of Ten-Rose.
Talia Franks: Ah! You’re right.
Lucia Kelly: It reminded me of when Ten and Rose are in an argument with each other and they’re not working together properly.
Talia Franks: You’re right. Can we please move on now? I want to be done. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Fine. We can grade it. I think the production is great. I love the way that this whole episode is directed. I think it’s beautiful. There are certain shots particularly of –
Talia Franks: Okay, let’s give it a five and move on. (Lucia laughs) Writing! (Talia giggles) I’m just kidding. What are the certain shots?
Lucia Kelly: There are certain shots in particular of people’s eyes. The way that Joe Ahearne shoots only certain aspects of people, and uses closeup is really affecting.
Talia Franks: Little baby Rose’s little blue eyes.
Lucia Kelly: The reaction shots with the baby (Talia giggles) are also some of my favorite moments. There are moments where all the adults are yelling at each other, and then we just cut to the baby being like, “I didn’t ask to be here. (Lucia laughs) This is uncomfortable for me, the baby.”
Talia Franks: I want to give the writing a three because some of it’s so good, but the Nine-Rose dynamic is so bad.
Lucia Kelly: Can we give it a four?
Talia Franks: Ugh. (We hear Talia put in the grade on their keyboard)
Lucia Kelly: Thank you.
Talia Franks: Acting! Deserves a five –
Lucia Kelly: Acting: five! Five, five, five, five, five, five, five. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: I wanna give the science a two.
Lucia Kelly: No! Okay, so let’s actually look at the science. So (Talia groans) I think the actual, the paradox stuff, all of the big picture science stuff, I think all works really well. I also like the idea that as time gets more and more corrupted, more things go wrong, like the whole Graham Bell phone call happening and –
Talia Franks: Give it a four. If it’ll shut you up, we can give it a four. Rewatchability deserves a zero.
Lucia Kelly: No! (Talia sighs)
Talia Franks: Fine. You probably want to give it a five.
Lucia Kelly: No, I wouldn’t give it a five, because it is really hard to watch. I do think it’s worth watching though.
Talia Franks: Okay, fine. Meet in the middle?
Lucia Kelly: Fine. We’ll go to two for rewatchability.
Fastest grading we ever did. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: Are we done with this?
Lucia Kelly: Okay. We’ll let you get to bed. It’s a 0.8. 80%.
Talia Franks: This has been the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast.
Lucia Kelly: We hope you enjoyed this adventure with us through space and time.
Talia Franks: You can find this elsewhere on the internet, on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram as @WibblyPod. Follow us for more wibbly, wobbly content.
Lucia Kelly: You can find out more information about us and our content on wibblywobblytimeywimey.net And full transcripts for episodes at wibblywobblytimeywimey.net/transcripts
Talia Franks: If you’d like to get in touch, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucia Kelly: Please rate and review us on apple podcasts and other platforms as it helps other people find us and our content.
Talia Franks: Special thanks to our editor Owen Elphick, who has been a vital member of the Wibbly Wobbly team
Lucia Kelly: That’s all for now. Catch you in the time vortex!