My gut reaction was that this episode moved too slowly, at least in the first half. Now I find that quite intriguing. Most shows use the first part as setup, with all the action coming in the conclusion. "The Impossible Planet" set up the sequel, yes, but I liked that they didn't rush full-speed to the resolution. In fact, much of this episode was cerebral, with characters genuinely reacting to what takes place around them.
I knew he would find the TARDIS down there, so that wasn't much of a surprise. As the others escaped in the rocket, I suspected Danny and Zach would be brought on board as new Companions, which I certainly wouldn't have minded -- they seemed to be set up as personality types, each bringing something new to the Ten/Rose mix. I'm glad, though, because the show is quite clearly the story of Ten and Rose, and though I doubt the new guys would've threatened that, the TARDIS would've been (emotionally) crowded.
Last week, "Oods=Cylons" pinged really strongly. Not so much this week. They remained simply footsoldier drones in service of Satan. The implications of a willing slave race could've been really fascinating, and I wished the show had explored that more. Condemning humans for enslavement is morally problematic if the beings choose this fate, and it blurs the line of whether they are indeed "slaves". Last week, Rose tried to address this, asking if the Ood got paid and if they minded their roles, but this week they became standard alien villains. The show could've taken this in a really complicated, marvelous direction, but they backed down.
I really adored Rose in the leadership role, because it played to her strengths without crossing over in to Mary Sue territory. She has always been rather bossy, after all. If you watch her words and actions carefully, she doesn't actually solve any of the problems. She simply delegates tasks according to the others' skillsets, and then makes sure that the group stays focused on the objective. Back on Earth, she would never be the scientist who cures cancer, the writer of a great novel, or the secret agent who brings down a terrorist cell -- instead, she'd be a marvelous manager, the one who enables those to happen. As a society, we tend to laud Great Thinkers and dismiss those in the "boss" roles (perhaps because most of us have to work in service of someone else ;), but I like that Rose came into her own as a leader here, and that it was what helped save the day.
I'm not sure what to make of Ten here. I'm glad that the writers took the chance of him not specifically believing in God or a unified theology; it might be in keeping with what many people believe, but drama seldom goes that route. (Will have to think about this more, because I feel like I'm on the cusp of something with regards to the character.) Ten's wide-eyed adoration of humanity is lovely, yet I'd liked that he chose to back off from jumping into the pit -- maybe a growth pattern after earlier this season? -- except, of course, he jumped in anyway.
On the other hand, I'm iffy about how he pinned so much of his faith on Rose herself. She's very much his touchstone on this proverbial journey. And I can see why he'd focus on her instead of the fates of an exploration team he doesn't really know. But it almost felt too overt, too much of them-against-the-world, which cheapened the overall resonance to me. On American TV last night, we saw Nine willing to be a coward rather than deliberately kill all of humanity. Now, though, that grand sense of righteousness and generosity feels diminished, in service of his personal relationship with Rose. I *love* Rose and her relationship with Ten. LOVE it. It's what keeps me coming back each week. I just can't quite reconcile it with this new facet of Ten's character.
I liked that we got hints of the personal angsts of the other characters, and that it simply stayed *hints*. No grand "this is why I'm so damaged!" thing for characters we barely know. I'm all about the interpersonal stuff, but I appreciate a show that's willing not to press the issue. Satan addressing Toby as "the virgin" was particularly interesting, since it would seem to contradict Judeochristianic tradition. Humans "fall" to the devil when they experience sex or other sins, yet this time Satan chose the one who had never had sex. I can't decide whether that's sex-positive or just a funny little quirk of the storyline.
So, yeah. Great two-parter! It all felt very *quiet*, even though quite a bit happened. I really like that. My only problem? No glasses for Ten! Hmph.
And since I didn't say anything on Wednesday, here are my reactions to this week's Rescue Me. Oh, and for the record, most of these are cribbed from my post on the TWOP boards. :)
I LOVE SEAN GARRITY. While he does have some great lines, Sean's best bits come from those reaction shots and how his entire body plays along with the sweet-but-stupid role. A great example of that was his toothy grin after, "Can I have your cherry?", and then his confusion followed by "He did not!" Pasquale plays this character brilliantly (along with being so very, very hot.)
In fact, this week I noticed another thing about what makes this show so great in spite of all the ways it shouldn't be. A recent review called it a "potboiler" that still manages to overcome that because of all the nuances and carefully-detailed motivations. During the party scene and beatdown, I was struck by how much was happening beyond just the obvious: Maggie blithely drinking her vodka, Lieu drunk but somehow knowing exactly what was going on, Probie's brief hesitation before running after the guys. The plots and characters are just barely two-dimensional on paper, but the director and cast work together to make it all come alive. So much of this show's strength is in those oft-overlooked background details, even when the text itself doesn't support it.
I feel rather guilty for finding Sheila's racist comments at the party hilarious, but she was so damn oblivious and obviously being set up as the bad guy there. And (despite Sean's lovely chest), her "Well, they do," was the best line of the episode. Sheila's still a bit too inconsistent as a character, but Callie Thorne is doing a hell of a job with her. I mostly pitied her last season. Now I'm starting to genuinely like her.
As for Probie... I'm unspoiled, but I can already tell something big is about to happen there, with the promotion as a catalyst rather than a reason. He appears to be trying to mature and find his place in the world, but there's an underlying darkness now that sets me on edge, even more than his brief stalker stint at the start of S2. I'm getting a bad feeling about him, but I like New Mike enough to hope that it doesn't pan out.
(Someone on the boards asked this: The sign of Probie's latent homosexual identity started last season and continue to grow. Or maybe it bisexual?)
Yup, and the writers aren't even being subtle about it anymore, what with the snake last week and him talking to the guy at the bar tonight (not a gay-related convo, but the script set it up to make us draw the inference.) I don't think that darkness I mentioned is wholly caused by him possibly coming out, but I do think it'll play an important part in his arc this season.
As for the fight? Honestly, I feel like I should talk about it more, but it's one of those things that comes organically (and disturbingly) out of the characters, their backgrounds, and their relationship. It was both awful and wholly believable, and about so much more than just them fighting over a woman (who totally does NOT deserve to be fought over. Ugh. Janet.) But the compulsion to beat each other to a pulp is something I will never, ever understand, so I just watch it for the dramatic value. Very much a train wreck, and the fallout will last a while.
But hey, on the plus side, Tommy probably won't react that badly to Sean/Maggie -- he's already taken out his aggression on Johnny, and he didn't seem that upset about them at the dinner. Last thing I want to see is my beloved Sean beaten up... but he'd probably still look fucking HOT. ;)
ETA: Damn, I'm good. Was scrolling the TiVo guide and saw that De-Lovely was on. I vaguely remembered that John Barrowman was in that, so I turned it on... right at the beginning of his scene. Mmm, bliss.
I miss Captain Jack Harkness so goddamned much.