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After much reading throughout the DW fandom, I've come to realize that opinions are sharply divided with regards to a certain episode. Namely, one of my favorites: "Girl in the Fireplace." I notice a lot of D/R shippers have a lot of hate for it, while others (often non-shippers) love it without reserve.

I personally love the episode, especially as a shipper. It's in my top 5 for Doctor Who episodes. And here is why:



1) I love Reinette. I like the actress who plays her and I like the character. She is bold, passionate, intelligent, and ambitious. She's also funny.
2) I love the emotional continuity from School Reunion to this episode and how it's connected to other episodes (and I know some of you would argue this point with me, but let me make my case before you do)
3) I love Rose in this episode and the impact this has on her. She's not the leading lady, but this story is relevant to her and to her relationship to the Doctor. And I don't just mean because he's showing interest in another woman.
4) I love the emotional whumpage that the Doctor goes through. We see clearly what life must be like for him. Meeting amazing people, witnessing history happening right in front of him, and then losing it all in the blink of an eye.



So... curious? Then please read on!

disclaimer: no offense meant to anyone or their opinion, this is just mine.

WARNING. Not dial-up friendly at all, lots of pictures





Reinette:
Are you there? Can you hear me? I need you now, you promised. The clock on the mantel is broken. It is time. Doctor! Doctor!


And with that, we begin this intriguing episode. This teaser starts off the episode with action and leaves you wondering just how this woman can speak of the Doctor with such familiarity.

I'd also like to point out that the episode is filmed beautifully as well. I love the contrast between the warm and richly lit tones of the scenes in France. Reinette is always in warm or light colors. She's golden and beautiful and her surroundings match. The only time they step away from this color pallette is, appropirately, when she is dead. Then the tones shift to blue and grey, marked by the rain outside the window and the shadows inside. Almost like Versailles is mourning the passing of the lady as well as the King and the Doctor. The rest of the scenes however keep their golden tones and are well lit. I like how the lighting imitates candlelight.

In contrast, we have the spaceship. It's always done in dark tones, blues and greens and a few random reds. All the scenes are full of shadows, you never know what's around the corner. The lighting is more mechanical, reminscent of technology and the cold of space. It reminds me of how they filmed The Matrix. In that film the Matrix was completely devoid of blue. Even the sky was filmed with great pains to be devoid of blue. A lot of red and some green came through instead. The "real world" was very blue and dark. I like how the two worlds were demarcated here and in this episode as well.

After the credits we get our heroes!



I've seen some complaints that this episode fails in the continuity department. A lot of people point to Rose's obvious distaste for Mickey tagging along and then the complete 180 she pulls by showing Mickey around the ship.

My personal take on this is that there's more time lapsed between the two than you would think. Enough time for Rose to change her shirt at least!! To me, this allows me to believe that Rose realized she was being a bit of a brat with her attitude about Mickey tagging along. My feeling is that she remembered her enthusiasm about him coming along from previous episodes ("World War Three" to name one) and that she's excited about someone from "home" getting to see why it is she does what she does. I think she carries around a bit of guilt for leaving them behind all the time and I think she likes the opportunity to share this experience, if only to make them understand why she does it.

Not to mention there is some distance between her reaction even at the end of the episode. She's conflicted about her decision to stay with the Doctor, worried that someday her heart will be broken if he leaves her behind.

ROSE
Do I stay with him?

SARAH JANE
Yes. Some things are worth getting your heart broken for.


I think after this she moves on from her earlier feelings and is resolved to live in the moment, like the Doctor has taught her before.



Here they discover the fireplace that leads to the 1700s and meet young Reinette. I picked these caps because the little girl was perfect and because of Rose watching the Doctor. They do this a lot: watch each other.

This is a theme they will visit again in the new series: that meeting the Doctor, even as a chilld, can have a huge impact on the rest of your life. Think of Elton in "Love and Monsters." He had one glimpse of the man and was obsessed with him for the rest of his life. Here, Reinette meets this bizzare man in her fireplace and then later he saves her from monsters under her bed and then has the ability to remain the same even as she grows up. I hardly think it's a surprise that she falls for him the way she does, especially considering her culture, upbringing, position, and personality.

A lot of people, including Rose, ask why Reinette is so special. I'd say that it hardly matters if she is or not. The Doctor loves freely and openly. Take "Father's Day" where he pledges to save the lives of the to-be-married couple. He says their ordinariness is what makes them special. Of course he'll save them. And to me, it makes perfect sense that the Doctor would come to appreciate Reinette and maybe even love her and of course he'll try and save her. It's who he is.



In this scene we also establish that time moves differently between the ship and this fireplace. This is important later.

We're also introduced to the broken clock, a callback to the teaser. I love the sound effects in this episode! The Clockwork Men are amazing on their own, but the little extra bits of sound of their movements and ticking just really add to their presence onscreen.

Here's another reason I love Reinette. She faces her fears. She is clearly afraid and has been warned not look behind her. But she does anyway and demands answers. I like her gumption.

YOUNG REINETTE
What do monsters have nightmares about?

THE DOCTOR
Me, ha!


I adore this exchange. It sets up a lot for the character of the Doctor as well as his relationship to both Reinette and Rose.



Can I just say, I love David Tennant's face here. This scene is so Ten for me. I love his fascination with the Clockwork Men and his total willingness to take them apart anyway.

The Doctor is rather self-indulgent of his curiousity here. For all his words about asking his companions not to wander off, he certainly does enough of it himself, even if it means leaving said companions behind.

I love Rose's face when she suggests a-wander:





Again, look at the warm rich tones! Beautiful!

And here we are introduced to the lovely adult Reinette, played spectacularly by Sophia Myles. I have a fondness for this actress. Maybe that is where some of my love for the character comes from. She plays her with such aplomp and sophistication and not a little bit of good humor. I love the dialogue here, as well as the Doctor's shock to find her all grown up and so forward.

THE DOCTOR
Oh! Hello!
Um, I was just looking for Reinette. Uh, this is still her room, isn't it? I've been away, not sure how long.

REINETTE'S MOTHER
(from outside the room, calling)
Reinette! We're ready to go!

REINETTE
Go to the carriage, mother, I will join you there.

REINETTE
(teasingly)
It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one's childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.

THE DOCTOR
(amazed)
Reinette...! Well. Goodness, how you've grown.


If Reinette hadn't sold me before, she does completely with this next move:

REINETTE
So many questions. So little time.




And of course, with all those questions running about, she chooses to snog him within an inch of his life. Perfect. I love her boldness, because really, it never ever would have happened if she had not initiated it, and I love his complete and utter surprise.



He's left a bit speechless, except when he realizes just who he locked lips with:



Again with the awesome facial expressions.

I also love the last bit:

THE DOCTOR (giddy)
I'm the Doctor. And I just snogged Madame de Pompadour!


So. Perfect.

This is, afterall, why he travels. To meet people and see things no one else can or can appreciate. This woman isn't famous yet, but he knows her and is having the time of his life.

I also like that his first response is to call out for Rose, only to find she's wandered off again.

This is also one of my favorite beats of the epsidoe:

The Doctor
Every time, every time, it's rule one - Don't wander off! I tell them, I do, rule one! There could be anything on this ship!


And then:



Heh.

Meanwhile Rose and Mickey are exploring and make plot-relevant discoveries. I LOVE the beat where Mickey indulges his inner fighter and does the duck and roll with the fire extinguisher.





And with a horse following him, the Doctor realizes the ship is stalking Reinette.

I love how he feels the need to duck behind fences rather than be seen.



Finally, our three heroes converge on a time window and discuss some exposition.



MICKEY
What's a horse doing on a spaceship?

THE DOCTOR
Mickey, what's pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective.


And finally we get some more details about the mysterious Clockwork Men



I included this cap so I could talk about these droids. They are the coolest prop/character! The costume and "disguise" is awesome and the inner workings is also awesome.

I also love the cold logic of the droids. It's a nice commentary on technology and logic and human compassion. It's interesting to think that the ship's crew was so dependent upon droids and technology to the extent that they're essentially helpless when their own directives are misconstrued.



I love this exchange. Reinette's face as the others realize the exact method the droids used to repair their ship. Her expression is perfect.

I like that Rose catches on rather quickly while Mickey, unfamiliar with the ways of the Universe, lags a little behind. Her voice is also pitch-perfect. She's still innocent in a lot of ways, but she's more than compassionate for people she's never even met.

My favorite bit though is here:

THE DOCTOR
It's back on the ship. Rose, take Mickey and Arthur, get after it. Follow it, don't approach it, just watch what it does.

ROSE
Arthur?

THE DOCTOR
Good name for a horse.

ROSE
(exasperated)
No, you're not keeping the horse!

THE DOCTOR
I let you keep Mickey! Now go, go, go!


They sound like an old married couple. And the Doctor is comparing Mickey to a horse. Heh.



I find this exchange fascinating as well. His expression reminds me of a later episode by Moffat, namely, the two parter in Series 4, "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead." It appears Moffat is interested in the Doctor's name. We get a small illusion to it here:

REINETTE
(sadly)
Doctor... Doctor who?
It's more than just a secret, isn't it?


His expression also reminds me of the Doctor's face as River Song claims intimate knowledge of him. The Doctor does not like the vulnerability from this.

And the ever-bold Reinette takes him to dance. Your imaginations can ignore or fill in the blanks from here.

Meanwhile,

MICKEY
(suggestively)
So, that Doctor, eh?

ROSE
What are you talking about?

MICKEY
Well! Madame de Pompadour. Sarah Jane Smith. Cleopatra.


I like that Mickey acts as though the Doctor is somehow cheating on Rose. He has a clearer grasp of their relationship than either involved in it seem to.

And then, jeopardy friendly Rose runs into a snag.





I love Rose here. She's always trying to be brave and throws around a lot of names, just as she did in "The Christmas Invasion". She's trying to be the Doctor even as she hopes he gets off his ass and saves her.

The next scene just emphasizes the old married couple dynamic and cracks me up.



The Doctor wavers around drunkenly and tells Rose to always bring a banana to a party because "bananas are good". Classic.

The tie around his head is no small part of why I love this scene either.

Unfortunately, there's still trouble afoot and Rose has to warn Reinette of the upcoming danger. Upcoming as in the next five years.

I like the scene between these two women a lot. Although the actual shots are boring and not very interesting to look at. The whole scene was filmed this way:



Here is where it becomes apparent (to me at least) that Reinette is, in some ways, a reflection of Rose. She is put in danger and has to rely on the Doctor to save her. She has strong feelings for the Doctor, enough to believe that the monsters are worth it if only for the chance to meet the Doctor.

REINETTE
It's the way it's always been. The monsters and the Doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other.

ROSE
(slight laugh)
Tell me about it.
(pause) The thing is... you weren't supposed to have either. Those creatures are messing with history. None of this was ever supposed to happen to you.

REINETTE
(angrily)
Supposed to happen? What does that mean? It happened, child. And I would not have it any other way. One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.


I also like the comment about "supposed to happen" because really, who's to say this wasn't always meant to happen? It's a different perspective on time and linear events and history. Moffet goes deeper into this theme with "Blink" but I still like it here.



I love this shot. It shows just how clearly Reinette does not belong. She is terrified and a little heartbroken and for all her curiousity and spunk, I can't actually picture her traveling with the Doctor for very long.



And Rose is Rose. Compassionate and emphathetic as always.

ROSE
Are you okay?

REINETTE
No. I'm very afraid. But you and I both know, don't we, Rose? The Doctor is worth the monsters.


Next the Doctor desperately tries to figure out a way of stopping the droids from killing Reinette.



He knows full well that going to save her could mean getting trapped. But then, the Doctor doesn't think much of his own saftey when it comes to saving others.

I fully believe that he never stranded Rose or Mickey, that in fact he knew that worst comes to worst they could be taken back to the Powell Estate through Emergency Program One. But it still aches to see him do so.



As always, Reinette is brave and faces her fears. The next bit always makes me cringe a little bit, both for the cliche of it and because the CGI is a bit appalling. Not to mention having to strain my (incredibly strong) suspension of disbelief at the idea of the Doctor and a horse making it through a plate glass window unscathed.



And of course the Doctor saves the day, even if at the same time he strands himself. It fits with his character. He's impulsive and makes things up as he goes. He knew the path this would lead to, but at the same time, to do otherwise would have made him very out of character.



But still, poor Rose. Her tear here breaks my heart a bit.



I love the juxtaposition of these two shots. Both the Doctor and Rose look up at the stars, like they're looking for each other across time and space. I love that the lighting on Rose's end emphasizes the gold and red of her skin, while the Doctor's is more blue and magenta than any other scene in France up to this point.




In the end, Reinette saves the day by leading the Doctor to his way home.



The Doctor just picks people up, as Martha will later say, and of course he offers Reinette the chance to see those stars.



Reunion hug!



THE DOCTOR
How long did you wait?

ROSE
(giddy with relief)
Five and a half hours!

THE DOCTOR
(releasing her)
Right, always wait five and a half hours.


One thing I have a hard time believing is that the Doctor could forget that the fireplace moves differently in time than the spaceship. Why did he ever step away??



He goes back only to find she has died.

This, again, emphasizes Reinette's likeness to Rose. Here's also where I see the emotional continuity and themes established in "School Reunion."

In "School Reunion" the Doctor and Rose talk about being left behind:

ROSE
I thought you and me were... but I obviously got it wrong. I've been to the year five billion, right, but this... now this is really seeing the future. You just leave us behind. Is that what you're going to do to me?

THE DOCTOR

(abruptly)
No. Not to you.

ROSE
But Sarah Jane... you were that close to her once, and now... you never even mention her. Why not?

THE DOCTOR

I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you--

ROSE
What, Doctor?

THE DOCTOR
You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords.


Here we see what we were told in "School Reunion" actually happening. Reinette meets the Doctor as a child, claims to have known him for almost all her life, loves him, has a certain need of him, and is ultimately left behind by time. We see how much pain this causes the Doctor, as well as the pain Reinette suffers when we read her letter to the Doctor. It's tragic and it's heartbreaking, and it's only been a day for the Doctor.

We finally have some empathy for what the Doctor must feel and fear from Rose. He's just waiting for his hearts to be broken.



The letter is what gets me the most here.

REINETTE
(voice-over)
My Dear Doctor. The path has never seemed more slow, and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again. But I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head, and know that all things are possible. Hurry though, my love. My days grow shorter now, and I am so very weak. God speed, my lonely angel.


She and Rose both have this unreserved and (in my opinion) somewhat undeserved faith in the Doctor. I think this, most of all, is what breaks his hearts. Their faith in him may ultimately lead to their doom. Tragic!

And then we have my favorite reveal in the episode and the perfect cap to the emotions of the story. Why were the droids so interested? Because they are the same.



Perfect.


Screencaps provided by Doctor Who Verse Screencaps
Transcript/Quotes for "Girl in the Fireplace" and "School Reunion" snagged from [livejournal.com profile] allthat_hopping
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