Kick-Ass Women of SciFi & Fantasy: Rose Tyler

rose-tyler-doctor-who-for-whovians-28291458-1024-768

“You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand! You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right, even when everyone else just runs away.”

Let me ask you something: does that look like the face of someone you want to mess with? I didn’t think so. Don’t let the fact that she’s a pretty, 100 pound, blonde girl lull you into thinking she won’t kick your ass if you mess with the people or the planet she loves. If you piss her off, you better run for your life, because this girl is capable of carrying twice her body weight in guns:

RoseTyler2

For this week’s kick-ass woman of SciFi,  I give you the big Bad Wolf herself, Doctor Who’s Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth.

Rose Tyler is strong and brave, throwing herself into any new situation with guts and zeal, like the first time she entered the T.A.R.D.I.S., dropping everything to travel to other eras–other planets–with The Doctor in exploration of time and space, despite the inherent dangers in such an adventure.

24514
Rose running into the T.A.R.D.I.S. with speed and a smile

Rose Tyler is resilient. She doesn’t have it in her to give up. Ever. Even in “Doomsday,” when The Doctor said she could never see him again because they existed in two separate universes that couldn’t be crossed, she sought him out when the universes converged again in “Journey’s End,” at least getting to say a proper goodbye to The Doctor before the final, tragic separation. By proper goodbye, I mean one that doesn’t end like this:

BIBpLXB.jpg

The words you may have noticed missing there, before he disappears, are “I love you.” Yeah. As per usual, for a freaking Time Lord, The Doctor has just awful timing and leaves us all in tears. Speaking of which, if you’d like to cry today, click below.

In addition to her resilience, especially in this moment, Rose is brave and fiercely loyal. Even though she knows she’ll lose her family–everyone and everything she knows and cares about–to an alternate universe forever, she is firm and sure in her choice to stand by The Doctor’s side in defense of Earth. Rose knows what she wants, and no one, not even The Doctor, is going to tell her otherwise.

I made my choice a long time ago, and I’m never gonna leave you.

Can we just talk about this quote for a minute? Think for just a moment how dedicated to someone you would have to be, how strong you would have to be, to accept that you will never see your own mother again, that you might very well die if you stay, but still to say with conviction “You are not sending me off to safety. I am going to stay right here with you, and we are going to save the world damn it!” Like I said before, Rose basically has two settings:

roseRose Tyler - Bad_Wolf_by_formadmenonly


    

 adorable        and      I will destroy you.

Doctor Who hints at the fact that Rose isn’t book smart, didn’t like high school, and at 19-years-old, is working in a shop instead of attending college. However, she possesses an intelligence about people and situations that can’t be measured in report cards or tests, often seeing key patterns in mysteries that The Doctor himself overlooks. What’s more impressive, is she keeps the strength to go on saving the world even after she loses him. That’s introspective intelligence. Rose is confident in and sure of herself. She derives self-worth not from the opinions of people around her, and not from the men in her life, but from her opinions of herself.  Rose loves who she is. You go, girl.

the-doctor-and-rose-wall

This means she has to get over this emotionally devastating, tragic separation, (metaphoric for a breakup). Even though you can see the hurt clearly dripping down her face, Rose picks herself up, and realizes that life still matters even after she’s lost her romantic partner–a strong and admirable trait I can’t stress enough for young women to emulate when going through a breakup. There’s more to life. You are more than what a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse makes you.

But my absolute favorite aspect of Rose Tyler: she is the Bad Wolf. The part of the show I’m referring to here, is the story arc in which Rose and The Doctor keep seeing the words “Bad Wolf” wherever and whenever they go. They don’t know what the words mean, and neither does the audience, until in “The Parting of the Ways,” when faced with certain death, The Doctor tricks Rose into safety by sending her home in the T.A.R.D.I.S. to protect her while dying himself at the hands (er, robotic plunger arm things) of the Daleks. Rose would never willingly leave him, especially in times of crisis, so she kicks and screams the whole way home, then immediately starts working on a way to get back to him. That’s my girl!

Knowing what she is about to do is dangerous, and unpredictable, she looks into the heart of the T.A.R.D.I.S. as a last resort. The T.A.R.D.I.S. gives Rose all the knowledge of time and space–all The Doctor has and more, so that she can operate the ship and find her way back to him. When she arrives, she is no longer “just” Rose Tyler, but the Bad Wolf. She emerges from the T.A.R.D.I.S., to The Doctor’s shock and awe, as a glowing, powerful goddess, finally revealing the mystery of the words saying: “I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words; I scatter them in time and space. A message to lead myself here.”

 As the Bad Wolf, Rose stands up to an entire Dalek army poised to exterminate everyone on Earth and says:

main-qimg-92f8042ace314b373b64bddb7ea4b524

Hell yeah! She saves the Doctor and the Earth, though she herself is dying from far too much knowledge of the universe burning her brain. The Doctor saves her with a kiss, taking her pain into himself which would cause him to die, and regenerate. I love the way they sacrifice for one another 🙂

i_think_you_need_a_doctor_by_licieoic-d7toho2
“I think you need a doctor.”

But the best part of Bad Wolf, is what’s not explicitly said in the episode. To me, Bad Wolf means that a girl–just a regular, small, young, girl who isn’t brilliant or rich, and who otherwise wouldn’t stand out in the world–is anything but “just” a girl. Bad Wolf means “I am the big bad wolf. Not a little girl in a cape. Not a victim. I have the power to decide who I want to be (I create myself) and I have the power to shape my destiny” (a message to lead myself here).

The other really cool thing about Bad Wolf is and always has been a theme of the show: that words are more important and more powerful than any physical weapon. How does Rose save The Doctor and the world? Ultimately, by writing two words all over time and space: Bad Wolf.

Finally, at the long list of her awesome qualities, Rose is inspiring. Let’s not forget this wonderful little tidbit:

d1370acbff2195b7bb96266ba3e59a43

Long after Rose is gone, her spirit, her resilience, her loyalty, love, and courage will be inspiring The Doctor to go on and stand up in the face of danger and do what’s right. He knows how strong, and how courageous and capable she is, as evidenced in this dialogue from “The Satan Pit:”

“If I destroy this planet I destroy the gravity field. The rocket. The rocket loses protection, falls into the black hole. I’ll have to sacrifice Rose. {the Beast laughs.} Except that implies—in this big grand scheme of Gods and Devils—that she’s just a victim. But I’ve seen a lot of this Universe. I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demigods and would-be gods. And out of all that, out of that whole pantheon, if I believe in one thing—just one thing—I believe in her.” {he breaks the vase.}

The Doctor knows that Rose can take care of herself, and she does save herself. He never has to worry about protecting a damsel in distress. Rose is the hero of her own story.

In “The Shakespeare Code” he professes his faith in her again:

tumblr_lx1e8gsVio1r44digo6_r2_250
A witch tries to hurt the broken-hearted Doctor with the name “Rose”

For her bravery, resilience, loyalty, confidence, and ability to inspire, Rose Tyler will forever be a Kick-Ass Woman of SciFi.

What are your favorite Rose Tyler moments? Please leave a comment below 🙂

Advertisements

Writing and the Art of Anticipation

“The thrill is in the chase, never the capture.” – Doctor Who, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”

I cannot stress enough the joy that exists in wanting. My favorite writers share the idea that romance is less about kissing and having sex, and more about the anticipation of a kiss, and building sexual tension. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, this can go on for years. Chris Carter was able to stretch the relationship between Mulder and Scully on The X-Files for seven, right up until David Duchovny’s departure from the show. In other words, he kept us waiting until the last possible moment, and if viewers weren’t grateful, they should have been. Good writers know there’s an art in giving characters space to miss each other, time to want each other, and the magic of the tease.

Yet when I recite the quote above to my writing workshop full of high school girls, one of whom just read me a first-kiss scene that she is particularly proud of, I am met with skeptical stares. “No kissing in the first book of a series,” I’ll say, “and if it’s a standalone story, absolutely no kissing until the end.” It’s easier said than done, and even I’ve been tempted to write that sensual, romantic first-kiss scene too early in my novel. To myself, my students, and writers everywhere, I urge you: Don’t do it! Build romantic suspense instead.

The X-Files did this so well, it is in fact, the best I’ve ever seen. All the affection had to be shown through the characters’ concern for one another. Chris Carter mastered the art of keeping from the audience what they thought they wanted, which was for the characters to get together and accomplish their goal. What audiences really want is to want the characters to get together. We wait seasons for them to kiss, but once they do, that anticipation dissipates and things get boring fast. You can never get that first kiss or the feeling of wanting it back. Afterwards, characters become a sort of mundane couple sickening us with their constant cloying cuteness. Think Jim and Pam on The Office. I remember reading a fan comment about four seasons into the show that said: “For once in a show I just want the characters to get together and be happy. Is that so much to ask?” No! Bad fan! And yes, it is a lot to ask for, because you are essentially asking the writers to terminate the anticipation you feel when tuning into their show every week. Will this be the episode they finally get together? Think about it. Did you enjoy the show more when Pam was an unattainable goal for Jim, or when they were happily married and working on baby number two? This question is rhetorical given that we’d already seen the latter storyline with baby number one. Pam gets pregnant because there is nothing left to do with their story. The best parts are over. Remember when Jim was in emotional agony because Pam was engaged to Roy? Remember feeling that pain with him? That was good stuff.

I know I’ve been talking T.V. shows here, but it applies to books as well. A book becomes a series when the first one hooks us, usually because our main character meets a new and intriguing person and they spend the length of that book chasing one another and a goal. By the time we reach book two or three, and the characters have already gotten together, most of their time is spent kissing and arguing over who’s prettier. Think Edward and Bella in Eclipse. However, if done correctly, we’ll still be waiting with bated breath for Katniss to choose Peeta or Gale, or to see what happens between star-crossed lovers June and Day in Marie Lu’s Legend series. Lu kept me waiting until the very last page, and I thanked her at the end.

But using T.V. as an example seemed appropriate since this Friday I found myself on the page of one of my favorite new shows, 12 Monkeys, discussing the relationship of the two main characters with another fan. In order for me to get to this stage in a relationship with a new series, several factors need to be in place. First, the concept has to hook me. In order to get me to the second episode (a rarity for me), it must be well written with well thought out story lines. But how do we reach the stage where I’m on the internet talking to other nerds about the show? Thirdly, and most importantly, there must be interesting characters that want something and make me want it for them. That’s anticipation.

We’ll keep tuning in for a stolen glance…a meaningful moment…a hand hold…a hug, that moment where their lips almost touch but some awesome story-related snafu interrupts it.

This fan and I shared concern that Cole and Cassie might kiss by the end of the first season. There were a few moments already that showed the characters growing closer, and it’s romantic to be sure. We love to see them dance, appreciate art, and be generally adorable despite the time-oriented plot device keeping them apart. I’m loving the development, but I do hope they keep that first kiss at bay. So far, the writers are doing a good job of emotionally attaching me to Cole and Cassie, making me want what they want, a difficult feat in so few episodes. I want Cole and Cassie to be happy together. I just hope the writers continue to keep from me what I want. Because that’s what I really want.

Perhaps, like the students taking my workshop, you’re reading this right now with eyebrows raised, thinking I’m off my nut. Don’t believe me? This theory is backed by science, which you can read more about in the Daily Mail, and upheld by writers long before me. After all, it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” My fellow story lovers, I wish you long and hopeful travels wrought with anticipation.

Jack and Carter of Stargate SG-1 separated by a forcesheild in the episode “Divide and Conquer.” They will never share a kiss in the series that is unaffected by an alternate universe, disease, or memory.