Rose No More
By Alan Stevens
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 484/5
In 2009 I asked Robert Shearman, author of Dalek, this question: "as Army of Ghosts/Doomsday and The Stolen Earth/Journey's End predate your own story set in 2012, how is it that Henry Van Statten, the man who owns the internet, is calling the prize of his collection a "Metaltron" and not a Dalek?
Shearman's response was to say that time had changed, and the events as they originally transpired in Utah would now be different.
This is the kind of suggestion that, prior to the arrival of twenty-first century Doctor Who, would have had your average fan reaching for the smelling salts, while fanning themselves with a well-thumbed copy of Jean-Marc Lofficier's Doctor Who Programme Guide Volume 2. But not any more, as now we have fully accepted the idea that "time can be rewritten"; which leads me on to the Eleventh Doctor era, with its "cracks in the skin of the universe" that frequently spilled "pure time energy" into our reality and erased, not just individual people, but also random historical events.
As a result, in the episode Flesh and Stone the Doctor indicates that two of his previous adventures, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End and The Next Doctor, have been deleted, as, in the first place, there are no records of a giant CyberKing that "walks over all of Victorian London", and, in the second, his companion Amy Pond hadn't recognise the Daleks in spite of their full-scale invasion of her own time and planet the previous year.
This brings us to Victory of the Daleks, an adventure where the controversial introduction to the series of the generally reviled Paradigm Daleks has caused one particular question, concerning the provenance of the three bronze Daleks and their "pretty beaten up" saucer, to be overlooked. If The Stolen Earth/Journey's End no longer happened, then where did these Daleks come from?
The solution is there in the story. They are the last Daleks in the universe, who intend to avoid final extinction by restoring their race with a "Progenitor" which "contains pure Dalek DNA". Yet, these Daleks are incapable of activating the Progenitor themselves because, as the Doctor reasons, "your DNA is unrecognisable as Dalek".
This would indicate that these particular Daleks came from events that took place two hundred thousand years in the future, being the sole survivors of the hybrid army of Daleks created by their Emperor which faced off against the Doctor in Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. Indeed, as these Daleks were ones created, in part, from human cells harvested from "the waste of humanity", you can understand why the Progenitor failed to identify them. But if this is the case, how did they escape the Bad Wolf?
The Bad Wolf says of the Daleks "you are tiny. I can see the whole of time and space. Every single atom of your existence, and I divide them. Everything must come to dust. All things. Everything dies. The Time War ends".
From Army of Ghosts/Doomsday we discover that the sole reason the Cult of Skaro survived was through those four Daleks being hidden away in "the space between dimensions" aboard a Void Ship that weighed nothing, had no atomic mass and didn't give off any form of radiation, thereby allowing its passengers to "exist outside the whole of creation" and so avoid detection by the Bad Wolf.
Consequently, the only way these three Daleks from Victory could possibly have survived is if the Bad Wolf had never come to the Game Station and the Emperor's strike force of four hundred thousand Daleks were destroyed by something else, possibly through the Doctor activating the Delta Wave, which spared one Dalek ship only to fall "back through time... crippled, dying".
As the Delta Wave "fries your brain" it seems odd that the Dalek saucer would also be damaged, but then perhaps there was a series of collisions as the wave of Van Cassadyne energy struck the fleet. Either way, for the Doctor to survive the Delta Wave (even if he was subsequently forced to regenerate) he must have been in possession of his Tardis, and for that to happen, Rose would have to be absent, otherwise he would have used it to send her back to her own time and safety.
We are told in Cold Blood that if someone "who is a part of your world" is deleted by the time field, then your memory of them will vanish, as this would constitute a major change to your own personal timeline. So, if Rose really has been expunged from history, then why was the eleventh Doctor able to recognise the hologram of Rose in Let's Kill Hitler, and how was the operating system for the "Moment" capable of telepathically extracting from the Doctor's future memory an avatar of the Bad Wolf in The Day of the Doctor?
Furthermore, these missing fragments of history were not restored when the universe underwent its successful reboot, as the atoms used to clone a copy of the original were only preserved in the Pandorica after the time field deletions had taken place.
A clue to solving this dilemma is given in The Big Bang, when the Doctor tells River Song that "nothing is ever forgotten. Not really. But you have to try", and it is by this act of remembering, coupled with the special power gained through prolonged exposure to the space/time crack in her bedroom wall, that allows Amy Pond to summon her parents, Rory Williams and finally the Doctor, back into existence. Nevertheless, she can only return the people she knew, and Rose and Amy never met; so what was it that made the Doctor remember Rose?
Ironically the answer can be found in the same phenomenon that first brought the Bad Wolf into being: the Bootstrap Paradox, a time travel situation where something can exist without ever having being created. In this case, after the three Doctors have worked out a solution as to how to save Gallifrey, the War Doctor says "oh, Bad Wolf girl, I could kiss you", causing the Tenth Doctor to exclaim "sorry, did you just say Bad Wolf?" This, in turn, retroactively prompts the future Doctors to recall her, thus enabling the Eleventh to identify the Rose hologram in Let's Kill Hitler and the Moment to extract Rose's image from the Doctor's mind and use it as its systems interface. The fact the Tardis retains a hologram of Rose is not an issue, as artifacts of someone's existence, like Rory's engagement ring, will still remain behind following that person's erasure from space/time.
No doubt the newly regenerated Ninth Doctor had intended to seek out the woman whose likeness had promised a kiss, but, once the universe became fractured, Rose Tyler was no longer there to find, nothing more now than a faded memory from a time that never was.