In Defense of “Does it need saying?”

In defense of "Does it need saying?" An in-depth look at why it was absolutely necessary for the Doctor to refuse to say "I love you" to Rose Tyler

Or does it?

I think there’s a lot of resentment directed at Doctor 10 because of that one little phrase. What I’d like to point out, though, is that it was absolutely necessary for 10 to say those four angering little words.

Okay, imagine yourself as Rose for a moment. You’ve spent the last few YEARS trapped in a parallel universe, never knowing exactly what the Doctor was saying to you when he vanished.  Now your universes have collided again, after ages of planning and experimenting and guiding alternate-reality Donna, and you’ve FINALLY found the Doctor. Your Doctor. Is she even thinking about the 10 meta crisis clone? Probably not. The original Doctor is her only concern. They spend almost the entirity of “Journey’s End” side by side.

After Donna saves the universe and the Doctor drops everyone off in their rightful places, they return to Rose’s parallel universe and Bad Wolf Bay for a final goodbye. I do not think that Rose was expecting this. I think Rose was under the impression that once she found the Doctor, she would never leave him again. Yet here he is, dropping her off in a place already haunted with Rose’s memories of their last farewell.

And not only is the Doctor dropping her off (probably for forever), he’s trying to pawn his cheap knock-off on her too? That’s kind of infuriating!

Why would Rose EVER want to choose 10’s meta crisis clone over the actual doctor unless he pushed her away? Unless the Doctor GAVE Rose a reason to choose the clone instead?

In Defense of "Does it need saying?" An in-depth look at the Doctor's refusal to say "I love you" to Rose Tyler ?
Two Doctors are better than one, right?

Remember Amy’s reaction to the Doctor’s flesh-clone in “The Almost People”? She was awful to him. Even though 11’s flesh-clone was more or less exactly like the Doctor, Amy couldn’t bring herself to reconcile that fact. It took her almost the entire episode to realize that the two Doctors were the same–almost interchangeable–and that the clone could be just as good and kind as the original Doctor. Rose is being forced to realize this same thing, but rather than getting an entire episode to come to terms with it, she gets about 5 minutes.

How can the Doctor convince Rose to take care of this man–because the Doctor can’t have two of himself running around the universe? Could you imagine the chaos? The best course of action is to leave the meta crisis clone in a parallel universe free of the original Doctor. Both the Doctor and his clone are aware of this.

The beauty of the Doctor is how insanely intelligent he is. When there are two of him, like in “Journey’s End”, as well as in “The Almost People”, both Doctors seem to communicate wordlessly. Their brains both come to the same light-speed conclusions and, with a look, they can concoct a plan without involving any other characters. (Switching shoes, anyone?) And that’s clearly what’s happening here.

The Doctor, his clone, and Donna all know that Rose has to take the meta crisis clone with her, and, as Donna points out, the clone is truly a gift to Rose. He’s the only chance the two of them have for a happy ending.

In Defense of "Does it need saying?" An in-depth look at the Doctor's refusal to say "I love you" to Rose Tyler

But even though the clone is human, Rose still feels like he’s an imposter. She wants the real Doctor. How can the Doctor prove that the meta crisis clone is the same as he is, with the same memories?

Well, Rose kind of does that for him. She asks both doctors what the last thing he said to her was. Now, remember, both Doctors are aware of what has to happen here. They both know that Rose has to choose the clone.

So the orignal Doctor says, “I said Rose Tyler.” And when Rose asks him how that sentence was going to end, he says, “Does it really need saying?”

Well, of course it needs saying, but not by him. Rule #1: The Doctor LIES. When the Doctor says “Does it really need saying?”, he’s both pushing Rose away (by lying to hurt her feelings) and giving his clone the opportunity to sweep Rose off her feet, while simultaenously proving he has the same memories as the actual Doctor. There’s no way the clone could answer that question if he didn’t posses the same memories, and when he whispers in Rose’s ear, he gives her his actual answer. The answer she wanted all along.

So you see, when the Doctor says “Does it really need saying?”, he’s not being an asshole. He’s putting this whole plan into motion.

And in many ways, this interpretation makes the whole situation even more heartbreaking. The Doctor has to push Rose away, only to see her find happiness with his clone. He has to leave them in their parallel universe for good, and you kind of get the sense that both the Doctor and his clone know what’s going to happen to Donna.

So in “Journey’s End’ the Doctor succeeds in saving the universe, but he also basically loses everything he’s ever loved. Sarah Jane points out that the Doctor has the biggest family of all, but he has to watch them all leave, in one way or another. It’s no surprise then that after “Journey’s End”  the Doctor becomes significantly angrier and more reckless. He demonstrates an absurd amount of hubris in “The Waters of Mars”, with disastrous results. By the time he regenerates, even though his final words are “I don’t want to go”, the regenerative change is almost a welcome one.

So, in conclusion, “Does it need saying” was, in fact, the ONLY thing that needed saying after all. I’m really interested to hear what other people think of this breakdown, so please post your thoughts in the comments!

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43 thoughts on “In Defense of “Does it need saying?”

  1. I have never been angry at 10 for those words. Your explanation hashes it all out superbly, but it also seemed so very much his character to refuse to say it. Here’s my question: “The best course of action is to leave the meta crisis clone in a parallel universe free of the original Doctor. Both the Doctor and his clone are aware of this.” How do they (and we) know that this parallel universe is Doctor-free? Perhaps there’s a Doctor who never met Rose, or who hasn’t met her *yet*. Or did I miss something where it’s made clear that there is no Doctor here and never was and never will be?

    1. That’s quite a stumper of a question, Jenny. I’ve always sort of thought Rose’s parallel universe was assumed to be Doctor-less. It’s confirmed that it runs ahead of the Doctor’s universe (he says as much in “Journey’s End”)and it’s a different, separate universe from the one where Donna never meets the Doctor, and the Doctor dies. I’ve been reading through the wiki pages trying to find info that specifically states that there’s no Doctor for Rose’s universe, but I can’t find anything that utterly confirms it.

      1. This is just a musing on Jenny’s question about this being a universe with no Doctor; The doctor has said that he can know another time lord (but i guess of course when he sees him) and i feel that he’s implied that he can feel if there are others since he can feel the whole of time and space at once ( i don’t know how in depth that goes or if that applies here), so it can be surmised that if there was a Doctor, or Timelord, that the Doctor may have been able to detect that when he entered the universe. I think we might be able to assume that this is a universe without Timelords. All speculation of course.

        1. Yeah. I have to agree with you. Plus I know for a fact that Russel T. Davies has been quoted saying (I’m paraphrasing) “We created a character so married to the Doctor that we had to create an entirely seperate universe to contain her in,” which leads me to believe that this universe was one without a Dcotor.

      2. The timelords, and therefore the doctor (as shown in the long classic doctor who cannon) exist only in our universe( part of beingTIMELORDS, one must presume). Its similar to Romana staying in Espace, which was essentially an alternate universe, and therefore had no timelords.

  2. Ok. I’m no expert. But I would agree there are no Time Lords in the alternate universe. The Doctor mentioned once how they used to be able to travel between universes but not now. I’m guessing since the Time War and Galifrey /Time War was time-locked. I don’t know if Time Lords used to exist in other universes and were also time-locked or because of their unique abilities, truly are unique existing here only but able to travel through all universes just as they would the rest of time and space.

  3. I Lways thought the Doctor didn’t say I love you, because everything he loves will eventually leave him or he kills them.

  4. I really like this explanation on why the doctor didn’t say the words. Thank you for clearing this up for me! Xxx :)

  5. i really like this explanation..it would have been better to hear him tell martha this exactly if only to hear him tell it

  6. I am really happy to have found this blog post. I am a fairly new Who fan and I’ve been watching the new series on netflix for the past couple months. I think I’m on season 5 now (Matt Smith is the Doctor as of about 2 episodes ago).

    Anyways, of course I am in love with this show, especially 10 and Rose together. When I watched Journey’s End I was thinking the same thing you were. That he loved her so much, and because he couldn’t be with her for many reasons, he gave up ever being able to tell her how much he loved her so that she could truly choose to be with his clone. He knew he’d never get to be with her, but his clone was the only way she’d ever get to be with him. He had to make sure that that was enough for Rose, and he could only do that by never expressing his love. And (you may have noticed) several times while he and Rose travelled together, he’d start saying something about how much Rose meant to him and he’d suddenly stop. It’s almost like he knew all along that they’d be separated and he didn’t want to let her get too close because it would just break her heart even worse. In my opinion, it was extremely selfless that he did that for her.

    But did you just bawl during Journey’s End, and then when he went to go see all of them again? I cried so hard!

    1. I’m in the same situation as you, I’ve recently started watching DW properly, and just watched the first Smith episode (although I saw the beginning of season 7 when it was on telly)! Bawled through End of Time too, especially when he went to see Rose…

      I think the explanation is spot on, I feel the same way. You can see how hard it is for the Doctor to have to say goodbye to her, she was always on his mind from the time he left her at Bad Wolf Bay, and he never got over her.
      The last few episodes before 10 regenerates are so upsetting.. seeing how lonely he is is heartbreaking, and the way Tennant plays him is magnificent.

      1. Actually, that reminds me of the lines in Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne:
        But he himself was broken
        Long before the sky would open
        Forsaken, almost human
        That, to me, is 10 after he left Rose for the second time..

    2. I know. I can’t believe I thought for a moment the doctor was being a selfish jerk to Rose. It’s so heartbreaking that he can never have happiness again but made sure to give it to the one person who made him happy. He had to make sure she chooses his clone over him for real so that she can be happy even though he will never be. And even if he was with Rose it would be even more heartbreaking when rose would die alone and the doctor would then be left alone forever knowing he will never join her.

  7. my problem with it is that rose tyler… i love you. is pretty easy to figure out. he coulda just guessed. anyone with a half brain could have.

    1. She “knows” what he’s gonna say but man, it’s way better to hear someone say it. Remember the first time someone you chose to love said it and how wonderful it felt?

  8. THANK YOU!
    I have been looking for a very blatant explanation as to why he says that at the end. I wasn’t looking at the big picture, rather I was irritated that he finally had the opportunity to say it and when he didn’t, it broke my heart.

  9. I was so frantic after that episode, this really calmed be down thanks so much. Perfect explanation. Reading the comments, I would have to agree that there are no time lords in the parallel universe for Rose to meet. After all, Rose isn’t even from the parallel world herself. Rose, along with her mom and Mickey, are all from the Doctor’s world. And if you remember, Rose originally didn’t even exist in the parallel world. The Jackie and Pete Tyler from the alternate universe never had a child, instead they had a dog which they named Rose. And I assume that since Rose didn’t exist, and had no link to the Doctor as a dog, that the Doctor didn’t exist either. That’s just my theory. Kinda new to this.

  10. But than again, I always wondered why there was another Jackie Tyler and Micky (or “Ricky”) in the alternate universe if there wasn’t a Doctor or a Rose. It’s shouldn’t have been special, it should’ve just reversed itself and created an opposing universe. But it kept some details and people from the Doctor’s world…

  11. I never thought if it that way, that’s a really good point. I always thought of it as, Rose gets to live out her life with the Doctor, even if its the clone. But the real Doctor who does indeed love her doesn’t get to be with her. I think if he admitted that he loved her it would have been even more painful for him to leave. I think that’s also why he didn’t say goodbye.

  12. Two things to add about the scene:
    1. Doctor clone and Rose are wearing matching outfits: Maroon shirts with electric blue jackets (or dare I say, Tardis blue?). This shows that they finally match each other, both in body composition (both humans now) and character growth.
    2. Even with the Doctor trying to push Rose away by not giving her the words she needs to hear, he can’t even deny what he was going to say. He didn’t come up with some entirely different line or try to deny feeling that way anymore. That would have been truly cruel and as a man violently in love with her, he is incapable of that. But by asking “does it need saying?” he is still implying that he does love her. He never denies it, but he can only go so far as denying her the outright words. I see this as the power of the Doctor’s love for her.

    1. I love this! All this time and I never noticed the similarity in the outfits. There’s no way that’s a mistake. Good eye!

  13. Omg y ou just oppened my eyes! Oo
    You’re such a genius..
    I hate 10 more than before now xD
    Just, leave the clone and be happy with Rose!! xD (I’m such a douch xD)
    I’m kidding, right? x)

  14. I’m late to the comment game, but I got to thinking: is it possible Rose knew on some level that this had to happen as well? I mean, if she thought for absolute certainty that she wasn’t going anywhere she wouldn’t have left the TARDIS. She would have said goodbye to Jackie on board.
    Bad Wolf lead them back to each other, and she knows how it works, so the moment she saw the clone destroy the Dalek I think a little voice told her what was going to happen.
    I think it became a moment of panic for her, the realization of everything that was happening. Suddenly she was second guessing herself. Remember she accepted on the ship there were 2 of them (3 counting Donna.) So why didn’t she now? Same reason she wanted proof he was still the Doctor when he regenerated. She knew what he was going to say all that time, she just wanted the proof.
    I dunno, maybe I just enjoy Rose too much and think she’s a lot smarter than people give her credit for. But I think she understood everything. I think that’s why she was sad she didn’t get to tell the Doctor it was okay or goodbye. But that’s just me

  15. I absolutely love your defense. Thank you so much, and I understand now and can accept this ending.
    I still wonder what the clone whispered. A simple ‘I love you’? No, in my mind, since the clone was more like the doctor when they first met, I want to say it went something like this. Remembering the first place in time the Doctor took Rose,
    ‘Rose Tyler…. I love you to the end of the earth and back….’
    <3

  16. Great thoughts! I always felt that it was a necessary statement and that it was the right thing to do. I also imagine clone doctor and rose still starting a life together albeit a difficult one. Good theory and explaining!

  17. I was completely furious when those words weren’t said but after this breakdown I am now crying. The poor doctor had to do that for rose and the universe. He wanted her to be happy but now he is sad for the rest of his life. I can not believe I didn’t think of this. Thank you so much! :*

  18. Loved the article, and loved the comments. I don’t feel so silly now about being hung-up on this episode…couldn’t accept the ending, but now, finally, I think I have “closure.” Good bye Rose Tyler and Mega Crisis Doctor…

    On another note… Has anyone ever wondered what their babies would be like? Human time lords?

  19. I do believe Doctor thinks they can’t be together, he will hurt her or be her cause of death in on way or another; and he believes this in a way that despite he suffered so much losing her (practiclly lives on the borderline between criyng and just been a zombie after doomsday) still doesn’t fight to go get her…. and seems that it was quite easy. For dropping her on the parallel universe with his clone Tardis didn’t get any problem, he could go for her sooner without so much trouble… but he chose not to. She wasn’t trapped, though she could’n leave he was pretty capable to get her. They were appart because he decided.

  20. Thank you for this amazing explanation! I also thought that he couldn’t say that he loves her because if he had done so, Rose would have never chosen the clone and that’s alright. Maybe the clone should just have said it out loud to give her, finally, after all the time, the answer she was longing to hear. And anyway he kind of said that he loved her in “Doomsday” when he said: I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye , so I think they both knew the truth about their feelings.

  21. Can someone help me? Some times I get lost in the depth of Doctor Who. Explain how he loved Rose so much but ends up married to River Song. It was like Rose never existed. I never liked River because I felt he was being disloyal to Rose.

  22. I agree with another poster that it was not just that he had to say “does it need saying.” In that moment, he can feel the full weight of what he is doing and now she wants him to say I love you on top of it. He has to admit that and then still leave her. It would have been too much. She doesn’t understand yet at that time, so I don’t fault het, but it was asking a lot.

    And I wanted to add, I think Rose deep down really wants this too. She was very interested in the fact that he will age with her. She just doesn’t want to admit it because she loves the Doctor for who he is and would never make him change. But in Impossible Planet/Satan Pit she was totally ready to settle down with him. And really he is too. Human Nature was a peak into the life Doctor would want if he could have it. I personally think he fell in love there because she was a widow and he felt like a widower since he lost Rose. That episode is very revealing about what the Doctor longed for and now he can have it. So he was giving a gift to himself too and I think he believed Rose could love him as just a good man without the Tardis or having to be Spock all the time.

  23. I think you’re right, but I also think it goes deeper. The Doctor has lived for 900 years. He’s a Time Lord. He’s had – and lost – everything already. Rose was so significant to him, she had such an impact on him that if she hadn’t gotten turfed to Pete’s World, he would have stayed with her forever until she died. But when he first lost her, he got perspective – realized he’s The Doctor, he’s a Time Lord, he will live forever and he’s already lost so much, and he hardened – and he knew that if he got her back, he’d eventually lose her again no matter what, and even then he would have stayed with her except – him. Leaving her with the metadoctor gave him a solution: it meant that those two now have a chance to be happy in a way that he, the last Time Lord, can never be, because he will always lose them. He gave himself a chance for a happy ending in another body, and gave Rose that chance too. It was beautiful.

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