When I started watching Doctor Who, I got deeply invested in the the Doctor and Rose very quickly — invested in their relationship, their chemistry, and their potential as a couple. It started with Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, but it really warmed up with Tennant‘s Tenth. It was in the way they held hands almost instinctively, the way the Doctor smiled at Rose with a special warmth, the way they were so happy together.
They were both so devastated when Rose got stuck in Pete’s World. It took the Doctor a long time to get over losing Rose. When Rose appeared, I was so happy for them. And when the Doctor left Rose at Bad Wolf Bay for the second time, I cried. I’d like to think that Rose was happy with the half-human Doctor, but it still left the fully Time Lord Doctor alone and so very lonely.
I wanted Rose and the Doctor to be together. It wasn’t until River Song was introduced that my belief in the Doctor and Rose as my One True Pairing was shaken. River has such a different relationship with the Doctor than does Rose. River challenges the Doctor; as a time traveler, she’s equal to him in a way that River isn’t. River is an adult and accomplished in her own right — she has her doctorate; she’s a professor. Rose was nineteen, a shop girl, before she met the Doctor; any important events in her life (in her own mind) have been directly related to the Doctor — she says in “Army of Ghosts,” “The first nineteen years of my life, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Not ever. And then I met a man called ‘The Doctor.” In “The Parting of the Ways,” she even says that there’s nothing left for her at home, with Mickey and her mother.
Rewatching the episode where Rose is returned to Bad Wolf Bay, I see the Doctor and Rose in a different light. They just don’t seem as right together anymore. Of course, it could also be the fact that I’m now utterly convinced that River Song and the Doctor belong together, but Rose just strikes me as so young. The Doctor is her whole world — the dynamics of the relationship seem unbalanced. The scene at Bad Wolf Bay still makes me cry, to be honest, but it’s mostly because it leaves the Doctor so utterly alone, especially because I know what’s going to happen with Donna, not because I don’t think the Doctor and Rose should be separated.
I think Rose was good for the Ninth Doctor — he was dealing with ending the Time War, and she was young and happy and full of life. As the Tenth Doctor told her at Bad Wolf Bay, she made him better. She also, clearly, meant a lot to the Tenth Doctor. But I’m now okay with how it ended between the Doctor and Rose. The Doctor needed Rose, but he’s managed to move on. And frankly, I can’t see the Eleventh Doctor and Rose together — I’m glad the Eleventh Doctor has Amy and Rory.