So, I finished up the second series of Doctor Who over the weekend, and had a good cry at the end of “Doomsday,” which SPOILER ALERT, got me thinking a bit about what’s artistically sadder: love that’s lost or that’s never realized?
I think part of what hurts so much about Rose’s separation from the Doctor is that they do both deeply love each other, but they only realize that love in a limited way. They’re physically comfortable around each other for much of the time they’re together, and they enjoy each others’ companionship, but they don’t actually kiss, except for once that we see, they don’t get to make love, even though they have what seems to be a strong physical attraction, and they never have the emotional comfort of the mutual acknowledgement of their affection for each other. They’re denied all of those things, even though they would have come at comparatively low risk: Rose and the Doctor hurt each other, sometimes, but they probably could have been happy together for as long as Rose’s “forever” lasted.
Would it have been more emotionally wrenching for them to experience some of those additional joys, before they were separated or Rose died? I can’t decide, either in this instance, or as a general rule, if the heartbreak of loss is worse. Does the pain of being denied happiness once you’ve experienced it outweigh the good of that experience? I’m just not sure. Certainly unacknowledged love causes a certain amount of discomfort for invested viewers that gives us a small stake in the frustration the characters themselves experience, where we can’t experience their heartbreak in the same way. So perhaps thwarted romances are more artistically effective for a certain kind of long-running audience.
A side note: having started the third series, but only just, I’m not sure I want to watch the show without Rose. Maybe that’s the wrong reaction. I understand that the show’s about the Doctor, the companions are supposed to be our way in. But I love her, and how far she’s come. I wish Rose Tyler: Earth Defence had gotten a shot.