When they first land on Platform One and step out onto the observation deck, the Doctor checks his watch. What the hell is it going to tell him? It's an analog watch, to begin with, and apparently neither it nor any kind of Time Lord sense tells the Doctor exactly when he is, or he wouldn't continually be mistaken on that point. (And yet I rather like the watch, so we'll call it even.)
Rose questions the science of what they're seeing (there's a line thrown in about how she saw something about it on TV). While there's a limit to how much background Rose can have on this sort of thing, I appreciate not falling totally into a pattern like, "What's that?" [Doctor exposition.] "Wow!" [More exposition.]
Especially since she's about to get culture-shocked speechless, and later on locked in a room to helplessly await death. At least they didn't have her sprain her ankle.
The transcript, at the point of Jabe's introduction, says, "Rose has the sort of look on her face that is to be expected of someone who has just witnessed their companion flirting with a tree." I can add nothing to that.
To be perfectly honest, I hate the "year five billion" stuff. Intensely. I think RTD is brilliant, this concept for the series is fantastic, and he has written some wonderful stories, but I suspect that he absolutely loves the parts of this episode that I think are self-indulgent crap. It's like he woke up one day and said, "I know, let's do the really mind-bogglingly distant future, only there will be no remarkable changes in technology or culture. It'll be just like today, only exaggerated a lot! Like, ooh, celebrity thinness and plastic surgery, taken to an absurd extreme, would result in people who are nothing but flaps of skin! The traffic jams will last for DECADES! What an incisive critique of modern society!"
He also seems to think his aliens are really awesome and that a year down the road we'll remember who the fuck the Moxx of Balhoon is. And want an action figure.
Which is to say, this episode introduces the Face of Boe. The Face of Boe is onscreen for about a minute, total, and has no lines. I wasn't even sure he could speak; when Cassandra accuses him of being behind the sabotage, he groans like Chewbacca. He shows no interest in the Doctor or Rose. There's no indication that the three of them met or spoke. I didn't even remember what the Face of Boe was by the time of his next mention, in "The Long Game," and had no idea why the Doctor was greeting him as an "old friend" in "New Earth" when they had never previously interacted. The silly attempt to retcon his identity in S3 adds absolutely nothing to the experience, probably since nobody had thought of it during S1. Or S2. Or most of S3.
But how about I tell you how I really feel? Actually, there's more to like in this episode than I remembered from the first time around. The character bits between the Doctor and Rose are really nice, and I quite like Jabe. Her computer chirps!
After Rose flees the party and the Doctor catches up with her, she pushes him quite hard on his identity and background, to the point where they get in a shouting match. It bears remembering.
While the Doctor is explaining the TARDIS's translation, he spontaneously leans back and strikes this really distracting pose. Eccleston is really amazingly good at leaning. It's a talent.
Rose's call to Jackie is startling for a number of reasons. I'd honestly thought that we left Mickey and Jackie behind at the end of "Rose," that there would be no contact with Rose's old life once she'd shaken the dirt off her boots and headed into space. Plus -- the call goes backwards in Rose's personal timeline, to while she was at work during "Rose." Otherwise, they'd have to deal with the whole "where have you been since the Auton attack" thing. They're gonna save that one for later, thanks.
Jabe's reveal of the Doctor's species is nice; as usual, we're given a small amount of information and time to digest it.
Aside from the general Plot-Forced Stupidity of putting the reset switch at the end of a row of fans that one must walk through, we're supposed to believe that the Doctor can survive temperatures that would cause wood to spontaneously combust?
But the bit of Time Lord voodoo before the Doctor steps through the final fan is nifty.
There's a wee smidge of creepy overtone, when you think too much about it: the Doctor just made Rose watch her planet burn. Like his had. I suppose it's subtext at best, but by the end of "World War Three" he's blatantly manipulating Rose closer to himself and away from Jackie. He's not all sunshine and light.
The Doctor's bookending speeches ("But you never take time to imagine the impossible. Maybe you survive..."/"You think it'll last forever... but it won't.") are interesting. As is the moment where he finally confides in Rose. This time it happens voluntarily; he tells her now what he wouldn't say when she was arguing with him. And yet again, I admire RTD; he confirms with Rose what we heard earlier with Jabe, with just a touch more detail; it's one more step forward, true but incomplete. And it's a lovely bonding moment for the Doctor and Rose. And, yes, the final second of the episode is adorable, and SciFi just would fade it out for an extra second of commercial time, wouldn't they.