OK guys. This moment does not have enough love. In fact, it has some unfortunate anti-love that I aim to resolve here.
Yes, this episode heavily reference Girl in the Fireplace. And yes, that episode is pretty much the most anti-shippy thing to happen in canon for Doctor/Rose.
BUT THIS MOMENT IS GREAT AND WE DOCTOR/ROSE SHIPPERS SHOULD LOVE IT TO PIECES LET ME EXPLAIN!!!!
Twelve can’t remember Clara’s name at first. Nor Vastra nor Jenny nor Strax. He leaves Clara in danger and he won’t even give her the screwdriver. He does questionable things—he’s darker, I get that.
But even so, and even though he’s trying to figure things out with the bad guy, and does not have all his memories intact (‘Handles’? Really, Doctor??) he CANNOT leave the bunch of roses on the floor.
The bunch of yellow roses—yellow which signifies remembrance. There are centuries-old ballads (‘Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon’) and old movies (‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’) and folk songs (‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’) all about yellow being the color of remembrance—specifically in all these pop-culture cases, remembrance of a lost love.
And as he’s struggling to remember why droids harvesting parts rings a bell with him, does he look at the droid? No. Does he have flashbacks to women making double entendres with cleavage spilling out? No. (And the eventual reference to MdP is blah blah bland). But what does he do? He twirls the roses and holds them just a little bit closer. This is so reminiscent of the Journal of Impossible Things, where even as a human Ten can’t remember the name of the TARDIS, or the sonic screwdriver—but he keeps drawing roses in his journal and hers is the only face he can canonically put a name to.
Moffat may be many, many things, and do many, many things that I do not particularly like, but this… this is pretty awesome guys. This isn’t anti-shippy at all. This is shippy and sweet and subtle in the extreme.
And I love it and I really think you should too <3