Martha

May 21, 2014

In my thinking over the TV I’ve been watching, I realized I’d stopped watching Doctor Who — I never watched most of last season, and I don’t think I’m going to.  It happens sometimes, a favorite show becomes not-so-favorite — I stopped Battlestar Galactica around season 4 because it stopped making sense, The X-Files around season 6-7, because it lost its focus.  I was passionate about those shows, and it’s hard letting go, but sometimes there’s a point where a show becomes a chore rather than a pleasure, and then it’s time to stop.

I realized something else:  I think over the last three doctors, Martha may be my favorite companion.  Rose was the most fun to watch, Donna had a powerful story, but comparing them all together, I think Martha’s the best, because she’s the only one who maintains agency throughout her run.  She’s the only one who doesn’t get — and I don’t think this is too strong a word — violated by the Tardis or time vortex.  Rose absorbs the vortex, Donna becomes a conduit then gets her mind wipes, Amy gets knocked up, Rory gets killed how many times, Jack loses his mortality.  They’re all fundamentally altered, and in their big climactic stories, they’re victims — they become tools, they become weapons, and they become broken by their time with the Doctor.  By the end, they’re all taken away — sucked into other dimensions, memories wiped, lost in time.  The Doctor loses them, and they are helpless.

But not Martha.  All on her own, with no extra powers, with only her wits and a backpack, she goes out to single-handedly foment rebellion against the Master when the Doctor is incapacitated.

And then, she decides to leave.  All on her own, she makes the decision, and she just leaves.  She doesn’t get yanked through time and space, she doesn’t lose her home, her experience, her past, her place in time and space.  All the other companions of the last three doctors are victims. They sacrifice everything, they lose everything up to their lives — more offerings on the altar of the Doctor’s guilt.  But not Martha.

When you line up all the other companions, it becomes clear how special Martha really is, because she stays herself.

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6 Responses to “Martha”

  1. WanabePBWriter Says:

    The Doctor lost me with Matt Smith, but the bigger issue for me was too much involvement with earth. I want old school doctor, saving alien societies from themselves or some evil leader or system of society and such.

  2. Joseph Charpak Says:

    No Martha doesn’t become a victim but only because every single other person in the world (and by extension the universe) become victims. And because Jack takes 365 days to fire a machine gun.

    Martha didn’t get mind-wiped. Only the rest of the universe did.

    Martha also had “ignore me” tech.

    I’m sorry I still love Donna best. She didn’t want to fall in love with the Doctor and more importantly did not.

    On the other hand I agree that a major problem with NuWho is the annual “companion becomes a superweapon” season finale. Or in the case of “Day of the Doctor” a superweapon becomes a companion. :)

  3. Jax Says:

    I can’t remember most of Martha’s run, she was just so boring. The only reason I think she wasn’t effected by the TARDIS/Time travel was because it wasn’t working so she was replaced very quickly, if she had hung around I think it would have happened to her too. To me it’s part of the story, that we can’t do this for free, if you are human it gets to you, it’s part of the price you pay.

  4. Doruk Says:

    I actually enjoy Amy quite a bit because she never really pined for Doctor the way Rose and Martha constantly did.

  5. Ray Dean Says:

    one point for Rose is that she did it willingly… she knew that to save the doctor, to go back to him and help him survive the daleks she would have to use the tardis. no, she wasn’t sure exactly what would happen but she did it of her free will.

  6. Pamela Bock Says:

    Thank you so much for this.

    I’m totally okay with people not liking Martha’s character much personally themselves. People respond to the characters they respond to; it’s not something we can choose. If Martha doesn’t really click for a person, that’s fine.

    But Martha has been my favorite Companion for a long, long time, and I’ve been frustrated by my inability to find seemingly anyone else who likes her as much as I do. And I confess that it’s particularly frustrating to hear people say they don’t like her because “it’s so boring the way she just pines after the Doctor all the time” — mostly because that, to me, misses the _point_. She was _created_ to pine after the Doctor so that she could grow through a character arc in which she chooses to part ways with him when she accepts that he does not reciprocate her feelings back. (The Doctor loves Martha, of course, but there’s no romantic feelings in his affection for her; and she, of course, wanted that.)

    It always astonishes me that people don’t love her for that. She CHOSE to leave! She CHOSE to stop pining! She CHOSE TO MOVE ON WITH HER LIFE!! She grew as a person and stayed true to herself _by growing_, and had the strength and courage to save herself from a lifetime of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and codependency. Oh, and she also saves the world all by herself with nothing but words and guts and determination. I’m missing the part where she’s anything but awesome-on-a-stick. ;-)

    Season Three is my favorite of the lot, and a lot of that is down to the Companion. Not everyone has to agree with my take on her — but it’s fantastic to hear that SOMEbody does. :) Thanks for sharing, and God bless Martha Jones. <3


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