Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Companion's Guide: Martha Jones

Name: Martha Jones
Portrayed by: Freema Agyeman
Number of episode as a companion: 18
Home Planet: Earth
Doctor(s): 10th Doctor

First Impressions
On the heels of one of the most emotionally gripping episodes ever with the departure of the unforgettable companion Rose Tyler, the hospital Doctor Martha Jones is in is sent to the moon and she is sent on a path to become the Doctor's newest companion. Poor Martha Jones had the biggest shoes to fill and I don't think she ever really had a chance. After meeting the Doctor with Rose and watching her grow, it's hard to want to like someone new. Martha Jones had a monumental role to fill and though she didn't exactly suceed in my opinion, she did carve her own path and affect the Doctor in surprising ways.

My initial reaction to Martha was, of course, don't you dare touch the Doctor or look at him or talk to him because that's Rose's job. But now that I've gotten past that intial reaction (or, we can pretend I did anyway) I'm able to look at her character with a bit more intrigue. I like that the show went with someone completely opposite of Rose in looks and personality. While Rose seemed more street smart than book smart, Martha Jones is studying to become a doctor and extermely intelligent. It's a fun idea to pair the Doctor with someone who can follow some of his heavily medical rants and Martha was definitely able to keep up. Another difference between Rose and Martha is Martha has a life to come back to with a large family and a career.

Over The Moon
Martha Jones is first introduced in the episode "Smith and Jones" when the hospital she is working at is sent to the moon by an alien force. Luckily, the Doctor happens to be there as well and when he finds young Martha Jones working hard to keep everyone alive, he teams up with her to find the alien fugitive before getting caught himself and mistaken as the non-human. He's impressed by her willingness to go along with everything to help people and her ability not to panic. To distract the Judoon (the alien race that acts like police and brought them to the moon in the first place), the Doctor kisses Martha but warns her not to read too much into it because it's just a distraction.

This one moments sets up what will become the fatal flaw between the two for the rest of their time together. And even though I hated seeing the Doctor kiss another woman, I could identify with Martha. And this is why: when a strange and wonderful man who knows just about everything in the world and has a magical flying blue box that can take you anywhere through time and space kisses you silly in a hallway when you think you might die, you can't help but take it seriously. Heck, I know the Doctor is Rose's but if he kissed me, you bet I'd fall head over heels. So I can understand how that kiss meant a great deal to Martha even though the Doctor tried to make it clear that it shouldn't. Another thing that I should mention about this kiss is that Martha didn't know how reserved the Doctor is when it comes to human contact and how he views love differently than most people because this is the first time she ever met him. She doesn't have anything to go on but the last hour or so she's known him. It makes sense that she'd have a different expectation from him though he is quick to try and dash any feelings she might develop since that is all she's ever known.

As a reward for getting people out, the Doctor offers Martha one trip in his Tardis but is adament that she is only a brief visitor.

Earning Her Way
After several episodes, it's clear that the Doctor wants a companion more than he can say. It's also equally clear that he can't let himself love Martha the way he loved Rose because she isn't Rose and also partly because it hurt him so much to open himself up to yet another heartbreak. Martha tries to push their relationship furhter which the Doctor completely rejects. If the show kept going this way, I was going to get annoyed with Martha real quick.

But then came the episode "42" where the Doctor and Martha find themselves on a ship about to be burnt with a creature that seems hellbent on destroying everyone on board. While the Doctor tries to fix the engine, Martha must go with one of the shipmates and open a series of doors. It's here that we see how smart Martha really is and when she is separated from the Doctor in a pod that is floating into a sun to be burned, we see how the Doctor can truly care about her. Having Martha call her mother just to say goodbye really made me feel sorry for her and it was during this episode that I realized I sort of cared. Not in the way I cared for Rose during "Father's Day" but it made me sad to think that this was the end of her.

However, I'm not sure any companion suffered the way Martha did throughout her time on the show. This was partly her fault for pining for the Doctor when he clearly told her not to but as we've already discussed, it's almost impossible not to. This cycle of torment is highlighted in "Human Nature" when the Doctor unknowingly hurts Martha in one of the worst ways possible and sets Martha on the path to completely earning my respect.

Eyes Wide Open
In "Human Nature" the Doctor turns himself human and forgets all his memories of being a Time Lord, burying he and Martha in 1913 in an all boys school. He poses as a teacher (though he truly believes he is) and Martha is a maid there though she remembers everything. It is during this time that Martha must wash the hallways and clean up after everyone and get treated rudely and watch as the Doctor falls in love with a school nurse.

Seeing the Doctor human and without his massive knowledge of the world is a sad enough sight but for Martha, to know that he wouldn't pick her even when Rose is erased and the slates are wiped blank is a blow that is almost too much to handle. Though this breaks her heart and though the Doctor sometimes yells at her for hanging around too often, she continues to not only keep his secret but watch over him as he falls deeper in love with another woman. For me, this is the moment where Martha finally realizes that no matter what she does to try to get the Doctor's attention, it's never going to be her and it gets her thinking.

The Girl Who Believed
After a few more adventures with the Doctor in which Martha meets The Master, another Time Lord that's a little crazy, the season finale twofer "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords" rolls around in one of the most horrific adventures a companion ever has to face. The Master comes back to Martha's time and manages to trick people into voting him into office. While there, the Doctor and Martha are forced to go on the run as The Master goes after Martha's entire family. As each of her family members get taken into custody and are endangered, Martha gets more and more angry at the Doctor for putting her family though it all. The Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack team up to make plans to stop The Master but the unthinkable happens...their plans fail and The Master wins. His winning results in all of Martha's family, the Doctor and Captain Jack getting captured as Martha ports out of the skyship they are in at the last moment.

Her actions result in a year long quest to find a weapon to take the Master down. She visits every coast on her own, treking through miles and miles of land searching for the items the Doctor told her about. All the while the Doctor is tortured, people are killed and Martha is constantly hunted.

What I find so interesting about these episodes and "Human Nature" before it is that Martha is alone. Usually, the companions always have the Doctor at their side but Martha's biggest challenges always occur when there is no one to back her up. No other companion has had to be as independant as Martha Jones is forced to be and it is during these epidoes as she combs the land and gives herself up to save people that I gained respect for her. She became something all together unique because she didn't rely on the Doctor. She actually thrived on her own.

She believed in the Doctor by not looking for weqapons but spreading his legend all throughout the land and having everyone believe in him the way she did at the very same time. This belief allowed the Doctor to defeat The Master and transport time back so that only several people even remembered. Martha is one of them.

On Her Terms
At the end of "Last of the Time Lords" Martha comes back into the Tardis and tells the Doctor a story about her friend. She says that her friend was in love with a man who just didn't love her back no matter what she did and that this cycle went on for years. She kept telling her friend to get out and find someone else but her friend never did and she swore to herself that if she was ever in the same position she'd do the same. So Martha does the impossible, she walks away. The Doctor has taken her to the ends of the earth and on a million adventures but she respects herself enough to walk away because she knows the Doctor will never love her the way she wants him to.

It's sad that while viewing this show, this is the first time I stood up and took notice of Martha. In this one amazing act, she completely earned my respect because she was strong enough to let go knowing that if she does she has to let go of all it. I know that I'd never have the strength so for her to do something so surprising really made me love Martha.

Life After
I'm so glad that we got to see Martha after she parted ways with the Doctor. She calls him and goes on a few adventures with the Doctor and Donna in season 4. We see a much happier Martha who is engaged and indepant and completely able to take care of herself. This is refreshing knowing that she took the skills she perfected with the Doctor and went on to practice them in her everyday life. In the episode "The Doctor's Daughter" we see her using all her medical skills to help creatures on the other side of a war with humans and making friends. Yet again she was separated from the Doctor and managed to thrive on her own.

The last time we see Martha is when the 10th Doctor is visiting all his companions one last time. We see her fighting side by side with Mickey, her husband, as free agent alien trackers and we know that she's okay.

It is through Martha's independence and strength that she makes a wonderful companion. She doesn't need the same guidance that most of the other ones do because she is bright and able to thrive on her own. I didn't notice her strength the first time in and if you didn't either, I urge you to take another look. Martha Jones is definitely worth a double take.

Some great Martha Jones episodes are:
  • Smith and Jones
  • Daleks in Manhatten and Evolution of the Daleks
  • 42
  • Human Nature
  • The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords
  • The Doctor's Daughter
  • The Stolen Earth and Journey's End
What did you think of Martha Jones?


  1. I know I'm in the minority here but I actually love Martha a lot more than I love Rose and I thought that by the end of her first episode she more than filled Rose's shoes but I guess this is an opinion that makes me weird in the Doctor Who fandom.

    1. Nah! It doesn't make you weird. You're totally allowed to think that.

      I happen to be a huge Rose fan and I don't think Martha ever took Rose's place but I also think it was unfair of the Doctor and us as the audience to expect her to. She was her own person and a lot of us never appreciated that until it was too late. Writing this definitely gave me some insight into her character and forced me to realize things I never knew like how strong Martha was from the beginning.

  2. One thing I liked about Martha was how smart she was and that she was an intellectual match for the Doctor!

    1. Totally agree with you. Even though I was anti-Martha her entire time on the show until the end (though this article changed my mind about a lot of the before stuff too) I always liked the idea of the Doctor having another intellectual to talk to.

  3. Martha's character was never given her fair due, and that makes me mad.


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