Companion’s Name: Martha Jones
Traveled with: Tenth Doctor
Seasons: New Who S3, Special Appearances Season 4, End of Time special
Best Known For: Being the “rebound girl” who was unrequited in her love of the Doctor (FYI: This is the most annoying part of Martha’s story, she was worth more than this and was responsible for much cooler things, but those always seem to be overlooked on many summaries of her.)
Martha Jones was just beginning her medical career, and still going through school when “John Smith” was a patient in her hospital. One trip to the moon, and a quick sense of being logical and cool made it easy for the Doctor to ask her to tag along on a permanent basis.
Martha is my husband’s favorite companion. She’s smart, seems to be more than just random person. She had purpose in life before him and didn’t really let him slide when he tried to keep secrets. However, from her very first appearance that writers included one aspect that both annoyed me and would unfortunately define much of her time with the Doctor. In her debut episode, “Jones & Smith,” the Doctor kisses Martha in order to give her a “DNA transfer” to help hide that he is not human, from Judoon (rhino space police.) From then on Martha was painted as a love sick girl, when it came to the Doctor. Given that the Doctor had been separated from his “love,” Rose, at the end of the previous season, this would unfortunately lead to many a fan corner that would hate on Martha and her goo-goo eyes for the Doctor.
Along with defining much of Martha’s story around her crush on the Doctor, there was also a few insensitive, handwaving moments about her being a WOC (woman of color.) For example, Martha is taken back to the time of Shakespeare. When Martha immediately raises concerns about being a woman of color in the past, the Doctor gives her a handwaving answer of having her pretend like she owns the place and everything will be okay. Much of this season seems to avoid tackling any stories worth tackling for the sake of simplicity.
One thing Martha fans can be thankful for is that the very uncomfortable thread woven throughout her time, of her feelings for the Doctor, is going to be the very thing that allows her to walk away, with her head high. Martha is sent on an amazing journey around the world, rising to superhero proportions… unfortunately, it was all in the service of the Doctor’s story, not necessarily her own. When Martha and her family remember all the trauma and hardship they went through to save the Earth, Martha realizes that she and her family, her emotional health, are worth more than staying and traveling with the Doctor. Martha makes an active choice to put herself first, and claim her worth. It’s a powerful ending for a character who was often written in the services of pushing the Doctor’s pain and character forward throughout the whole of season three.
Season four brings Martha back as a member of UNIT, showing how she continued to work to keep the Earth safe, when the Doctor is not around. There is plenty of debate about how her actions are painted, if they are foolish for someone who knows the Doctor, and whether the final choice of who she married undermines her previous arc and power as a character. [Sidenote: I don’t think it hurts her. I think it was a way for the show runner to try and give everyone a happy ending, because he was trying to tie up all the bows before he left. Yes it was perhaps trite and eye-rolling, perhaps even lazy, but was filled with cute banter and fun action.]
Best Episodes: Smith & Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock (this episode is slow, but the more you watch it the more you notice each time, and Martha has amazing power and moments where she just calls the Doctor on his ridiculousness,) 42, Utopia, Last of the Time Lords.
What are your favorite Martha Jones moments or episodes? Be sure to leave a comment.