Companions of New Who: Martha Jones
Guest contributor Mark Spurdle continues his companion retrospective, this time with Martha.
Since Doctor Who’s revival, we have been graced with a number of companions, some gaining high praise from fans, and others not. In my series of articles I will be talking about the key moments for these companions and giving my overall views.
Series 2 had ended and the Doctor had lost his true love Rose Tyler. He stood in the TARDIS with a tear in his eye and a hole in his heart. Like many other Whovians, I too was heartbroken. But then I started to think: “Who is going to be the next companion?”, “No-one will be as good as Rose!”, “Is this the end for Doctor Who?”
It seems the answer to my first question arrived in the form of Freema Agyeman. I remember purchasing Doctor Who Magazine and seeing the new face that would be in the TARDIS with the Doctor. But as soon as I saw Freema, I hated her, I’m ashamed to admit it. Perhaps I should have been more optimistic about the change in companion, but at the time I never wanted Rose to leave. I thought Martha would be a terrible companion – boy was I wrong!
Martha Jones is certainly one of my favourite companions of New Who. She possesses a caring nature and resolve which shows in episodes like ‘The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords’ when she travels the world telling everyone about the Doctor: it’s moments like this that make Martha stand out.
Martha is also an incredibly smart companion. Her knowledge regarding medical care is a key feature, as shown in ‘Human Nature’ when she names all the bones in the hand. She also uses her knowledge of medical care and health when she manages to resuscitate the Doctor in ‘Smith and Jones’. From that episode onwards, it was clear we were in for a great ride with our new companion.
Furthermore, her morality and humanity shone out for me. In ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’, the way she sympathised with the Doctor’s alter ego John Smith when he poured out his heart – his wish to live – always warms my heart, and brings a slight tear to my eye. In my opinion, all companions have that story where they truly shine. For Rose it was ‘Father’s Day’; Donna, ‘Planet of the Ood’. It was ‘The Girl Who Waited’ for Amy and Rory; and for Martha it was ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’. The way she kept her head in situations (e.g. the shooting scene at the dance) was commendable and illustrated her bravery to a high standard.
The positives of Martha don’t end there. In fact, I’ve never seen so many positive traits of a companion! Her ending scene in the series 3 finale was beautiful. She finally plucked up the courage to tell the Doctor about her unrequited love for him. Her speech (“I’m getting out”) never fails to bring a smile to my face. I was disappointed to see Martha leave. I felt she was a companion that had so much potential, but was never fully realised.
What didn’t work
Unlike my article on Rose in series 2 and 4, this article proved difficult for me to find many negatives regarding our companion. However, there are some. Firstly, I found her love for the Doctor slightly awkward. I know she wasn’t full-on when declaring her love for him, but there were some awkward moments, particularly the bed scene in ‘The Shakespeare Code’. I don’t know why, but I just enjoy it more when a companion can be the Doctor’s friend, without falling for him.
In addition, during series 3, the problem wasn’t with the character, but the way she was treated. It seemed like she was the Doctor’s rebound after Rose – wait. No, that’s wrong. She was unlucky to be travelling with the Doctor during the time he was grieving. I think if Donna had been travelling with the Doctor during that time, perhaps she would have used her tougher nature and caring ways to bring him out of his despair. I’m not implying that Martha wasn’t caring or good-natured, I’m just saying that perhaps if Donna was the companion after Rose, and Martha followed Donna, Martha herself would’ve been paid more attention by the Doctor.
Martha made her return in ‘The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky’. I was rather shocked yet pleased to see that she was now part of UNIT. It made her character more complete in my opinion. She now possessed that more professional companion look and style, which was evident when she greeted the Doctor in a formal way – before jumping in for a hug. She was one of the key features of this two-part episode, being cloned by the Sontarans. Martha declined the Doctor’s offer to travel with him and Donna – only to be suddenly caught up in another adventure (‘The Doctor’s Daughter’).
On the planet Messaline, Martha again displayed her medical skills and humanity. I’m referring to the scene where she fixed one of the Hath’s dislocated shoulder, as well as her determination to help. She demonstrated her humanity in a spectacular fashion when one of the Hath fell into the sinking batch of chemicals and didn’t reappear. Freema proved she was a great actress.
Returning home, Martha left the TARDIS behind. It seemed she was finally gone – or so we thought! She returned in ‘The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End’. Again, we saw her incredible determination and bravery when having a gun pointed at her (this occurred after Martha was advised to use the Osterhagen Key), and when facing Davros. She used her intellect to a high standard, realising that destroying the Earth would damage Davros’ masterplan. The story ended with Martha leaving for good, followed by Mickey and Captain Jack. It was a fitting end to series 4, and Martha’s time.
The End of Time cameo
I figured I should place this in my article as the cameo from ‘The End of Time’ concludes Martha’s journey. The dying Doctor decided to pay visits to his former companions, including Martha. We learnt she had decided to go freelance and married Mickey! Mickey Smith! I didn’t see that happening! Humanity and Martha just go hand in hand: the emotion on her face as she realises what is happening to the Doctor is beautiful (just like the whole story).
In conclusion, I believe Martha Jones is a companion who deserves a lot more credit. I’m not sure why she gains criticisms from viewers. I hope that this article may have changed your views of Martha Jones. Martha Jones is a “fantastic!” companion that should be higher up in the ‘Best Companion’ polls.
Other articles in this series: