The Matrimony of Mr and Mrs Smith
Guest contributor Connor Johnston tackles the taboo criticisms regarding the marriage of Martha and Mickey.
In his final moments the Tenth Doctor decided to look back at all his companions, paying homage to all his friends and acquaintances that help make his era of the show as successful as it was. It was here that the discovered fate of former companions Mickey Smith and Martha Jones sparked a ripple through the fan base as the question was asked -- what justification Russell T Davies had for coupling up the pair, making it the first time in Doctor Who history two companions have “canonically” entered into a romantic relationship. The argument has continued silently over the years with opinions bubbling up to the surface that have been taboo, controversial and in some instances -- where the line separating what’s socially acceptable to say -- racist.
At the conclusion of “Journey’s End” we see Martha and Mickey (along with Jack) exit the TARDIS together, having just met for the first time, walking into the distance. The next time we see the pair is in “The End of Time’s” memory montage. The couple are happily married and on the run from a war hungry Sontaran. Of course I can sympathise with the fact that this drastic and sudden revelation of their relationship came as a shock to all viewers, but to explain the choice to marry the two characters as “racially motivated” is to me, absurd and ridiculous. Throughout this article I plan to shed some light on some of the reasons that the relationship worked and truly pass judgement on if there was actual substance to the decision to pair the pair – While fitting in as many wedding puns as possible. Who wants to begin? “I do.” I hope you will find it very… engaging!
When it comes to their own personal love lives neither Martha or Mickey have a successful track record, with both of them at some point of their first seasons in the show fulfilling the role of the “lovesick puppy (or tin) dog.” Now of course there is a hell of a lot more to each of the characters than who they fancy, but it’s no secret that after a while both plots of unrequited love began to drag on and on, slightly agitating viewers across the board -- as in both minor and major ways it began to cheapen the great characters. How ironic that the two items of Martha and Mickey’s affections; The Doctor and Rose respectively, would not only find love together, but also lead the two together cultivating to the marriage of the pair. In Mickey’s case I would think it fair to label his Series One character as essentially the whining, jealous boyfriend pining after his teenage girlfriend’s heart. His efforts were unfortunately a waste of time and energy, as it was clear that his affection for Rose were not anywhere close to being returned at the same intensity.
We were nice. We were happy. And then what, you give me a kiss and you run off with him and you make me feel like nothing, Rose. I was nothing.
In Series 2 the character of Mickey improved tremendously, with episodes like “School Reunion” and “Rise of the Cybermen” allowing Noel Clarke to shine. However, as Rose became more interested in the Doctor romantically, it became more and more obvious to viewers that Mickey’s investment in her was a waste of screentime, and alas the cruel realisation that she would never pick him over the Doctor broke his heart and ultimately helped form his decision to stay in Pete’s World instead of continuing to travel in the TARDIS.
For Martha her affection for the Doctor grew over time yet never reduced her character in the way I feel it did to Mickey. The main reason that Martha’s affections for the Doctor were unrequited was mainly due to the fact that the Doctor himself was in a state of mourning after losing Rose in the previous season. Regardless of whether you ship Rose and the Doctor, one thing that is undeniable is that Rose was such an influential character in his life, logically, the loss of her was going to take a substantial toll on the Time Lord.
The question must be posed that if the timing of Catherine and Freema’s appearances were swapped, could the Doctor have had a more open non-dismissive relationship with Martha -- now out of Rose’s shadow? Who knows, but one positive outcome that did come from Martha’s unrequited love for the Doctor was the incredible personal journey she made throughout the season! Martha became a strong-willed, resilient and relatable role model for young people that ever found themselves in the same position. By being “rejected” by the Doctor, Martha grew from it and moved on with her life following an absolutely sensational run on board the TARDIS (One of my favourite seasons).
For both Martha and Mickey, the road to recovery after being rejected by their love interests involved rebound relationships. More similarities in their love lives continue with both rebound relationships proving to be unsuccessful in capturing the passion and romance that was so crucial in their affections for Rose and the Doctor. For Mr Smith this came in the form of Trisha Delany. When it comes to Trisha as a character, there is not much that we can dive into as she never actually appeared onscreen, having only being mentioned in one scene during Series 1’s “Boom Town”. What we do know is that she is the sister of Mickey’s friend Rob Delany and is slightly of a more stocky build than Rose. While not being able to assess much about the character, what we can evaluate is both Rose’s and Mickey’s attitude during the conversation. Throughout the entire fight Mickey seems to be finding reasons to justify his relationship with Trisha. It becomes very clear very quickly that Mickey has no romantic interest in Trisha, and furthermore that the relationship itself is built on the foundations of Mickey’s loneliness and trying to forget his frustrating unconditional love for Rose that he is finding too hard to overcome. Unfortunately for Mickey it would be a few years and 2 universes before he would finally settle down.
For Martha her rebound relationship was explored more substantially on screen (if only slightly) than her to-be husband’s in the form of Tom Milligan as played by Tom Ellis in the Series 3 finale “Last of the Timelords”. During their short journey together as rebels against the Master, Tom quickly took a liking to Martha Jones and proved to be very loyal to her. In a climactic confrontation Tom tried to protect Martha from the Master -- resulting in what would have been his death if time had not been reversed.
One thing that does tend to bother me when the debate regarding the justification of Mickey and Martha’s marriage is that no one seems to mention that once the time line had been corrected, Martha sought Tom out and although from his perspective he had never experienced the events of the Year That Never Was, with no history and no reasoning -- he and Martha met and entered into a romantic relationship including getting engaged, all in less than 10 Months… Yes “The Last of the Timelords” and “The Sontaran Stratagem” are both set in 2009. Surely this makes less sense than the “Marthy” (Mickey/Martha) relationship that we’re evaluating today?! A relationship that given some further evaluation makes perfect sense?! Anyhow I regress. Ultimately Martha and Tom’s marriage was not meant to be and not unlike Mickey’s relationship had Martha wasting time pining away, struggling to find someone else that she could feel a strong affection for like she had for The Doctor. The two had such similar track records, and this meant they could sympathise with each other perfectly. However their histories weren’t the only thing they had in common…
The Start of Something New…
Reading through the comments, it seems that sometimes as a fan base (myself included) we often unconsciously de-humanise the Doctor’s companions once they begin to travel in the TARDIS. By this I mean that we often forget that these characters that we love and adore have lives that continue off screen. This has become even more evident with the surprise revelations such as; Clara being a teacher – E.g. “So much for continuity, Clara didn’t even go to teacher’s college”, River knowing the Doctors name – E.g. “Well we haven’t yet so it must be happening in Series 8”, and of course to draw some relevance to the article, Martha and Mickey are a married couple – E.g. “They never even had dialog directed to each other onscreen! That makes no sense!”. (Please note the author of the article cannot be held accountable for the whiny voices that you read the sample comments in.)
So how did the relationship begin? While we’ve already established the similarities in the couple’s love life prior to meeting each other, surely it’s the connection they built afterwards that would eventually turn into the marriage of the two? For a companion of the Doctor, returning to ordinary “TARDIS-less” life is always going to be tough, and especially so for Martha Jones recalling the horrific events during the year that never was. For Martha, Mickey would have become a person she could confide in, and someone that had the ability, knowledge and the experience to sympathise and support her as they adapted to life without the Doctor together. It was through their mutual understanding and respect for each other’s lives that is what I believe strengthened the initial connection. The character of Toshiko Sato constantly reminded the audience that the life the characters of the Whoniverse lead leaves little tolerance for an outsider to be involved in a relationship with them.
“Maybe the answer is to go out with someone who knows what you do.”
Now that we’ve settled on the why, the question of “When” this budding romance first took shape must be asked. How long after Journey’s End did Martha and Thomas break up? How long after Journey’s End is the Smiths’ cameo in The End of Time set? This is yet another instance where the fandom is kept in the dark regarding specific details of off screen events. However thanks to “Torchwood: Children of Earth” what we do know is that during the incident of the 456 invasion, Martha Jones was on her honeymoon – however who she had just married is in fact not mentioned. Perhaps the original plan to have both Freema and Noel join the Torchwood team in Season 3 would have dived into the origins of the couple? A plan that was only scrapped due to Freema’s commitments to Law and Order UK. And so the plot thickens….
A Ghetto Get-Together?
Ultimately given the evidence and arguments above I believe I can personally say that the accusations of racist motives taking part in the eventual fate of Mr and Mrs Smith is not only an ignorant, poorly constructed argument but is also approaching the levels of being an offensive slur at the Doctor Who production office and Russell T Davies specifically. Frankly it’s more shocking that the question was ever asked because it takes away any credibility RTD has as a writer. Davies is not a racist man – this is shown over and over again by his constant attitude to turn Doctor Who into the accepting and embracing show it is today.
The tale of Mickey Smith and Martha Jones is the Whoniverse greatest love story never told: Searching for their perfect matches across all of time and space and eventually being brought together by the very people they had unrequited love for. Who knows maybe one day their love story will make their way onto our screens… a spin-off titled “Smith and Jones” or “Mr and Mrs Smith”, two freelance agents (occasionally joined by Captain Jack, Gwen and River Song) hunting down alien enemies and foiling their attempts to take over the world.. while juggling the construction of an up-and-coming relationship! I know I’d be interested in seeing the origins of this romance – the first date in particular: A Quick Movie? Dinner and a show? Maybe a simple night in with some PUH-PUH-PUH PIZZA! Either way, spin-off or not I think its safe to conclude that there is substance to a relationship between Martha and Mickey – As a team they work, as a couple they work. They are not the product of a writer’s racist motivations or anything as ludicrous as a “Ghetto Get-Together”.
By the power invested in my by the state of Doctor Who TV, Martha and Mickey, I now pronounce your marriage rightfully and fittingly developed. You may now kiss the bride (or leave a comment – whatever floats your boat).