Never Let Death Get in the Way of a Good Adventure
Guest contributor Graeme Atkinson speculates on Osgood’s return.
As we now know, Osgood appears to have, quite literally, risen from the ashes. In doing so she side steps that slight niggling issue of, well, being dead, to return as everyone’s favourite geeky UNIT scientist in the upcoming Series 9.
So with Ingrid Oliver coming back it begs the question, will the Doctor once again offer Osgood the opportunity to explore all of time and space? Will he enable her to become a permanent fixture in the TARDIS and perhaps even eventually replace Clara as full time companion? Let us look at some of the possibilities.
Speculation abounds that the Osgood we meet in Series 9 may in fact be a Zygon, or an earlier pre ‘Death In Heaven’ version of the character. However for the purposes of this exercise let us assume she is the real deal. We have had recent examples of TARDIS companions who flirted with the Doctor and those that have even been in love with him. However, we have not had companions who have effectively played the role of everyone watching; quite simply, a fan travelling with the Doctor. It would certainly be an interesting angle to take on the ‘Assistant’ role.
It can be said Osgood personifies some of the more modern day fans. Not those that casually tune in but those who are more ‘expressive’ about how they portray their love for the show, especially with the Doctor cosplay. Therefore it would almost be like seeing one of us on screen. How then would that specific relationship play out over time? Especially once the hero-worshipping stops and the experience of travelling with the Doctor has plateaued. Surely that warrants some lengthy screen time?
Personally I feel there is a great deal of potential in respect of character development here. Osgood’s narrative has the prospect of being just as diverse and enjoyable as some of the more interesting companion character arcs. Rose for example, as we know, started as a teenage shop worker who was bored of her humdrum life. If we look at the same character towards the end of her run, the development is huge, more so than most other companions. Another popular assistant with Whovians is Donna Noble. What helps make Donna so popular is that there is no romantic interest this time, it is very different from Rose and Martha subsequently. I would argue that there is that same stark contrast with Osgood as there was between Rose and Donna.
What does this mean? Well in my view it keeps things fresh. It is taking the modern day companion, but looking at it from a completely different viewpoint again, giving Moffat potential to dig into vast untapped opportunities.
I would rather the show kept advancing in new and innovative ways than repeat the same formulaic approach time and time again. I appreciate that it still would remain the Doctor and his companion. However this is part of the success of the show, is it not? What is not set in stone though, is how you portray that dynamic. I would argue while there may be a framework within Doctor Who which should be followed, there is no reason why you could not successfully work flexibly within that structure.
A further difference around the Osgood character is the pre-existing relationship with the Doctor. It is one that has been sporadic admittedly. Nonetheless, it has taken place over several different meetings (maybe some that we are not aware of too) without significantly advancing, save for dying! There is the potential to take the relationship that fandom has already heavily invested in and pull it into all sorts of different directions.
Moffat has the possibility of a big on screen pay-off when that established relationship is spun on its head and by the end is something far more rich and nuanced. This is certainly the case when compared to a companion such as Mel.
So would Osgood think less of the Doctor if she knew he has had to make some difficult decisions in his past and will no doubt again? Would she become more confident as she would likely play a significant role in helping save worlds? What kind of lasting impact would travelling with the Doctor have? How would anyone react? Given the magnitude of such a life changing experience, it is always interesting but experienced through the eyes of someone with the kind of personality not portrayed before is incredibly exciting.
Another alternative is that the character returns only during UNIT episodes. Should Moffat elect to bring Osgood back into the series on this part time basis I feel he would simply repeat the same characterization tropes we have already seen to date. Surely in this scenario a character that a considerable number of Whovians have taken to very quickly would stagnate over time.
Looking at things from this perspective, how, if Osgood becomes so entrenched in that fan role and does not develop, can she apply any challenge? How can she be the grounded individual that the Doctor often needs if she looks upon him as ‘perfect’?
Whatever happens with Osgood in Series 9 it will be great to see her return and I for one am looking forward to the prospect of a fan in the TARDIS full time. Fingers crossed.