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The Brilliant Rise and Questionable Fall of Martha Jones

The premiere of Series 3 of Doctor Who was once again in the hot seat. It was unknown if Series 1 was even going to be acceptable as the same Doctor Who, much less a bonafide hit. Going into Series 2, there were major concerns about having to replace Christopher Eccleston with the relatively unknown David Tennant. Series 3 would be without Billie Piper for the first time, so there were still some worries out there, but it would be okay.

Because Martha Jones was an all star. Even after her hospital was transported to the moon in Smith and Jones, she not only kept her head, but was a useful ally against the Judoon, as well as the withered vampire pensioner.

Showrunner Russell T Davies wanted to make sure the audience was receptive and welcoming to the new companion, so he rather quickly got us on her side by making the Doctor an incredibly insensitive idiot. The Doctor quite unintentionally led Martha on with a strategic and “scientific” kiss, and soon, she developed feelings for him. It, of course, became the saddest case of unrequited love for the ages, made worse by the Doctor throwing Rose into most of their conversations. Once, ahem, even in bed. Doc, there is something to be said about being aware of your surroundings or just reading the room!

Martha deserved much better. The Doctor certainly didn’t deserve her. When dealing with the Family of Blood, she had to put up with all the indignities of the World War I era, all the while not knowing if the Doctor would even properly come back. 

Even worse, when the Master enacted his grand scheme, the world itself rested in the hands of Martha Jones for an entire hellish YEAR, where she basically had to travel across the world passing on the legend of the Doctor. She saw horrors undreamt of, all while her family and friends were held captive and tortured.

After Superman turned back time with a convenient reset button, Martha was one of the few who remembered the horrors of the past year. In a way, this was a good thing. Although she was truly in love with the Doctor, the past year made it abundantly clear that staying with him was no good for her, so she left.

She stepped away from all of time and space and the Doctor. No mean feat, but if ever there was a positive, strong, capable, female role model, it was Martha Jones. 

It was Series 4 when we caught up with her again during the Sontaran invasion. In addition to being attached to UNIT (the Doctor disapproved), we learned she was wearing a ring and was attached to another doctor: Thomas Milligan, the guy she was running around with during Last of the Time Lords, played by Tom Ellis.

But Martha was definitely moving up in the world. By Journey’s End, we see that she’s not only a high ranking member of the military organization, but has been authorized to wield the terrible Osterhagen Key, capable of cracking open the Earth itself. The Doctor disapproved. 

Having helped vanquish Davros and the Daleks, the Doctor’s party broke up. Sarah Jane had to get home to watch out for her son who never looks both ways before crossing the road. Mickey decided to reestablish himself back on this Earth again, seemingly since neither he nor his grandma ever did get the rug on the steps fixed. At that moment, he ran and caught up with Jack and Martha.

Maybe that was Martha’s Turn Left moment?

She had traveled with the Doctor, was now a full fledged MD, had worked with both Torchwood and UNIT, and was held by everyone in the highest regard. This girl could write her own ticket! 

Then, at the very end of Tennant’s run, we catch up with Martha one more time. She’s in a tense gun battle, alongside Mickey Smith… her husband. 

We’re forced to assume that the relationship with her civilian doctor didn’t pan out. Conflicting careers? Was he in the unenviable position of being the rebound relationship? We don’t know. 

It’s been observed that RTD was perhaps being a bit lazy, just tossing Martha and Mickey together at the last second, and that’s fair. At the same time, Mickey had come a long way since we first saw him. Perhaps he was worthy? Possibly it won’t last? It was just a bit too abrupt and random to readily or easily accept.

Maybe it’s unfair of me to automatically assume Martha going from being one of the most important people in the world one minute, to marrying Mickey the next should be categorised as a “fall”?

I guess that could all be clarified by us seeing Martha’s return at some point in the future. Her recently-announced Big Finish adventures take place in the year that never was, so we won’t learn more about how her life turned out post-Doctor from those. Unlike most new era companions like Rose (different dimension), Donna (mind-wipe), Amy and Rory (stuck in the past), Clara (waiting for the other beat to drop), Bill (flowing through another galaxy), Nardole (still fighting Cybermen), or Graham and Ryan (couch), Martha’s still around and active somewhere.  

My personal preference would be for her to come back after the current regime leaves, but regardless, she’s around. 

I’m not entirely sure her story’s done.

Rick Lundeen

The Brilliant Rise and Questionable Fall of Martha Jones

by Rick Lundeen time to read: 4 min
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