In the last installment, we talked about Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), who was a companion to both the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant). Now, let’s move forward, and delve deeper into the second companion that stepped foot into the TARDIS during the Tenth Doctor’s run, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).
Following the events of “Doomsday” and “The Runaway Bride”, the Tenth Doctor did go on some adventures first before taking an interest in the plasma coils near the Royal Hope Hospital, where a particular medical student named Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) was working at. One thing led to another, and in the end, although the Doctor was reluctant to take on a full time companion just yet, Martha became a very integral part of his life, and her experiences with the Doctor also allowed her to become the person she is today within the “Doctor Who” canon.
Martha was often overlooked by both the audience and the Doctor because of one thing- she was not Rose. However, despite the fact that the Doctor never treated Martha the way she should have been treated, and was blind to Martha’s pretty obvious feelings for him, I do believe that Martha deserves more credit than she deserves.
To the Doctor, Martha served as his primary support system, because, when she isn’t being kidnapped for one reason or another, no matter what, she follows the Doctor’s orders to the letter, and stands by his side, even if it does break her heart.
Martha is level headed, cool, calm, bright and analytical, all traits that the Doctor sensed and liked in her from the moment that he met her in “Smith & Jones”. She did have feelings for the Doctor that were very much unrequited (can you blame her?), but through her experiences with him, she became more sure of herself, and led her to become one of the more active “Defenders of Earth”, and collaborated a lot with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), after her time with the Doctor. She also had a sense of adventure in her, which was another reason she agreed to go with the Doctor.
Later on, the Doctor did admit that he had treated her poorly, and actually began regarding her as a good friend from “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” onwards. In fact, he does look back on her with a little bit of guilt and a lot of fondness.
Agyeman was great as Martha, and later on in the series, I think, was able to give good and nuanced performances, especially when in the more emotional scenes.
Also, I just realized that in real time, even though they did go everywhere in time and space, and all that adventuring seemed like a lifetime, Martha was actually only away for four days, or at least, when they finally returned to the present in the series finale, it had just been four days in real time.
Now, before we delve even further into Martha Jones, you know the drill. Spoilers abound beyond this point!
Martha Jones, when she was introduced, seemed like the ideal companion for the Doctor. She was spunky, bright, cool, clam, collected, analytical, and had a sense of adventure in her, which, the Doctor saw from the very beginning, and which was why he took an interest in her in the first place in “Smith & Jones”. Aside from this, Martha was a peacemaker who, more often than not, was the glue that held her very argumentative family together.
Most of Martha’s story arc with the Doctor was characterized by a lot of running, more adventures, and her unrequited love for the Doctor. (I mean, come on, to be fair, he did kiss her first). It was also characterized with her trying to make her own mark in the TARDIS while living under the shadow of Rose, and her becoming the ultimate support system for the Doctor.
However, even though she did look up to him, she did get annoyed at him from time to time, and wasn’t afraid to get him to open up more about his feelings, which, along with his realization that he had been “too busy showing off” in front of Martha instead of getting to know her, allowed them to start becoming closer to each other. However, it was only after Martha showed how well she could handle herself in dire situations during the events of “The Lazarus Experiment” that she was fully accepted on board the TARDIS as a full time companion, after she had asserted herself to the Doctor; and she only got her own key to the TARDIS after the events of “42”.
In dealing with her character as a woman of color, I am glad that time traveling as a woman of color was properly addressed in “Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, and that it wasn’t too overblown as well. (Well, I think most of us were on Martha’s side mostly because we wanted the Doctor to go back to his normal self).
Martha’s best episodes, and where Agyeman did fantastic work in were “Gridlock”, “42”, “Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, “Utopia”, and “The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords”.
“Gridlock”, “42”, and “The Lazarus Experiment”, allowed Agyeman to do both nuanced acting and action sequences, and it showed that Martha is definitely capable of handling all the emotions and action that come hand in hand with traveling with the Doctor.
“Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, “Utopia”, and “The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords” saw Martha as the ultimate support system for the Doctor, and we see how devoted she is to him. She would do anything and everything for him, even though it meant that it would break her heart.
The events of “The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords” saw Martha traveling the Earth under the Doctor’s orders to tell others about him, and those experiences, in turn, coupled with what happened to her family, helped shape the woman she was going to become, and also laid the groundwork for her exit. It hardened her, showed her that there is a need for people to defend the Earth and its people when the Doctor wasn’t around, and it showed her that she is a capable woman who doesn’t always need to live up to the idea of someone else. This is also why I did love how she first exited the TARDIS. It was on her own terms, but it was not really a permanent goodbye.
Of course, this led to her becoming part of UNIT and collaborating a lot with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) later on. Her experiences with the Doctor had turned her into a soldier, and because of this, even though she did hope to change UNIT (like how they were too militarized), from the inside, by the time of the event’s of “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, she was willing to do anything it took to save the Earth, even if it meant blowing it up. I’m guessing that that also stemmed from what happened to her family during the “Year that Never Was”, and it took the Doctor and working alongside other companions to make her remember that there was definitely another way. This, then, of course, led her to go freelance, and I do love the fact that she, had a lot of control over her own fate. She ended up marrying Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Rose’s ex-boyfriend (because it should always be Smith and Jones, right?), and worked as freelance alien hunters.
Martha helped the Doctor, in a way, get over Rose, and he, in turn shaped her into becoming a self assured defender of Earth, and later on, steered her in the better direction.
Murray Gold’s music for Martha, “Martha’s Theme”, “Martha’s Quest”, and “Martha Triumphant” make for a very interesting trilogy that sums up Martha and the journey that she went through.
“Martha’s Theme” is melancholy, warm and whimsical all at the same time; “Martha’s Quest”, which has a lot of brass instruments in it, foreshadows the more soldier elements of Martha as she goes on her harrowing year long journey, but still has some hints of hope in it, even if there are depressing spots in it; and finally, “Martha Triumphant” is a more grandiose version of “Martha’s Theme” which has with a hint of regret, hope and warmth, but ends with the main strains of her theme, showing that her role is still not yet over.
As with what I did for Rose, I made a playlist as well for Martha. It starts with “Martha’s Theme”, and is immediately followed by “All the Strange, Strange Creatures” (because of all the adventuring they did together), “Abide With Me” (to highlight the fact that not all the adventures were all fun romps), and then “Only Martha Knows” (which highlights the moments in which Martha did feel alone and not understood by the Doctor), which ends the more adventure parts of Martha’s time with the Doctor.
“The Futurekind” kicks things into high gear to prepare for all the crazy leading up to the three part finale of the series. This is followed by “Martha’s Quest” and “Martha Triumphant”, which shows Martha’s year long journey, her triumph over the Master, and her subsequent departure from the TARDIS.
The next segment begins with “UNIT Rocks”, showing her being part of UNIT; followed by “A Pressing Need to Save the World”, which highlights her as a soldier and doing whatever it takes to defend the Earth and being a hero in her own right; and finally, it is rounded out with a “Song of Freedom”, which shows her working together with other companions to save the Earth, and which, along with some advice from the Doctor, steers her in the right direction with regards to her own future.
You can find my playlist for Martha here: https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/12142470663/playlist/55gBgUupoPvdZcSuNdUz1x
Interestingly enough, my rewatch of Series 3 and 4 made me appreciate Martha Jones even more, and now, she is in my list of Top 5 Nu Who companions.
Martha Jones was unique in the sense that she was a capable companion who later on left on her own accord, and was in control of her own fate, making her one of the few companions, especially in Nu Who, who really had a safe and good ending.
What did you think of Martha Jones and Freema Agyeman’s performance? If you were to have Martha meet and team up with any Doctor aside from Ten, and other companions aside from Donna Noble, Mickey Smith and Captain Jack Harkness, who would you pair or team her up with, and what do you think the dynamic would be? Let me know in the comments below, and remember to be civil and respectful to everyone!