Heroes of Doctor Who: Martha Jones

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

This week it’s one of the most recent companions, the very lovely Martha Jones…

Photo copyright BBC

I have to say from the get go that I love Martha Jones. Rose and her love sick pining just didn’t do it for me so when Martha, a trainee doctor, met the tenth Doctor when her hospital was transported to the moon, we knew from the start Martha was destined for other things.

Her mum and dad were separated, her dad having met a blond bimbo, and in a scene for her sister’s birthday the Jones showed they had their own problems and follies.

Martha, played by the beautiful Freema Agyeman, impressed the Doctor right from the start with her attitude and reasoning. Having her hospital pulled to the moon and filled with rhino policemen simply didn’t faze her. She faced down the Judoon and fought the Doctor’s corner even though they had only just met. If it hadn’t been for Martha, the Doctor and everyone else would have died on the moon.

When the Doctor was attacked by a Plasmavore, Martha had to perform CPR on him in order to stop an MRI machine exploding wiping out half the Earth. She broke though the Doctor’s grieving over losing Rose and in that meeting she found herself falling for this strange alien in a police box. William Shakespeare fell in love with her as they battled deadly witches, the alien Carrionites. She was present when the Face of Boe died and brought New New York back to life from an eternal traffic jam in Gridlock where the Doctor admitted to her the story of how the Time Lords died. In Daleks in Manhattan the Doctor trusted her enough to work out what the Dalek building requirements for the Empire State Building really meant and her medical skills were put to good use. She became a fully fledged time traveller in the Lazarus Experiment and was almost plunged into a sun in 42.

And although the Doctor never noticed her feelings for him, I would argue she was the Doctor’s most trusted companion in a long time. Never before had he placed his own safety in another’s hands as he did in the two part Family of Blood story where he had to turn himself into a human to hide from aliens that wanted to feed off his Time Lord energy. Martha posed as his maid to keep him safe but she faced prejudice and racism and never once complained. The Doctor was her friend and no one was going to hurt him on Martha’s watch. And all the while she secretly hoped he would look twice at her and maybe return her feelings for him. But Martha carried the greatest responsibility of any companion ever when she was tasked with walking the Earth spreading the word of the Doctor when the Master and the Toclafane devastated the Earth. Her family were slaves aboard the UNIT ship, the Valiant, along with Jack Harkness and the Doctor who was aged hundreds of years and kept in a cage.

All the while, she was hunted by the Master and it’s all credit to her that she managed to avoid being captured and single handedly spurred the resistance on to complete the Doctor’s plan. She saw whole continents burned to a crisp and mass extermination of the human race but she ploughed on. That the fate of the world lay with a trainee doctor speaks volumes about how much she trusted the Time Lord. She became as much of a legend and light in the darkness to the human race during the year that never happened as the Doctor did.

It also says a lot that not even the Master, who knew every one of the Doctor’s tricks, failed to find her, despite a global man hunt. These events were covered in the novel from BBC books, Martha’s story. But in one of the best departures ever, she told the Doctor how she felt and her family were now her priority having witnessed the destruction of millions. Although the Doctor managed to reset time so none of it happened, those aboard the Valiant remembered everything, to the point where her mother Francine was prepared to shoot the Master for his crimes. It also brought Martha’s estranged parents back together, having rediscovered their love for each other while as slaves to the Master. But that was not the end of Martha’s story. The Doctor didn’t want her to leave but accepted it. Ultimately he felt guilty over not being able to return her unrequited love. To make amends, he got in contact with UNIT allowing Martha became a fully qualified doctor and securing a job with them. But before she was reunited with the Doctor in the Sontaran Stratagem, Martha had a stint in spin-off series Torchwood, helping Jack with a trilogy of cases. The bond they both shared having seen the Earth destroyed at the hands of the Master bound them in ways no one else could appreciate. She had also gotten engaged to Doctor Tom Milligan, whom she had met in the other reality where he gave his life to save her from being executed by the Master. This was a more confident and secure Martha that could deal with anything, including being aged by death itself.

The Doctor’s treatment of Martha obviously bothered him as he told Donna Noble all about it as shown when they were reunited in the two part Sontaran Stratagem. Martha called the Doctor back to Earth to solve the problem of Atmos, a car system being used by the Sontarans to change the atmosphere in order to turn the planet into a new cloning facility to produce millions of new troops. Donna was appalled that Martha had become a soldier working for UNIT, wondering if life with the Doctor left all his friends like that but the Doctor said he needed people like Martha in such organisations to help keep them human and change the military mind from within. Donna was intent on travelling with the Doctor forever but Martha warned her that life with the Doctor could burn her more than she realized. Seeing the Doctor again, she knew she had made the right decision to leave but was flung into another adventure when the Tardis took them to meet the Doctor’s Daughter where the needless death of an alien ensured Martha could not stay anymore. As much as she missed the Tardis, it ensured, in her head, that she had made the right decision. She returned home once more, but fate would decree that she would cross paths with the Doctor once more.

The Dalek invasion of The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End story forced her to become centre stage again. Taking in both Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures, all the Doctor’s companions and friends came together to stop Davros from detonating a reality bomb, Martha had the most difficult decision of all. She was ordered by UNIT to activate a device that would destroy the Earth completely by detonating a series of nuclear bombs under the surface, effectively breaking the planet apart.

The Doctor was appalled, but Martha had learned from him and gave Davros the chance to retreat and return Earth back where it belonged. The fact she that was prepared to wipe out her homeworld gives her bigger balls than any companionbefore or since and her story arc was beautifully evolved. Who would have thought the young doctor would be capable of such an act? But her travels had shown her that aliens rarely had such moral views. So to protect humanity she would wipe it out. The memories of the Master’s dictatorship clearly left deep scars.

She also refused a permanent place in Torchwood, instead teaming up and marrying Mickey Smith to fight aliens once more as seen in the end of time. And, as far as we know, she is still out there keeping her family – and ours – safe.

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