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12 June 2007 @ 12:24 pm
"Blink" and Martha Jones  
(Just so this is out of the way, I loved pretty much everything about "Blink." Though I wasn't really as scared as everyone else seems to have been--I think because I love old statues too much for the episode to have played on any fears I already possessed. Now, if it had been about the stuffed and mounted animals in natural history museums coming to life? I would still be behind the couch.)

But Martha. I feel like soon I'm going to need a T-shirt or a button or something that marks me as a member of the Martha Jones Defense League, but boy, she can't seem to win for losing, can she?

I've been seeing some criticism of Martha based on the "All of time and space he promised me, and now I've got to work in a shop to support him!" line, which surprised me. All season the problem has been that Martha "loves" the Doctor too much, that it doesn't make narrative sense, and I partly agree with that. But she seems to be coming under fire here because she... complained about being stuck with the Doctor in 1969? And that meant she didn't really care about him like she should, and was only interested in him for the time travel? Because of that one line? Never mind that she just watched out for him for more than two months while stuck in 1913, while he wasn't even the Doctor, and we didn't see her complain at all to him after he was the Doctor again--she was mildly snippy in "Blink," so she's only with him for his fancy ride. Okay then.

And there's been some "Rose was happy just to be stuck with the Doctor in 'The Impossible Planet'" stuff, too, but there's something really unfair about that, I think. There's a huge difference between Rose's fantasy, where it's the Doctor who gets the mortgage, and Martha's reality where she's the one doing the supporting. There's also a big difference in their character arcs; Rose is the shopgirl who becomes the intergalactic rescuer, and Martha is the doctor-in-training who keeps getting demoted to intergalactic babysitter. How can she not be frustrated, when she came into this partnership as an equal, who wouldn't even call the Doctor "the Doctor" until he'd earned it, and she keeps getting forced into subservience because the societies they've landed in assume that she is less than he is?

(I sort of feel that this could characterize the difference between S2 and S3 Ten: Rose got the fantasy, the Doctor who wanted to believe that he was whole and healed, and Martha's getting the reality, the broken Time Lord who has to be honest about pain and loss and Gallifrey. But that's a digression.)

And third and maybe most important, there is a huge difference between Rose's fantasy, which takes place in a future where women can be valued members of a space crew and black men hold positions of leadership, and Martha's reality where (again) she's stuck in a past where she isn't allowed to use her skills and knowledge, or even be treated as a full member of society, because of her gender and race--where, don't forget, Billy Shipton had to go into publishing because there was no way he was going to be a member of the police. If I were Martha? I'd crack under the pressure, probably. I certainly don't begrudge her some snippiness. (Which I thought was cute, anyway. The Oncoming Storm, and he can't even get a job. And the bit about not having transport reminded me of nothing so much as the kind of teasing attitude you have when someone's lost the car in the parking lot.)

That line is interesting, too, in light of "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood"--where, as I said, Martha doesn't complain to the Doctor, that we see. Can we read her line in "Blink" as displaced complaint there? I was slightly dissatisfied with the ending to "Family of Blood" precisely because I don't think there was enough of a moment between her and the Doctor. And Paul Cornell pulled a bit of sleight-of-hand there, which was to focus on Martha's awkward declaration of love rather than everything she'd been through in 1913. I don't think the Doctor should have apologized, particularly--he didn't choose the time, and he isn't John Smith--but I would have liked him to check in on Martha. Not just to thank her, which was well deserved, but to make sure that she was all right. Because really, the Doctor had the easy job. When John Smith opens the watch, he becomes the Doctor again, and he can turn Smith off like a light. John Smith might be rattling around in the Doctor somewhere, if what the Doctor says to Joan is true, but he isn't Smith and doesn't feel the loss of what Smith lost. He can't have done, because if he had, he wouldn't have tried to make things up to Joan with space travel. But Martha doesn't have the luxury of turning off the 1913 version of herself. All the things that happened, happened to her, not some construct with her face. She went through an ordeal that's different from anything we've seen in these three seasons because of its long duration, and she did it unprotected. She didn't just spend time in the past, with the Doctor to protect her or make jokes about her being a feral child, or Jack to sweep her off her feet; she lived in it, all alone, and bore the brunt of it. It's going to take her time to forget that. And I would have liked some acknowledgment of that, I guess. I appreciate that they addressed the issue of race in 1913, but shouldn't there be some carryover? Some...something?

And I was annoyed by the idea of "Blink" when all I knew about it was that it was going to be light on the Doctor and Martha: not just because I was worried it might wind up being "Love and Monsters" redux, but because I knew that meant I wasn't going to see if anything that happened in the two-parter had changed their relationship at all, since after "Blink" comes a new curveball in the form of Jack. Now, the episode wound up being pretty awesome, so it won me over, but that's why I'm probably oversensitive about the one disgruntled moment we hear from Martha that's directed at the Doctor. I would have understood if she had done so much more than that--if she'd found it harder than she might have expected to accept that John Smith *wasn't* the Doctor, for example--and I'm so impressed that she didn't, the way that I was impressed that instead of chewing Joan out for saying she couldn't possibly be a doctor, she blinded Joan with science because there wasn't time and she needed Joan to believe her. So it's unimaginable to me that Martha is getting faulted for this one line (and it's always one line, isn't it, that somehow erases everything else she does?), and how it means she doesn't really care about the Doctor. Even without everything else Martha's been put through, I don't see how criticism means she doesn't care, but with all that? I'm amazed by this interpretation. If she took a moment to complain about having to look after the Doctor in 1969 because this, unlike 1913, was something that was manageable enough for her to complain about, then I'm totally on her side. Frankly, I was a bit annoyed with the Doctor for brushing her off like that. Yes, I know, not the time and all, but still.

Current Mood: okayokay
katesutton on June 12th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
The short version is that nothing about Martha is particularly memorable to me, the crush is annoying and so admittedly, these little things may irk me where I'd otherwise forgive.

I don't know if the writers are doing it on purpose, but the picture I'm getting of Martha's feelings for the Doctor is decidedly shallow. It seems that she came on board as a break from her demanding life(which is fine) and wanted it to be...just a lark. When the Doctor *doesn't* feel about her as she does about him and insists on moping over Rose, she doesn't respond with a great deal of compassion-or any at all, in fact-but with irritation. In other words, she doesn't seem to care that much yet about the real person underneath the Doctor myth.

She had a hard time in HN/FoB and definitely had my sympathy over the slights she had to put up with, but then responded with almost the exact same degree of pique to being stuck in 1969 for three weeks and having to work in a shop(God forbid!).

here's a huge difference between Rose's fantasy, where it's the Doctor who gets the mortgage, and Martha's reality where she's the one doing the supporting.

Hm. Can't say I see it that way. Rose said that she'd have to get a mortgage too, and *then* said maybe they could share. The point wasn't that HE was getting a mortgage; the point was the sharing, fantasy or no. She wasn't with the Doctor only for the adventure and because he was hot.

Anyway, I can live with character flaws(Rose certainly had her sins) but I have NO idea of Martha's motivations. They haven't given her or most of her family any discernable depth. I'm constantly meeting secondary characters-Tish, Tallulah, Sally, Frank- and being more taken with them than with the companion.

I do feel your pain, though, on seeing a character you like slagged, as that was pretty much a constant with Rose last season(and even now).
tempestsarekind: all the world's a stagetempestsarekind on June 13th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
I'm afraid this reply is going to be long...

I guess I was surprised by the comments the "Blink" line was producing precisely because I would have thought it'd be a welcome change for people who were tired of the "unrequited" focus and the idea that Martha was being presented as "in love" with the Doctor without really showing us that (which I think is partly true, although I don't think it bothers me as much because I like Martha). She's not just seeing him as the myth, but as the exasperating person he can be. I *like* that she gets both sides of that.

On mortgages: I don't think I phrased that quite right. I didn't mean for it to sound like criticism of Rose's idea, or for "fantasy" to be a negative term. And certainly Rose is focusing on being with the Doctor, no matter what, and that's what's important about the scene. I just don't think that particular scene is a fair comparison, because it also seems reasonable for Martha to be annoyed by the day-to-day realities of living and working in 1969, and that's how I took her comment. I guess I didn't take the line as the whole summary of Martha's feelings, but as one offhand line on a DVD, when the subject is how they're stuck in the past and trying to get out.

I do wonder about the Doctor's "moping," as you put it, over Rose. Two things, really: do we actually see Martha reacting to those things after about the first three episodes? (I can't remember if she actually reacted to the journal in "Human Nature" in any way other than "Will he start remembering he's the Doctor?") And how much of the "moping" does she see, anyway? I think there are plenty of things in the season that remind *the viewer* of Rose, and we can guess that the Doctor is thinking of her, but how aware can Martha be of all that, since she doesn't appear to know what happened to Rose? For all she knows, Rose and the Doctor just broke up or something--not that he lost her in the way he did.

(I also happen to think that most of the time, her reaction to New New York excepted, Martha is actually reacting to the way the Doctor keeps shutting her out, not to Rose per se--not to "Rose would know" in "The Shakespeare Code," but the "You're a novice, I'll take you home tomorrow" bit, for example. But that's just me.)

I definitely think the writers haven't done *enough* with Martha. But I do like what's there.
katesutton on June 13th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
She's not just seeing him as the myth, but as the exasperating person he can be. I *like* that she gets both sides of that.

I guess I need to see more of this to believe it. So far, it's been kinda limited to pissy reactions when he doesn't do what she wants. Sigh. I don't know. I just...they've interacted remarkably little *onscreen* this season. I have NO idea what he thinks about her. None, beyond the occasional 'hey, Martha's nifty' when she does something cool.

I know some fans hated Ten and Rose's lighthearted gallop through time and space, but the thing is, I really believed they knew each other and liked each other as friends. I'm lost as to what the Doctor feels and WHY Martha feels as she does.

As to the brooding, I think they've established that she gets that he's hung up somehow on this person. As you pointed out, there was TSC(although I do agree that at least part of her huff was because he was going to dump her back at home). Then there was Gridlock, where she was miffed because he took her someplace he took Rose. Then EoD and her talk with Tallulah. Then there's a gap, but I thought her expression when Joan pointed out Rose's picture was...not happy. YMMV.

And then(non-canonical, but there anyway), we have Martha writing in her myspace that she hopes the reason they keep going to 2007 is not because Rose is from there. Really, that part confuses me more than anything. Because it isn't precisely canon, yet surely it has to be vetted? And if it is, what an awful idea.*kicks whoever wrote that in the shins* My impression so far is that she doesn't want to hear about it, but I do hope that maybe Jack's return will bring the means of Rose's departure out into the open and we can be done with the misunderstandings.
tempestsarekind: ten and marthatempestsarekind on June 13th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
I guess the difference is that I like Martha even apart from her relationship with the Doctor. I don't think they've handled her character all that well this season, especially with her first couple of episodes being a sort of tryout for her. And I certainly think we need to know more about her. But I think of it as waiting to find out more about a character I already like, as opposed to waiting for the thing that will make her click for me.

I agree that Martha and the Doctor haven't really interacted this season; I think I liked "Lazarus" as much as I did partly because they did actually spend time together in that one. I feel as though this has to be on purpose, though. Unless the writers are spectacularly unobservant, they have to have noticed that in most of the episodes, Martha and the Doctor are separated and having separate adventures. I have to assume they're going somewhere with it--I may ultimately *hate* where they're going with it, but I'm currently willing to wait and see.

Oh, and I definitely think Martha gets that the Doctor is hung up on Rose--I just don't think that she necessarily sees it as anything out of the ordinary (I mean, for when you care about someone but then, for whatever reason, you're not together anymore), because she doesn't know what their relationship *was*. And, yeah, I heard about the MySpace and the thing about Rose and 2007. How fantastically stupid. It sounds like it's just a gratuitous attempt to cause Rose-Martha drama, to me. I hope Rose comes up when Jack returns, too, but the MySpace thing is a lazy way to bring her up.