In which Martha Jones asks a perfectly reasonable question, and the Doctor brushes her off.
Ok, no. Just no. I hardly ever add comments to posts outside the tags, but as Ten’s appointed guardian angel, lawyer, and protector, I can’t stand by. Your “i hate ten” tag really put me over the edge, as it became a personal attack on my Doctor rather than an initiation of discussion.
I won’t deny Ten was a bit insensitive, even harsh at times, with Martha. David touched on the topic at one point, and I’m definitely on board with his gentle rebuke of the Doctor and the feeling that it makes his character that much more real, to be flawed and to have moments of weakness. BUT, I’m going to refer you to this post and this post which I feel are lovely collections of examples in which the Doctor demonstrates respect for her, concern for her well-being, and rightfully compliments some of her many stellar personality traits; this post because that is NOT a hug that harbors any amount of dislike or disrespect; this post in which Freema and David discuss the Doctor starting to trust her enough to open up about his fears; and this post because despite how bad you think their relationship got or which of the two (or both) you blame, I think people tend to over-emphasize it - it wasn’t all dysfunctional.
Without a doubt, their friendship came at a bad time for them both - the Doctor was fresh off the experience of losing Rose and had to deal with quite a few other traumatic things during season 3, most notably being the Master, a cruel specter to haunt him with things he’d so much like to forget - the Time War and the corrupted Time Lords. But these scenes are both taken out of context and juxtaposed in a way that just does not portray their relationship in an accurate light, at all. Let’s take each scene and unwrap the surrounding dialog and think of it in the context of the show and the characters as a whole. (Very sorry - this is where I’d have a “read more” if I could put one. As this isn’t my post, I cannot.)
1) In the first example, the Doctor is by no means “brushing off” her question. In fact, they’ve only just stepped outside onto the patio, and he doesn’t yet know what’s keeping the air in yet, either. It’s mere minutes after these gifs take place that he throws an object away from the hospital to discover there’s a force field surrounding them. Thus, they both find out the answer to her question together. I’d also like to point out that only seconds after these gifs, Martha asks him “What do you think happened?” and he answers back “What do you think?” both while making eye contact and being thoroughly engaged with listening to her response.
Because he’s already seen it - she’s an intelligent, creative, and intriguing woman and I think he’d honestly like to know, ever since they had the conversation about the air not escaping from the windows a few minutes earlier. During this conversation, he also expressed condolences for her cousin, admits he was at the battle of Canary Wharf, and tacitly agrees to “earn that title” (of the Doctor) by saying “I’d better make a start then.” He doesn’t push it on her, but waits for her to feel comfortable calling him the Doctor. Later, she asks him “what happens when [the air] runs out?” and he has no problem admitting everyone in the hospital will suffocate. No, he’s not “ignoring” her questions in this episode, not by ANY MEANS.
2) In the second example, I’m not even sure what you were trying to prove here. The Doctor hardly ever explains how time travel works, not to anyone. It’s too complicated, and he’s had centuries to learn it all and arguably a more advanced brain than humans do, so he never really answers questions about it, not really. I’d like to bring up Nine and Rose’s conversation from season one, in which Rose asks: “We’ve moved… does it fly?” and the Doctor answers “Disappears there, reappears here. You wouldn’t understand.” Not saying the Doctor was the most sensitive or understanding about it, in either case, but rather trying to point out that he doesn’t have a penchant for explaining the inner workings of his time ship to humans. At the very least, not before he’s come to know them quite well, and in this case, the Doctor’s only known Martha for less than a day - this occurs at the very start of The Shakespeare Code, which follows directly upon their meeting in the hospital in Smith and Jones.
I’d like to point out yet ANOTHER scene from the immediate context of these gifs, and that’s just after they’ve stepped out of the TARDIS. Martha, worried about interfering with the future, asks “Is it safe? Can we move around and stuff?” To which the Doctor replies, “Of course we can… why do you ask?” Again, both ATTENTIVE and INTERESTED in what she’s asking as well as WHY. You might say, well, Britt, he makes a joke after that, though. Why, yes, he does. But isn’t that just the Doctor? Once he knows neither of them are in real danger, he’s more free to be casual about his answer. One could also argue he makes a joking response to lighten her mood, to distract her from worrying about changing anything.
And yet one more example, Martha asks “Am I alright? I’m not going to get carted off as a slave or anything?”, voicing a concern that would probably be difficult for many to say at all. The Doctor at first doesn’t know what she means, but later says “Just walk about like you own the place, works for me.” To me, that’s him saying, “they better not. You’re just the same as anyone else here.” The Doctor’s never been good at discussing things that could cause friction, or to broach a topic as politically loaded as this one. What else was he to say - “oh, yeah, you might, better watch out?” He’d never say that. Her skin color doesn’t matter a single iota to him, and he just seems confident that while he’s around, no one will try to tell her differently. He doesn’t always have the right thing to say, I’ll give you that. But he tries. AND HE DOESN’T BRUSH OFF HER QUESTIONS.
3) In the third example, what Martha is asking is deeply personal. And also keep in mind, this is set during Gridlock, which is still only a few days, arguably up to a week, since they met, so they hardly know each other, still. They’ve both just witnessed the death of the Face of Boe, which in my opinion has much more of an impact on the Doctor than Martha, considering he’s seen him before and the message he gave the Doctor. He was already feeling uncomfortable before she started asking him about what it could mean, and if the past two seasons tell us ANYTHING AT ALL it’s that the Doctor is not fond of opening up. He hardly opened up with Rose in season one, and even then, it was only after she prodded a handful of times. Hell, all the way til Fear Her, she didn’t even know that he’d ever been a father. Martha is certainly not the only companion the Doctor is very hesitant to share the still-aching parts of himself with.
To be sure, he could have handled it better, the way he at first denied answering, but he does have a track record for it. Then, there’s the fact that only moments after he says “It really doesn’t matter,” Martha responds, “You don’t talk, you never say. Why not?” And, *gasp*, guess what? He proceeds not only to tell her about Gallifrey and being the last of his kind, properly, but in doing so also owns up to lying to her before, which is not an easy thing for anyone to do. I also feel I should note he PULLS UP A CHAIR to sit and talk with her, meeting her at her level, which I feel speaks volumes in itself. I think he quickly realized he was being insensitive and she deserved an answer, so he gave it to her. So here, really, another issue of taking things out of context.
4) In the fourth example, the first thing I’d like to point out is that in the beginning of this episode (Utopia), the Doctor and Martha actually have quite a lengthy back-and-forth about some time traveling mechanics, in which he’s more than happy to explain anything she wants to know, including where they’re going when the TARDIS goes out of control as Jacks climbs onto it (which simply contradicts the entire point of this gifset, yet again). Aside from that, in the immediate context of these gifs, YES, the Doctor is being quite cold and stand-off-ish regarding the entire situation with Jack. And though I don’t fully understand his responses to Jack, especially when he personally asks why he left him behind on Satellite Five, I think his attitude does seem to be directed at Jack (or what Jack is) rather than Martha. In fact, I’m not sure it really has anything to do with Martha at all.
I do know two things: first, Jack being a fixed point in time, for some reason, scares the pants off the Doctor. I can’t lie and say I fully understand why, but he certainly does, as he even admits later when he and Jack are alone: “How long have you known?” Jack asks, and the Doctor responds “Ever since I ran away from you.”and later “It’s why I left you behind…. Just looking at you, Jack… you’re wrong.” He proceeds to explain that it’s “instinct” for him to flee from Jack’s permanence, and that it was the TARDIS trying to shake him off led to them landing in the year 100 trillion. Perhaps he waited until they were away from Martha, simply because he didn’t want to bring up something so inextricably connected to Rose, yet again, in Martha’s presence. He must at least have an inkling Martha’s already grown tired of hearing about the ex-lover (from her perspective). Or perhaps he simply wanted the conversation to be private, which is also perfectly valid (though, I realize it turned out not to be, as the others were listening in, but it remains ambiguous whether the two knew they had eavesdroppers).
So what Martha exactly asks is “you just get bored of us one day and disappear?” and you’ve conveniently left out the VERY IMPORTANT two lines in between this and the Doctor’s response. Jack says “Not if you’re blonde” and Martha adds “Oh, she was blonde! What a surprise!” Now, regardless of how the Doctor is acting a bit rough around the edges in this scene, that was pretty heartless, as well. They BOTH know, Jack more than Martha, what Rose meant to the Doctor, and to bring her up in such a condescending context is definitely not the best way to get an honest answer to such a loaded question. Further still, the Doctor was asked a very similar question by Rose, in School Reunion, when she said, “This is really seeing the future - you just leave us behind. Is that what you’re gonna do to me?” If nothing else, you HAVE to see the parallel phrasing in both of these scenarios, and as the two have just gracelessly brought up Rose explicitly, I should think the Doctor is not at all inclined to answer that question, and I don’t really blame him, actually.
But really, I still say this scene has little to do with a direct assault or neglect of Martha and more with Jack’s now abnormal existence and both of their carless mentioning of Rose. Really, I think he just wanted to put an end to the conversation that had taken a turn for the worse, in his mind. Also it’s important to note they are at “the end of the universe” so the Doctor has a right mind to be wary of their surroundings and not get carried away or waste too much time with chatter rather than figure out what’s going on around them, and if they could be in any danger (which it turns out, of course, they soon are).
5) In the fifth example, Martha’s again asking a question that would require both a large backstory and a fair amount of personal details. Though he opened up about the war and his home planet, as much as we know, earlier in Gridlock, there’s no evidence he mentioned his role in it, or details about his friends and family, or the things he had to do, the consequences and the fallout of the War. Then, there’s the fact that he, too, has only just found out about the Master’s existence. Since the War, he was thoroughly convinced not a single Time Lord was left alive, and I think he’s struggling with the new knowledge and its possible ramifications more than he lets on to the others.
Add to that the fact that they are in just a *teensy* bit of a rush to find out about Harold Saxon, now the Prime Minister, what he’s been up to and what the Master’s intentions are. The Doctor is, of course, stressing out quite a bit about how exactly he’s going to take the Master on, and doesn’t have all the time in the world to sit down and explain the story, either. Just after he says “that’s all you need to know,” he’s not just off making his “rude and not ginger” club and rolling his eyes, he’s with Jack at the computer trying to find information. That’s not even to say he goes completely rogue and ditches Martha (and Jack, who’s also still here) in the dust, either: only minutes later he talks with them to see what they can infer about his campaign, his purposes: why they wanted to vote for him.
Also, let me just add to this, only minutes after that, Martha finds out her parents are in danger over the phone. Despite the Doctor believing it’s a trap, he doesn’t hesitate for more than a second to climb into a car (of all things!) and help her.
So just - NO. Please, take your Ten hate and shove it somewhere else, or at least keep it out of the RTD tag. But even if you don’t, I’ll always be there to defend him from your out of context and unfounded bullshit. And that’s not because he’s perfect, or infallible, or because I worship him. He does make mistakes, and he is sometimes less than perfect, not as understanding or delicate as he should be, or is at times too harsh in his rejection of romantic notions, in this case. And I would not deny Martha had to put up with a LOT during her time with the Doctor. But damn it, he cares for her, respects her, KNOWS how intelligent she is, DOES talk with her and engage her in conversation even in the immediate context of these gifs, and would do anything to protect her, in spite of his mistakes while she travels with him.
As I near the end, I want to remind you: I LOVE MARTHA JONES. I’m not trying in any way to undermine her awesomeness, and I certainly hope none of this has come off this way. Also, keep in mind, in case any of you are chewing this over: JOHN SMITH IS NOT THE DOCTOR. END OF STORY. John Smith was undeniably a jerk to Martha, not the Doctor. Even so, if you insist on dwelling on the Doctor’s mistakes during their somewhat rocky relationship, take this as a parting thought: In the end, it’s not just Martha he disappoints or fucks up his sentences around or accidentally offends with his coldness from time to time: it’s nearly all his companions. But that doesn’t stop them, me, or likely many of you all, from loving him all the same.