Disclaimer: As a newbie whovian, I recently just finished series 4. As a result, this particular post deals heavily with Martha, Rose, and Donna and makes no mention of the Ponds. My opinions expressed here are subject to change, especially once I start watching Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor and meet his other companions. The examples used and arguments made may not be relevant once I catch up. Nevertheless I wanted to express the thoughts swirling through my head thus far.
God desires but has no need for relationship (especially with humanity)
Growing up I believed that God as an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being didn’t need humanity. He created humanity out of love and a desire for a relationship but when Adam and Eve disobeyed God the relationship was torn apart. God did take steps to remedy the relationship (first by choosing Israel as His nation and teaching them His ways and then by offering Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins) but He did so for our sake. Our disobedience caused us pain and suffering, and left us vulnerable to spend all eternity in hell. God out of his great compassion decided to create a way through Jesus’ horrific death for humanity to be restored. However, the “relationship” that humans were to have with God was one of absolute obedience and strict adherence to doctrine. While God loved us, we also had to be careful how we approached God. A wrong thought during communion could cause us to be struck down, a wrong motivation for preaching or testifying would leave us open to scorn not only by God but by fellow members of the congregation. The relationship between God and humanity was one based on humanity’s need for God. God didn’t really need us. Yes He may use us to try and bring “His Word” to “nonbelievers” but again that was more for humanity’s sake than for His. For some inexplicable reasons, God desired a relationship with us sinful, arrogant, and disobedient humanity, but He in no way shape, or form, needed one.
The Doctor desires and needs relationships
The Doctor on the other hand, not only wants to have a deep sustaining friendship/relationship, he needs one.
He is the last of his kind and that cuts him deeply. In the Last of the Time Lords (3:13) the tenth doctor begs the Master-who had caused so much pain, death, and suffering to regenerate after suffering from a bullet wound. The Master refuses and one can see the pain on the doctor’s face as he fruitlessly tries to persuade the Master to regenerate.
The Doctor: Regenerate, just regenerate. Please, Please! Just regenerate! Come on!
The Master: And spend…the rest of my life, imprisoned with you?
The Doctor: But you’ve got to! Come on, it can’t end like this. You and me, all the things we’ve done? Axons! Remember the Axons? And the Daleks. We’re the only two left. There’s no one else…Regenerate!
The Doctor’s loneliness and anguish is palpable. He wants someone who can understand him completely and who shares his past, present, and future. Someone who will be there and stay there. Yes he has had numerous companions but they don’t stay or can’t stay. In the episode: “The Next Doctor” Jackson and the Doctor have the following conversation:
Doctor: “Tell me one thing. All those facts and figures I saw of the Doctor’s life, you were never alone. All those bright and shining companions! But not anymore?
Jackson: May I ask, why not?
Doctor: They leave. Because they should, or they find someone else. And of them….Some forget me, I suppose, in the end….they break my heart.”
Yet the Doctor not only needs a companion to elevate the loneliness, but He needs someone willing to share the burdens of time traveling and trying to prevent genocides and massacres, and the death and destruction such attempts often entail. The Doctor as brilliant and resourceful often needs the skills and intelligence or even simply the loyalty that his companions bring.
Martha, is often derided in the fandom community, though I suspect a good portion of the criticism has a good deal to do with the fact that many fans were not ready to say goodbye to Rose. Nevertheless, while Martha comes off as lovesick during her tenure as companion, the Doctor does indeed rely on her and she comes through.
In “The Last of the Time Lords” (3:13) it is reveled that Martha Jones spent a year traveling throughout the world telling the surviving humans stories about her adventures with the Doctor in order to convince and prepare them to focus their thoughts (or “prayers”) on the Doctor at a designated time so that the collective psychic energy that is channeled through the Archangel network can rejuvenate the Doctor. People might discount storytelling-but story telling places a vital role not just in the telling and collecting of human history but is also vital in the spreading of religious beliefs. Story telling-can and does get people killed if it is viewed as a threat to the establishment; just research the deaths of many of the early apostles and followers of the early Christian Church. Martha Jones, was not treated that well by the Doctor. Yes, it is true, he couldn’t love her the way she wanted to be loved, especially since he was still reeling over the loss of Rose, nevertheless, he tended to ignore her. I don’t really think he viewed her as a person but rather as another body to travel with, until the end of her tenure. Until she leaves.
Donna, has no qualms about speaking her mind and putting the Doctor in his place. She lets him know when he is out of line. She is stubborn and intelligent, and will not take no for an answer. She demands reasons for the Doctor’s actions and when she believes that he is acting unfairly she calls him out. In their first meeting in the “Runaway Bride” she was not afraid to see through his, “I am alright” excuse and tell him that he needs someone else to keep him in line, to let him know when enough is enough. In the “Fires of Pompeii” she shared in the burden of causing the deaths of 20,000 people by helping him pull the level that caused the volcanic eruption, and she also convinced him to go back and save one family.
In the episode “Turn Left” (4:12) Donna’s role in saving the world is palpable. When a host attaches onto her and changes history by causing her to alter one small simple decision-she turns right instead of left and things begin to fall apart. Rose acknowledges that much when she tells Donna: “I thought it was just the Doctor we needed, but it’s the both of you. The Doctor and Donna Noble, together, to stop the stars from going out.”
In “ Journey’s End” (4:13) Donna as well as the Doctor’s other companions and allies Rose, her mother Jackie, Martha, Sarah Jane, Captain Jake, and Mickey work together with the Doctor to save the universe. Yet in the end they all choose or are forced to leave him. Sarah Jane, Martha, Mickey, and Captain Jake have their own lives. Donna who becomes a human/Time Lord Metacrisis has to have her memory wiped out.
Donna: I was gonna be with you. Forever.
Doctor: I know.
Donna: Rest of my life. Traveling in the TARDIS. The DoctorDonna. No! Oh my god…I can’t go back. Don’t make me go back, Doctor, please, please don’t make me go back!
Doctor: Oh Donna, Donna Noble. I am so sorry. But we had the best of times. The Best.
The Doctor tells Slyvia and Wilf, the important role their daughter/granddaughter played in the universe:
I just want you to know there are worlds out there, safe in the sky, because of her. That there are people living in the light, and singing songs of Donna Noble, a thousand million light years away. They will never forget her…while she can never remember. And for one moment…one shining moment…she was the most important women in the whole wide universe.
And finally, at least for now, Rose Tyler and her relationship with the Doctor. To be honest, I was mostly indifferent to her until “The Parting of Ways” (1:3). I think I starting falling for her character when she tried to explicate to Jackie and Mickey why she needed to find a way to go back to the Doctor and why she loved the life she had with him so much:
“…it was a better life. And I…I don’t mean all the traveling and…seeing aliens and spaceships and things-that don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life….that you don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You take a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what is right when everyone else just runs away…and I just can’t.”
I know many people did not like the Doctor with Rose, but I truly believe that after all he had been through, she helped him to love again. She helped him believe again in something-someone other than himself. In “the Satan Pit,” (2:9)the Doctor states to the devil
Doctor: so, that’s the trap. Or the test or the final judgment. I don’t know. But if I kill you. I kill her. Except that implies-in this big grand scheme of Gods and Devils, that she’s just a victim. But I’ve seen a lot of the universe. I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demi gods and would-be gods-out of all that-out of that whole pantheon-if II believe in one thing, just one thing, I believe in her.
Rose, Martha, and Donna all served a purpose-they not only helped save the world but they kept the Doctor in check, they provided him with friendship and love. It was when he lost that-when he left Rose in the parallel universe with his half time lord-half human clone, when Martha left him and found someone else, and when he had to wipe Donna’s memory clean-that he is when he began to fall apart. When he had no one to travel with-no one to share his burden with-that is when he began to transform into a vindictive angry, deity figure.
The God of my childhood didn’t need a relationship with humanity-he wanted one. I was told He wanted one for our sake since we were nothing without Him-simply worthless, weak human beings. But God didn’t need us. The Doctor, however, is a mess when he goes for long periods of time without someone. He has lost so much, seen so much death and destruction and caused so much death and destruction that he needs someone to rein him in, to be by his side, to love him.