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So, just what does Donna think of all this? - Eldritch Lacemaking and other Randomness

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April 7th, 2008

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09:05 pm - So, just what does Donna think of all this?
While replying to comment on yesterday's Doctor Who episode review, I had some interesting thoughts regarding just what Donna knows about both Rose and Martha, and the Doctor's relationship with each of them.

This was done partially because I thought it was actually really interesting to cut out all the knowledge of what the Doctor and audience knows about Martha and Rose, and just cut back to the few facts that Donna has. And partially because I got rather pissed off last year for people bitching at Martha about things that she had no idea about (ie. That, until Utopia, she would be aware Rose didn't leave volutarily). I don't think Donna should be sunject to that, either.

So, here we go: Obviously, spoilers for Partners in Crime. And casting spoilers for later in the series. And mildly cracky speculation.

So, just what does Donna know about Rose and Martha? (The subtext to this is what has the Doctor told Donna about Rose and Martha, which is pretty interesting in itself, but I digress)

Just going from the two episodes she's been in so far, Donna knows an interesting amount, for someone who only spent, what a couple of hours with the Doctor.

About Rose, Donna knows that she traveled with the Doctor; That's she now gone/lost; that she trusted the Doctor and is "so alive"; that she had a family at the Powell Estate whom the Doctor spent Christmas with; Oh, and that her name was Rose.

About Martha, Donna knows that she traveled with the Doctor after he said bye to her the first time; that she was "brilliant"; that the Doctor "ruined half her life"; that she fine but is gone; that Martha had done the Doctor some good; that she fancied the Doctor (which Donna seems to think was a silly thing to do); that things between the Doctor and her got complicated, and that the Doctor blames himself for that; and, of course, that her name was Martha Jones.

The Doctor also describes both Martha and Rose as "friend" to her, if that's at all relevant.

Looking at those facts, that's basically the same amount of discussion going on (ie. Not a huge lot). There's probably a little more about Martha, but not much.

The thing that I found interesting, though, is that Donna knows rather more about Martha's relationship with the Doctor than she does for Rose. I mean, yes, from the way he was when speaking of her in Runaway Bride, Donna could pretty obviously infer that the Doctor was very upset by her loss and thus obviously cared a lot for her. But by the same token, it's also pretty obvious from the way he spoke that the Doctor cared a lot about Martha and he feels very guilty about her being gone.

It's in addition to that that Donna also is told that the Doctor thinks Martha is brilliant, and that she was good for the Doctor, and that she fancied him (he seems rather smug about that, and given the way Donna gets catty about why Martha would do so, I suspect she picks up on said smugness), and that it got "complicated" - which is an interesting statement, taken out of context, but I digress - and we basically get this at the end.

Yes, Donna's aware he also spent a Christmas with Rose's family, but what it comes down to is this:

The thing that inspired me to do this post - that made me sit up and wonder just how interesting this could be if the writers use it - is that Donna knows that Martha fancied the Doctor. But she doesn't know that Rose did too.

Which, given the fact Donna is due to meet both Martha and Rose, and the whole requited/unrequited fiasco, struck me as mildly hilarious.

Especially since, without external knowledge the audience has, the Doctor never gives any indication that things with Martha were unrequited at all (Come on, "she fancied me", followed by "it got complicated" and then taking the blame then I just want a mate? It could just as easily be taken as they were a couple, and the Doctor screwed things up some how. And holy crap, all the Doctor's relationships seem to become shippier in retrospect)

...Okay, the main reason this amuses me is that I had this image of, when Donna and Rose meet up, Donna filling Rose in on what's happened in the Doctor's life since they seperated and Donna saying something like, "Before me, he travelled with Martha for a bit. Apparently she fancied him, can't imagine why she'd do something stupid like that." Cut to Rose's reaction.

I'll get back on topic, anyway.

Basically, Donna hears about what went on between Martha and the Doctor than she does between the Doctor and Rose - and a lot more about how he feels in regard to Martha. Though there is some information on what he feels about Rose, it's all in how the Doctor says it, not in what he actually says. It's a lot more... in-depth what he says to Donna about Martha. (Actually, it's probably a lot more in-depth than most of what he said to Martha about Rose, too, but I digress) She also hears rather more about how the Doctor feels about Martha than, well, pretty much anyone heard about his relationship with anyone else. Particularly Martha - wonder if the Doctor will give her a proper apology/"You were brilliant", or Martha will hear second hand from Donna telling him what he said to her.

So, it'll certainly be interesting when Donna meets up with Martha (episode 4) and then Rose in 11. The Martha meet-up will certainly turn things around majorly, what with Donna finding out that rather than being half-ruined, she's being all kick-arse and competent with UNIT et al.

In conclusion, things we have learnt from this post:

1. Donna won't play Yenta to anyone.
2. The Doctor makes everything sound better once it's gone (see: Gallifrey)
3. The production team have learnt that actual emotional continuity can involve referencing more than one character! \o/ Keep it up, guys.
4. What the audience knows =/= what the characters know.
5. Emotional development for the Doctor is good.

...I feel like I should cross-post this to a few places, but I've no idea where would be suitable. Any suggestions (that won't end up with wankiness in my comments?)
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(58 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
I think you're in the wrong fandom for non-wankiness...
But oh so very right. It could be beautiful.

[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)
I don't care if people get all wanky in other posts or it gets wanky posts in response.

I just don't want actual wank in a post I make.

It just struck me how hilarious that could actually be. I'd kill to see the look on Rose's face after hearing Donna say that.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC)
You make some good points, and if I was Donna, the 'it got complicated' line certainly would certainly make me think that their relationship wasn't unrequited. I do think that in eps 4&5 Donna will probably learn exactly what happened, though. My theory is that the (harsh) truth comes from clone!Martha in some way.

As for x-posting, what about marriedonmars? That seems like a pretty wank-free comm.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 01:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure she's definitely going to get some more knowledge of what happened come Martha's re-appearance. But I sincerely doubt it will be everything, and especially not the emotional stuff (Martha got very little insight on the emotional issues of the Doctor/Rose relationship, I doubt Donna will get much more).

And I can't see why a clone would think this stuff is worth sharing with a stranger, anyhow.

I'm not sure it really focuses enough on Donna herself to be relevent there. loves_them_all is seeming the most likely option, but I'm not entirely sure.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing no one says out loud: Rose fancying the Doctor isn't, technically, canon. That's part of what made their relationship so very unsettling towards the end, because she was completely devoted to him and yet the nature of their relationship was so nebulous, and you never had a clear idea what she understood vs what he understood. So childlike was her infatuation with the Doctor that the infamous mortgages conversation didn't even suggest the obvious interpretation of marriage and babies to me, just permanence. That's all Rose ever seemed to want, to continue the way she was with the Doctor forever and ever---and I'm convinced that way never included sex. Whereas there was always a sexual awareness to the Doctor's relationship with Martha---I don't know about you, but I personally couldn't image the Doctor handling Rose's underwear.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC)
Well, she canonically loves him, but yes, as for the rest. I agree. As Nos has said, as time passed, their relation seemed to become more and more devoid of sexuality, which is a bit unnerving.

Mostly in how, she seemed to be reshaping herself to be more and more the Doctor's ideal companion: devoted, not wanting to ever leave, loyal, not willing to change their relationship as it was.

Which is distinctly squicky when you consider the whole way the Doctor didn't change himself at all for her.
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[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
Since it made me very cross every time someone bitched at Martha because of some thing she couldn't possibly know about, I figured I should avoid hypocrisy, and try looking at things from Donna's POV as well.

I do think if Rose mentions she just wants to be with the Doctor because she loves him, Donna's more likely to ask her why on Earth she's doing something stupid like that for, rather than help Rose out. And I think if it comes between destroying the universe, or keeping them seperated, Donna would prefer the Universe remain intact.
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[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
Interesting how content-free his statements on Rose were - to Martha, too. I doubt canon will play on this in a big way, but while Donna knows fuck all about Rose, Martha's been convinced she was a hypercompetent investigative genius in fully requited love with The Doctor. Oh, the comedy they could milk if they weren't so patronising about one particular character.
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Like I said, both Rose and Martha's relationships seem to become shippier when the Doctor talks about them it retrospect.

I'd love it if Donna said something to Martha about how he can't shut up about how brilliant she is, if only because it'd clue Martha in on that very fact. (Well, and it'd show the Doctor can have emotional stuff go on about more than one person)
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
Hehe, cool points. I found it interesting especially the extent of what Donna knows after two episodes, compared to what Rose or Martha knew after the same time period, or even after the whole series. Martha *forced* him to admit about Gallifrey, while Rose, even as she loved him, was shocked about Sarah Jane (after a whole series!). Donna knows about both Martha, and Rose, and that Martha fancied him and Rose is lost, so I think somehow we are going to see a more honest and open Ten this season, just because he feels he can tell Donna things without reprecussions.
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 08:58 am (UTC)
It'll be interesting to see just what comes out this series. Because, well, Rose never asked, would never push the Doctor on personal stuff; Martha did ask, but it took a bloody huge effort. And then there's Donna, who only had to ask lightly.

Wonder how much of that comes from how she really forced it out of him in Runaway Bride.
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 09:27 am (UTC)
You make some really good points about both Donna and how both Donna and the other characters learn about the Doctor's past relationships.

As a related aside, I know that I always found it odd that a faction of fandom found Martha's romantic advances toward the Doctor inappropriate "because the Doctor was very obviously in mourning over the relationship with Rose and this is just not something you do" (which, from what they show on screen, it just sounded like he'd been through a regular old human-style breakup, if anything, and that Rose had likely been the one to leave him in that more "generic" non-sci-fi sense). Martha was just working with the little information the Doctor was giving her (albeit in a somewhat badly-pasted-on crush-y way a la the writers, IMO).

The Doctor is good at just giving vague bits and pieces that are open to interpretation.

I am sure I have more cohesive thoughts on all this, but I am sleepy, so they will have to wait...
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 09:29 am (UTC)
I always found it odd that a faction of fandom found Martha's romantic advances toward the Doctor inappropriate "because the Doctor was very obviously in mourning over the relationship with Rose and this is just not something you do"

Which just shows the lack of life experience of those commentators, heh. In RL it happens all the time, and often works out fine.
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
I'm intrigued to see where it's all going. The way it's being played, I'm pleased that the Doctor's relationships with all his companions is being portrayed as complicated and potentially messy. There's not much canon OTP-pandering going on here!
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC)
I do hope they keep things up on this way. I'm currently weighing up if I should expect a Martha ref in the next two episodes before she appears or not.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
I think it says really interesting things (about the intricate powers of writing, I guess) that despite being loaded with a larger amount of comments about Rose, the Doctor's actually indicated more about Martha.

Next, your saying "pretty much anyone heard about his relationship with anyone else" makes me wonder about what the Doctor said to Rose about "losing people you l--" by way of talking about Sarah. What place does that have in what, and the amount of what, he gives away about his relationships? Rhetorical, really, I'm just musing...
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's sort of one of the things I was getting at. It's a lot of surface stuff about Rose, but the discussion about Martha is rather more indepth - of how she affected the Doctor and how he affected her (or how the Doctor perceives that, anyway).

I never quite got why the OTPers were all squeeful about that School Reunion line, since it's a pretty blatant reference to past companions as much as it is Rose.

But so far, we seem to have gone from Rose not getting anything, to S3 Donna and Martha getting info, but only really surface stuff, to Donna getting more reflective analysis. Character progression?
Date:April 10th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)

Donna knows that Martha fancied the Doctor. But she doesn't know that Rose did too.

I thought it was Donna to whom he said, "We were together." That - particularly how he said it - rather suggests that Rose fancied the Doctor and that that wasn't the end of it.

[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
No, the Doctor said the together thing to Martha, not Donna (It was in Smith and Jones. I specifically went through a transcript of Runaway Bride to check every single mention of Rose.

What the Doctor said to Martha about Rose, and what he said to Donna were rather different.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for this -- it's interesting to break it down in some detail. I'd like to believe that part of the reason Donna learns more about Martha than Rose is that it's the Doctor's experience with Martha that's taught him to be more honest and made him realize how unfair it is to withhold information. So it's only natural that Martha would be the subject of his new, greater (though far from complete) honesty.

It never actually occurred to me that he doesn't give Donna enough info to conclude that the Martha relp is unrequited -- I wonder if that's intentional on Rusty's part?

As far as the nature of the relp with Rose, the key problem we face at this point is the disparity between what we saw onscreen and the way the relp has subsequently been characterized. There's no question that what we saw was ambiguous at best. Rose seemed content to take whatever it was the Doctor was handing out so long as she could stay with him, but that doesn't by any means define the relp as romantic or sexual in any conventional sense. But then you have the producers and actors characterizing the three companions' stories as a love story, an unrequited love story, and a not-love story. (For that matter, I'm entirely unconvinced that Donna is anywhere near as uninterested in the Doctor as she says -- let's not forget how Martha insisted she'd never be interested in an alien, too.)

It will be interesting to see if Rose's story in S4 will match what we actually saw of her, or whether it will be retconned into the "love story" version we've been TOLD we saw.

One last thing: People who condemn Martha for moving in on Ten while he was still in mourning really need to rewatch the scene at the end of Smith and Jones when he invites Martha to join him in that alleyway and asks her onto the Tardis. You'd have to be deaf and blind not to see the seductiveness in the way the Doctor does that. It's pretty damn clear who starts the flirting, and that's why it's so shocking when he pushes her away in the next episode.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
If they keep this characterisation consistent, then that would seem to be the obvious inference to make. I hope they keep it up.

I'm not sure if it's intended, though how Donna reacts when meeting Martha (especially what she has to say) will give us a bit of an indication.

I agree with you totally when it comes to what we were actually shown on-screen - there's a lot of ambiguity there. Rather more so in S1 than S2, but if it wasn't for the production team expounding so definitively going on, it'd be a lot more debatable as to the nature of their stories. From their first episodes, both Donna and Martha have a bit of "Madam doth protest too much" going on.

And yes, there's a very obvious seduction subtext in that scene. I do wonder how people can with a straight face say Martha started it all - it's always seemed to me as being Martha only flirting in reaction.

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