Cut for spoilers for entire season. Crossposted to personal journal.
When Mickey was being treated as the comic relief, I didn't like it much. Here was a guy who was solid, dependable, and faithful - pretty much the salt of the Earth - and he was constantly being dissed by the Doctor, who refused to get his name right when he wasn't just calling him "Idiot" and quite obviously being considered distant second in interest by Rose... a distant third when Jack came along. That he was the only black guy in the regular cast was exceptionally distasteful, but I really didn't think that they were trying to make a racial comment. I mean, they also let Mickey save the world several times.
Yet the only way Mickey "redeemed" himself in the eyes of Team TARDIS was to leave and reinvent himself. It's not like they were going to help him grow as a character, not when the Doctor would forget about him while babbling to Rose while Mickey patiently obeyed the Doctor's orders three feet away!
And Rose, who kept claiming how much she loved Mickey, was complicit in that whole scene.
We know that Mickey, in the alternate universe, is still the same sort of stolid, sensible, dependable kind of guy... and that Rose still won't look at him because we know she thinks he's just not as good as the guy she was taken away from.
Now along comes Martha. Martha "the first black companion" even though Mickey was invited in by the Doctor and traveled in the TARDIS for several episodes
which has always been the rule of thumb for the title "companion" before. And although the Doctor had been "over" Rose enough to invite Donna - pale, Irish-looking Donna who bitched at the Doctor constantly and showed no interest in travel - on board as a companion without any stipulations, Martha - dark Martha who has already shown curiosity, brains, bravery, and oh, saved the Doctor's life
gets a series of "just one trip" warnings. And then to ice the disrespect and lowered expectations, gets hit with the one line the Doctor has never, EVER used in all 43 years of the show - "Companion X would know what to do" with all the implications of "I can't rely on you."
But he does rely on her. He relies on her to restart his hearts twice, his lungs once, take care of his whole being for three months of overt overwork, sexism, and racism , take menial work again to pay their way during exile, and, oh, Save the damn world!
in Shakespearean times and modern ones.
All without ever a "thank you" or "I'm sorry" outside of fanfic. But plenty of comparisons to the previous companion, and in full knowledge that she feels second best. At the very end of this season, she outright says "I've felt second best all along, but I'm pretty impressive."
And the Doctor says nothing. Not "you are impressive." Not "I shouldn't have let you feel second best. I only take the best."
Nothing. Leaving us all with the message that like Rose's opinion of Mickey, no matter how solid, dependable, brave, and loyal Martha is, she's just not as good as the one who was taken away from him.
They say we will get "wonderful news" about Freema on Monday. Either way, though, they've already screwed her. If she's off the show, then she is the only companion in history to have blatantly been the rebound girl (even though the loud white chick who came right after Rose wasn't). If she's on the show, it's like Mickey... only able to reclaim her life and grow into her power off screen.
When it was just Mickey, it was an unpleasant circumstance that could be handwaved. Now that it's Mickey and Martha, the implications that the black characters just aren't as interesting to the audience or beloved of the Doctor is unmistakable.
And DAMNIT, Doctor Who is SUPPOSED to be about the dignity of all species! There was a time when they could make us feel the rights of personhood for "people" made of rubber masks and bubblewrap. But Rusty has outright said that we are really only interested in seeing stories about humans. (Really, Rusty?)
As of last night, he made it clear that it's really only pale humans who are all that interesting. And that is a message that doesn't belong on Doctor Who.