Unless you’ve been trapped in solitude all weekend, chances are solid that you heard a new companion has officially been named. The companion is called Bill, and she’s played by the actress Pearl Mackie. I wrote about her a bit on Geek & Sundry over the weekend.
Even though we’ve got to wait until 2017 for the new season of Doctor Who (though there will be a Christmas special this year, so maybe we’ll see Bill there), all of our Whovian brains are racing as we imagine what kind of a companion Bill will be, and what adventures she and the Doctor will have together. While I don’t share the Clara-hate that a lot of Whovians had, I will admit that she had a tumultuous run with the Doctor. That original “Impossible Girl” story line made her more of a weird anomaly throughout the Doctor’s timeline rather than an actual character, and it wasn’t until her final season that I really started to love her. Jenna Coleman is a great actor, and I think she could have sealed herself a higher ranking in the “favorite companion” leaderboard had she started her run as companion as more than just a puzzle for the Doctor to solve. Clara, once she was fleshed out as a character, was reckless, she was caring, she was brave, she was snarky, she was loving, she was sarcastic, and she was everything I love in companions.
It kind of frustrated me, actually, because I felt like so much time was wasted on guessing who–or WHAT–Clara could be. The awkward crush she had on Eleven, the Impossible Girl thing, feeling weird about Twelve because he was old, all of that got in the way of what turned out to be a really fun Doctor/Companion run there at the end. I don’t want that for Bill. Here’s what I hope we see once she officially boards the TARDIS:
I loved watching Nine/Ten and Rose’s romance. It was sweet, even though we all knew that it would ultimately end in heartbreak. However, that gooey romance has sort of tainted the Doctor and Companion romance thing for me. Martha’s run as companion got lost, I felt, because there was that awkward “rebound companion” behind everything they did together. When she left the TARDIS on her own accord, I cheered her on because frankly, the Doctor was kind of stringing her along. Then with companions like Donna and the Ponds, we saw how fun–yet still highly meaningful–it can be to watch the Doctor travel with someone who is just a friend and nothing romantic. I got why Clara crushed on Eleven. I get it dude, Matt Smith’s adorable, easy on the eyes, endearing, and he can pull off short pants and “delicate” eyebrows better than anyone. But we all knew the Doctor didn’t fully return Clara’s affections–after all, this was still the age of River Song. Then when Eleven regenerated, everything was weird between Clara and Twelve for a bit because of that crush. The Doctor–especially this Doctor–needs a friend, needs family, far more than he needs a girlfriend. It can get awkward when the Doctor has to navigate a companion crush, so I hope Bill and Twelve are just mates. Plus, I’m not really ready to see him with anyone but River just yet.
She’s Just a Regular Human
In the Doctor Who universe, it gets repeated over and over again how important the Doctor finds each individual he meets. That’s part of the show’s appeal: everyone’s important. Rose loved the Doctor, Martha was his friend who pushed him from heartbreak, Donna was simultaneously the best temp in Chiswick/the most important woman in the universe/and the Doctor’s best mate, and the Ponds were the Doctor’s family. So taking Clara and making her something more than a human who works her way into the Doctor’s hearts felt…unnecessary. The Doctor doesn’t pick companions because they have some secret identity or skill. The Doctor finds his companions special and important because he thinks everyone is important and special–which leaves room for the companions to grow and develop as characters, and ultimately help the Doctor grow. I want Bill to be a regular human, and not a puzzle or problem for the Doctor to solve. I want to see her evolve during her time with the Doctor like an actual human, to see how her presence changes the Doctor, and not for the Doctor to simply work his way to a solution with her.
No Fearing the Doctor
I’ve really grown to love Twelve, but a huge difference between Eleven and Twelve is how rough Twelve is around the edges. Everyone wanted to go up and give Eleven a hug. The dude invented a dance called “the drunk giraffe”, and we refer to him as Raggedy Man. That’s SO not Twelve. Twelve doesn’t do hugging (except with Clara), he doesn’t tolerate most people, he’s got biting sarcasm (one of the reasons I love him), he’s not even consistently nice to those he’s closest with (like Clara), and he’s even had to give himself cards to react appropriately in delicate emotional situations. Clara and Twelve’s first season was tough to watch sometimes because Clara would treat Twelve like she did Eleven. She let him get away with a lot, she let him treat her terribly, and she didn’t really stand up for herself. After all, Twelve can be a bit intimidating. The relationship felt a bit toxic, and not fun at all. However, once Clara finally stepped up and stopped allowing Twelve to do whatever the hell he wanted whenever the hell he wanted, everything got better. He treated her respectfully, she pushed him to be better, and they were fun to follow on adventures. Bill needs to not be afraid of the Doctor (who may still be emotionally raw as he’s mending broken hearts after losing Clara), and not be afraid to call him out when he’s being crazy. The Doctor’s companions keep him good, and Bill needs writing that lets her keep him good.
It can take some time for the Doctor and his new companion to find their groove together, and I’m excited to watch Bill and the Doctor become friends. I can’t wait to see what kind of a character she’ll be, how she’ll evolve during her run in the TARDIS, and what kind of an impact she’ll have on the Doctor and the universe. New episodes of Doctor Who cannot get here soon enough! What do you think of Bill? What are you looking forward to seeing in the new season? What do you hope to see with this new companion? Let me know in the comments!