Welcome back, Dr. Martha Jones. The Tenth Doctor companion, portrayed by Freema Agyeman, was last seen in the 2010 Doctor Who episode “The End of Time” as freelance alien hunting alongside her husband Mickey Smith. It was an intriguing update that made fans wonder how she went from being a UNIT official primed for Torchwood action to a gun-toting fighter. Big Finish Audios fills this gap with Torchwood: Dissected—an enthralling audio adventure featuring Dr. Jones and her pal Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles).
In this story, Gwen brings a young man’s dead body to Martha’s job in hopes of finding some answers under the radar. But the Martha that Gwen was friends with has changed in a lot of ways. This odd and dangerous task is the perfect way to reunite the strained pair and throw them both for an odd loop.
Despite the general plot, Torchwood: Dissected really isn’t about solving the corpse’s mystery but rather exploring Martha and Gwen’s friendship and individual growth. Big Finish has an incredible knack for giving established characters additional layers of depth and development that weren’t explored on TV due to time constraints. This is especially true for Martha as a companion because the primary focus was on The Doctor and progressing the overall plot.
Torchwood: Dissected gives listeners a chance to dive deep into Martha’s mindset, motivations, emotional journey, and how her TARDIS travels continue to help her in a crisis. Gwen acts as a perfect foil for Martha to bring her out of a comfort zone while she confronts her own issues.
Martha and Gwen’s terse interactions, sharp wit, and dueling philosophies make this a compelling, character-driven drama with an intense pace that leads to an explosive ending. Gwen is still heavily entrenched in the always-unorthodox Torchwood way whereas Martha’s time at UNIT has stunted her sense of curiosity and hardened her heart a bit.
Their debates over the autopsy forces them to better understand their respected flaws and how their unconventional lives have changed their views on the world. The chemistry and energy between Agyeman and Myles anchor this adventure, which could have become easily become monotonous with so much one-on-one dialogue.
Torchwood: Dissected comes with bonus interviews from both actresses who discuss their real-life friendship as well as what it was like to bring back their characters. Thankfully, Agyeman has all good feelings about reprising this role, so perhaps this is only the beginning of Martha’s Big Finish adventures.
The end reveals that Martha—at her core—is still the same person that fans fell in love with years ago. She’s ultimately a woman with agency who knows when it’s time to let something go. The events of Torchwood: Dissected give her the shakeup she needs to come out of a cloud of monotony in search of pursuing a life she really wants. And, a final conversation with Gwen opens the doors for more stories about her freelance alien hunting life. Give us the Mr. and Mrs. Smith alien hunting missions that we deserve, please!
Torchwood: Dissected features a real-time otherworldly autopsy but it’s all about reviving a companion who continues to defend the universe in her own unique way.
Image Credit: Steve Barry/Big Finish Audios