in my plan we are beltless (ariastar) wrote,
in my plan we are beltless

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take one

At deutscheami's request, DVD commentary for the Who fic Manifesto.

I'm not entirely sure why this fic is called Manifesto. I think it was supposed to be a sort of clever pun halfway between "this is a ship manifesto"-- since it was blatantly me trying to work out the Ten/Martha dynamic in my head-- and "here's what I think about this particular manifestation of the Doctor" but I think somewhere the clever pun became lost in translation.

This is possibly the only fic I have publicly posted written in the second person. It's probably only in second person because that was the way my mind was composing words the day I wrote it, but we'll pretend it was deliberate. Or: here is the instruction manual for being Ten. Here are the things you can do, and the things you can't, and the things you won't.

This body of yours is a wonder.

Each new body is a wonder, but this one demands your attention in ways that might frighten you, except that you are not easily frightened. (You must never let anyone know you are frightened.)

This parenthetical aside is particularly important because, as far as I know-- bearing in mind that I don't know very far, my knowledge being Nine, Ten, half of Five's run, and a few with One, Three, and Four-- the Doctor doesn't ever really come right out and say that he's afraid. I know a lot of people didn't love 42, but I loved it, because "I'm scared, Martha, I'm so scared" makes my heart turn over every time.

This body delights in itself; perhaps the hair is the wrong colour, but it stands up most expressively and the fact of it pulls your mouth into a grin. Learn its expressions, looking into the mirror while Rose sleeps in another room: here is what your eyebrows can do, your mouth, your chin, your eyes. Know the body is beautiful, not intellectually as you have known the strengths and weaknesses of your other selves, but viscerally; let the way you move be the declaration of intent.

That's another thing I love about Ten: there's something weirdly self-conscious about him. Other Doctors take a look at the nose or the hair or the ears and make a face and move on, and maybe what they decide to wear is their way of figuring out what new personality they'll be trying out this time, but it's-- a sort of shell for the intellect. With Ten, the way he grins or walks or stands, all of it is very studied, because he is absolutely in his body, even when he's rambling on about whatever pseudo-scientific thing of the moment.

Live with the consequences, as you always do. Watch Rose change because you have changed. She was beautiful too once, charged and filled with the whole of time and space, and you let yourself die to save her from burning up from the beauty. She doesn’t remember it, and now what you were too fades in the face of what you are.

It always both saddens me and relieves me that Rose didn't ever really remember her Bad Wolf, Heart of the TARDIS thing. It's the sort of thing that is probably impossible to live with unless you have a brain capable of doing it, and I don't know if any of us could cope with being able to feel the turn of the universe.

Interestingly, at the time of writing this fic I was very deliberately working out in my head the differences between Rose Tyler and Martha Jones. I wrote it between the airing of Human Nature and Family of Blood, and thus knew nothing about the s3 finale, but in retrospect I can now observe something else: Rose stays because she doesn't remember what she did to save the world. Martha leaves because she does.

Watch her smile mirror yours. Laugh with her and, with each smiling breath you take, fade a little. Let her wrap herself up in adventure, and allow yourself the knowledge that once, in another skin, you loved her without fear.

And here I guess I reveal fairly blatantly that I adored Rose with Nine and I hated Rose with Ten. I think Rose and Ten did terrible things to each other because both of them fell into a sort of giddy complacency and neither of them grew.

The older you are, the more human. Lifetimes ago you would not have allowed humans aboard your TARDIS. Find their cultural references coming out of your mouth; grin your spontaneous grin whenever they do something clever. Find new affections and charms in old things; this is not new, this relegating to mere memory all the things that were once of staggering consequence. Hug Sarah Jane and do not apologise. When you see the way she looks at you, with no surprise in her face for this new form, but some peculiar hungry affection, do not turn away; grin.

Another way Ten has that incredible body awareness: he absolutely 100% knows if someone has a thing for him (hence, in New Earth, "Yeah, still got it"). Whether he consciously acknowledges it is another story entirely, and most of the time he doesn't, because Ten's modus operandi is Everything Is Fine.

Never turn away.

If your body is beautiful, let it be. Let Sarah Jane look at you as though she has never seen you before, not you the form but you the function, every last bit of yourself new.

I'm not sure if I properly conveyed it there, but: it's not the new body that is the new Doctor, not really, it's that post-Gallifrey the Doctor is fundamentally different and Rose has accepted him for who he is-- literally, accepted him as a new person when he regenerates-- and that makes Ten unlike other Doctors not because of the body but because of the way he now feels he's allowed to act.

When you take Rose to New New (New New New New New—discover this too, some delight of your lips and tongue that makes you talk so rapidly you might one day collapse into breathlessness) York, do not be horrified that she kissed you. She never remembers kissing you, not in this form nor in the last. Do not remind her: know her limits and find your kisses elsewhere. Rose will worship you with all that she is, but you do not want worship.

See: the mortgage conversation in Impossible Planet. Ten wants a roadtrip buddy and a casual date. He probably also wants what Rose was to him when he was Nine, namely for her to be the moral compass, but she's not that anymore. Donna is absolutely right: Ten needs someone to stop him.

You don’t know what you want. Do not try to find it.

I guess this would be the crux of the Doctor no matter what incarnation he's in, which is that at some fundamental level he's an outcast and a wanderer and he doesn't ever know what he wants. He saves the world because it's a lark and it's better than the alternative.

Instead, you must laugh because Rose laughs. You love her; of course you love her. Tell yourself this when you sit in the abyss of space orbiting a black hole, and she gives you a look that turns your hearts over in terror (never let her know you are frightened)

Fairly silly aside: my favourite part of writing Who fic is being able to type "hearts" and "heartsbeat" and things like that. It's my favourite part of the alienness of the Doctor, those two hearts.

and talks of mortgages and kisses the helmet of your spacesuit with all the tender worship she has. Do not tell her you love her; only tell yourself. Lie because you like it.

My Ten, at least, confuses exactly what it means to love someone. His idea of love mirrors the idea of whomever he's travelling with, so to him love necessarily means things like Romantically and Forever. The very fact that he doesn't tell Rose he loves her means that he does, because he doesn't want to hurt her or to lead her on; but at the same time he tells himself he loves her, In That Way, because it makes him feel less guilty about not living up to her desires for him.

When you meet Reinette, feel no fear. There can be no lies around Madame de Pompadour, not when she can see into your mind. (She reminds you of—but that was long ago; of no consequence. They are all dead now. Let them remain so.)

Reinette reminds him of Romana. This is just a straight-up fact in my head, because so far the only Romana serial I've managed to get my hands on is City of Death, also known as That French One Where Four And Romana Are On A Date. The parallel doesn't have to be any less superficial than that, but it's still there.

Reinette understands you, form and function, as perhaps no other human ever has; allow her this. Know from the moment you meet her that you are her lonely angel, some guardian from a dream world on the other side of space and time; if you are Reinette’s myth and Reinette’s dream, you are safe. When you lie, lie to yourself as well: of course you mean to come back for her.

Ten could so very definitely have just TARDIS-jumped over and picked Reinette up if he'd really wanted to; the can't-mess-with-timelines rubbish is exactly that, because he's been known to do it when it suits his purposes. It's the best excuse in the world and Ten absolutely wouldn't have risked coming back and finding her dead if he'd really wanted to take her with him. See also: the Doctor coming back and asking Joan Redfern along, knowing full well she'd refuse (although again the third season hadn't reached that point when I wrote this).

Tell yourself you never mean to leave any of them behind. Not Reinette, not Jack, not Sarah Jane. Not Rose.

This line rings less true for me now that we know the context of the Doctor leaving Jack behind. I guess the message behind it remains the same, though, it's just that in the case of Jack the Doctor is willing to actually verbalise why he didn't want Jack to come along anymore.

Burn out a sun to say goodbye to her. Talk about nothing at all and let the body, which you fit into now without difficulty or question, do the rest for you. Grin with all the affection you have ever felt for Rose Tyler, even when she says I love you. You’ve known it for a long while and now that you are insulated in another reality you are safe from Rose Tyler’s love. Tell yourself it’s best: standing as an echoing shadow on Bad Wolf Bay, you open your mouth and vanish from her world forever. This is best; you owe it to Rose Tyler, just this once, not to lie.

That scene on the beach: possibly the most cowardly thing Ten's ever done. I can't say whether or not his saying he loved her would have made things better or worse for Rose, but arguably he owed it to her. Of course here because he really did love her he feels he owes it to her not to say so, which is sort of the way I always see the Doctor's head working, with all the wires crossing so that he overthinks everything at least three times and comes to conclusions that sane human people like Rose Tyler can't possibly understand.

Here is something that does not differ, whatever form you take: no matter how lonely you are, no matter how easily the humans see this you and fall into loving,

Possibly that is symptomatic of Martha more than Rose.

you have forgotten how to travel by yourself, just you and your TARDIS and the universe. When you spend a frantic day with Donna Noble, ask her to come with you; how could you do otherwise? Know she is right. Sometimes you need someone to stop you, even if it is not Donna Noble, because Rose Tyler never did.

Here I wince for two reasons. One, way to tell not show, self. Two, that's not fair to Rose; she was fantastic at stopping Nine when he needed it. But in this context the you is Ten and thus the statement scans.

Meet Martha Jones.

When she recognises you, know. You came up to me and took your tie off, she says, and in that moment, know she is important. Her bedside manner is wonderful and she knows straight off exactly how alien you are. Take note of this; let the body do as it does, and wink at her, and grin, and watch as she goes, and know. Continue watching: she keeps her head, asks the right questions, marvels at the impossible beauty of the moon, thinks on her feet, shows amazing empathy, and instantly trusts you.

Part of the reason Ten paid so much attention to Martha, I think, was because he already knew he had. Clearly there was some reason future-him had run into past-Martha. This sort of circular reasoning works all the time on Who (Blink, Time Crash, for instance) so as a way of picking up a companion it is in keeping.

Discover something that you have long suspected of this body: in this form you love too easily and too well, and it frightens you.

Take her with you and know too, in an instant, how terrible a thing you are doing. She smiles at you wryly over the console and says I only go for humans; think Yes, me too, because with Gallifrey gone Earth is your best second.

Obviously, I have never believed in the tenet of Asexual Doctor. New Who doesn't believe in it either, so I don't feel terribly guilty. The Doctor is being a bit cruel taking Martha with him, though, because he leads her on like crazy for the first few episodes.

Martha is beautiful and she does not know your boundaries, and you don’t know them either, because Rose knew the boundaries you used to have and insulated you both inside them. Martha tugs at you in new and unexpected ways, forcing you into peculiar growing pains.

That right there is exactly why I love the dynamic Ten and Martha have, by the way. I don't think Martha actually pushes the Doctor's boundaries enough, but she does push them and the results can be surprising and they can be beautiful.

Find yourself saying Rose would know what to say, Rose would know what to do and when you see the hurt on Martha’s face, pretend you don’t understand. Lie because you like it, because testing the boundaries scares you, because you don’t want to get hurt.

Expand the definition of one trip; you don’t want to keep Martha Jones but you like her. Lose her at once; do everything you can to get her back. Get her back because you lied, because you were showing off, because you cannot decide what you want, because when those under your care are threatened, saving them is what you do. Make the mistake of forgetting that Martha Jones is Martha Jones, that she only needed rescuing as much as anyone else did in New New (New New New New New—you said it before and somehow she knows) York; she is not Rose and she sits down in the alley and without any words she expects you to give something you have all but forgotten how to give.

Something that was symptomatic of Ten's relationship with Rose that is instantly also symptomatic of his relationship with Martha: he tries to save them, goes to absolute mad lengths to save them, sometimes at the expense of the other people in the same situation and in danger. Of course the old school Doctors were pretty good about rescuing companions too, but in an absent way; he assumed they could take care of themselves, and if he saved them it was simply because at the moment they were his responsibility. Ten clings. If Rose or Martha gets in trouble it is absolutely his fault and he will save them at all costs, and-- it's a substitution of the girl for his failure to save Gallifrey, although with Martha it's also just straight-up feeling responsible for getting her into trouble.

I love that Martha had an active hand in rescuing herself and I love this particular way in which she pulls at the Doctor's boundaries and makes him talk about Gallifrey, even if it's a rose-tinted (no pun intended) Gallifrey of beauty and colour and no mention of the Time Lords at all.

You must never let anyone know you are frightened.

Sit down and explain Gallifrey to her—not everything, not now, not when she is going to leave—but enough, because Martha Jones is listening with not just her ears but with her single fragile beating heart, and no matter the body you inhabit, you know how to accept a gift.

(Tell yourself she cannot be right. You are alone, whatever the Face of Boe said. One human woman existing in your life for an eyeblink does not make you any less alone. You have learned this lesson well.)

Here the instruction manual on how to be the Tenth Doctor is giving... a false instruction. Tell yourself she's wrong, know you are alone, learn your lessons. With any of his companions the Doctor is absolutely not alone and he knows it, but he's still going to lie because it's another way of insulating himself. Possibly he also suspects the Master might be out there, but for all intents and purposes in this story it's simply that he can't bring himself to allow himself to love something so fleeting as Rose or Reinette or Martha or anyone at all.

Be grateful for an excuse to stay with her. You are learning that Martha Jones has an incredible capacity for saving people, and you are learning, too, to trust her. Trust her with the sonic screwdriver, trust her on her own, trust her to trust you. Trust her to come with you again, without caveats or excuses this time. Trust her to know when to speak and when to say silent, when your boundaries need pushing and when they need to be left alone. Know that she knows better than you ever can.

I think I'm uncomfortable with that last line now too, because a lot of the time Martha doesn't know better than the Doctor, if only because she goes along with his crazy plans (see: Family of Blood, Last of the Time Lords). Again at the time I only had half the season to work with and couldn't know, but it rings false. The rest of the above paragraph, though, still holds true-- Ten does trust Martha, a lot-- more so when you understand the magnitude of what he believes her capable of in Last of the Time Lords, which again I didn't yet know-- and it's one of my favourite things about the dynamic they have.

When you need her to do exactly what you say if any of you are to live, she keeps her head beautifully. Eyes squeezed tight shut, trying to keep hold of what you are, hearts beating with terror, burning and burning, feel her leave your side; cry out involuntary Martha, where are you? but she is still there, of course she is. Lose yourself so completely that you forget what you must never say; you have confessed your loneliness to Martha Jones and you can say it now, I’m scared—I’m so scared— and when she asks if you are ready, know you are past all lies. You are not ready and you tell her so and she shoulders it all; lose yourself and let Martha Jones be the doctor instead.

The summation of why I love 42.

Hilariously enough, because I have a tendency to write all my porn as vague and impressionistic, the above paragraph reads a lot like a sex scene I might write. Obviously the context is entirely different, but I think the way I wrote it is possibly telling of the way I read the episode in the context of the Ten/Martha relationship. I don't literally read any of those scenes as being like sex, but there's something to it, the way the Doctor gives up coherence and trusts Martha with everything he is.

Don’t look at her afterwards. She is still human, after all, full of glee for her own successes, although she stops it up at once and sets you first, again, as she always does, not because she worships you or even because she can instinctively see, but because she trusts you. You don’t yet have the words to thank her; do the only thing you can, and give her a key to the TARDIS. The look on her face tells you she understands.

Another of the reasons I love 42. The small scene in the TARDIS at the end of the episode says so much about how they're able to pick up on each other's cues. And in a lot of ways it really is just about trust.

Take Martha, at length, to the Eye of Orion. She has not failed you yet. Sit her down amid the runes and mist, on the grass below the memorial; wrap a blanket around her shoulders and drink tea together from an old thermos.

This scene was taken fairly directly from the latest-at-the-time entry on Martha's blog, wherein it detailed the Doctor taking Martha to a memorial for the Time War. There was something so beautiful and still in the idea, and while I know it wouldn't have made thrilling telly, I'm still sort of saddened that the closest we ever get to this scene in the show is that bit at the end of Gridlock, which was one of my favourite moments.

Tell her about the Time War, still not everything—it can never be everything—but more than you have ever told anyone else. Hold her hands and listen to her breathing and listen to her single beating heart and listen to her wonder at being trusted and your own for trusting until it fills the air between you so exquisitely that you know you will—

Say I love you, but he can't. Possibly it's because she never demands it of him-- she even lets him off the hook at the end of Family of Blood, after her own declaration of love-- but at some fundamental level Ten's simply terrified of any closeness, even if he craves it. Moths and flames.

Spring to your feet and give her a grin and say Less angst, more fun!

Hold this last moment of knowing lodged like a beacon in your chest, a point of pure assurance precisely between the hearts Martha Jones has coaxed and bullied back to life. Know it immediately to be your solution when the Family of Blood finds you without warning and you come pelting around the corner and Martha ducks the blaster fire cool as you like as though dancing at Eurovision and avoiding death are all of a piece and she can do this forever. Ask You trust me, don’t you? to hear her say Of course. Decide to become human because you’ve always wondered, because it’s your safest option, because you trust Martha Jones with your life.

I think I love this passage more in light of the finale. Sending Martha Jones to walk the world for a year was never a gamble; possibly it was an act of faith but I posit more an act of love, on both of their parts, for absolutely fundamentally trusting that they will be able to save each other. Human Nature/Family of Blood is the microcosm to the macrocosm of Last of the Time Lords.

Leave her with a set of instructions. She must know she is wanted; she must know she is needed. Don’t let me abandon you. You must not. You need her. You—

Lie, but only by omission.

I don't know at the time if this was meant to be a love story in the "I ship Ten/Martha" sense. Possibly it was. In the end, though, it's not about whether or not they ever end up together in any traditional sense, but that s3, for all the other mad things going on, is absolutely a love story because on some basic level it is about Ten being able to-- not to move beyond Rose, or to move beyond Gallifrey, but to, through meeting Martha, begin to really find out what it is to be him.
Tags: fic: dvd commentary, lj: meme, people: heidi, tv: doctor who
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