Dissected

Posted in Audio by - February 20, 2020
Dissected

Released February 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Of all the Doctor’s many companions through the years, Martha Jones has arguably had one of the most unique journeys as she quickly surpassed her initial characterization as a lovelorn medical student with a desire to see the world to highlight her incredible determination and intelligence both with and without the Doctor at her side. Spending time with both UNIT and Torchwood after voluntarily leaving the TARDIS to continue the fight for Earth when the Doctor was not around, few characters have accrued such an expansive list of experiences to draw upon, and in Tim Foley’s ‘Dissected’ Freeman Agyeman reprises her famed role for the first time in a decade to begin to fill in more of the gaps for her character who would eventually leave it all behind to work freelance alongside Mickey Smith.

When Gwen Cooper turns up on Martha Jones’s doorstep with a dead body, it’s clear from the outset that these two strong-minded women have fallen somewhat out of favour with each other, and the simmering tension as the two interact without truly addressing what has caused this rift is brilliantly realized by both Agyeman and Eve Myles. Naturally, Martha is unafraid to draw comparisons between the two furtive organizations she has been involved with, and it’s quite clear that she considers Torchwood to be more of a mopping up organization filled with cobbled-together technology compared to the more traditional and technological world-saving styles of UNIT. However, the Martha presented here is clearly jaded with how her life has turned out, her desire to truly inspire and bring about change always encumbered by administrative and bureaucratic roadblocks. Compared to Gwen who can devote herself to continuing the fight for change and betterment within the system present at Torchwood, Martha has never managed to find a permanent happiness while strictly adhering to the protocols of others; this lingering sentiment that gradually comes to the forefront is a strong guiding force for the narrative with Agyeman emoting resentment, frustration, and egotism, and pride in equal measure as required while Martha continues to confront the fact that she is everything but the medical doctor she once hoped to be as well as the conflicting reasons for the distance that has come between Gwen and her.

With the character drama so pervasive throughout ‘Dissected,’ the actual core mystery unsurprisingly serves more as a vehicle than a crucial element. Of course, Martha’s medical knowledge is put to the test as the suspected timeframe for the body’s demise fails to mesh with certain findings and as the keratin seemingly grows and contracts, and Gwen’s ability to piece together the evidence before her eyes in a non-medical context is certainly a nice complement that helps with providing possible explanation in a more generalized context. However, no corpse is quite as it seems when Torchwood is involved, and the suspicions that result from a key finding are able to highlight the continuing respect Gwen and Martha hold for each other despite the intensified detachedness they are currently experiencing. Fittingly, however, these two strong women are eventually able to reconnect and even reach a mutual understanding despite their very different outlooks on life and the systems in place, and the final moments in which Gwen offers Martha a chance at finally leaving everything behind- at least for a brief period of time- hits all of the right notes to truly drive home just how much each character has developed through their respective journeys into the realms of the mysterious and unknown.

Realistically, ‘Dissected’ could only work with Martha at the fore given how much of her life after Torchwood remains such a mystery, but everyone involved in this production has combined to create a truly memorable experience that simply begs for a follow-up to even more directly delve into these two characters and what their motivations and thoughts are. Myles and Agyeman are pitch perfect throughout to hint at the genuine but strained relationship present, and one can only hope that this is the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship between Agyeman and Big Finish to continue the dynamic exploration of the incredibly well-rounded Martha Jones.

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