The Companion Departures - #3: Victoria Waterfield
If there was a winner for most under-rated companion departure, Victoria’s would win. A large part of this stems from the fact that her departure takes place in Fury From the Deep, a story that most Doctor Who fans haven’t seen or listened to the soundtrack to since the entire serial is currently missing from the BBC archives, barring a handful of clips. For those unfamiliar with it, this six part story has an unusual ending in that the adventure ends with about 10 minutes to go in the episode. The rest of the time is spent focusing on Victoria and he decision to either leave with Jamie and the Doctor as per usual or to leave them and stay in contemporary England. Its one of the rare occasion where the Doctor and his companions actually stay after the adventure to have a celebratory dinner with the guest characters and on top of that the Doctor and Jamie even stay an extra day in case Victoria (who decides during the dinner that she wants to stay in contemporary England) decides to change her mind. But, much to the chagrin of Jamie, she decides not to.
This departure is definitely a logical one for the character - Victoria never really sought adventure, but joined the Doctor after she was kidnapped by the Daleks and orphaned by them once they killed her father. The Doctor and Jamie took her on board the TARDIS and became father and brother figures for her, respectively. By the time we reach Fury From the Deep, she’s simply got extremely weary from being constantly being kidnapped, hypnotized or terrorized by villains and monsters (something that happens in her previous four stories - in fact, the story where she is least victimized is arguably Tomb of the Cybermen, where Kaftan “merely” pulls a gun on her after she has drugged her). After the latest harrowing adventure, you can understand why a girl that was never looking to travel the universe and fight monsters would want to take a break from it, even if it meant saying goodbye to her adopted family.
While the motivation for the departure was certainly original at the time and not often repeated (Tegan’s is probably the closest) and definitely is appropriate and logical for the character and her development, that’s only a mere part of the reason why this is ranked so high. A bigger part of the reason actually has to do, ironically, with the other companion in the TARDIS at this time - Jamie. It’s Jamie’s heartfelt - and heartbroken - reaction to Victoria deciding right in front of him to leave the TARDIS - that pushes this further up the charts. Because while Victoria saw Jamie more of a brother figure, he was always in love with her, and it is easily the top unrequited love story between companions. We have to remember that Jamie first rescues Victoria from the Daleks because he’s fallen in love with her (based on a portrait of her mother which is strikingly similar to what Victoria looks like - although it’s not as though he changes his mind when he actually meets her). Getting a chance to play the hero in that story, you can see the pride in his face and the tone of his voice when he helps to offer her security and shelter in the opening minutes of Tomb of the Cybermen (which takes place immediately after the end of The Evil of the Daleks, her debut story). From there, he is extremely protective of her while at the same time not shying away from his interest and his attraction to her. For example, he playfully suggests to Victoria that she should show a lot more leg in The Ice Warriors, and he describes her as “very pretty” in The Enemy of the World (a story in which he also voluntarily calls her his girlfriend as part of a cover story for infiltrating Salamander’s palace, even though he could easily have said it was his sister or a cousin).
As such, it comes as no surprise that when the Doctor asks Victoria whether she wants to stay, Jamie is adamant that she “can’t” and is really upset about it. It’s a shame we can’t see the episodes at this time in order to see if the heartbreak that you can hear in Jamie’s voice as they leave her behind also manifested in Jamie’s face. At the end his anger boils over that he “couldn’t care less” where they go next since it is without her, while the Doctor retorts “I was fond of her too you know Jamie”. Yes Doctor you were, but probably not in the same way that Jamie was…..
Its an original departure, logical for the character but also easily one of the most emotional. It’s built up throughout the entire six-part story and then certainly not rushed at the end - with the 10 minute epilogue at the end of the story, arguably more screen time is spent on Victoria’s departure than all of the other Troughton-era companion departures (Ben, Polly, Zoe and, ironically given his role in this one, Jamie) combined. For my money, this is the best companion departure of the 1960’s.
Posted by Luca on Tuesday, March 22 at 9:33 pm