Since the announcement that Jenna Coleman would depart sometime during Doctor Who’s season 9, fans have heatedly debated who her replacement will be. Top of the fan favorite list: Petronella Osgood, assistant to Kate Stewart at UNIT.
Osgood is certainly a beloved character. However, her most endearing quality should also categorically exclude her from becoming a regular: she’s a Mary Sue. Granted, she hasn’t committed the cardinal sin of Mary Sues by impossibly, single-handedly saving the day despite being surrounded by a plethora of more qualified people, but she’s a Mary Sue nevertheless.
Osgood is every bit as much of a Whovian as I am. She just happens to live in the same world as her hero. She decorates her house with images of the Doctor. She dresses like the Doctor all the time. She presumably pours over every UNIT mission involving the Doctor just as fans in our universe obsess over episodes.
Don’t get me wrong; she’s greatly amusing. But she’s also a punchline. She’s the girl in someone else’s question marks, scarf and bow tie. Strip those away, and what do you have left? Nothing particularly defining.
Yes, of course, writers could flesh her out, play down the eccentricities and build up a more unique personality. Or they could do the same thing with a brand new character and not have to deal with the baggage of an established figure. Which, incidentally, seems to be plan. “The new companion is likely to be an entirely new character, [showrunner Steven] Moffat confirmed,” reports Digital Spy, although I’m not sure how you can confirm something is only “likely.”
Doctor Who is not about the Doctor, who’s a rather angry/jaded/depressed old man, depending on incarnation. He’s seen far too much of the universe. The show is about the companions and how their eyes are opened to all of time and space by the Doctor. The relationship between Doctor and companion is also absolutely critical, and here Osgood has a very big problem.
As actress Ingrid Oliver, who plays Osgood, explains: “She worships the man, so I’m sure she would follow him anywhere.”
I’m sure she would, but the Doctor doesn’t need a fangirl. Seriously, would you hang out with someone who constantly dressed just like you? It’s more than a little creepy, when you think about it.
Besides which, Osgood seems pretty grounded for the foreseeable future. The Zygon ceasefire needs the two Osgoods, so neither of them are likely taking an off-planet trip any time soon. And that’s a good thing for the Osgood character. The human/Zygon relationship is now every bit as much a part of her as her love of all things Doctor.
Most characters only hang around for a story, no matter how popular. The love of reoccurring characters threatens to stagnate the show. Sure, they’re good (even great) on occasion, but the universe also has to move forward, not constantly revisit old haunts. Writers tried so hard to keep returning to the originally amazing River Song her story became a tangled mess. And we don’t have to see the Daleks every season. There must be other monsters in the universe.
Companions have life cycles. They join, they grow, and they leave. We need to be ready to let Clara go her way, and then let in someone new and unknown whom we can watch develop as he or she travels through time and space. And that someone will not be Petronella Osgood.