As I mentioned in my last post, Martha expresses occasional jealousy of the Doctor’s other women, for example in ‘The Shakespeare Code,’ ‘Human Nature,’ and ‘Utopia.’ But the biggest episode for jealousy in New Who is ‘School Reunion.’
It’s hard to say who starts it. Rose’s voice is a bit crisp when she asks ‘who’s this?’ of Sarah Jane. But Sarah Jane has venom on her tongue when she comments on Rose’s age, and it’s all downhill from there.
Rose knows little of the Doctor’s past, and nothing of his prior traveling companions. She hasn’t experienced much rivalry for him in the past – there’s a brief flare-up with Lynda in ‘Parting of the Ways,’ but mostly she has felt secure in her relationship with the Doctor. She’s startled to see Sarah Jane, but it isn’t until Sarah Jane attacks that the claws really come out.
And boy do they come out! Rose certainly has a ‘mean girl’ side. But she doesn’t unleash it until Sarah Jane has made two disparaging comments about her age and one about her relationship to the Doctor. Her guard was up, but she’s clearly not the one on the offensive.
And why does Sarah Jane attack? She’s delighted to see her old friend again. But once the glow has faded, thirty years of doubt and pain return. The Doctor abandoned her. She decided he must be dead, and mourned him, and got on with her life as best she could; admittedly, not well. Seeing him again, she realizes it was his choice not to come back. Seeing him with a younger version of herself highlights everything her life hasn’t been for the past thirty years. She got old; he not only stayed young, but replaced her with a younger model. She’s hurt, and she lashes out at Rose.
Rose too is hurt. She has traveled with the Doctor all this time, thinking – naively perhaps – that she was someone special. Now she knows she’s only the latest in a long line. Worse than that, the Doctor will likely leave her behind to be forgotten, just as he did Sarah Jane.
Fortunately, Rose quickly sees the ridiculousness of their predicament. She and her best friend only ever fell out over a man; she knows it’s a silly thing to do. She stops herself, and invites Sarah Jane to see what they really have in common instead. Sarah Jane leaps at the chance. The next thing anyone knows, the two are fast friends.
Of course, they have more in common with each other than anyone else either of them has ever met.
This experience effectively banishes jealousy for Rose. She has only compassion for Reinette, a woman admittedly in love. She admires Martha from their very first encounter. She grows up; she takes Sarah Jane’s advice; and when her heart breaks, she doesn’t let it stop her.