Fandom: Doctor Who (2005+)
Character: Mickey Smith
E-Mail: chickadee _ from _ 3 @ yahoo . com
Spoilers: All of Mickey's character arc. Rose through Age of Steel.
Notes: I totally ripped the subtitle for the "Defender of Earth" section from halfpenny_green. Sorry, but it was too perfect not to use. Transcript excerpts from Doctor Who [2005+] Transcripts. Unbetaed because of time constraints, so if you notice any errors, point them out!
If you go back, you're gonna die.
ROSE [completely confident]
That's a risk I've gotta take. 'Cause there's nothing left for me here.
[She looks away, avoids Mickey's eye. That hurts him so much and she knows it - but it has to be said]
MICKEY [with dignity]
Okay, if that's what you think... let's get this thing open.
My introduction to the Doctor Who revival wasn't exactly typical. The first episodes I saw were Parting of the Ways and The Christmas Invasion, back to back—which meant I was introduced to Nine and Ten roughly at the same time; and it meant that I plunged right into the middle of Mickey Smith's character arc.
But I was hooked. I worked to get caught up on the Ninth Doctor, and the moment New Earth aired I was working just as hard to keep abreast of Ten. Now, looking back, as much as I love New Who's rich tapestry of characters, it is Mickey Smith who seems the most developed, the one whose character arc was painstaking and beautifully natural.
Browse the message boards and episode reviews and you'll find almost uniform hatred of Mickey the Idiot in the first half of the Ninth Doctor's run. He's regarded as useless, a waste of airtime. Then opinions begin to split—through the second half of the series, fandom is divided rather neatly between "Why are we spending more time with Mickey?" and "I really like him!" And with Mickey's character gaining a true focus with the Tenth Doctor, he became for many the new audience-identification character to take the place of the now jaded and self-confident Rose.
And now that his arc has finished it natural course in Doomsday, it seems only fair to look back over it with a fresh eye.
Just A Spare Part: Backstory
Mickey's mum just couldn't cope. His dad hung around for a while, but then he just sort of wandered off. He was brought up by his gran. (she smiles) She was such a great woman. God, she used to slap him! (serious again) And then she died. She tripped and fell down the stairs. It's about five years ago, now. I was still in school.
I never knew.
Well, you never asked.
You never said!
That's Mickey. I s'pose I-- we just... take him for granted.
Mickey Smith was the only child of Jackson Smith and his wife. When Mickey was small, his mother 'couldn't cope' with something—fanon generally regards this as postpartum depression. Dad went to Spain and never came back; Mom stuck around but was apparently uninvolved in Mickey's day-to-day life and rearing. His grandmother, Rita-Anne Smith, raised Mickey in the Powell Estates of London, until she died after tripping on torn carpeting that he had promised to fix and broke her neck. Mickey never really got over it, but he forged ahead in life regardless: got a job as a mechanic; his own apartment; a girlfriend, Rose Tyler.
Rose and her mother Jackie were a part of Mickey's life from a very early age. When, at about three years old, he ran into the church where Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke's wedding was taking place in an attempt to get away from the Reapers (Father's Day), Jackie had no problems stepping up to baby-sit him, even if her remarks were slightly derogatory: "He just grabs hold of what's passing and holds on for dear life. God help his poor girlfriend if he ever gets one."
Unlike Rose, who wears her daddy issues on her sleeves Mickey presented the image of someone who knew how to cope, someone without a Tragic Backstory. He pushed ahead instead of dwelling on the past.
The Tin Dog: Playing The Hero
I bet you don't even remember my name!
No, it's Rickey.
I think I know my own name.
You think you know your own name? How stupid are you?
Our first introduction to Mickey comes in Rose, along with our first introductions to Rose Tyler and the Ninth Doctor. He's painted in broad strokes: the cute, sweet, but not very interesting boyfriend who doesn't give Rose a reason to leave, but doesn't give her a reason to stay, either. He likes pubs and sports, cares about Rose and tries to protect her, but when he's replaced by a cheap, malfunctioning plastic replica she doesn't notice. Not the greatest sign of a good relationship. When Rose and the Doctor find Mickey being held captive by the Nestene Consciousness, he's in terror about what he's been through: clings to Rose like a child and applies his newfound xenophobia to the Doctor as well. His brief trip in the TARDIS only scares him more, and he begs Rose not to leave with the Doctor, whom he calls a "thing".
It's an uninspiring start, and it's no real wonder that the Doctor dislikes him.
So Rose goes off adventuring through time and space, and Mickey is left behind. Because he can't explain her disappearance ("She went off with an alien who travels through time and space in a big blue box" is something likely to wind him in a psych ward), suspicion falls upon him as her murderer. Nothing can be proved, but life on the Estate becomes very unpleasant for poor Mickey Smith.
You disappear - who do they turn to? Your boyfriend. Five times, I was taken in for questioning. Five times. No evidence, of course there couldn't be, could there. And then I get her - your mother.
[He points at Jackie who rolls her eyes with a look of disgust]
Whispering around the estate - pointing the finger - stuff through my letterbox - and all 'cause of you.
By the time Rose turns up again, a year later, Mickey's built up a good store of resentment. His perception of the situation is slightly skewed by his lack of facts—he refers to the Doctor as Rose's new boyfriend and gloats that she's been dumped. But he's also spent the past year collecting information on the Doctor, searching for any trace of Rose in the past. He steps up to the bat with the current Slitheen situation, beginning by pointing out the oddity of their plan to the Doctor. He rescues Jackie (the woman who has made his life miserable for the past year) from an attacking Slitheen armed with nothing but a kitchen chair, and keeps his head in the crisis long enough to snap a picture of the alien and send it to Rose. He hacks into UNIT to get the information the Doctor needs, wards off another Slitheen, and hacks the Royal Navy to bring a missile down on Downing Street and Rose's head, standing up over Jackie's terrified protests.
Mickey the Idiot. The world is in your hands. Fire.
[Breathing heavily, Mickey screws up his eyes and clicks the Fire button. 10 miles off the coast of Plymouth, a missile launches itself out of the sea]
The Doctor, perhaps having come to terms with the fact that Mickey really is a good, smart bloke or perhaps just knowing that he'll say no, offers him a chance to come along on the TARDIS and become a proper Companion. Mickey says no; he knows his limits, he's far more firmly grounded than Rose, and he knows that the Doctor's life of danger and death isn't for him. And the Doctor respects him enough to lie about his decision to Rose.
So stop worrying. See you in ten seconds time. Hmm?
[She hugs her. The Doctor steps into the TARDIS. Rose follows him. Mickey gives a small wave and Rose shuts the door, leaving Mickey and Jackie alone outside. The TARDIS fades away. Jackie keeps her eyes on her watch as they stand in silence, then...]
[She walks back to the flats. Mickey settles himself back on top of the dustbin with the newspaper]
The next time we see Mickey, he's been called out to Cardiff to deliver Rose's passport to her. He's awkward and out of place among the perfectly meshing trio of Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack. They're smug and cheerful and a little arrogant in their awesomeness; Mickey doesn't fit in. But he tries, joining them for lunch and stealing Jack's punch line out from under him, and joining in on the A-Team mission to bring down the Slitheen impersonating Margaret Blaine. He's clumsy and ineffectual, but he's there and he's trying. His xenophobia comes into play again, but it's not the same anymore: there's more an air of trying to convince himself, but he's seen too much to equate alien and thing anymore. And when the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack leave again, taking the Slitheen with them, Mickey is once again left behind by his own choice.
It doesn't stop him from coming running the next time he hears the TARDIS engines, and he's even enthused about it. Every time the TARDIS has come into his life, it's been accompanied by alien invasions and Bad Things happening, but he's gotten to the point where he honestly seems to enjoy being part of the weirdness. But, again unlike Rose, he doesn't let it keep him from being content when the weirdness isn't there:
But what do I do every day, mum? What do I do? Get up - catch the bus - go to work - come back home - eat chips and go to bed? Is that it?
It's what the rest of us do.
He still knows that a normal life is something to be cherished and held on to. But when it's called for, he still manages to be the hero that's needed, even when (or especially when) it's not glamorous or romantic: he saves the universe in a big yellow truck, and is left behind without even a goodbye as Rose goes off to become the Bad Wolf, exotic and dangerous.
Mickey's the one who stays put, who sticks around to see out the consequences, while Rose and the Doctor go swanning off to their next adventure, secure in their (possibly false) knowledge that things will work themselves out. He's the unsung hero, the grounded one who quietly does the unspectacular bits involved in saving the world and gets none of the glory.
The Tenth Doctor's reign kicks this theme into high gear.
The Man In Havana: Tech Support
ROSE (fiddling with her sleeve)
You gonna be all right?
Me? Please. Infiltration and investigation? I'm an expert at this.
He strides away with purpose. Rose just stands there smirking, waiting for him to come back, which he does almost immediately.
Where's the Maths department?
With the changeover from Nine to Ten comes the changeover from Ricky the Idiot to Mickey the Computer Expert. It's not as obvious as the Doctor's change, but it's there.
At Christmastime, Mickey comes running when he hears the TARDIS, cutting out of work to try and track it. And when he discovers that there's nothing he can do to help the Doctor, he quietly steps into the role of best mate/boyfriend instead:
Hmm, must drive you mad. I'm surprised you don't give up on me.
Oh, that's the thing, isn't it? You can rely on me. I don't go changing my face.
He's in hopelessly over his head, but he tries: he holds off the attacking Christmas tree with a chair for as long as he can; he researches the pilot fish to make sense of the Doctor's ramblings; he hacks the military to find out about the approaching alien invasion.
I'm not that brave.
ROSE [pausing with her hand on the door handle]
Oh, I don't know...
He keeps getting better and better at what he's doing, but he's not there yet—but by the time School Reunion takes place he's switched into a full-on proactive mode. Instead of coming running to get involved in what Team TARDIS is up to, Mickey's calling them out to join his own investigation. He's more competent, and more confident. He still has his moments of endearing Mickeyish ineptitude (such as screaming in fright when dozens of vacuum-sealed rats fall on him in the dark), but for the most part he's far more comfortable in his role in the group, and his skills with a computer come in great handy. And his heroics are uniquely Mickey: he breaks into the school by crashing through the front doors in a car with K9; he breaks the children's hypnosis by ripping out the power cord, and his resigned shrug before he does so just makes it perfect. And finally, he seizes the opportunity he's been putting off for so long:
Can I come?
Sarah Jane looks surprised. Rose however, knows exactly what he means and looks none too pleased.
No, not with you, I mean... with you.
He gestures to the Doctor.
'Cause I'm not the tin dog. And I wanna see what's out there.
Rose mouths 'no' at the Doctor.
Oh, go on, Doctor. Sarah Jane Smith - a Mickey Smith. You need a Smith on board!
Okay then, I could do with a laugh.
So Realistic: Companion
MICKEY (looking around)
Is this like normal for you? Is this an average day?
Life with the Doctor, Mickey - no more average days.
So Mickey's an official TARDIS Companion now. And on his very first trip through time and space, he winds up on a 51st century spaceship linked to pre-Revolutionary France.
Rose has become jaded by all she's seen and done, but it's all still new to Mickey: he's awed by how "realistic" space looks; he can accept that the TARDIS translates alien languages but the idea that it translates French is astonishing; and when investigating around the alien spaceship, he goes for the Indiana Jones-style commando roll down the corridor. It's all fun and new and interesting to him.
But he's still Mickey, the most grounded of the group, and when Rose wants to stay and press the Doctor to talk about what happened with Reinette, he intuitively understands that the Doctor would rather be alone and gets Rose out of the control room.
And something incredibly interesting has happened to Mickey, has been happening to him all along but becomes fully noticeable when we next see him in Age of Steel:
The Doctor turns from Rose to Mickey. They're both walking away from him and he doesn't know which way to turn.
MICKEY (gesturing to Rose)
Go on then. No choice, is there? You can only chase after one of us, and it's never gonna be me, is it?
Compare that to his line in Boom Town:
[Outside, a street light smashes and passers-by shriek. Baffled, Mickey looks around for Rose but she's already running in the direction of the TARDIS]
MICKEY [yelling after her bitterly]
Oh, go on then - run! It's him again, isn't it? It's the Doctor! It's always the Doctor! It's always gonna be the Doctor and it's never me!
He's done a complete 180. Gone are the days of being jealous of the Doctor for taking Rose's attention and love away from him; now he's simply resigned to the idea of being second-best when compared to Rose. Being Rose's boyfriend is no longer his main self-identity; being the Doctor's Companion is.
He gets himself into trouble when he seeks out his grandmother, alive in this alternate reality, and ends up kidnapped by the Preachers, mistaken for his alternate self, Ricky Smith:
MRS MOORE (to Mickey)
Bad news is, they've arrested Thin Jimmy. So that just leaves you.
Leaves me what?
JAKE (like it's really something to be pleased about)
The Number One. Top of the list. London's Most Wanted.
Okay, cool. (pause) Say that again?
Ricky is the leader of the Preachers, a self-appointed gang intent on bringing down Cybus Industries. Of course, they're not great at what they do, they're low in numbers, they work from a kitchen, and Ricky is actually London's Most Wanted for unpaid parking tickets. He's tougher and colder and meaner than Mickey, but at heart, they're still the same person, trying to be heroes without all the things heroes are usually granted.
And when Ricky dies, Mickey is crushed. He feels like he's the loser, he's the one who didn't deserve to survive:
I don't need you, idiot.
I'm not an idiot! You got that?! I'm offering to help!
That's the moment. That's the instant when Mickey reaches the point he's been striving for since Rose. He's empowered. He's going to do it, no matter what. And in that instant, he needs to prove himself and his right to have survived—to himself and to Jake, who is the external manifestation of his insecurities, the one who keeps telling him the things he already knows: that Ricky should have survived instead. So he chooses to shadow Jake onto the zeppelin, and his computer skills come to the rescue once again.
The most ordinary person can change the world! Some ordinary man or woman…some idiot…all it takes is for him to find…say…the right numbers, say, the right code, say, for example, the code behind the emotional inhibitor, the code right in front of him. And even an idiot with computers these days knows how to get past firewalls and passwords, knows how to find something encrypted in the Lumic family database, under, uh, what was it, Pete? Binary what?
An idiot could find that code, the cancellation code. And he'd keep on typing. Keep on fighting. Anything to save his friends.
He saves them. He destroys the Cybermen and Lumic's control. He overrides Jake's protests and goes back to save the Doctor, Rose, and Pete. He's the hero he was never really sure he could be.
And then he does what the Doctor can't: he chooses to stick around and fight through the consequences. He stays. He knows that things won't work themselves out, that it needs a hand, and so he steps into Ricky's role and fights for this alternate reality. And our last sight of Mickey is of him sitting in the van with Jake, deciding to go liberate Paris.
Nothing wrong with a van. I once saved the universe in a biiiig yellow truck…
Defender of Earth: Mickey Smith Saves the World (No, the Other World)
You're the bravest person I know.
What about the Doctor?
Okay, then…the bravest human.
…at least, that's our last sight of Mickey until Army of Ghost rolls around.
Rose sneaks into a classified area of the Torchwood Institute and is promptly caught in a lie, temporarily held prisoner by Dr. Rajesh Singh. Raj calls to his assistant Samuel to check the locks.
Behind Raj's back, Mickey, in a white lab coat and answering to the name Samuel, flashes Rose a grin and two thumbs up.
When everything goes to hell as the Cybermen cross over fully and the Sphere void ship begins to activate, Mickey leaps into action, shucking off his lab coat and grabbing a huge gun. He rapidly fills Rose and Raj in on the situation: the Preachers have driven the Cybermen out of the Alt Universe and then followed them into our reality, intent on defeating them once and for all. But it's not Cybermen who come out of the Sphere: it's Daleks…
Mickey keeps his head, his cool, his gun, and his ability to snark. He inadvertently activates the Genesis Ark with his Time-Traveler Mojo, but immediately owns up to it and gets told that it saved them from having the Daleks blow up a sun to accomplish the same thing. With Rose and the Doctor (and later Jackie and Pete as well) Mickey keeps up his new pattern of fighting when its necessary, running when its called for, while Jake does the same thing with the rest of their commando team.
In the end, Mickey returns to the Alt Universe as it is sealed off once again, with the Preachers, Pete Tyler, Jackie, and an unwilling Rose. Evidence is given that Mickey is living with the Tylers at the close of Doomsday, and the chances that we'll see him again are slim—but not impossible.
You Make Me Feel Like Nothing: Mickey & Rose
We were nice. We were happy. And then what, you give me a kiss and you run off with him and you make me feel like nothing, Rose. I was nothing.
[Rose stares. Mickey's eyes begin to fill with tears]
I can't even go out with a stupid girl from a shop because you pick up the phone and I come running. I mean, is that what I am, Rose? Standby?
[Rose shakes her head silently]
Am I just supposed to sit here for the rest of my life, waiting for you? Because I will.
Mickey is Rose Tyler's boyfriend, and to begin with, that's his only connection to the Doctor's world.
Prior to the Auton Invasion, the Mickey/Rose relationship is painted as being very sweet and casual: they're at ease with each other, and any actual romance has faded with familiarity. They joke around, they kiss, they know each other so very well.
Aliens of London and World War Three elaborate on their relationship a bit: he will always be there for her, because he will always love her, but that doesn't keep him from resenting it a bit.
It's only been a few days for me. I don't know, it's... it's hard to tell inside this thing but I swear it's just a few days since I left you.
Not enough time to miss me, then?
I did miss you.
I missed you.
So, erm... in twelve months, have you been seeing anyone else?
Mainly because everyone thinks I murdered you.
He's not above getting a little bitter snark in there, but they both know that as long as she comes back, he'll be waiting. And even after Jackie gives up on Rose's "ten seconds", Mickey is still settling down for a long wait.
Boom Town throws their relationship into turmoil as Mickey forces Rose into seeing that she's been taking him for granted by telling her that he's been seeing Trisha Delaney.
I'm going out with Trisha Delaney.
[They are now leaning on the railings near the water. Mickey has long since given up trying to look interested in what she is saying. Rose stares at him]
Right... that's nice... Trisha from the shop?
Yeah, Rob Delany's sister.
Well, she's nice... she's a bit big...
She lost weight.
[He looks at her, trying to justify himself]
You've been away.
Well, good for you. She's nice.
It throws their dynamic into something cold and uncomfortable and awkward which finally escalates into a full-blown fight about how she keeps using him, running off for a year or six months and assuming that he'll just stay in stasis the whole time, that his life's stopping when she's not there. She's never taken into account how that makes him feel, and now he's forcing her to—and at the end, he chooses to walk away; he chooses to leave her behind; and she's left miserable, wishing for a second chance.
But that doesn't keep him from running to see the next time he hears the TARDIS. And, doll that he is, he doesn't question her or push her for answers about where the Doctor is, he doesn't bring up their fight; he holds onto her while she cries. And it might seem like a step backwards from BT—he's back to being dependable Mickey, running at her beck and call—but it's not. He calls her on thinking that she's better than the rest of them. He knows she can't be happy forced back into an everyman life, but he needs her to understand that some people are—and that that doesn't make her a better person.
But it was... it was a better life. And I - I don't mean all the travelling and... seeing aliens and spaceships and things - that don't matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life.
[She meets their eyes, speaking earnestly]
ROSE [to Mickey]
You know, he showed you too.
[Mickey does not reply]
That you don't just give up. You don't just let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what's right when everyone else just runs away, and I just can't--
He's not gone traveling all over the universe, but he's changed at least as much as Rose has—more. He's taken the slow path, but he's getting there more surely. And even after she tells him that there's nothing left for her in London, very deliberately telling him that he's not enough, and his heartbreak is more than evident, he still helps her. He still does the right thing.
The Christmas Invasion shows Mickey coming to terms with the idea that Rose will never stay with him, will never get tired of the traveling and decide to stay put, and it hurts but he's growing up. New Earth features that one tiny scene that is such a perfect example in microcosm of their relationship:
Rose kisses Mickey goodbye.
She won't cut him loose, and so gives him a thorough kiss to remind him why he loves her; she won't hold on to him, and so won't return his love you. She wants it both ways, and in the long run, that's never going to work.
By School Reunion, Rose is still in the mindset of wanting Mickey to be her at-home boyfriend, someone who's there when she needs him but otherwise unimportant. Mickey, however, has slid right over into the best mate role, teasing her about the Doctor without the jealous-boyfriend overtones, gloating about Sarah Jane's presence without drawing a parallel to their own problems. It's light and fun and he doesn't feel like nothing anymore. Girl in the Fireplace keeps up that vibe between them, a friendship that is more stable than their romance was.
Rise of the Cybermen and Age of Steel brought their relationship to its natural close. Many fans complained that Rose managed to make Mickey's departure All About Her, and that's true, but she's also genuinely crushed at the thought of losing him. She's depended on him instinctively for so long, and now he's not going to be there anymore, and possibly not ever again.
Except that he is.
Mickey is much more confident of himself come Army of Ghosts/Doomsday. He's focused on the situation at hand, and his interaction with Rose is far more casual and inattentive. The final scenes led many fans to believe that Mickey had moved in with the Tylers, but it's important to note that he was quite obviously not sharing a bed with Rose. Hopefully, our boy knows better than to plunge himself into that situation headfirst again.
God, That's Embarrassing: Mickey & Jackie
It's not very nice. Tastes a bit sort of clinical.
MICKEY [glancing at Rose]
Have you tried that new pizza place down Minto Road?
What's it selling?
Oh, that's nice.
Mickey and Jackie appear to have had a relatively casual relationship prior to Rose. She had no problems watching him when he was small, and he walks into the Tylers' flat with no thought about it, but they don't seem to have had any genuine connection aside from 'boyfriend' and 'mother'. Post-Rose, Jackie went out of her way to make Mickey's life a living hell, suspecting him of murdering Rose and making sure everyone in the council flats knew it.
With Rose's return, the distrust and unease between Mickey and Jackie did not immediately lighten, with Mickey still resentful and Jackie defensive of her actions. But after he saved her life, fending off a Slitheen with a chair, they started to loosen up and actually talked in Mickey's kitchen.
I thought I was gonna die.
[She bursts into tears. Mickey gives her a quick hug]
Come on, yeah? If anyone's gonna cry, it's gonna be me. Now, you're safe in my flat, Jacks - no one's gonna look for you here, especially since you hate me so much.
You saved my life. God, that's embarrassing.
You're telling me.
They're the ones that Rose left behind; they're the ones who know the truth about the Doctor and alien invasions. In the end, they have to confide in each other, because they have no one else. But it starts developing deeper than that; in The Christmas Invasion, Mickey mentions that he goes to Sunday dinner at Jackie's, with an implication that there's a bit of in loco mothering going on. When he informs her that he's going to use her phone line to get on the Internet, her response about keeping a count is offhand, as if it's a routine they've gone through many times before. They've gotten into the habit of depending on each other, and it's familiar and safe.
When Rose runs to her mother at the end of The Age of Steel, Jackie's response isn't to ask what's wrong with her daughter: it's to ask where Mickey is; and in Love and Monsters, Jackie wistfully reminisces to Elton about Mickey:
I used to have this little mate called Mickey, he did all that stuff. He's gone now…bless him.
Four episodes have passed since Mickey's departure, and the first mention of him comes from Jackie, left back at home.
In Doomsday, Mickey and Jackie are reunited again. Little attention is paid to this, but it does give a few notable moments: Mickey and the Doctor snigger behind her back when she claims that there's been no one else since Pete died; while Rose has her breakdown, Jackie reaches out not only for her alternate-husband's hand, but for Mickey's as well.
He's Not Invited: Mickey & the Doctor
If I was to tell you what I was doing to the controls of my frankly magnificent time ship, would you even begin to understand?
I suppose not...
Shut it, then.
Comfortable, this relationship is not. The Ninth Doctor, possibly jealous of Mickey's history with Rose, takes every opportunity possible to belittle and mock him. He persistently calls Mickey "Rickey" and "Mickey the Idiot". Mickey, for his part, is resentful of and intimidated by the Doctor, and their interactions show it.
MICKEY [grinning, thinks he has proved a point]
But that's what I meant! There's no police boxes anymore, so doesn't it get noticed?
Ricky, let me tell you something about the Human Race. You put a mysterious blue box slap bang in the middle of town and what do they do?
[He puts his hands on Mickey's shoulders. Mickey open his mouth to reply, but doesn't get a chance]
Walk past it. Now stop your nagging, let's go and explore!
[He walks off, linking his hand with Rose's. Mickey and Jack follow]
It's a battle every time, one that Mickey is always bound to lose: he's a 20-something mechanic from the Powell Estates, and the Doctor is a 900-plus alien who's spent centuries traveling all of space and time. Not the most even match in the world.
But a grudging respect begins to spring up between the two, as Mickey proves that he can be more than an idiot and the Doctor proves that he's not intending to hurt Rose. And their relationship still isn't comfortable, but it's not hateful, either.
The Tenth Doctor, more sociable and friendly than his previous incarnation, gets along with Mickey much better, gets his name right, and even, for the most part, refrains from calling him an idiot. (And he can be forgiven for the scene in The Age of Steel, as he was intending to get Mickey's attention and it worked.) At the beginning of The Christmas Invasion, he seems absolutely thrilled to see Mickey and Jackie both, and greets them with an enthusiastic "Merry Christmas!" And Mickey doesn't hesitate to join in on the group hug at the end, throwing his arms around the Doctor, Jackie, and Rose all at once.
Ten's mocking of Mickey in School Reunion is more playful and affectionate than Nine's mocking of Mickey ever was, and vice versa: now, with Ten tells Mickey he screamed like a little girl – "Nine, maybe ten years old. I'm seeing pigtails, frilly skirt" – it's a snarky, good-humored kind of teasing; when Mickey gloatingly snipes about "the missus and the ex […] every man's worst nightmare", he's treating the Doctor as a friend, not the mysterious alien that stole away his girlfriend.
Oh, and I met a horse.
The horse trots into view.
What's a horse doing on a spaceship?
Mickey, what's pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective.
Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel provide an interesting dynamic: when it's Mickey, the Doctor, and Rose, then Mickey is the odd one out, the ignored one. The Doctor and Rose are their own special clique, and it's impossible for Mickey to break into it. But when Rose goes wandering off by herself and the Doctor and Mickey are alone on the TARDIS, it's friendly and comfortable and not a little bit snarky.
He kicks the TARDIS console hard in his frustration. He walks slowly over to a chair, scowling.
Did that help?
Did that hurt?
The Doctor is presented with the choice to chase after Rose or Mickey, not both, and maybe it's that he's closer to Rose or maybe it's that he knows Mickey is less likely to get into trouble and bring about the End of the World, but there's never any question that he's going to go after Rose. And Mickey's heartbreak is tangible.
At the end of Age of Steel, the Doctor is the one who respects Mickey's decision, who knows that staying on the alternate Earth to be the hero it needs is exactly what Mickey needs. And he seems visibly regretful at having lost Mickey.
In Doomsday, the Doctor is enthused to see Mickey again, socializes with him happily and even gives him an affectionate kiss on the forehead as they're running for their lives. They've come a long way since Rose asked if her boyfriend was dead and the Doctor's response was: "Oh... didn't think of that."
Because Friends Stick Together: The Website Of Dubious Canonicity
So, anyway. Saved the world last week, thanks.
And how're you supposed to feel when you've done that? Pretty gutted, actually.
I can't go on waiting for her to turn up. I can't go on waiting for Rose. I can't go on doing this. Sorry.
In this age of interactive fandom, viral websites aren't a brand-new idea for television advertising, but the BBC took that idea and ran with it. And it was with the tie-in websites that we got our first real character development for Mickey Smith.
You see, during Rose's missing year, Mickey wasn't content to simply sit around and wait for her to pop back home.
In the first episode of the new series, Rose did an Internet search to try to find out about the mystery man known only as the Doctor, and her search led her to http://www.whoisdoctorwho.co.uk, and the man who ran it, the inquisitive Clive, who was only a short time later killed in the Auton invasion. So what of his website, and his investigation into the Doctor? Did it simply languish, untended and starved for updates?
No. Because Mickey took up the cause.
Investigating the Doctor and searching for any sign of Rose in the history books seems to be the way Mickey kept himself sane after losing his girlfriend to a time-traveling alien in a police box. While most of the residents of the Powell Estates were convinced that Rose was murdered by Mickey, he was struggling to clear his name—posting evidence of "the Dummy Massacre" to prove that the Auton Invasion was not a terrorist hoax; finding a picture of Rose and the Doctor in 1869 and proving for himself, at least, that she really was out there, traveling the universe.
Far from being a useless lump, with Who Is Doctor Who?, Mickey proved himself enterprising, determined, and pragmatic.
The website was regularly updated throughout the Ninth Doctor's run with running commentary from Mickey, struggling to find a voice and an audience. In addition to providing new insights to the aired episodes, the website also provided Mickey's insights into himself:
Yeah, I still read the lies. I know what I am. I'm not particularly brave. No, I'm not very strong. My mind isn't that open. But I'm not a LIAR. I do not fake evidence, or make exaggerated claims.
Prior to New Earth airing and launching the official second season (or twenty-eighth, depending on your adherence to Old School numbering), the BBC took the opportunity to give Mickey's website a major overhaul.
The awkward design and bright colors of Clive's website were preserved in the archives, but Mickey redesigned it for the more recent entries. It was a much slicker look, more streamlined and easier to navigate, and featured updates from Mickey in video format, asking for his readers' help in various issues.
And in a very telling move that could go easily unnoticed, he renamed it. It kept the same address but lost the name 'Who Is Doctor Who?'
Instead, it became Defending the Earth! Because friends stick together
And that's our Mickey in a nutshell. Loyalty above all else.
[Side note: Since Mickey's departure for the Alternate Universe, the website has been kept running by a Deffry Vale student, who signs each entry simply "A Friend".]
Left Behind: The Fandom
As I stated at the beginning, my introduction to New Who came with The Parting of the Ways. If I had started with Rose, maybe I wouldn't love Mickey as much as I do; as it was, one of my first exposures to the character was of that lovely scene on the TARDIS where Rose deliberately breaks his heart and he just takes a deep breath and quietly agrees to help her leave. And he was exactly the kind of character that I always love: the supporting character who doesn't get credit for the heroics he performs, and who doesn't ask for it, either. The one who does the right thing even when it's hard and it hurts and maybe they're not really equipped for it.
Mickey's character arc seemed to me to be the most complete and organic on the show. Even as we missed out on huge chunks of time for him, he always seemed to be at a sensible point of growth for that much time having passed. He was the grounded character who brought everything back to Earth, the one who never quite forgot that for every action there's a consequence.
Sadly underutilized in fanfic until Age of Steel showed the fandom at large why he was so loveable, Mickey tended to be written into the default "Rose's uninteresting boyfriend at home" role. But a small, dedicated fanbase persisted in trying to make his voice heard, in Mickey-centric fics that shipped him with Trisha Delaney, paired him up with Captain Jack for banter, and showed him researching like mad to update his website. Now, Mickey/Jake slash has been added to the broad categories Mickey gets written in to, and projects like the Mickathon and Minor Character Ficathon keep working at bringing more Mickey love to the fandom.
The true everyman, who's never quite sure that he'll be able to do what he needs to do, but who does it anyway: Isn't there a little Mickey in all of us?
Defending The Earth – Because Friends Stick Together! - Mickey's Website of Dubious Canonicity
Wikipedia on the Subject of Mickey Smith - a nice reference guide
BBC's Mickey Gallery - full-size desktop wallpapers
The Mickey Livejournal Community - a nice, if somewhat quiet, community of Mickey fans
the Mickey Smith Fanlisting
the Mickey Fic Masterlist - an ongoing effort to catalogue every Mickey fic on the Internet
Doctor Who [2005+] Transcripts - from which the script excerpts in this essay were excerpted