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'Doctor Who': What does Yaz's big confession mean for her fate?
Unpacking the companion's late-stage reveal, and what it might mean about what comes next.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to watch "Eve of the Daleks," don't read further because you are about to spoil it for yourself!
It was a revelation three seasons in the making, but in Doctor Who’s most recent festive special, “Eve of the Daleks,” the Doctor’s companion Yaz (Mandip Gill) finally voiced out loud what many fans have suspected for years: she’s in love with the Doctor. Yaz’s tearful confession — egged on by Dan (John Bishop), who is officially in the running for wingman of the millennium — marks the first time that the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era of Who has explored the possibility of a romantic interest for the Doctor, who until now has gone to great pains to keep anyone and everyone she might care about at arm’s length.
Though it’s frustrating for fans who root for romance — not to mention Yaz, who’s been pining after her best friend for 5+ years — it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Doctor would be wary of romance with a companion. More often than not, their love interests tend to meet tragic ends. So, with just two episodes left before the 13th Doctor’s regeneration, and with the knowledge of her recent love confession, the question has to be asked: What’s going to happen to Yaz?
Of course, Yaz is hardly the first companion to fall in love with the Doctor — but should 13 reciprocate her feelings in the upcoming episodes (which seems to be a likely possibility, if her longing look at the end of “Eve” is anything to go by), she'll join a small list of companions who are lucky enough to have their love reciprocated. Not so lucky, though, are the fates that tend to befall these companions: at least as far as NuWho goes, all three of the companions the Doctor’s fallen for have had not-so-happy endings.
First and most famously was Rose Tyler, who was torn from the Doctor during the events of “Doomsday” and relegated to be trapped in a parallel earth where she could never see him again. True, she got to live out her life with her family and a human clone version of the Doctor, but their tragic separation during “Doomsday” remains one of the franchise’s most heart-wrenching moments, and haunted the Doctor for years after her departure. Faring significantly less well were River Song and Clara Oswald, both of whom were killed off the show after romances with the Doctor.
So, with that not-so-stellar track record, what does the future hold for Yaz? As of right now, there’s yet to be explicit confirmation regarding whether or not Mandip Gill will leave Doctor Who when Whittaker and Chibnall exit after the BBC centennial special later this year, which will act as 13’s regeneration episode. That would mean it’s entirely possible for Yaz to stay on and travel with the 14th Doctor. Considering Rose and Clara (both of whom are notably also love interests) both stayed on across several regenerations, it’s not as if Yaz continuing her time in the TARDIS would be entirely unprecedented. Still, though, if Yaz were to continue adventuring with the as-yet-unannounced 14th Doctor, it would be the longest any companion has spent in the TARDIS, as Series 14 would be Mandip Gill’s fourth series on the show.
Aside from previous love interest logistics, there’s also the multiple series-long arc that Doctor Who has been setting up for Yaz and the Doctor that should be taken into consideration. With that in mind, what kind of a departure would make the most sense for Yaz? Out of all the 13th Doctor’s companions, Yaz’s journey has undoubtedly been the rockiest. Bullied relentlessly as a child, Yaz spent her time before boarding the TARDIS in a job that refused to take her seriously. Even after meeting the Doctor, though, things arguably got worse for her. She was abandoned for 10 months while the Doctor was in prison, during which time Yaz lost her job and spent months alone in the TARDIS searching obsessively for a way to get her friend back. She was then abandoned by the Doctor yet again during the events of Doctor Who: Flux, when she and Dan were trapped in the early 1900s for three years.
Her tenure on the show has hardly been the kind of happy-go-lucky thrill ride one might expect when accompanying a time-traveler across time and space, but as we learned in “Eve,” she’s continued to stick around after all these years out of a deep love and devotion to the Doctor. As Yaz tells Dan, she’d “never told anyone, not even [herself]” about her feelings, but the pining has nonetheless kept her around all these years on the TARDIS, even if she wasn’t consciously aware of why she felt so strongly for the Doctor.
So, with all the suffering she’s endured, and all the time the 13th Doctor has spent making a deliberate effort to push her away so she doesn’t catch feelings for her, Yaz’s arc has to have some kind of cathartic happy ending, right? Unfortunately for Yaz and the Doctor, Chris Chibnall’s track record would imply otherwise. The previous two companions, Graham and Ryan, had a remarkably lowkey departure from the TARDIS. They left at peace, on their own terms, which (if we're sticking to the cyclical nature of Doctor Who’s storytelling) would seem to mean we’re about due for another tragic departure.
Yaz’s romantic arc with the Doctor has been the slow burn to end all slow burns — dropping little hints about her feelings across episodes like “Revolution of the Daleks” and “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” before finally making subtext into text with just two episodes left to go. Dropping such a massive revelation for both Yaz and the Doctor’s personal arcs so late in their tenure means that even if Yaz and the Doctor get together, their time as a couple will be short and sweet before 13 says her goodbyes — and before Yaz meets her perilously murky fate.