One of the 9th Doctors’ missteps for me was his treatment of Adam in ‘The Long Game’. Picked up during ‘Dalek’ the Doctor rejects him as a companion because he tried to send knowledge of future into the past, to benefit himself.
This continues to establish one of the early themes of the new series, that Rose is special. She sets a high standard and those who fall below it are unceremoniously dumped back home.
From the Doctor’s perspective he is justified in his actions. Adam could have irreversibly altered history with the knowledge he brought back with him. Clearly this wasn’t someone that the Doctor could safely take with him, not without endangering the web of time.
The problem is that Adam doesn’t necessarily share the same view of time nor should he. The Doctor views all of time and space as an established chronology but from Adam’s perspective the events on Satellite 5 in the year 200,000 are just a possible future.
Indeed, one of the early plot points is that history is not as it should be. The Fourth great and bountiful Human empire, with its millions of planets with millions of species has been stunted. Its progress halted by 90 years. This only confirms Adam’s own view that time is fluid. Time has been rewritten once, why not again?
It should also be noted that the Doctor gives him very little guidance. In fact his advice about how to handle time travel is to get involved and make mistakes. He even gives Adam a credit card to pay for his misadventure. Adam can hardly be blamed for throwing caution to the wind.
The extra material provided on the BBC website gives more of Adam’s background, revealing that his father was seriously ill and that he hoped to use technology to save him. This information puts his actions in a new light.
Adam would still have benefited but his intention was always to help others. He wasn’t going to be another Van Statten, hording the technology for himself. Doubtlessly he would have changed history but not necessarily for the worse.
His biggest crime is sending back a massive amount of data but what if he hadn’t. Adam was a genius. Smart enough to begin to reverse engineer any technology that he encountered during his travels with the Doctor.
Eventually Adam would want to return to his own time period (unless he tragically sacrificed himself or found himself stranded in a distant era or on an alien world) so what would prevent him from using that information then?
This can be an important thing to consider in your own campaign. Any character who travels into their own future is likely to encounter technology that could be useful in their own time. The closer that future is the more likely it is they’ll understand the basics and be able to work out how to replicate it.
Jamie would be unlikely to build a car once he returned to his own time (even without the Time Lord imposed memory wipe) but Ben Jackson might be able to given his background as an able seamen (who might have a passing knowledge of engineering). Now which one mysteriously left the Doctor’s company in ‘The Faceless Ones’?
Of course the Doctor has had very intelligent companions with him but they’ve either been members of his own race or, in the case of Nyssa, already had their whole planet destroyed.
A Time Lord PC may have to consider whether a new companion is intelligent enough to pick up technical information. If they are they will need to consider whether they’ll have to put a block on their memory (similar in the way the Time Lord’s blocked the Doctor’s access to his knowledge of operating the TARDIS) or make sure they never return home.
The Virgin New Adventures book ‘Head Games’ states that the 7th Doctor used his mind control powers to influence Mel into leaving his company. It isn’t a stretch to say that the Doctor has done this to other companions, for example making Vicki decide to stay in Ancient Greece or Steve Taylor remain with the Elders and Savages in the far future.
Add to this that Adam had implanted a powerful piece of future technology that would give him an incredible advantage. PCs might similarly pick up technology that permanently upgrades their bodies.
While this can be useful in future adventures it makes it more and more difficult to allow them to return to their own time period with anachronistic technology. This could necessitate the removal of any such upgrades, which could be a painful and difficult process in itself.
Again, the Doctor facilitated the purchase of this cybernetic implant and not once advised against such surgery. Did the Doctor really not think a scenario like this would happen? Especially when he all but forgets Adam during his adventure. Does he really feel no responsibility for what happened?
It is very possible that the Doctor does feel guilt for what happened but directs his anger towards Adam because he is incapable or unwilling to deal with it, since he is already so burdened by his actions in the Time War.
During the events of ‘Father’s Day’, when Rose show she isn’t as perfect as he thought, does he realise how hasty he was? If so we never see the 9th Doctor or any other incarnations try to make amends.
It is interesting that we never encountered Adam again, not even now real life has caught up with his future timeframe. He would an interesting NPC in an adventure, either as someone seeking redemption or revenge.
It could also be that that Adam is wiped out following the Cult of Skaro’s emergence from the void and their apparent alterations to history. This would very conveniently remove a mistake from the 9th Doctor’s past.
His choice of punishment for Adam is quite telling, not to mention cruel. He tells Adam that he’ll have to keep his advanced technology hidden or people will capture him and dissect him. To survive he’ll have to be ordinary.
This ensures that Adam will keep a low profile and thus reduce his impact on history while also reminding him of how he was party to the examination and torture of alien life (which briefly included the Doctor). Being ordinary and in hiding also seems like the worst fate the Doctor could imagine.
While I disagree with how the Doctor treated Adam it does illustrate an important point. The 9th Doctor is flawed, driven by emotion. He has lost so much and there seems little he can rely on or call his.
His friendship with Rose is important to him and anything that weakened that bond was a threat, bringing out a petulant side of his character. Note how he teases Rose by referring to Adam as her ‘boyfriend’. A clear attempt to probe how she feels about the newcomer and how she views their relationship. He displays similar jealous behaviour when Captain Jack and Mikey are present.
This can be an important characteristic when portraying the 9th Doctor in your own campaign. The Doctor is still a force for good but he is a broken man, piecing himself back together.
He holds Rose up on pedestal because he himself feels he needs to aspire to something more than he is.