Yasmin Khan was a good companion and Mandip Gill played her wonderfully – I think it was often her performance that made me like Yaz rather than the writing. Having her be one of three companions for most of her time in the TARDIS made it easy for any of the them companions to fade into the background as there wasn’t enough time, space, or dialogue for good character development for any of them. It’s a juggling act having that many companions, plus the Doctor, and often it seemed like the writers failed at giving them all well-rounded personalities and motivations and giving them all something to do of consequence in each episode. Yaz, along with Graham and Ryan, sometimes felt like a homogenous blob because of how they reacted to things. While one of the main points of the companion is to question things/be the eyes of the viewer, the way they questioned things or reacted to stuff seemed to be just there to drive the plot forward rather than the reactions of lived in characters with life-experiences.
Yaz perhaps got the most interesting backstory elements, with her grandmother being caught up in the partition of India and it being revealed that Yaz contemplated taking her own life, but those major events didn’t seem to have ramifications for her and were forgotten about as soon as those episodes were over.
Yaz was a trainee-police officer before meeting the Doctor so her rookie investigative skills and notetaking came in handy when traveling through time and space. She was also often quite level-headed and was quite good at calming people who were shocked or scared. Yaz was also pretty good at getting people to open up and to trust her and the others when they were trying to help and stop whatever bad thing was going to happen.
One thing I did like about Yaz and her time in the TARDIS was how she became the Doctor’s co-pilot and had clearly been taught how to fly the TARDIS and was a diligent student, taking notes and using post-it notes to remind her of what each level or button did. The Doctor doesn’t always trust a companion with the TARDIS so the fact that she trusted Yaz shows a big part of their relationship and the Doctor’s feelings. It’s a pity we didn’t get a more concrete demonstration on how the Doctor and Yaz’s relationship evolved over time.
Yaz’s developing feelings for the Doctor and how she fell in love with her was pretty subtle to begin with – so much so that I didn’t notice what other people were reading into various episodes or quick glances. With hindsight I could kind of see it, but I think it was something that was never intended to be explored and it was a sort of bittersweet and tragic would-be romance in the end as Yasmin’s time with the Doctor ran out before they could act on any feelings or really properly address them.
I did like Yaz, and her fellow companions during Thirteen’s run, but when comparing her to some of the previous companions mentioned during this A-Z Challenge she unfortunately doesn’t standout. It could partly be childhood nostalgia, but I do think there wasn’t enough done to make Yaz a layered character and one that I can easily list off her traits that make her a great companion.