TV For a split second, UNIT Captain Mike Yates gapes at the revelation of his colleague Jo's upcoming marriage, drops his head, pauses, then gazes towards the happy couple grinning. At a time when we should really be sad to see the back of a popular companion, for a moment, just a moment, we think about someone other than the Doctor that she'll be leaving behind and someone she's entirely oblivious to.
Richard Franklin's performance is beautifully understated and it's interesting how few people have ever noticed it amid The Green Death's bigger story issues of a companion leaving and the Doctor's silhouetted drive into the end credits, the Time Lord being replaced by Miss Grant with someone whose apparently a younger, hipper version of himself.
The actors continues his good work into the following scene, where the romance of Yate's loss is etched across his face, each new bit of exposition from the research grant onwards wounding him, a pat on the back from the Brigadier only helping a little bit. Yates has been given a heart blow and he's showing it. We've all been there, I think. Me more than most. Um.
After three years of apparent infatuation with Jo, she's grabbed out of his clutches at the last minute by some flash scientist with long hair who grows fungi. Typical. Meeting girls is probably one of the reasons Mike Yates gave on his application for joining the army. Then after presumably channelling all of his efforts into the Doctor's assistant, the one girl of his dreams, she goes into the jungle with some hippie. And unlike his army colleagues, he's inadvertently wearing a suit just to symbolically demonstrate how grey he is in comparison. Again, typical.
Before The Green Death, nowhere has Mike's love for Jo been signalled this brightly, and indeed before this moment in The Green Death he and Jo are barely in the same room together. There's been no subplot, as might be the case in later decades, in which Mike watches the love of his life fall into the arms of another man. Amid the mad computer and viruses and giant maggots this has been Jo's story, about her "flowering". Mike simply hasn't been in the frame.
That the Brigadier is the one to console him, revealing that behind the gruff, the cap and the moustache is a man who is actually paying attention to the lives and feelings of his officers also gives Lethbridge-Stewart a dimension that wouldn't be apparent again until Mawdryn Undead some years later. These are Mike's final scenes on screen embedded part of the UNIT family. He's a traitor in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and in seclusion in Planet of the Spiders. This would also be the last time we witness their mutual respect. From this moment on, everything would change.