The Three Companions: Liz, Jo, Sarah Jane

Body, Soul, and Spirit
1. Liz Shaw: Goodness and the Material World
2. Jo Grant: Birth of a Soul
3. Sarah Jane Smith: Witness to the Heavens
4. The Canonical Doctor

WARNING: Major Spoilers!

Liz Shaw: Goodness and the Material World

Trying to stay true to what I think the producers of Season Seven intended, I depict Liz as an atheist. And she's not as liberal minded as she supposes. The TV series starts with her gently mocking the Brigadier for his views on extra-terrestrial life, so she doesn't come off as being all that tolerant.

But Liz is in search of the real thing. Intellectual and plutonically intense, she sees through facades and demands a certain purity of thought. Liz discards that which is merely conventional (not realizing where she is conventional) and wants to get things right. Hence her open skepticism of the Brig and UNIT. Any large mass of men trained to act without thinking, in perfect conformity to a uniform mandate, earns Liz's contempt. In her opinion, soldiers are bunglers.

However, in the face of genuine and personal religious belief, Liz is not an adamant atheist, and the theological beliefs of others, if they are deeply held, do not put her off. If anything, she would inspect a person's sincere religious beliefs rather than quarrel with them because she always wants to learn new things, and because she would use a person's theology to assist her in understanding that person's motives. Liz respects Father Stephen Dunn's beliefs because he risks his life to save a woman who is being abducted (
The Fighting Dead). And the gentle acceptance and Christian witness of Sister Mercy in The Dead Go Searching moves Liz to tears. Against devout people whose faith is a reality to them, Liz is humble and even teachable. This humility comes from her intense desire to get things right and understand.

Because Liz searches for the "real thing," she is skeptical of the Doctor. Oh, certainly he's brilliant and has traveled in time and space. But there's a lot of twaddle to the Third Doctor, especially early in his regeneration. He boasts and he swaggers, and he bullies, and he gets huffy. All of these things diminish him to Liz. She can be tolerant of him, but she cannot unite to him whole heartedly, because his dishonesty is a roadblock. In Night Terrors, I set up the differences in their respective moralities:
"Is all that you've said about your exile true?"

"Of course it's true." And his voice became slightly indignant. "After all, Liz, I'm not in the habit of telling lies."

Her mouth opened in surprise. "Doctor, you tell lies all the time. You're incorrigible."

He drew himself up. "Only little meaningless lies: like putting up Beware of Radiation Signs when I want to go out for tea. I don't tell great big lies. I don't tell lies about important things."

"But see here: if you're exiled, why were you plopped down on earth?" Again, her eyes enlarged as she considered the reasons. "Did you hurt somebody here? Were you left here for justice to be done to you?"

"Quite the contrary." He reached down to pour himself a cup of tea. "I was exiled here as a sign of clemency towards me, because my superiors know that I've a special affection for earth. I've lent my aid to people on earth several times." He took up his cup. "Surely you know that. You've heard the Brigadier mention the Cybermen."

"Yes." She hesitated. She felt slightly ignorant and untutored, but she spoke her mind. "That's the sort of unearthly stranger I understand. You know, not human at all. But you seem quite human."

"Well I've knocked about on earth quite a bit over the years. Doing what good I can do. Not that my superiors liked my activities---"

"Why not?"

"Oh, they have this ethic that we must not interfere. That we can only observe. They consider my practices intrusive. And besides, I stole my TARDIS out from under their noses."

She was startled. "You stole it?"

"I certainly did. Oh, and I suppose that's going to make me a thief in your eyes."

"Well of course it does!"

Realistically, I recognize that Liz is a beautiful intellectual who reaches her adulthood during the Sexual Revolution. Most likely, she would be an emancipated woman, which is how I depict her. On the other hand, in keeping with her intensely pure pursuit of that which is the real thing and the real truth, Liz would not be casual in her affairs. And in matters regarding telling the truth and respecting the property of other people, Liz would be downright puritanical. She definitely disapproves of the Doctor's self-centered ethics. And with his bluster added into the mix, Liz remains more of an intellectual associate with him and less of a genuine friend. They have their moments of solidarity and even tenderness, but they are never interdependent on each other.

One of my favorite critics wrote that the relationship I depict between Liz and Johnny O'Haire is touching, even riveting, but that critic could not believe that Liz would whole-heartedly give herself to Johnny O'Haire. When ever a writer defends himself or herself against a critic I cringe. So all I can say is that---in my opinion of Liz---when she finds "the real thing," she will unreservedly enlist herself in its service.

Johnny O'Haire, so different from Liz and so far removed from her experiences, is quite obviously the real thing. He is profoundly mysterious and yet profoundly good, pure of heart and completely transparent about himself. His capture of Liz and their trek through the woods actually turns into a tour of his goodness and sincerity. Liz sees the concrete evidence of Johnny O'Haire's battles against Gall Farraneagh; she experiences Johnny O'Haire's protection and care. She realizes that he is as expert in his ancient wisdom and herb lore as she is in her cosmology and physics. Just as so many of us women agree that if the Doctor should invite us into the TARDIS we would go with him; even so, when Johnny O'Haire's door is open to Liz, she enters and wants to stay with him.

Liz is truly a rationalist who cannot perceive that which cannot be quantified. She cannot believe in God. Period. Not if you present Him as a non-corporeal, omnipotent being. But when Liz experiences goodness, she begins to doubt her atheism. As the stories in my canon progress, Liz meets the concrete evidences of God again and again: redemption, mercy, good works, compassion, insight into the needs of others. When she becomes the agent of the redemption of another person, the true breakdown of Liz's atheism begins, for she knows that something acted through her. The invisible aspects of God become visible to her when they operate concretely through her, and for a moment she sees the shadow of the divine.

I would assume that if Liz ever were to come to Christ, she would still face many intellectual battles over whether Christ could really be true or not as the eternal Son of God. Liz would be a doubting Christian. But side by side with her doubts, Liz would serve God with all her integrity and purity of intent. Good works will win her, and the depth of God's goodness will convert her, and good works would be Liz's Christian life. My stories do not depict that she converts to Christ. I only point things in that direction.

Jo Grant: Birth of a Soul

"Poor Jo!" That's the common cry of my readers. Jo really does get it in my stories: guts pulled out, poisons injected in, not to mention all the ropes, chains, manacles, and other restraints that show up to do their duty. Finger-breaking torture, deadly virus, even seduction from a homicidal Doctor duplicate. It's enough to bring Mary Whitehouse back from the dead.

I think that anybody who walks around an interplanetary station calling things groovy might do well to have a finger broken, just to wake her up. Well, maybe I exaggerate there. But the truth is, Jo suffers as a part of her enlightenment.

People who dislike the Third Doctor era, and Jo Grant in particular, refer to Jo as "stupid." Even Katy Manning has commented that Jo is perfectly ordinary and very often stupid. I was in the target age-group (12) when I first watched Doctor Who, and I always expected Jo to grow with the Doctor. The TV series does show some growth on her part, and I extended this idea in my stories. People grow by what they suffer. So Jo suffers.

It was clear to me when I started writing Doctor Who as an adult that Jo would suffer in the course of the stories, and she would be rescued, and her experiences would deepen her relationship with the Doctor. I also intended that at times he would suffer, and there would be stories in which they suffer together. All the same, every story would end with them together, safe, and reaffirmed in their teacher-student relationship. So it was a big surprise to me when I learned from other fanfic writers that my stories were considered "dark" fanfic. Several of the dark writers offered to collaborate with me.

Saving the universe is costly. One thing I love about the Third Doctor, in spite of his atheism, is that he completely understands that to rescue a person or a team or a planet, you have to roll up your sleeves and plunge in. If they have been bleeding, you will bleed. If the oppressed suffer whippings, you'll be whipped too. Knowing how costly it is to save those who are suffering, the Doctor still rushes in to save them.

The Doctor has his soul in full possession. He suffers hard, lives large, loves his friends, and enjoys a roaring good time. When Jo first meets him, she's just a giddy little rich kid who wants a job with a lot of thrills. Of course he disdains her at first. But Jo grows on him, and the big change in their relationship occurs when she interposes herself between him and Azal to physically shield him from a deadly energy bolt. Thus, her soul is born.

In the stories that follow (in my canon), Jo witnesses the struggle of good and evil in the universe and suffers as her part in the battle for good. These struggles, I believe, turn Jo's thoughts to more serious topics, such as God, sin, and salvation. But her education in enlightenment is influenced by the Doctor. She reaches a spiritual friendship and altruistic relationship with him because she suffers for him and with him. Jo, in fact, redeems the Doctor from his caustic bitterness. The egotistical blowhard that Liz knew gentles down under Jo's influence to a delightful hearthside cat who simply arches his back from time to time and can be soothed.

For Jo, the expression of goodness is in undergoing what others undergo, uniting with them in their labors and sufferings. And she learns that by the power of goodness she can unite to others. I suspect that Jo was raised in fairly conservative surroundings, so I expect that she would revert to the teachings of the Church of England and begin any spiritual journey there.

In my canon, I depict Jo and Mike Yates ultimately returning to Christianity to give it a serious investigation. As with Liz, I do not show Jo experiencing a heartfelt conversion to Christ as her Saviour. I simply show that she might. But Jo would be the sort of Christian who is able to know and be known, a person delighted by the tremendous diversity of all that God has bestowed on people. Where Liz finds meaning in the concrete doing of good works based on ethical perfection, Jo would find it in giving of herself to assist others: a deeply personal surrender.

Sarah Jane Smith: Witness to the Heavens

Jynx at Christmas:
"Doctor?" a familiar voice called. "Oh! There you are! Are you napping?" The radio was clicked off. Indignant, the Doctor slipped out from under the TARDIS console.

"Sarah Jane, do you mind?" He stood up to meet the small, pert, indignant Sarah Jane.

"Not at all," she said. She fixed her bright eyes on him. Typical of her, she was wearing a tweed blazer over a soft, cowled sweater. She looked very pretty but very business-like. An instant memory of Jo, wearing a reindeer pin that had a flashing nose powered by a battery that was carried in her pocket, raced across his vision for a moment. No, not Sarah Jane. Never.

"Why in the world are you, a rational man, listening to that sentimental nonsense about Christmas?" she demanded. "I mean, it's not like you believe any of it! Don't you find it rather hypocritical?"

He walked past her, out of the TARDIS, and switched on the radio. "I like Christmas music!" he exclaimed. "And I will listen to whatever I choose to listen to, young lady."

"Oh, you're a perfect humbug!" She strode after him. He became thoughtful. Sarah Jane Smith covered up for a lot of things by scolding. Whenever she was acutely afraid, she would run to him just about as quickly as Jo had done, but afterward there was always a scolding in store, as she reinstated herself as his equal. And sometimes if she were nervous about something she would scold to cover for herself.

He had actually come to like it. There was something engaging about her lower lip shooting out and her eyes locking onto his with all that youthful earnestness. She had already proved herself as true as steel in her friendship, and quick witted. She was bright, cheerful, and optimistic about their chances against anything that they should find. And he knew that underneath it all, it was important to her that he like her and respect her. She was not nearly as sure of herself as she wanted to be.

He turned and glanced at her, still thoughtful.

"I mean, it doesn't even stand to reason that you should like Christmas!" she exclaimed, standing and declaiming at the radio, her back to him. In spite of the impressive tweed blazer, she suddenly seemed small and vulnerable. "I mean it's for humans, and it's about humans, and that's all there is to it! And there's better music than this. It's too singsong!"

"That's because it is a song."

She turned and shot an exasperated look at him. "You know what I mean."

Sarah, he also realized, scolded him when what she really wanted was his assurance and sympathy. She was so caught up in this equality notion that sometimes it was difficult for her to lay down her defenses.

My readers tend to think that Jo Grant is my favorite companion, but Sarah Jane has a lot of charm. For one thing, she's more like the rest of us than either Liz or Jo can be. Not as intellectually astounding as Liz, but far more perceptive and insightful than Jo, Sarah Jane also has a respectable quantity of real life experience. She got where she is by hard work and attention to her craft. The little touches that show her vulnerabilities and desire to be accepted and liked make her all the more delightful. And Sarah Jane shares with us a common characteristic found among Doctor Who fans. She has no parents.

Another distinction of Sarah Jane is that she befriends the Third Doctor after his exile is over. He relationship with him reverts back to the Jamie-type relationship with the Second Doctor.

Sarah Jane's initiation to the heavens created a new challenge for me, for I believe that the heavens---outer space, if you like---are the literal heavens from myth and the Bible. If we launch out there, we are in God's realm, the part that has not been sectioned off for man. This is where heavenly creatures abide and wait on God, contemplating Him and His righteousness, mercy, and perfection.

In that sense, Doctor Who teeters between profane and ridiculous because the series consistently depicts heaven as being more or less like earth. I conceded to this depiction because that's how the canon runs, so I allow that earth-like creatures have taken up squatting rights in heaven's domain. Hence we have Daleks, Cybermen, and the like running around spreading nazi-like ideas about superior races. And I added to the mix with interstellar poker games, casinos, and gumshoe detectives. If anything, I used the backdrop of heaven to show how incredibly seedy our past times are.

But against this backdrop, I decided to depict the true initiation to the heavens, and for this I used Sarah Jane. After the romp of Hounds and Hares, which is set on earth and is a tribute to Jon Pertwee, I depicted Sarah in the heavens, learning heavens ways. She encounters heavenly beings and interacts with them. And rather than being reticent to know her, they rescue her, befriend her and begin to enlighten her.

But I depict the true effect of mercy on Sarah Jane: though she is thankful to receive her life back from the unearthly creatures that save her, when she comprehends mercy itself, she is terrified of it. She admits that she cannot live by mercy. For mercy, ultimately, is complete surrender to the rightness that has been ordained, and Sarah Jane lacks the courage (and the knowledge) to live this way. Her weakness is recognized and understood, and the compassionate but terrifying creature that has loved her merely promises her that mercy will have its way with her, but in the due course of time. All of this interaction, of course, is part of the setting for numerous adventures, plots, surprises, and mysteries. Numerous new bad guys race through the Sarah Jane stories: the evil, loathsome, but comical Jynx; the apparition-like Insider, the ravenous Ivorites who hunt her for food, and the fallen lord of death, Alphard. Even without the worn devices of Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, and the like, Sarah Jane finds that the heavens are lovely and dangerous for humans.

Sarah Jane has the most direct experience of the grace of God, but I depict that she falters before it, afraid of the demands of mercy. She recognizes that she cannot live as heaven's creatures live, for their delight in surrendering themselves up to the goodness that rules them terrifies and burdens her. Her enlightenment, ultimately, is that she needs enlightenment. And though I show that she draws back from it, I also show that her fear is handled compassionately, and a promise is extended to her that mercy will yet find her on her own world. Again, I do not show a conversion, but I show that it might happen.

The Canonical Doctor

The Doctor as Atheist. To stay consistent with the canon, I depict the Doctor as atheistic (or at least agnostic) from end to end in the stories. He has moments of painful honesty when he realizes that his beliefs cannot account for everything he has seen. At least twice he weeps, with Jo, because it's painful to be an atheist, and there are moments of great humility when he teeters on the verge of enlightenment. I show that the Doctor's atheism is elastic. He can be arrogant, as evidenced when he laughs at Alan in
Blood Dimmed Tide for taking communion before attempting a risky task. But he can also be incredibly tenderhearted and repentant, as his tears and frank confession of his wrongs demonstrate in Dangers of Exceeding the Blinovitch Limitation Effect. While showing that he has not changed by the end of his tenure as the Third Doctor, I do show that he may yet change.

The Doctor as Enlightener. In spite of having missed the Big Point of the universe, the Doctor remains the man at the Great Doorway. He ushers his companions into the heavens, the domain of God. Therefore, the Doctor is an enlightener. In staying faithful to the series, I retained this aspect of him. But I expanded on it. In that he ushers youthful humans into the heavens, the Doctor is a guide into enlightenment. But the heavens are the actual enlightener. God enlightens. So while travel with the Doctor broadens the mind, God alone reveals truth. The quest for enlightenment (whether or not the companions know they are on a quest for enlightenment) is a pivotal point in several of my stories, and this became problematic for Liz, as Liz never travels with the Doctor into the heavens. But still, the Doctor introduces Liz to the heavens by means of the invaders who come down and by means of the information he imparts to her.

Please write and tell me what you think.

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