“There was a time when we first met, I wondered…
But he was so good to my father.”
“Sound of the Drums”
For me, this short and rather simple statement doesn’t just sum up Lucy Saxon in a nutshell but is possibly the scariest line in all of nuWho. This was the line where it was revealed that this seemingly normal woman was The Master’s wife, not Harold Saxon’s wife, but The Master’s loving and faithful wife. She knows what he is doing and is supportive of his evil deeds. In the following episode, The Last of the Timelords set one year later, we see Lucy disillusioned by The Master, abused and driven to murder him but during most of that episode Lucy plays the role of wife, not out of love or loyally but fear.
Knowing The Master is a baddie, even the children of the audience can tell that Lucy has been fooled. The line “but he was so good to my father,” shows us the ‘in’ The Master used to get Lucy’s loyalty, but what really scared me, was the ‘was’: past tense. “He was so good to my father.” Instantly I assume The Master killed his father-in-law and Lucy is oblivious. It is logical. By putting Lucy in the weakened state such grieving for her father, he can comfort her, stepping in to hole her father left in heart and the power vacuum he held over her.
This different approach to how a timelord can treat a human companion is hit upon in the show, going as far as The Master calling that more than once. This, however, isn’t to compare Lucy with a companion but make Lucy just a tool in comparing The Doctor and The Master. I can see the point story wise: this is the first time that The Master has been in nuWho and a large amount of the audience will need this and for a tool, she was given plenty of personality. Even if scenes where Lucy is just in the background, and they are plenty of those, Alexandra Moen is acting her heart out and with Lucy being the one to shoot The Master, it’s important to the plot.
Saying that, there isn’t much of a comparison between Lucy and the companion, while there was plenty of material for it. Even though this two-parter is meant to be another step in the epic battle between hero and arch nemesis, The Last of the Timelords feels more Martha Jones versus The Master. She is solo, becoming a legend by standing against The Master. She shows intelligence, kindness, resourcefulness and a moral compass in the battle to save her family, her world from The Master and the toclafane. This is her story, The Doctor saving the day is like playing Super Mario and then Princess Peach takes down Bowser in the final boss battle, but one article at a time.
The only direct comparison between Martha and Lucy is the shooting of The Master. Martha laughs at the notion and The Doctor says “As if I would ask her to kill,” while Lucy does it. While he is hardly innocent, The Master has been caught and The Doctor decided he would take responsibility for him when Lucy shoots him: hardly self defence.
A better comparison for Lucy would be Rose Tyler, the previous companion and the one The Doctor is still pining over. The Master and his companion’s dysfunctional relationship, the prevertation of timelord/human relations is really the best argument Russell T Davis made against getting The Doctor and Rose together and he never used it.
Looking at Lucy as a companion: her love for her father, her loyalty, trying to save Vivien Rook by asking her to leave, doing what she needed to survive on the Valiant, acceptance of aliens, desire to travel through time and space and a sense of fun, it strikes me that if she met The Doctor first, she could be a great companion as he nurtures these qualities like he nurtured Rose and Donna’s good qualities.
This is where I become conflicted about the image Lucy Saxon gives off. She is the embodiment of a weak woman but she is written this way. Although we are allowed to understand and sympathise with Lucy, never allowed to be on her side. Even when she kills villain of the two-parter, she’s shown to be wrong. Lucy is not a role model but a cautionary tale. If people make certain choices, they could end up like Lucy or if they make the right choices they could end up like the companion – however debatable a role model they may be in reality, they are a role model the writers are expecting us to look up to. I think it’s good that not every character is a role model. If they are then they become less of role models and a grantee that will disappoint. Children should know that they can be brilliant but they need know they will have to work at it.
And that’s where the conflict comes in. Martha is putting in the effort to be worthy of a role model status and Lucy, the manipulated in to the embodiment of a weak woman but that’s not what align them to their sides in the episode’s conflict. It’s the men they fall in love with. I like to believe Martha is ‘fighting’ more for her family, her race, her planet in the year that never was, but the fact remains that she fell in love with The Doctor when she first met him.
If the Master had met a companion first, could he corrupt them like Lucy could be nurtured by The Doctor? Certainly in nuWho. He could use Rose’s unresolved daddy issues. He did use Martha’s family against her. All he had to do was make Donna a cup of poison and she’ll nag him in to marrying her. Amy has her abandonment issues, even at seven. The Master was ‘always hypnotic’ and with the Arc-Angel Network tap-tap-tap-tapping away in their heads, would our companions stand any more of a chance than Lucy? So the two timelords become more than the moral symbols for the companions to rally behind, they are chess masters and the companions are their pieces: two men who basically claim (usually) women to be instruments of good or weapons of evil.
However this two-parter was not the end for Lucy Saxon. She was bought back in End of Time as a plot device in The Master’s return. So no improvement there. Since The Last of the Timelords she been in prison although no one knows she killed ‘Harold Saxon’ but considering the rest of the plot I’m willing to forgive this plothole. The Doctor did nothing to help her after what The Master done to her, and if he didn’t seem so surprise I wouldn’t put him past him putting her there. Although Lucy seems a stronger character, fighting back against The Master, all her used to the plot was ‘The Widow’s Kiss’ which shows another level of abuse The Master used her for (and possibly made him blond) and the ‘magic potion’ to kill The Master again which (i) she admits is through family connections so it’s not really her being resourceful, (ii) not just doesn’t kill him but gives him super powers and (iii) gets herself killed failing. That covers up that loose end before the hand over.
As much as I love Wilf, I would love to see Lucy Saxon as a companion for The End of Time. Both Doctor and companion will have a personal vendetta against the main villain with enough differences to conflict over while working together. With Lucy’s drive for revenge it gives The Doctor a real reason to take on a companion after rejecting Lady Catherine in Planet of the Dead, looking after her and trying to control her, just like The Master, leading to interesting character development for both and actually dealing with his Timelord Vicious issues that seemed to be dropped because he cried over a cuppa. The subject of them being married could lead to The Doctor really opening up about his feelings over Rose.
It gives us a different kind of companion: someone who isn’t out to see the stars but someone on a mission, someone The Doctor doesn’t trust, someone he has didn’t save. This could have been a far stronger emotionally driven episode to give Tennant’s Doctor a chance to get over his angst with Lucy bringing out both his worse and his best and giving Lucy Saxon a chance to redeem herself as something other than a victim and a tool to the plot. An equal.
And give Lucy a chance to say those words with understanding in her voice:
“There was a time when we first met, I wondered…
But he was so good to my father”