- Only canonically queer companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
- Only BRITISH companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
- Only deeply religious companion of the Doctor I can remember?
Hannah defies the gender norms and expectations of her time, dresses in men's clothing, refuses the epithet of "lady," and insists on being called "Ms." She's from the lesbian community of Boston in 1910 or so, probably P-Town
. A hearty soul who's partial to liquor, she carries a shotgun, flirts genteelly with the ladies (including Nyssa, if you listened to that clip
!), and is unfazed by aliens and alien technology. And her boisterous frankness can be quite entertaining.
Her spirituality interests me. It's rare for science fiction to deal with spirituality or religion. It's even rarer for a Who companion to express religious beliefs openly. But Hannah's spirituality informs her actions and motivates her to seek enlightenment among the stars, an unusual reason for a companion to join the Doctor. Of course, BF played it safe. Rather than portraying her as a member of a mainstream religion, Hannah is a member of "The Order of the Crescent Moon," an imaginary spiritual sect modeled on late 19th-century Spiritualism
and The Order of the Golden Dawn.
Surprisingly, her spiritualism gives her something in common with Nyssa. In Darkening Eye
and Land of the Dead,
Nyssa mentions that her culture has learned to "combine the spiritual and the rational." For Nyssa, science and the rational come first, but can be informed by the spiritual and non-rational, those things which science can't measure or quantify. Hannah's not a scientist, but she's a very down-to-earth person, making her woo-woo convictions surprising. I think a skilled writer could do something with the two of them, tapping into the ongoing "science vs. religion" cultural debate.
On another topic, I loved Hannah pretending to be Nyssa's governess. On the one hand, it's a handy disguise, since it deflects nosy questions about the Doctor and his young lady companion: she's not his *cough*, she's his ward, for whom he's employed a respectable chaperone. On the other hand, Nyssa's not going to tolerate that arrangement for long; she's more experienced than Hannah, she's been with the Doctor for years, and she's certainly not going to act subservient to Hannah (or the Doctor). The sham governess/ward dynamic could make for some interesting character tension, plus some hilarious moments when Hannah is pretending to be in charge while Nyssa's really calling the shots. (Then again, Hannah's not likely to take any orders from her
Granted, the Doctor didn't seem to strike up a rapport with Hannah the way he did Erimem. Granted, the stories with Hannah so far haven't served her particularly well: the writers struggled to integrate her into the Five & Nyssa team that everyone knows so well at this point. And granted, she seems to have been a three-story-only companion.** But I can't help hoping we'll see Hannah again.
(above left: Francesca Hunt as Rebecca Fogg in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne
... too feminine a look for Hannah, but the right attitude.)
**[SPOILERS to MASQUERADE
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