With barely any time to rest, we’re straight into another big and epic Eighth Doctor comic story! The Final Chapter has plenty of Gallifreyan lore, politics and betrayal, a universe-altering threat and … The Doctor regenerates?! Surely not! Let’s take a look…
Fey and Izzy return the Doctor to Gallifrey, where he enters the Matrix to save himself. When an Academy dropout takes an unhealthy interest in him, the Doctor and his companions are lured into a society that threatens the existence of Gallifrey… and Rassilon himself.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Apparently Rassilon had an incarnation that was also Gandalf…
This is an epic that will be quite hard to sum up, but basically The Doctor is put into the Matrix in order to recover from the previous issue’s events and there he meets up with the “High Evolutionaries”, a group of beings from the early period of the Universe headed by none other than Rassilon himself. Before The Doctor can ask them why they hired the Threshold in the previous story (plot reveal!) he’s told of a threat to the very universe itself that involves the earliest days of the Time Lords. The Doctor then leaves The Matrix with the help of his old friend Shayde and soon is saved from an attack by assailants describing themselves as an “Elysians” by that same ally, but Izzy and a Time Lord named Xanti are captured in the process.
The Doctor, Fey and an Overseer named Luther do some digging into the Elysians and find a man named Uriel, who started a group known as “The Final Chapter” that planned to clone his son Xanti and turn Gallifrey into a military force that would disregard the old “policy of non-interference”. They track down Uriel and find out he’s been in a coma for many, many years. The Doctor gets hooked up to the Time Lord’s brain and enters his dreams, soon followed by Fey, and there they find out the truth: that Uriel loved his son and couldn’t bring himself to turn his clones into an army, so hid Xanti in regular Time Lord society and then put himself into a coma.
Those eyes are the eyes of someone clearly in control of himself!
Furthermore Luther is actually the leader of the Elysians (who are imperfect Xanti clones) and an old member of The Final Chapter who has kidnapped Uriel’s son because his unique anatomy allows him to be hooked up to “The Watchtower” that will allow him to go back to before Rassilon created his rules and change all of history. The Doctor, Izzy (who had befriended Xanti during their time imprisoned) and Fey are all aboard as the Watchtower heads into the past and eventually stop Luther’s plans in the nick of time, mostly thanks to Xanti sacrificing himself, much to Izzy’s distress, and getting the his clones to attack Luther.
In the last few moments The Doctor is gravely injured and seemingly regenerates into Nick Briggs, which if that happened in recent years would’ve had a certain portion of the Big Finish fanbase up in arms! The story as always looks excellent and the scope and twisty turny plot are great fun.
You might say that it’s a bit too busy for four issues, and while maybe one or two plot threads could’ve been excluded, I don’t think it did the story any harm. If anything it might overshadow the next story, which was supposed to be the big storyline blow-out!
I know the Eighth Doctor can be naive and too trusting sometimes, but just LOOK at Luther, how on Earth could you ever think he wouldn’t betray you…
Shayde first appeared in the Fifth Doctor comic “The Tides of Time” and made a couple of other appearances during this era before his reappearance here. Speaking of “The Tides of Time”, The High Evolutionaries first appeared in that story as well, and this marks their final appearance (which given what Rassilon does to the Eighth Doctor on Audio and then does in general on TV, is probably for the best…)
A new member of the group is from the Order of the Black Sun, which calls back to a trilogy of back up strips (“Star Death”, “4-D War” and “Black Sun Rising”, respectively) that were penned by none other than Alan Moore!
There is a small scene with Tubal Cain, a Time Lord who tried to attack The Doctor in Fifth Doctor comic “The Stockbridge Horror”.
I’ll also mention that a good chunk of this story had to be cut and ended up being reused by writer Alan Barnes when he wrote the Eighth Doctor audio “Neverland”.
Again, I know I used this for the thumbnail, but it is still an all-time classic shocker! The 10th Doctor’s fake regeneration cliffhanger has nothing on this (because we would’ve known if he was actually regenerating so it lost a lot of its effect…)
Big, epic, full of plot twists and the always on-point artwork, there is little to dislike about The Final Chapter. At only four parts is might be too busy for its own good sometimes, but I really enjoyed it. I always remembered Wormwood being the big epic story of this first Eighth Doctor GN, so this story came as a nice surprise on this re-read. Let’s see if that big story lives up to my memory next!