DW: Time War Series 4 – Palindrome Review

The fourth and currently final Eighth Doctor Time War set is here, and we start off with a two-part close inspection of Davros and his potential timelines, as well as generally featuring a lot of other general time shenanigans. Luckily it was written by John Dorney, so what could’ve easily been a mess was actually interesting and really fun to follow. Want to know more? Read on!

Synopsis:

In an alternative universe, Davros lives in peace, until the Doctor and Bliss arrive, and the Daleks emerge in a new reality…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

If only that hadn’t used Terry Molloy as “Quadrigger Stoyn” on several covers then this would’ve had more impact…

The story is set entirely in an alternate dimension where a winning war effort with the Time Lords united the Kaleds and Thals together, preventing the war that would otherwise cause the Daleks to come into existence. Due to this Davros (Terry Molloy) is a peaceful scientist living with his Thal wife Charn (Isla Blair), the two having invented a dimension-crossing portal that the Dalek Time Strategist and The Doctor and Bliss both used at the end of the last set. This starts to get complicated though as Davros meets The Doctor and Bliss but doesn’t recognise them as they do him, and then everyone is killed. Davros then wakes up the day before with memories of his death the following day, and meets The Doctor and Bliss again, confirming it wasn’t a dream. This leads Davros, The Doctor and Bliss to try and stop the Daleks that have somehow appeared in this time line by using Davros’ future knowledge as they all keep getting killed and then waking up the previous day.

Sounds confusing, but it was a really fun concept, especially when Davros spots a horribly scarred pretty-much-as-we-know-him Davros from the distance. We soon find out that this was all the plan of the Dalek Time Strategist, who is attempting to merge “echoes of other timelines” with this time line to turn the Kaleds into Daleks and Davros into the Davros we know, also explaining how everyone kept dying and coming back (every time they die an echo of a time line where they don’t die comes into effect) Hearing the kind-hearted Davros struggle against the wave of hate from the alternate Davros’s was great, especially moments where he was trying desperately to hold on to the memory of his wife. This is really his story as well, The Doctor, Bliss and even the Time Strategist make semi-frequent appearances, but it’s all about Davros, and as usual Terry Molloy nails it.

Very strange seeing a “not quite” version of Davros, just removing the centre eye makes so much difference!

By the end of Part 2 Davros has fully merged into the heartless creature we know, even killing his wife and his innocent self and not recognising either of them as anything other than a traitor Kaled who married the enemy. I also have to say that this nicely explains how a Davros who was just a head in a Dalek Emperor shell, then eventually just a Dalek Emperor, suddenly became Davros in a chair with his body still intact. Always leave it to John Dorney to plug some continuity holes while still telling a great story. The Doctor has a plan in motion, but they won’t know if its worked until later, meanwhile the Daleks have regrouped en masse and will no doubt soon invade the main universe and start the Time War anew. How we get there remains to be seen…. or heard. In the next half of the boxset, presumably…

The Bad:

Not a thing. It’s a two hour story of Davros turning from a peaceful man into the twisted, hate-filled man all over again due to multiple-timeline merging, and was a great listen the whole way through.

The Continuity:

Davros appears as the centre of attention on the overall cover as well!

Without listing every Davros story, as mentioned it does make the fact that Davros pretty much became a Dalek Emperor during the course of the Eighth Doctor audio “Terror Firma” and yet was seen with a body and his mind intact for his next time-line appearance in the Tenth Doctor TV story “The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End”. During that story The Doctor mentioned he last saw Davros during the Time War “falling into the mouth of the Nightmare Child”, or something to that effect. When the multiple Davros timelines start merging here, at one point you can hear a Davros shout “No! Not the Nightmare Child!”.

Other than following on directly from “The War Valeyard” that’s your lot!

Overall Thoughts:

Palindrome is the kind of thoughtful, exciting and fan-satisfying story that I’ve come to hope and often get from John Dorney. Davros is put under the microscope and just like previous Big Finish efforts focusing on the character, it paid off brilliantly. Let’s hope the next half of the set lives up to it!

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