The adventures of the freshly minted War Doctor continue with his second boxset. Unlike last time all three stories are heavily linked here, though the third episode is just separate enough for my usual splitting of the boxsets to still make sense. The War Doctor arrives on a world at perpetual war and he’s heralded as a mythic figure, whether he likes it or not. Let’s take a look!
The War Doctor and Veklin crash on a ravaged planet. On the fringes of the Time War, this world has its own battles raging. Elsewhere, a survivor works out how she came to be here.
But these newcomers are harbingers of something terrible, following in their wake…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
I really enjoyed the setting of a planet that no longer cares about even its name, only caring about the intentionally endless war between the Incipients and the Germina that’s set up by the Incipient Mother (Angela Bruce) and the Germina Princeps (John Banks). The Doctor meets Iancer of the Incipients and travels with her for a while, finding out that a local legend seems to refer to himself. Meanwhile Time War regular Veklin (Beth Chalmers) meets a cyborg woman called Case (Ajjaz Awad) whom she is apparently familiar with. The Doctor soon takes control of an army of killer robots called Deadweights in order to get the attention of the rulers of the planet while Veklin and Case make there way across the landscape as well, the duo soon meeting The Doctor just as he meets the top brass. The Princeps is initially impressed but soon has his doubts after The Doctor refuses to kill someone for no reason.
The attention soon shifts to a large ship in the sky that’s about to impact the planet and “split it like an egg”, which The Doctor temporarily stops mid-fall. This is where he find out what exactly is going on: in a future possible timeline the Daleks manufacture cyborg fighters out the people of this planet and this will turn the tide of the war in their enemy’s favour so the Time Lords are making sure the whole populous gets wiped out before that happens. Sadly for them even the War Doctor doesn’t like the idea of genocide so he’s trying to save just a small portion of the population but is being stopped by both Veklin and soon her superior Tamasan (Adéle Anderson) Meanwhile Case finds out that she is the first example of the killer Dalek cyborgs from the future but has been able to stop her programming due to being damaged, but sadly the Daleks recapture her and begin to reinsert her original mindless personality. As it all comes to a head The Daleks plan to invade en masse and just as The Doctor and his fellow Time Lords are about to be killed Case breaks her programming and destroys the Daleks.
A Germinan named Faren (Nigel Fairs) who had been following Case for most of the second episode is about to unfreeze the ship and wipe out his own race and destroy his planet to stop the worse fate of being enslaved but The Doctor stops him… only to press the button himself, saying that nobody should be responsible for wiping out their own people (dramatic foreshadowing!) Case is the only non-Time Lord to make it off the planet, and The Doctor sits down next to her and promises to reveal everything to her, leading into Episode 3 which I assume is some sort of prequel, given pretty much everything else is wrapped up nicely.
Another fantastic cover. Love the painted look they’ve gone for these boxsets.
Not a great deal. There was a female character in Episode 1 that did the most over-the-top Southern accent you’ll ever hear which I assume was supposed to be a reference to the American civil war (she even asks which side they’re on while they’re at her shack) but it was so cartoony that it went against the rest of the story’s tone.
You could also argue that The Doctor trying to save the people whereas the Time Lords were trying to wipe them out as part of the war effort sounds like more of an Eighth Doctor Time War story than a War Doctor one but the scene at the end where The Doctor quickly realised with the Daleks on the way the only option was to wipe them all out and then willingly doing it himself was more on track for the technically nameless incarnation.
Obviously the only things just point back (or forward) to other Time War stories, like Veklin, who first appeared in “The Innocent”, the first Time War story that featured John Hurt himself as the War Doctor, which means it takes place after this story and she’s appeared many times since. The same goes for Tamasan, who first appeared in “State of Bliss”, an Eighth Doctor Time War story.
I enjoyed this two-parter. Jonathon Carley is still a great young John Hurt and while you could argue it isn’t very War Doctor-y it actually ends in a very War Doctor-y way. The side characters were entertaining too, for the most part. A good story then, but it won’t blow you away.