The War Doctor Begins: Warbringer comes to a close with a story set just before its first two episodes, just to confuse everyone! Well, okay, it is entirely explained at the end of the previous part so it doesn’t actually confuse, but it’s still an odd decision because this being last doesn’t really make any difference compared to whether it was on first. Well, anyway, what’s the story like? Let’s find out!
The truth of how events on Tharius were set in motion is revealed. On a mission to destroy a Dalek Harvester vessel, the War Doctor discovers a new breed of Dalek.
Whatever action he takes next, we have seen the consequences – and they are devastating for everyone.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
At its heart it’s a pretty straight forward Time War story with The Doctor and arrogant higher up Time Lord companion foil a Dalek plot through slightly more blunt or violent ways than he normally does them, it’s just it sets up the events we see in the previous two episodes. The man formally known as The Doctor (and still known as it by everyone else) and Commander Veklin try to take out a Dalek Harvester ship alongside Australian stereotype Albert Brown (Timothy Hofmeier) an Aussie soldier who The Doctor apparently picked up on his travels. On board the Harvester they encounter the lady who they come to call Case and save her before escaping into their Battle TARDIS, everyone trying to help Case break her Dalek programming or trying to kill her, one or the other. The Doctor sees a distress call and answers it, much to Veklin’s displeasure and they soon arrive on a salvage ship with a nice couple named Rondig and Mo (Stephen Frost and Janet Prince) who are on a collision course with the planet Tharius.
The Doctor tries to fix it and finds out that not only does it have an engine many times more massive than it needs but also it’s actually Time Lord tech and bigger on the inside, allowing a large Dalek Harvester to pop out of its much smaller frame. Rondig and Mo are revealed to have been converted and now The Doctor, Veklin and Case have to escape (with Albert being killed off for… some reason. Why was he here again?) Case uses her connection to the Dalek Network to help The Doctor move around the ship and he manages to remove the Dalek time drive and run off with it, explaining to Veklin and Case that it’s too late to stop the ship from crashing into Tharius but he can use the Dalek time drive to send them back in time 24 hours and try to rescue the population, which as we heard in the previous two parts, is not the Time Lord’s objective with the planet. This leads straight into Part 1 of the boxset, with our trio waking up after crashing on the planet with a time limit until the deadly impact…
It really feels like this being Part 3 instead of Part 1 was some sort of last minute decision, that they thought this wouldn’t be as good an opener or something because listening to it right after we’ve heard the conclusion to the tale just felt… pointless? It really was like reading Chapter 1 of a book after having already read the rest of it to its end. Throwing a new character in it only to kill him off straight away was pointless as well, I guess it was supposed to be a mystery to keep us listening given he wasn’t in Parts 1 and 2 (which I guess means the box was always planned like this) but all it did was confuse me or just make me chuckle at how much the writer tried to cram as many Australian slang words into his lines as he could.
Still a lovely cover, no matter how many times I see it.
Obviously it follows on (or rather precedes) the first half of the boxset. Also The War Doctor gathering war-born allies to help him fight is very on-brand with how he’s been shown in both the DWM comics (like in “The Clockwise War”) and the Titan Comics (like in “The Then and The Now” and its two sequel stories)
Warbringer’s final third was a perfectly fine story but let down by being placed after everything had been neatly wrapped up, plus adding a barely created stereotype companion only to then immediately kill him off. Two very odd decisions that knock it down a few pegs. Still not bad, but not worthy of as high as a score as the previous two episodes…