Eye of Harmony

Posted in Audio by - April 15, 2018
Eye of Harmony

Released October 2016
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Carrying on directly from the events of ‘The Eternity Cage,’ ‘Eye of Harmony’ by Ken Bentley closes out Agents of Chaos with the future and very idea of the Time War at a tipping point as the Dalek Time Strategist is presented with a unique opportunity to strike a lethal blow to the heart of Gallifrey. Trapped inside a critically-damaged Battle TARDIS helplessly adrift in the vortex, the War Doctor and his allies take on their most desperate fight yet.

Highlighting a Time Lord traitor is a plot development that was almost inevitably going to show up at some point during this prolonged look into the depths of the Time War simply for narrative impact and exploration of the nuances of personal motivations that put an individual in conflict with one’s own people. Whether originally intentional or not, Doctor Who since the 1970s and the Doctor himself have repeatedly showcased just how similar Time Lords and humans can be for better or for worse, and there have certainly been any number of rogue elements within the Time Lords’ ranks that have gone distinctly against the Doctor’s own ideals and sense of morality. However, the Daleks have from day one been portrayed as a force of pure evil bent only on conquest and dominion, and that motivating force has only got stronger and deadlier as time has progressed and with the advent of temporal weapons. Accordingly, with all Time Lords united behind an incredible amount of evidence against a common foe with the very fabric of known reality at stake, it seems improbable if not impossible that one singular Gallifreyan would cross enemy lines to become an agent of those heartless beings. It is undeniably true that revenge and loss of family are incredibly strong motivational forces in their own right, but the enemy agent within seems like a wartime cliché out of place in this particular conflict since the almighty Time Lord race supposedly out to protect the universe where time and lives can knowingly be undone and altered in an instant is as a whole reduced to one that cannot put the greater good above personal emotion. It is only one individual in the grand scheme of things, but without much time to dedicate to this decision despite the impact of the cause for it, it just seems out of place and too spurious for such an important figure to have realistically made given the overall stakes.

Despite that complaint, the actual execution of ‘Eye of Harmony’ is superb, and whereas Honeysuckle Weeks was serviceable but fairly generic as Heleyna in the previous two stories, she absolutely seizes control of the narrative and uses the very personal motivations to hit all of the right dramatic notes as the so-called Agent Prydon who calls Ollistra’s wartime candor and demeanour squarely into question. And although she really should not be surprised that the Daleks intend to alter the terms of their alliance for their own gain as they seek the ultimate destruction of the Time Lords, the morality at the foundation of the decision to preclude Gallifrey from ever developing space and time travel and thus from ever forming a Time War is an intriguing one to be questioned regardless of motivation or what the ultimate consequences may be. Using a Time Lord in particular again emphasises just how desperate the Daleks have become to win this war, and using the Eye of Harmony that is so intrinsic to Time Lord culture and abilities is a wonderfully visual and personal threat that makes the most of decades of continuity and the very intimate knowledge that the Daleks have of the Time Lords, the evocative setting making for an incredibly tense and dramatic climax and resolution fraught with danger and anything but a guarantee of survival.

Josh Bolt’s Kalan fills the role of companion for ‘Eye of Harmony,’ and he ensures that that the immense spectacle and scope on display always remains relatable and grounded in a sense of everyman mentality as the odds of a positive outcome seem to shrink before their eyes. He complements this incarnation of the Doctor perfectly and here provides the anchor of the individual that so bolsters the Doctor’s resolve as the machinations of the Daleks and Time Lords continually become more complex and nefarious. Hurt gives one of his most immense performances as the Doctor yet as his character goes through an incredible range of emotion that culminates in an unexpected loss tempering an unlikely victory that goes against what has been foreseen, assuring everyone but himself that he is very much the same man he has always been despite the heightened and consequential circumstances that cause others to lose their morality and resolve.

Though the very passionate motivating force at the core of the story is perhaps too individualistic and human in its scope given the very nature and importance of the Time War for all of reality, ‘Eye of Harmony’ in terms of events displayed represents a solid finale to Agents of Chaos that expertly shows the fine balance between the scale of the Time War and the cost to the Doctor himself even if the set as a whole still may not be enough to reconcile the Doctor’s future distancing of himself from this regeneration given how hard he tries to retain a sense of morality in this utterly impossible situation. With a man who still just may be all hearts at the helm of the range as the universe is plunged into increasing darkness and depravity, anticipation remains high for the fourth and final Big Finish set featuring the War Doctor, Casualties of War.

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