Gallifrey- Time War Volume Four

Posted in Audio by - February 07, 2021
Gallifrey- Time War Volume Four

Released February 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

With Romana lost to the Time War and her ultimate sacrifice still weighing heavily on her friends, Narvin and Leela look to survive and continue the battle as the end of everything seemingly approaches in Gallifrey: Time War Volume Four.  

While the Gallifrey series has transitioned from more of a political thriller to a more traditional action thriller over the many years, the mindsets of those in power on Gallifrey have always remained known, and ‘Deception’ by Lisa McMullin illustrates just how warped the very foundation of Time Lord society has become as this war has continued to ravage through all of eternity without end. Rassilon is almost indistinguishable from the Daleks themselves at this point, and his commands to exterminate any who are not with him is a shuddering reminder of how even the seemingly great can fall from grace if faced with the right pressure and of how good intentions can become so misguided and inherently diametric to the original purpose. Richard Armitage has a fairly limited role in this story, but he makes the most of every second with his commanding intonations brimming with power and fury, and he certainly manages to highlight just how and why a fully-fledged resistance looking to thwart his power while also limiting Time Lord damage and actively combating the Daleks has formed. Indeed, the very nature of the deception fields being furtively deployed by Gallifrey throughout the universe as a space snare and means of psychological warfare that paralyzes a ship’s navigation and drives the pilots out of their minds is a fittingly devastating weapon to further solidify this resistance mindset, and Louise Jameson once again gives a masterful performance as the brave and cunning Leela must confront this newest unknown to set right just one of the many wrongs this war has wrought. Though the storyline within the deception field is almost superfluous to the grander narrative, it successfully manages to imbue a more emotional and personal turmoil to the overall conflict outside of the main cast, and as a precursor to the scheme involving the untempered schism and the vortex itself proves to be the perfect conduit through which to reintroduce this immense saga that has reportedly reached its endgame.

With Leela on her own mission in the previous story, ‘Dissolution’ by Lou Morgan brings Narvin to the forefront as he returns to an ancient bolthole to seek an old mentor’s help. What ensues is a wonderful piece of character work that effortlessly delves into Narvin’s heritage, the demons he has always fought against as a result of that heritage, and just why he has chosen to return to this particular area now that he is ridden with guilt and eager to make a name for himself on the right side of history. Alongside Anna Carteret’s Apothecary who serves as an apt source of motivation on several levels as well as Omar Austin’s Rayo who continues to develop as resistance sentiments continue to grow, Seán Carlsen gives a monumental performance layered with nuance that brings the entire run of Gallifrey and beyond wonderfully into focus. Unfortunately the storyline’s progression as a whole can’t quite manage to live up to the brilliance that the characters’ interactions and more introspective moments allow, but although the premise of a lone Dalek has been increasingly overplayed in recent years, the true sense of tension and danger it imbues to what is intended to be a more reflective sojourn effectively works to move the narrative to its expected conclusion while ensuring that both Rassilon and the Daleks have now shown how similar they are at this time. The sound design isn’t tasked with being anything remarkable and serves its purpose well enough in what proves to be one of the shorter stories this range has offered, but ‘Dissolution’ will rightly be remembered for expertly giving Narvin a more developed backstory while providing his intentions with a genuine sense of hope amidst the ever-darkening landscape of the Time War. With genuine chaos sure to reign as this series reaches its conclusion, this sidestep that is still so very intertwined with the larger story works precisely as intended by highlighting how certain foundational aspects and visions for the imminent future have come to be.

Anticipating that she had met had made her final and ultimate sacrifice on Unity, Romana finds herself rescued by an old friend who knows of a way to truly end the Time War in ‘Beyond’ by David Llewellyn. Drawing inspiration from Dante’s Inferno, ‘Beyond’ features the triumphant return of Miles Richardson as Braxiatel who leads Romana into an ever-deeper layering of afterlives and aborted timelines that has resulted from the terrifying effects of the endless warfare in something of a subversion to the Axis that this range has previously explored. Naturally, however, the famed weapon that Braxiatel seeks is not without its own consequences and harbours a much different truth than anticipated, bringing the brilliant interpersonal conflicts about how each of these characters sees themselves at his or her best and worst in such extreme circumstances into brilliant focus. Braxiatel has always been something of a master manipulator, and the journey he takes Romana and even himself on with visions of what may have been surrounding them both provides ample opportunity for reflection and development with incredibly strong material that Lalla Ward and Richardson delve into with an impressive range of emotions. Even the surprising inclusion of the Ravenous- although little information is provided to listeners unfamiliar with the Eighth Doctor adventures and the history of Kolstan- works to add a natural level of tension and danger that is only heightened when the cyclical nature of death and thus sustenance is revealed. The direction, pacing, and sound design create a visceral whirlwind that bring each layer of the Beyond to life wonderfully, and ‘Beyond’ as the penultimate tale of this epic conflict wonderfully explores and gives resolution to two of Gallifrey’s most captivating characters while further contextualizing just how desperate some Time Lords have become and what sacrifices they may be willing to make. The Time War itself is predicated upon cathartic change to established knowns within the Doctor Who universe, and ‘Beyond’ imbues Gallifrey itself with that same mindset.

‘Homecoming’ by Matt Fitton is tasked with wrapping up the Gallifrey: Time War saga as Rassilon receives an ultimatum from the Dalek Emperor to surrender Gallifrey and avoid Time Lord extermination and as Leela and Narvin stealthily return home to put their devasting plan to change the very foundation of this war into action. With all roads leading to Gallifrey and the fate of all of time and space hanging in the balance, any pretext of subtlety is thrown aside as pride and desperation take hold of every action. Truly, Rassilon and the Dalek Emperor are wholly indistinguishable from each other at this time given their brutal and callous mantras, and although the ultimate outcome of this story is boxed in by established continuity of what is to come from the Time War and these races, it’s nonetheless chilling to fully experience the pure spite and ego that Richard Armitage and Nicholas Briggs so expertly imbue into their respective roles. With null space and thoughts of ascension bridging narrative gaps for both races and the very fabric of the vortex becoming a possible sacrifice, ‘Homecoming’ deftly handles the complex narrative that the Time War has already wielded while also allowing its leading trio one final adventure to reaffirm how much they have all developed alongside each other and apart as well as how committed to their own ideals they all remain. The Daleks, of course, have ulterior motives to their grand overtures, but the impassioned words and actions that Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson, and Seán Carlsen wonderfully bring to life develop another front of this war while ensuring that hope always remains a guiding force. As a finale to such an epic saga that has brought so many brilliant ideas and thought processes to the forefront over the years, ‘Homecoming’ naturally cannot compare to some of the previous highs this series has achieved; however, it features stunning sound design and direction, balances its more grandiose and more intimate moments expertly, and takes its characters on natural journeys that perfectly fit everything fans have come to expect to deliver an impactful tale that will be sure to satisfy and resonate.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.