One Life

Posted in Audio by - March 25, 2018
One Life

Released October 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The full might of the Time War is crashing down around the Doctor and his friends as the Daleks amass in The Time War 1’s conclusion ‘One Life’ by John Dorney, but Ollistra is playing by her own rules as she seeks a weapon that could end the war in a single stroke regardless of the cost incurred and sacrifices needed. But when fate is tied to one man who doesn’t want to fight, the personal and the impersonal sides of war collide with tremendous effect and strike at the very core of the Doctor and the Time Lord fight.

The continuing exploration of the Time War naturally brings with it the introduction of advanced weaponry and techniques that challenge the overall perception of reality and causality, and though the effects of these weapons can sometimes result in lengthy and overly-descriptive dialogue to explain what is happening, the fluctuating chronology of the Time War from Gallifrey’s perspective highlights the ever-changing nature of the war and the foundations upon which the continued hostilities are based. Likewise, the reversal wave the Daleks employ to destroy the Gallifreyan Tenacity Base by sending it backwards along time to before it even existed is fearsome technology that perfectly complements their quantum causality generator that allows them to form an impenetrable wall in space and time by dividing one ship into countless pieces. Because these seem to be established weapons that are known quantities, they end up being more effective than the presentation of yet another all-powerful Gallifreyan weapon of which even the Time Lords in general are not aware, this time a sentient being who can rewrite history and time itself with a story and in a fashion somewhat similar to an untainted Caleera from Doom Coalition that also brings with it yet another planet traversing the ravages of time in flux.

Tying directly back to ‘The Starship of Theseus,’ Dorney plays with prior assumptions and reveals that the Doctor’s presence there was only a coincidence and that Quarren Maguire is instead the rebel that the Time Lord agent and the Daleks were initially seeking. Quarren was deemed at one point to have the greatest psychic potential ever recorded, an ability that could be harnessed to alter reality itself. Realizing that his abilities could be weaponized over and over again, he decided instead to hide his true identity away, to immerse himself in a world of his creation where he could live and love without being put into that impossible situation even once. However, as the present destruction and terror around him worsens and the Doctor becomes doomed to die, he decides to sacrifice his created life to save the Doctor while defeating the Daleks, unable to fully eliminate collateral damage in the process. While despite the link to previous stories this does become a sort of deus ex machina ending like the modern television series has utilized when putting the Doctor into an inescapable situation, David Ganly plays the tortured Quarren magnificently as he slowly decides to use his potential before eliminating himself from the timeline as well. By blending the innately personal tale of Quarren with the intrinsically impersonal nature of war in general and pitting those aspects against the Doctor’s own sense of morality, ‘One Life’ becomes a fitting conclusion to The Time War 1 that brings the Doctor ever more deeply into the conflict, even if in doing so it uses similar ideas as the basis for its newer updates.

The Time War is obviously an era filled with countless battles in which innumerable weapons are used and lives are lost. While it’s a thrill to be offered a glimpse into this tumultuous period of the Doctor’s life as he does his best while struggling to remain uninvolved despite being doomed to failure, it’s the smaller and quieter moments that provide just as much impact as the bigger set pieces in this first box set. With incredible performances from all involved, strong direction, and evocative and powerful sound design, the shifts in tone and scale are handled with ease and create a thoroughly rewarding experience from beginning to end. Even if the character of Bliss remains relatively unexplored by this set’s end, ‘One Life’ proves to be an apt title for the finale since each story features one key death that impacts the Doctor more than the incessant fighting between the Daleks and the Time Lords who are becoming indistinguishable from each other in their actions ever could. Both bombastic and contemplative, straightforward and surprising, The Time War 1 is an engaging entry to this highly-anticipated series and sets the bar high for those sets yet to come.

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