The Crash of the UK-201

Posted in Audio by - December 14, 2018
The Crash of the UK-201

Released December 2018

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Given Vicki’s youth and perpetual optimism and energy, it’s easy to forget that she was introduced in ‘The Rescue’ with arguably the most tragic backstory of any companion in the long history of Doctor Who. When first crossing paths with the Doctor, Vicki was one of two survivors still alive on the planet Dido following a crash landing and soon discovered that the man she had taken to be her friend was responsible for the deaths of the others survivors, including her father. Easily slotting into the void that Susan’s departure had left upon the TARDIS, Vicki quickly acclimated to the new life and possibilities before her, but upon waking one morning back on the UK-201 on the day of its fated crash, altogether different possibilities that she never imagined possible present themselves in ‘The Crash of the UK-201’ by Jonathan Morris.

Somehow traveling not through time but instead through her own personal timeline to the day her life changed forever with all of her future memories intact, Vicki naturally gives into her personal desires to help those she knows will soon be in need, using the inexplicable appearance of Steven and his pilot knowledge to avert the crash without explaining to anyone the truth behind her own knowledge about this doomed ship’s fate. Once Steven discovers just where they are, however, he quickly realises the severity of his actions, understanding all too quickly that he himself has now become a paradox since Vicki will never join the Doctor and steer his actions to guide their journeys to Mechanos where Steven would otherwise have perished.

Fascinatingly, ‘The Crash of the UK-201’ does not follow a simple linear narrative, instead using Steven who appears to be jumping through Vicki’s new timeline with the silent spectre of the Doctor even more fleeting to offer brief vignettes of what has occurred to her. And although from an audience perspective it’s known that time will have to somehow go back to normal, it’s genuinely heartwarming to see Vicki find love and start a family despite the new personal tragedies she must confront along the way. However, the shadow of the life she has left behind is never far from sight as frightful figures who feed off paradoxes loom large and begin to encroach, setting in motion a series of events in which Vicki further tries to right her altered past to keep loved ones close with spectacularly unintended consequences that throw even her most basic relationships and assumptions into flux. While this type of story itself isn’t exactly new, the execution here as Vicki tries to save her father, her husband, and her children but without ever finding a lasting peace for both her and the world at large is profoundly powerful and allows Maureen O’Brien to showcase an incredible range of emotion that brings these short segments to life with tremendous pathos and poignancy.

Inevitably, it becomes clear to Vicki that she must relive the most traumatic day of her life since so much of the life that she came to experience and love was down to circumstances she can never hope to replicate as she attempts to put right previous attempts at putting things right. Back on the ship as sabotage and treachery are occurring around her, however, Vicki finds that- even with the help of Steven- simply sitting idly by and letting events unfold is neither as easy as it seems nor necessarily the right course of action to take. Instead forced to adapt as the two live and come close to dying over and over again as the ship refuses to follow history’s stated course, this is a nice subversion of expectations that logically alters assumed continuity and that only hints at the internal turmoil Vicki must be feeling as she has one final fleeting moment with her father tantalizingly and repeatedly given to her despite knowing his ultimate fate that she is trying so hard to make happen again.

One of the greatest reasons for the enduring success of bothThe Companion Chronicles and The Early Adventures is that it affords well-established characters the opportunity for continual development and exploration, and ‘The Crash of the UK-201’ absolutely delivers on that promise with one of the most thoughtful and emotional stories yet offered. The deliberate setup and pacing despite the brevity of individual scenes forward and backward through Vicki’s newly-established reality allow her life to vividly develop through the eyes of both Steven and the audience, and the continued heartbreak and regret she must experience while trying to find happiness is a powerful motif that only further expands upon the tragedy that came to define this beloved companion.

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