The Eternity Cage

Posted in Audio by - April 15, 2018
The Eternity Cage

Released October 2016
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Sontarans are the ultimate warriors, a fact they have always been more than willing to proudly proclaim to anyone within earshot. Denied the glory of joining the Time War by both Skaro and Gallifrey alike, General Fesk of the Eighth Sontaran Battle Fleet has devised the genius strategy of using Cardinal Ollistra as a bargaining chip to draw both opposing forces to the planet Rovidia and prove his own force’s worth. When the Doctor’s rescue mission proves these particular Sontarans to be a surprisingly dangerous temporal foe, the secret of the Eternity Cage threatens to undermine the last vestige of integrity of the Time War and completely shift the balance of power in a wholly surprising direction.

Dan Starkey has perfected the proud and often-misplaced bravado and militaristic stylings of the Sontarans after so many years on both television and audio as varyingly successful members of the clone race determined to assure its honour through wartime deeds. Andrew Smith’s ‘The Eternity Cage’ takes away all semblance of comedy that often accompanies these warriors who so often dream bigger than what they can realistically achieve, presenting Fesk and his fleet as truly terrifying individuals who can easily withstand the concerted efforts of a Dalek attack and use time pockets to take the fight back to the Daleks as seeming negotiations for the delivery of Ollistra to their control end abruptly when they boldly decree that the Sontarans do not have the skill or prowess to join the Time War.

Crash landing on the surface of Rovidia to avoid Dalek attention, the Doctor and his small rescue team join with street urchin Kalan to reach the capital city where Ollistra is being held. Interestingly, as Ollistra and the Dalek Time Strategist are put into the same room under the Sontarans’ eyes, they intrinsically understand that the Sontarans must have greater aims than simply joining the war since both of their races have steadfastly refused them that honour, and Ollistra’s admission that the events of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ were the result of a poorly-conceived CIA plan solidifies just how long the inevitability of the Time War has been brewing in the background. Indeed, as the Doctor finds a wrecked battle TARDIS that triggers a specific pain that seems to lead him to Ollistra, the true nature of the Sontarans who wish to become a third front by destroying both Time Lord and Dalek fleets after drawing them here with Ollistra as bait is realised exceedingly well. The battle TARDIS’s Eternity Cage under Sontaran control is a life-saving stasis field, but a an unfortunate collision of circumstance and physiology has resulted in a constant supply of artron energy coursing out, fueling the immense surge in weaponry and tactics now at the Sontarans’ command. Not understanding or caring about the true pain and suffering that this artron flow represent, the Sontarans now plan to capture more battle TARDISes to gain control of more Eternity Cages that they can then use in the same fashion regardless of the ethical implications of their operation, creating a new sense of ambition and tension that amplifies the threat the Sontarans already pose that for once fully backs up their prideful boasts.

With the very balance of the Time War and sanctity of regeneration in flux as Vassarian begs the Doctor to terminate the artron flow to allow the Daleks to advance and exterminate these Sontarans, the Doctor faces his most conflicted decision yet after already agreeing to rescue the woman who branded him a war criminal and learning of a traitor in their midst, and it’s a testament to his strength of character that he still tries to find another way that will not result in such complete carnage and destruction. And although this is not an encounter from which everyone will escape unscathed, the immense direction and performances from John Hurt, Jacqueline Pearce, Dan Starkey, and Nicholas Briggs lend an immensely consequential scope to the bombastic plot on display. While to this point the character of Ollistra’s assistant, Heleyna, hasn’t quite sprung to life as much as might have been intended given her role in Ollistra’s rescue, Honeysuckle Weeks is sure to be thrust into prominence following the cliffhanger leading into the Agents of Chaos finale, ‘Eye of Harmony.’

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