The Jigsaw War

Posted in Audio by - June 01, 2019
The Jigsaw War

Released May 2012

Again opting against the traditional use of a framing device that The Companion Chronicles as a range quickly made so famous and effective, Eddie Robson’s ‘The Jigsaw War’ returns to the Second Doctor era with Jamie trapped in a cell and the only means of escape being to unravel a puzzle of extraordinary complexity. With the Doctor and Jamie’s opponent, Side, likewise players in this deadly game, the traditional roles of cause and effect and of good and evil quickly become anything but assumed facts.

As with full-cast Doctor Who, The Companion Chronicles range with its more intimate casts has the ability to tell an incredible variety of stories, and ‘The Jigsaw War’ firmly puts the relationship and the implicit trust between Jamie and the Second Doctor into the spotlight. No matter the evidence presented to him, his belief in his friend is unyielding, and Jamie is likewise afforded the rare opportunity to truly prove the intelligence that lies beneath his ever-present determination and loyalty. With Jamie experiencing a sequence of events out of chronological order and forced to distinguish their proper order to obtain the code to escape his cell, he quickly discovers that the future events being shown are merely potentials rather than fixed; as he changes roles with his captor before finding himself captive once again, it’s Jamie’s attention to detail and his ability to ask the proper questions that prove vital to his success while simultaneously showing how his own perceptions can be altered depending on the order in which the events are experienced.

Had the story been presented as a linear narrative throughout, it still would have carried an immensely powerful theme and message, but Robson uses the non-linear structure to expertly raise the tension and challenge all assumptions. This is a planet populated by the Unheld who beat the crew of the first survey team that arrived here to death, and with connotations paralleling continuing real-world fears about the consequences of increasing numbers of immigrants, the humans’ interactions with the Unheld and the numbers they can reach are squarely call into question. Wisely, however, the humans are not painted squarely as the villains here as perceptions continue to shift and more information is gleaned because by all accounts the Unheld truly are dangerous en masse, but the twist that it’s actually the Unheld’s gods who require more believers and who have set up this trial as a means of indoctrination to cause a belief that the shown future is set in stone is a brutally effective one that puts the Unheld oppression in an altogether more interesting light.

The ending is relatively abrupt, but that choice just further accentuates how much work has gone into developing this fascinating storyline and the ruse that Jamie has had to see through to emerge victorious. As Jamie slowly uncovers the unlikeliest of truths, Frazer Hines once more gives an immense performance that brings out confusion, fear, angst, determination, and confidence in equal measure to show Jamie’s own intelligence even as he wishes the Doctor and Zoe were there and constantly underestimates his own abilities. Hines and guest actor Dominic Mafham play multiple parts in a rather unique fashion in this story, and the resulting depth that this allows only further heightens the overall drama and its central mystery. The sound design and direction are likewise solid as is almost always the case for this range, and ‘The Jigsaw War’ as a whole is an immensely rewarding story that bucks convention to deliver something for everyone in what is another standout for this range’s scope and abilities.



Again opting against the traditional use of a framing device that The Companion Chronicles as a range quickly made so famous and effective, Eddie Robson’s ‘The Jigsaw War’ returns to the Second Doctor era Jamie trapped in a cell with the only means of escape being to unravel a puzzle of extraordinary complexity. With the Doctor and Jamie’s opponent, Side, likewise players in this deadly game, the traditional roles of cause and effect and of good and evil quickly become anything but assumed facts.

As with full-cast Doctor Who, The Companion Chronicles range with its more intimate casts has the ability to tell an incredible variety of stories, and ‘The Jigsaw War’ firmly puts the relationship and the implicit trust between Jamie and the Second Doctor into the spotlight. No matter the evidence presented to him, his belief in his friend is unyielding, and Jamie is afforded the rare opportunity to truly prove the intelligence that lies beneath his ever-present determination and loyalty. With Jamie experiencing a sequence of events out of chronological order and forced to distinguish their proper order to obtain the code to escape his cell, he quickly discovers that the future events being shown are merely potentials rather than fixed; as he changes roles with his captor before finding himself captive once again, it’s Jamie’s attention to detail and his ability to ask the proper questions that prove vital to his success while simultaneously showing how his own perceptions can be altered depending on the order in which the events are experienced.

Had the story been presented as a linear narrative throughout, it still would have carried an immensely powerful theme and message, but Robson uses the non-linear structure to expertly raise the tension and challenge all assumptions. This is a planet populated by the Unheld who beat the crew of the first survey team that arrived here to death, and with connotations paralleling continuing real-world fears about the consequences of increasing numbers of immigrants, the humans’ interactions with the Unheld and the numbers they can reach being squarely call into question. Wisely, however, the humans are not painted squarely as the villains here as perceptions continue to shift and more information is gleaned because by all accounts the Unheld truly are dangerous en masse, but the twist that it’s actually the Unheld’s gods who require more believers who have set up this trial as a means of indoctrination with the future set in stone is a brutally effective one that puts the oppression in an altogether more interesting light.

The ending is relatively abrupt, but that choice just further accentuates how much work has gone into developing this fascinating storyline and the ruse that Jamie has had to see through to emerge victorious. As Jamie slowly uncovers the unlikeliest of truths, Frazer Hines once more gives an immense performance that brings out confusion, fear, angst, determination, and confidence in equal measure to show Jamie’s own intelligence even as he wishes the Doctor and Zoe were there and constantly underestimates his own abilities. Hines and guest actor Dominic Mafham play multiple parts in a rather unique fashion in this story, and the resulting depth that this allows only further heightens the overall drama and its central mystery. The sound design and direction are likewise solid as is almost always the case for this range, and ‘The Jigsaw War’ as a whole is an immensely rewarding story that bucks convention to deliver something for everyone in what is another standout for this range’s scope and abilities.

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