The Odds Against

Posted in Website by - April 12, 2019
The Odds Against

Released April 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As Ravenous 3 reaches its conclusion with John Dorney’s ‘The Odds Against,’ the TARDIS arrives near an abbey housing the gateway to the dimension that originally imprisoned the Ravenous. The Doctor’s plans to enlist the locals’ help to confront and defeat his relentless pursuers are disrupted, however, when a local legend appears to be awakening beneath their feet and strange creatures promise only death.

‘The Odds Against’ initially does exactly what its synopsis suggests, following a prototypical Doctor Who storyline that ensures the Doctor’s undivided attention as his own hopes are challenged by a burgeoning evil. With the consciousness of the Nine suddenly absent from the Eleven’s own, the threat of the Ravenous is given a certain sense of immediacy that has been lacking to this point, and in the brief time remaining while time itself tries to figure out what to do with the Eleven, the two Time Lords find themselves united in their drive to determine how the beings from their nightmares were vanquished once before.

Yet even as dead bodies manifest and the tales of an ancient being known as the Apocryphal One gain credence outside this fated abbey, it’s clear that even this traditional setup is hiding something much more important. However, while the cover gives the surprise away that a pseudonym and lack of questioning of the Doctor otherwise hint at, the return of the Nine who has found that his unique form of regeneration renders him immune to the Ravenous’s feeding is nonetheless shocking and a brutally effective means of – through his own manipulation- tying together what has come before while thrusting the overall story arc in a wholly new and exciting direction. Being attacked temporarily removed his previous selves’ from his mind, but when in contact with his future incarnation the frightful power of the Nine returns in full, and his audacious plan to ally with the Ravenous as he seeks his ultimate revenge on the Doctor proves just how much spite he holds for the Doctor who has interfered with so much of this portion of his life. Being able to effectively switch between so many variations of a character on the spot is an incredibly difficult task, and both John Heffernan and Mark Bonnar deserve all the credit in the world for being able to do so seemingly effortlessly even when alongside each other. With a clever aside about why the same incarnations’ voices sound slightly different when delivered by the Nine and the Eleven, the truly unique nature of this foe is allowed to develop in full, especially as the Eleven is able to take a step back and more subjectively look at what his former self is trying to achieve with the knowledge of his safety that he possesses. To the incarnations filtered through the Eleven as the lead, petty revenge on one Time Lord is unsatisfying, and although this is very much a character who can flit between good and evil on a whim, the greater plans he has in store for the Doctor as he continues to gain his confidence by pretending to destroy the Ravenous and to lose contact with his previous ten selves promise to deliver a monumental showdown and betrayal in the future.

The mystery that the Doctor is exploring even under false pretenses normally would be enough to carry a story given that he seems to have been outplayed from the start and is almost clueless as to how to proceed; however, although Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, and Hattie Morahan all give powerful performances that bring the clash between hope and despondency to life wonderfully, this truly is the Eleven’s time to shine as he confronts his own past and the complicated nuances of time when crossing one’s own path. While as a result the Ravenous themselves don’t get the featured role that might be expected in a box set finale, this new shakeup with the Eleven furtively at the helm is immensely exciting. Of course, the return of no fewer that four incarnations of the Master in Ravenous 4 will assuredly offer many more twists, but taken by itself ‘The Odds Against’ is the definitive showcase for the Eleven and makes exquisite use of both tradition and uniqueness to deliver something truly impactful.

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