Time’s Assassin

Posted in Audio by - February 14, 2019
Time’s Assassin

Released February 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

With Zephon revealed as the true Director of the Kembel experimental facility and keen to exact revenge against the Doctor whose act of subterfuge to steal the Time Destructor’s taranium core so long ago cost his family everything, Guy Adams continues the story laid out in ‘The False Guardian’ with ‘Time’s Assassin’ to begin the second half of the eighth series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures.

Taken as a whole, the narrative structure of the four episodes of this two-part tale is somewhat strange, initially building up the return of Mavic Chen before quickly refuting that, then spotlighting the return of the slighted Zephon family line, but finally choosing to make Zephon more of a secondary character while Elmore asserts himself as the true villainous presence. Yet whereas the feint with Chen felt more like an exercise in filling time given how quickly it was dispelled, the treatment of Zephon here actually works to the story’s advantage while even casting him in something of a sympathetic light despite his determined focus to restore his family’s honour and right that previous personal wrong. As a result, instead of a tale simply about revenge against the Doctor who is finally in his grasp, the frustration and desperation of this figure as he tries to live up to his own reputation he has built up in his head and believes he deserves take centre stage, enough so that even keeping the Doctor alive becomes a priority to further his own gains.

Elmore, with a much more developed role than he was afforded in the opening half, proves to be a fascinating character in his own right. While it is true that Blake Ritson occasionally takes him a bit too over the top as his character’s particular brand of madness shines through, there is no faulting the sheer ambition that fuels his relentless quest to experiment and form what in his mind can be called ecologically friendly weapons. Indeed, with victims of particular weapons being turned into food for other species and even the Varga plants being seen as a means of reducing the facility’s carbon footprint, the manner in which he can justify his actions to himself is revealing even if horribly misguided. Of course, he has no qualms about sacrificing anything and anyone to advance his experiments, and when the Doctor’s unique DNA presents a unique opportunity to test a weapon designed to trap enemies in the recent past outside of reality on the site of the Time Destructor’s previous deployment, he rushes to experiment with no hesitation, passively shrugging off the apparent disintegration of the Doctor like so many before him with ease. Unsurprisingly, the combination of important leaders, Varga plants, and monstrous experiments he keeps on base proves vital to the resolution while highlighting his own short-sightedness and egoism, but his multitude of activities ensure that no place or person is safe from beginning to end.

While it’s also unsurprising that this story serves as a needed re-entry into the Syndicate storyline that has been simmering in the background more recently, the means beyond Zephon by which this is achieved is anything but. Given her police background, it made sense that Ann would take a more aggressive approach with trying to track down the Sinestrans and the Syndicate that presented her entry into the Doctor’s world, but revealing a hidden identity that is fueling those motivations is a thrilling development that proves just how much remains to be learned about a character who has already meshed so well with the Doctor. Given that the facility and its lead trio were rightly given the focus as the Doctor tried to prevent his own disembodiment and give others who fell afoul of Elmore’s weapon a semblance of life while Ann and Nigel tried to avoid their own impending doom as dangerous creatures approached, this is a needed development that once more puts the focus on the leads and creates an exciting new trajectory for the remainder of this set. Thus, while the story itself is presented almost as a series of interrelated vignettes in which Elmore is at times too ostentatious and even unbelievable given the scope of his many actions without necessary foresight, the overall sequence serves to progress the series plot in an enjoyable and well-paced affair that recalls the Doctor’s past actions and adventures to strong effect.

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