Aftershocks

Posted in Audio by - April 15, 2022
Aftershocks

Released April 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After decisively and fundamentally altering all of time and reality by choosing to avert the Daleks’ very creation, the Doctor- or the Warrior- now finds himself on trial for a crime he has not been told of by a force that will not reveal itself as ripples continue to spread in Lou Morgan’s ‘Aftershocks.’

‘Dust Devil’ effectively proved that the Time Lords’ plan to eliminate their greatest foes went anything but according to plan, but ‘Aftershocks’ brutally reveals that the universe as a whole has become a much worse place as Skaro’s denizens underwent a convergent but distinct development. The Doctor’s actions drove the Kaleds and the Thals to unite after their world was so brazenly attacked, and the Time Ring that was left behind gave them unfettered access to time and the ability to shape the universe in their image. Gallifrey is nothing more than a backwater part of Skaro’s domain, and the Time Lords now serve Skaro while seeking to publicly discount any whiff of rebellion by securing an admission of the guilt from the Doctor that was.

In a fascinating twist, the Daleks’ creation was not wholly prevented, and the Twin Dalek formed in the heart of the incubator fire the Doctor set is an effectively distorted reflection of the Doctor in this universe as the Warrior that he has become. As this creature effectively takes control of Skaro’s plans and forces to again drive home the sense of inevitability and conquest at the heart of the Dalek- or Skaro as the case may be- paradigm, it quite bluntly affirms that the Doctor was its creator and proof positive of his guilt. This, of course, plays out against the Doctor’s own inability to remember his actions beyond setting fire to the incubators on Skaro, and Narvin’s incessant questioning along with the Doctor’s own knowledge about the CIA and its methodologies make for a layered and impressive backdrop through which this exploration of the new universal standard can slowly be revealed beneath a familiar sky that is certainly not Gallifrey’s own.

Surprisingly, the immense success of this tale that is relatively small in scale and yet so massive in ambition and scope is due to Geoffrey Beevers’s enthralling presence as the Master. While the Doctor is never quite sure what is real and what is a figment of his imagination, the Master appearing as something of a memory from the future and purporting to be following the Doctor’s own orders by revealing crucial information is an incredible narrative device that forces the Doctor to confront the long history between the two characters and to wonder just what may have happened to bring about such a foundational shift in their relationship. In fact, it’s wholly unsurprising that the Doctor wonders if this is all part of the Master’s scheme or if perhaps the Time Lords have imprisoned the wrong person, and Beevers is superb as a man relishing his own knowledge and suggesting that perhaps the Doctor will acquire something of a taste for genocide when all is said and done. To that effect, the introduction of a device that can hold an entire timeline and everything related to it is an incredible visual and an impressive marvel that is wholly befitting of this changed universe and what has occurred within it, and just as the Master foretold that it would be brought to the Doctor if events played out just right, this will surely prove to be an essential component of any hope for resolution as the Doctor and the Warrior facets continue to feature so prominently.

Colin Baker is once more incredibly strong and nuanced as he continues to explore so many unique sides of his Sixth Doctor that he has perfected over the decades. The Doctor of War: Genesis hasn’t quite fully leaned into the Warrior character just yet as might have been expected given how the War Doctor series played out, but the harsh reality surrounding him, the brilliant supporting performances and sound design, and the decision to have the Doctor learn the truth at the same time as the audience have already made this one of the most fascinating takes on alternative timelines and universes that Doctor Who has ever developed.

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