Gallifrey: War Room- Allegiance

Posted in Audio by - August 26, 2022
Gallifrey: War Room- Allegiance

Released August 2022


With Romana lost and Rassilon at the helm of its eternal war against the Daleks, Gallifrey in its official actions and messaging has lost any sense of morality and heart as the Gallifrey franchise begins its newest series War Room with a collection of stories subtitled Allegiance. This is a world entrenched in politics, however, and individual causes continue to motivate just as much as official ones as the Time War continues to ravage all of existence.

In the War Room that coordinates Gallifrey’s wartime actions, Rassilon has assigned Leela whom he has branded a traitor to work with and take orders from a Matrix projection of an earlier incarnation of Ollistra to begin Lou Morgan’s ‘The Last Days of Freme.’ Freme is a desolate world that provides a strategic advantage for the Daleks, and the Time Lords are willing to deploy a planet killer weapon to retroactively ensure that the Daleks cannot retain this foothold at any time no matter any collateral damage. Naturally, the moral and ethical implications of wielding such power are profound, and with Leela forced into a sort of subservience via the application of a compliance collar, Leela and her Gallifreyan compatriots are soon introduced to a dying world and a vibrant and advanced civilization brimming with an unexpected intelligence, pride, and empathy. Leela has been the heart of this franchise from the start, and the slightly paranoid and controlled version of the character who here cannot trust anyone provides a fascinating lens through which to experience this dramatic shift in Gallifrey’s policies as she steadfastly remains true to herself while acting under the influence of others and with a subtly deceptive quality that would make any of these Gallifreyans proud, especially as her efforts yield a most unexpected alliance. Louise Jameson is masterful in exploring this different shade of her beloved character, and the unique relationship that develops between Leela and Ken Bones’s General as he implores her to trust him just as he trusts her is a tenuous but intriguing foundation upon which to build as Rassilon’s reign continues. The General is very much an action-first person despite the political import he also holds, and this makes the pairing with Leela who has developed so incredibly much through her countless adventures and who no longer seeks assertive action as a first option all the more effective as Argatro gives voice to a Freme population that is so determined to survive. ‘The Last Days of Freme’ is not a story that delves too deeply into any of the political angles involved, but the more personal and character-driven moments provide a necessary insight into its integral characters while setting the stage for what looks to be a much darker era for Gallifrey with Richard Armitage’s harsh and commanding Rassilon presiding over affairs with a truly fearsome strength.

As Cardinal Rasmsus looks to take control of the War Room from Ollistra, an unidentified Time Lord as the sole occupant of a unique Dalek ship approaches Gallifrey in David Llewellyn’s’ The Passenger.’ Identified as soldier Cato Kelgoth who somehow survived one of the most brutal attacks of the Time War, this man claims to have taken a dangerous new enemy weapon that is imperative for his people to understand, a task that is quickly commissioned as the Time Lords look for any conceivable advantage. Of course, chain of command and following orders are the cornerstone of any military effort, and so soldiers in many stories are often portrayed as the instruments of those making decisions rather than well-rounded individuals experiencing a tumult of emotions; however, the return of Kelgoth who has experienced and lost so much allows for a very intimate and morally ambiguous exploration of the course such emotions can take. He, of course, is fiercely proud of his people, but he implicitly understands that the Time Lords are truly no different from the Daleks at this point and that far too much carnage has occurred throughout the Time War, and he is unafraid to stand up for what he knows is right and to even directly question and berate those in authority about previous military decisions. Kelgoth is the cause of yet another unspeakable tragedy, however, as his emotions take charge, and Nicholas Rowe gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as this complex individual who undergoes such a dynamic but visceral shift in characterization. Leela is in much more of a supporting role here than in many stories, but that shift is particularly profound for her as she attempts to connect with this man while seemingly continuing to gain the trust of the Time Lords around her. However, the politics of Kelgoth’s return and subsequent actions quite rightly come to the forefront, and Ollistra, Rasmus, Veklin, Vibax, and the General expertly bring out the many complexities of managing what should be a heroic return as well as the unanticipated fallout. Rassilon looms large over all affairs on Gallifrey, and so the official story to be told to him understandably receives plenty of debate and deliberation throughout, but those in the War Room must also contend with rumours and public sentiment while navigating the necessary secrets at the core of this whole saga. This is a much more deliberate and introspective affair that is much more in line with some of the earliest political offerings of Gallifrey, and the end result is a brilliant exploration of the many facets of war on its many fronts, including within any given individual.

In Alfie Shaw’s ‘Collateral Victim,’ Leela, Rasmus, and Velkin are sent to a place where time itself seems broken and where one TARDIS and its crew has already been lost. As one planet reappears on its original orbit after the entire system disappeared, the three soon find themselves entangled in a reality where nothing can be assumed to be true on a planet that is much more advanced than thought. Rish Shah and Zora Bishop share a tremendous chemistry to portray a deeply emotional arc for Ephra and Bandar as the struggle for survival on so many planes comes into focus, and uncovering the history of this world since Bandar’s arrival some six hundred years ago segues into an audacious and fascinating truth about his TARDIS and a scheme that very well could end the Time War decisively in the Time Lords’ favour. Of course, as loyalties are tested and new relationships are forged through necessity, Leela continues to be the unabashed voice of reason and optimism, and though she is certainly not immune to the shifting reality around them all, she never wavers in her conviction and provides a voice for all of those who could otherwise be lost in the path of victory. The script manages to navigate and deliver its very complex narrative quite directly, and the increasing desperation fueling attempts at altering time’s trajectory expertly hint at the complexity of time and the breadth of emotions it can bring in its wake. Indeed, with a war room intent on striding ever forward at the core of this series, ‘Collateral Victim’ is a story brimming with the entire spectrum of emotions, creating a layered and nuanced tale with its focus on the individuals that still manages to deliver a spectacularly grand central concept and an even greater existential threat. The Time Lords have long been some of the universe’s most dangerous denizens no matter their stated intentions, and ‘Collateral Victim’ brilliantly showcases just how profound that power can be and just where any semblance of compassion might end, in the process proving just why Leela who so often finds herself alone but who never loses sight of herself is so crucial to the ongoing vitality of this series. The very distinct and strong opinions and motivations that Leela, Rasmus, and Veklin each have combine to make a fascinating trio that will certainly tackle a problem from different angles, and ‘Collateral Damage’ proves to be another strong entry in a series that has already shown that its ambition will know no bounds.

Phaidon, destroyed home to the time-travelling Warpwrights whom the Daleks all but completely eliminated, has somehow come back in ‘The First Days of Phaidon’ by Sophie Iles. Out of its normal position in space and in the path of a ship that has yielded temporal and spatial anomalies, this emergence of Phaidon is the latest target for both the Time Lords and the Daleks, the former knowing the latter are responsible and both keen to gain whatever advantage may be awaiting them there. Naturally, the Warpwrights that have been brought back with their planet are unprepared for the story they hear about the fate that befalls them, and the ideologies and manipulations of war come fully to the fore as the Time Lords and Daleks seek a sentient technology that can seemingly transcend time itself and the fluctuating course it has taken during the Time War. Iles instill a tremendous sense of urgency to this affair, but it’s the long-awaited reunion of Narvin with Leela that truly elevates this story by finally giving Leela someone she can more comfortably call an ally given their shared experiences and respect for the imprisoned Romana. It can sometimes be easy to forget how fully trained operatives for the now-defunct Celestial Intervention Agency can and should be, and so it’s welcome news that Narvin has so adeptly continued the fight against the Daleks while alone, Seán Carlsen wonderfully conveying just how much Narvin has been through while acquiring vital information. Carlsen and Jameson superbly take the lead as they confront the tests before them, and Nicholas Briggs masterfully portrays the brutal and utterly confident Daleks who find themselves unprepared for the unique challenges on display here no matter the obvious threat they possess. This is Gallifrey without overt politics and a fine example of just how much the series has broadened over the years as the scope of the Time Lords’ interventions have been forced to grow in turn, but the reminder that Narvin is still furtively fighting in Romana’s name and the strengthening of a time-faring alliance as the Warpwrights return in force is a brilliant reminder of the vision that is so propelling Leela as she works within the confines of Rassilon’s grasp to ensure Romana’s continued survival. Her efforts in the field have rightfully earned her the esteem of the General who suggests he can hold a secret when he learns of Narvin’s efforts, and ‘The First Days of Phaidon’ unquestionably succeeds in creating a new and exciting foundation upon which future War Room sets can build.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.