The Key to Key to Time

Posted in Audio by - October 01, 2022
The Key to Key to Time

Released September 2022

Tim Foley brings the Unbound series featuring Colin Baker’s Doctor of War to a close with ‘The Key to Key to Time’ as unending war continues throughout all of time and space. The White Guardian has an offer for the Warrior, though, promising that an alliance with his greatest enemy to retrieve the six segments of the Key to Time can finally put an end to the Time War.

Although the premise initially seems like it might continue in the footsteps of this set’s opener and simply retread more familiar territory that the Fourth Doctor whom the Warrior has replaced in this divergent reality no longer can, allying the Warrior and Davros as the greatest of enemies who have no knowledge of each other beyond that stated fact is a tantalizing proposition that instantly elevates the promise of a premise to something far more spectacular. Given their respective origins, the Warrior and Davros naturally hold a prejudice against the other that is all but unshakable, and mysterious circumstances causing repeated separations, visions, and opportunities to collect segments individually mean that neither can ever truly trust the other. Colin Baker and Terry Molloy are absolutely magnificent together as this uneasy alliance develops, both capturing the tremendous pride and intellect of his own character while imbuing a tremendous respect for the other regardless of opposing- or at least conflicting- mindsets at their cores.

However, while ‘The Key to Key to Time’ initially seems like it will make the fatal flaw of condensing the hunt for and acquisition of all six pieces into essentially a brief montage, albeit one in which Baker can more succinctly dive into the edgier harshness of this incarnation when he comes upon a sentient piece, the plot quickly expands into something altogether more surprising that is anchored by the fascinating- if somewhat unilateral- suggestion that in every reality Davros is associated with the start of the Time War and the Doctor is associated with its end. There are any number of arguments to be made about what truly triggered the war between the Time Lords and the Daleks which are inconsequential to this story, but so deeply intertwining these two characters is wholly appropriate and further accentuates the unique plans in place by the most surprising Time Lord President who wields such destructive power as well as by the White Guardian who implicitly knows the stretch of the Key to Time’s disguises throughout eternity and what the genuine key truly is. There are not many stories that attempt to go anywhere near as massive in scale as ‘The Key to Key to Time’ does, but Foley absolutely manages to incorporate each and every development seamlessly to quite naturally bring to a culmination the era of the Warrior moniker as the Doctor and the promise that name entails re-emerge from within in a testament to the enduring nature of this character in any reality presented.

This is a story that could have and probably should have collapsed under the weight of its immense plot once it finally escapes from the constrictions of quickly flashing between segments collected, but instead it proves to be an incredibly engaging subversion of Doctor Who steeped in familiarity that encompasses the breadth of the Time War throughout every universe while never minimizing the raw emotions and incredible characterization fueling the Warrior and Davros as the very fabric of their reality is called into question amid the luring promise of a final end to the Time War. The sound design, direction, and supporting performances are pitch perfect, and the final scenes bringing Harry and Sarah Jane circle back to the beginning of this saga in a perfect reminder of the Doctor at his most optimistic no matter the devastation he knows the Daleks will continue to bring. Some will assuredly say that there is simply too much fan service peppered throughout, but ‘The Key to Key to Time’ is an incredible finale to this set that more than capitalizes on the unique opportunities that the Unbound range allows.

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