The Lone Centurion Volume 02: Camelot

Posted in Audio by - February 20, 2022
The Lone Centurion Volume 02: Camelot

Released February 2022


Rory Williams, the man who went from Amy Pond’s somewhat awkward fiancé to one of the most endearing and compelling companions of modern Doctor Who, underwent one of the most tumultuous journeys imaginable during his association with the Doctor. In an aborted timeline and tasked with protecting the Pandorica in which he sealed his wife until time could catch up some two thousand years later, the saga of the devoted Auton and Lone Centurion is one brimming with storytelling potential. After a successful first trio of stories sent in ancient Rome, The Lone Centurion moves forward to Camelot with an entirely new host of threats.

Alfie Shaw begins this second volume with ‘The Once and Future Nurse’ in which Lancelot is wounded and Merlin is warning of dark times ahead. Having safely hidden the Pandorica which Merlin is convinced is nearby and integral to a successful future, Rory makes the most of his previous life experience by working with a local healer who is all too convinced that amputation is the key to restoring any and all humours. Rory knows otherwise, of course, and when he puts aside a recommended poultice and saves Lancelot with sterile sutures, he finds himself on the wrong side of Malthus’s favour and Merlin’s suspicions while becoming an unwitting target of Lancelot’s misplaced feelings of ardour. Rory’s devotion to Amy means that he remains all but oblivious to Lancelot’s own advances as he tries to medically explain away Lancelot’s newest symptoms, and the resulting triangle with Guinevere pining after Lancelot while capably presiding over Camelot alongside a less-than-impressive Arthur is a clever twist on a familiar tale that makes the most of the unique underlying humour this franchise has already made its trademark. Hugh Skinner, Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo, and Sam Stafford are all wonderful in bringing this famed trio to life so vividly, and Richard Clifford is just as impressive as the imposing Merlin whose own power and machinations become all the more direct as events progress. Indeed, Rory’s torture sequence is an undoubted highlight that shows the true dimensions of both characters in this moment, and Arthur Darvill continues to excel at delivering a perfectly droll and sarcastic comment at every opportunity. ‘The Once and Future Nurse’ is a story that often verges on utterly ludicrous, but the immense charisma and charm of each of the actors as well as the incredible heart of Rory at its core ensures a captivating opening to this most unique take on a beloved story and era.

Tim Foley, with a humorous homage to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, sets the newly-knighted Rory on a quest following the sudden appearance and demise of a glowing green man in ‘The Glowing Warrior.’ If there was any subtlety to the humour in the previous story, Foley fully leans into his comedic side in this gallant parody as Rory and Lancelot set the foundation for what Rory proclaims to be the horribly anachronistic CSI: Camelot. From checking in on an autopsy that goes in a most unexpected direction befitting of the times to more traditional elements such as rescuing damsels in distress, displaying bravery, and saving troubled souls, Rory’s sardonic wit is brought to the forefront time and time again as he remains wholly unimpressed by everyone and everything around him. As Hugh Skinner even more overtly displays Lancelot’s affections for Rory, madness of all sorts is integral to the plot and comes to put Rory’s feelings about everything he has encountered into a wholly different light that ultimately showcases the true villainous menace as well as the more limited knowledge of the time. Harley Viveash and Rosie Baker give brilliant performances as the two unlikely figures starring in this quest, and while Rory’s own abilities are hardly tested, Arthur Darvill is magnificent as the voice of reason trying to steady this increasingly bizarre world. ‘The Glowing Warrior’ ultimately does little to truly progress the brewing rivalry within Camelot except to force an impending confrontation, but it brilliantly fleshes out some of the world surrounding Camelot while delivering a unique spin on traditional knightly tales of derring-do. This more brazen comedy is certainly not a tone that this series should attempt to replicate with any regularity, but it certainly makes the most of its setting and its incredible lead to offer something wholly superfluous and yet wholly entrancing at each step.

‘The Last King of Camelot’ by Kate Thorman concludes the Camelot saga with the kingdom in the midst of a civil war following Merlin’s coup and the fleeing of Arthur and Guinevere. Although by story’s end Merlin does become almost a caricature of villainy, something that admittedly does fit with the tone of earlier stories, fully committing to the famed wizard as a force for evil is an intriguing storyline in its own right that certainly poses a set of unique challenges for Rory who has been called upon to lead those loyal to Arthur. Given that Rory is not a natural leader despite his incredible ability to take charge when needed, Darvill gives another sterling performance that sees Rory learning just as much about himself as about the world around him while empowering and emboldening everyone he meets. This is in stark contrast to Arthur who is written as little more than an emotionally weak man far out of his element now that trouble has arrived. There is something to be said for subverting the typical mystique that surrounds this legendary figure, but he is written and portrayed as far too ineffectual and complaining to be credible. Again, this can be seen as an extension of the parodying stylings of the previous story, but the narrative here is far too serious to allow such a characterization to work. Despite all of that, however, Guinevere becomes the standout hero of the tale, and while the honour of becoming the next king is naturally given to Rory first, he is humble and wise enough to suggest that Guinevere is the leader this society truly needs. Lewis-Nyawo is fantastic as her character is finally given the opportunity to truly show her mettle, allowing for a satisfactory resolution that also affords Rory the confidence to leave behind this world where he has- against all odds- become so comfortable. ‘The Last King of Camelot’ is perhaps the most uneven story of this set given the portrayal of two of its central figures, and even though the overall trajectory of the set is quite similar to that of the first despite the different setting, this story and this set are still sure to please fans of Darvill and of Rory given the incredible characterization and performance.

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