The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles: You Only Die Twice

Posted in Audio by - April 01, 2024
The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles: You Only Die Twice

Released March 2024


The Time Agency is under threat, and Keira Sanstrom knows that the Doctor is the only one who can help in the latest instalment of The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles, You Only Die Twice.

In Georgia Cook’s ‘Sunstrike,’ the Doctor along with Keira must take on the role of villains to infiltrate the nefarious Quartermaster’s private resort, looking to acquire by whatever means necessary an ultimate weapon that far exceeds in power the countless custom and devastatingly effective weapons he has previously provided conquerors and murderers alike. At a time in the Twelfth Doctor’s life when he is grappling with identity and purpose, wondering if he is genuinely a good man or simply one who goes through the motions of being good, the end result of the Doctor being conscripted is an adventure undertaken in a wholly sarcastic tone, a tone perfectly befitting of an incarnation who has seen and done so very much. The Doctor implicitly knows the severity of the situation before him as deaths continue to mount, but he leans into a larger-than-life persona replete with a gaudy golden suit and claimed incredible wealth as he goes to auction while trying to find what the Time Agency seeks and working around the all-too-polite Bodyguards. While it’s clear the Keira and the Time Marshal are still withholding certain key information from the Doctor, the trust that the Doctor continues to develop in Keira following their previous encounter is a strong foundation for this story that puts a unique spin on the traditional companion dynamic, and Jacob Dudman and Bhavnisha Parmar share a tremendous chemistry and energy as their characters through rather distinct mindsets work both to help others and to uncover the truth of the Quartermaster’s business as so many personal pasts come to feature all too prominently and emotionally. Of course, the Time Agency’s implicit involvement in these affairs through the specific security for a vault holding paradox weapons from erased timelines is a magnificent concept that creates so many potential storylines and threats going forward, and Keira’s own place in this sequence of events makes it all the more resonant as the Doctor showcases his own shrewd intelligence and incisiveness to cut to the centre of this mystery. Robert Daws gives a suitably grandiose and charismatic performance as the self-centred and materialistic Quartermaster to round out this very James Bond­-esque setting and plot, and ‘Sunstrike’ as a whole gets this latest Twelfth Doctor set off to a strong and stylish start that puts so many pieces into place for the remaining stories to develop. Dudman isn’t quite as pitch perfect in the role of the Twelfth Doctor as he is in the role of the Eleventh, but his incredible ability to capture the intonations and energy of Peter Capaldi once again more than capably captures the spirit and power of this incredible incarnation who so deserves further exploration and adventures.

Following a call for help from within the TARDIS, the Doctor and Keira travel to 1600s Mariazell, Austria, in ‘Never the End Is’ by Ben Tedds. As pilgrims seek absolution at the Basilica, the two travelers quickly realize that the devil at the heart of this society’s religious fear is all too real and the very foundation of reality warped as the Time Agency’s attempted interventions in this area have created an entirely new set of problems through forced repetition. Again, a character seen calling for help actually being central to the creation of the core looping plot is a strong idea, and within this religious fervor there are plenty of immense visuals that bring this historical setting to life vividly, perhaps none more so than an execution scene in which the Doctor must ultimately swim out to save his TARDIS. Even with personal memories overwritten by days repeated over and over again, the inclusion of Christoph Haizmann who famously made a pact with the Devil to gain artistic renown- and who has been the subject of psychological and psychiatric studies ever since- adds another intriguing element to the story as his pact becomes all too dangerous when the devil comes to collect. The Doctor knows this is not the devil of religious repute, however, forcing him to ask the question of what threat could be so terrible that it wants the villagers to believe in its adopted guise, and the surprising return of the Discordia introduced in The Diary of River Song proves to be a masterful decision not only due to their appearance but also due to their immense power. With the Discordia being regular people who have become anything but as they used time travel to emerge victorious in every situation while transforming into the form of the greatest fears of their prey and enemies, the religious backdrop here is the perfect setting in which to explore the true power of this race;the added abstract nature of Christoph’s art and the physical link it forms help to provide another very visual component that strikes a strong balance between science fiction and personal emotions and exploration quite well through the supporting performances of Georgina Beedle, Jack Forsyth-Noble, Richard Braine, and Nicholas Asbury. Of course, with the paradox weapons still at the forefront of everyone’s mind and the Doctor key to their acquisition, the twist ending in which the very foundation of the Time Agency is changed as this particular Doctor who always seems so completely in control shockingly loses on every almost every conceivable level provides an immense cliffhanger to end another strong story on an altogether more profound note.

Fio Threthewey closes this set with ‘You Only Die Twice,’ amplifying the Discordia threat immeasurably as the Imperial Time Marshal seeks out the keystone for the vault of paradox weapons and the mysterious Project Anchor that seems altogether more important. Following the previous cliffhanger, the Doctor is at his lowest, and the familiar face before him serving as a constant reminder of his failure creates a certain consternation and simmering anger that serves this Doctor well as the search heads to a world at the very end of the universe. This proves to be a fantastic setting through which to explore the Discordia’s nefarious intent, and the uniquely optimistic but misled presence of the Febs, in particular, expertly flesh out this plot element as the Discordia’s takeover threatens to become utterly established fact. Nichoals Asbury again provides a suitably strong and menacing performance as the ambitious and ruthless Belias, but ‘You Only Die Twice’ is very much a showcase for Bhavnisha Parmar as the unique powers of the Discordia come to focus in an entirely unexpected manner. She presents a surprisingly nuanced performance that encourages listeners to revisit each of the preceding stories to recontextualize everything that has come before and deftly guides the story through from beginning to end while serving as the connection between the Discordia and the Doctor who singularly holds access to the vault. Parmar’s chemistry with Dudman even under these particular circumstances is again superb, and the double and even triple crossing that is so integral to the tenuous pursuit of victory is more than fitting of the James Bond aesthetic aimed for through this set. It’s a bold decision to have the Doctor in a finale essentially kept in the dark about wholly consequential truths and plans, but this further escalates the sense of genuine danger pervading the entire script while providing Dudman a brilliant avenue through which to explore the anger, determination, and even exasperation of this Doctor. Unsurprisingly, the Discordia do not succeed, but the application of the vault’s properties to ensure nothing escapes is a fitting and satisfying narrative twist that again comes to feature when the Time Agency proper refuses to simply give up on the immense potential of the weapons within it once time is back on its proper course. The Doctor’s final bombastic act with the keystone is again wholly warranted given the immense danger that would otherwise always be present, and should this ultimately prove to be Dudman’s final performance as the Twelfth Doctor as stated, it ends this version of The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles on an immense and ambitious high that spectacularly highlights his unique talents and seemingly boundless energy. The Twelfth Doctor is such an engaging and powerful incarnation that rightfully deserves these types of epic stories, and without knowing what plans may be in store for him going forward, You Only Die Twice as a whole is sure to please fans of this era to no end.

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