Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
So our team is split up again. That sounds about normal. the original TARDIS crew did have a nasty habit of coming together and splitting apart more than once, especially in longer arcs. I wonder if at some point we’re going to learn what is causing South Africa of all places to go to war with Europe or how they’re doing so well? I assume this is tied into the timeline going insane.
The original crew also started a pattern that would continue on for some time in classic Who before disappearing some time during Tom Baker’s tenure, the positions of the team. You have the Doctor of course, the muscle, and the beauty (usually one of the women). I think this changed around the time Adric came along but it wasn’t until Peter Davidson’s run that it disappeared entirely and despite having three or more members it hasn’t really returned since. While Ian is the scientist he also does the heavy lifting for the group, Barbara is the for the historical angle, and Susan the…I don’t know, representative for the kids, or maybe the bridge between the two. For a show about time and space travel, originally meant to teach kids history and science while scaring them to death, this seems like the best team even today. We all have our favorite Companions (mine is still K9) but as far as the best team I think this has yet to be beat. So let’s see if they can get out their current problem?
Okay, merging events together means we start with Barbara and Susan. Somehow they end up caught in Canary Wharf as the soldiers come for them. That’s when they hear Ian was killed and start jumping to conclusions that the Doctor led them to the TARDIS rather that them stumbling on it and that he didn’t try to save Ian (he didn’t get a chance since Ian did the job for him…in a sense). I don’t know how the soldiers knew. There was only one there and he and alt-Ian killed each other so who told them? Maybe I misunderstood and there were more soldiers there? Since only the Doctor and Ian know there were two Ians there the original hides in the TARDIS, but now it’s surrounded by guards waiting for the latest Andrews. Bamford’s actions confuse me (there seem to be a lot of that this chapter). Why is her…not even her first, her only reaction is to kill them all. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when another Bamford soon shows up near the TARDIS. She probably wants to know what happened to her Andrews. I wonder if Bamford can kill “herself”?
Meanwhile we learn there’s a spy in the ranks, but surprisingly we get an answer to whom in the very chapter it’s introduced. It’s Griffiths, which makes me wonder why he worked to get the others free? Was he hoping for a distraction? Some other reason? We also learn he has some connection to Abi, the parachuting bomber from earlier. Will that come into play? So many questions. Then again, given the attitudes of the soldiers in this story, especially the one who decides to show off Ian’s corpse to Barbara and Susan to “say goodbye” I’m kind of rooting for South Africa on this one. We haven’t seen a decent person yet not named Andrews. However I wonder if the story didn’t jump the gun (no pun intended if you read the chapter) early. Our first notion of a spy is kept hidden so we only know he’s there and with a mobile (the UK term for a cell phone I believe, they just call it a phone here), which is what gets him found out when one of the new Andrews points him out as a spy. They even use the idea of the alternate universe to make it a potential red herring for the audience. What if in this reality it was really Kelly? Or still Griffiths but the story tried to make us think it was Kelly. I feel like this could have made a good subplot if the war is going to have a stronger connection to this than a catalyst of events.
This chapter also continues the idea that Ian and Barbara has a romantic interest in each other. I still don’t remember it but it has been too long. Here Barbara finally allows herself to admit she loved Ian a little after one of the Andrewses hits on her. They’re both dead now too. The other takeaway is that this story is less about time travel and more about alternate timelines, and now I wonder if maybe the prologue took place in yet another timeline? It wouldn’t be a new concept to the show. The question is why alternate Ians and Bamfords are showing up now. Andrews is the only one who went through the loop so why the alternate versions? Could this be the first time we see an alternate universe Doctor? Join us next time and see if any of the questions this chapter has opened will be answered.