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.
We’re now around the half-way point of this book and by the end of this chapter we’ll have reached it. Thus far it has been rather enjoyable. The author has a good fix on the original crew and it shows in the way they speak and act. Not constrained by the couch cushion budget or SFX limitations of the 1960s they’ve managed to tell a good story that might work as an episode. Hopefully this trend continues. And now we have a spy to deal with as well.
The story has also taken some parallels to World War II as Ian as noted from his war days. Strange then that Barbara, who also grew up around that time and is an actual history teacher (since the show’s original goal was to teach both science and history…though they dropped the educational goal rather quickly), has not made any connections. In fact she really hasn’t done much of anything in the story except wander around, get locked up, and react to stuff. We still have seven chapters to see if she does anything, or if she actually does die in this timeline, so let’s get to the next chapter and see what happens.
Well, she’s not completely useless but Barbara doesn’t do a lot this story either. She’s there for Susan when she finally realized the Doctor can’t help them, but only because getting this experiment, the threat to time, under control is more important. He’s at least sorry about it. Meanwhile, Ian has an opening to sneak out of the TARDIS when the soldiers are called to arrest Griffiths by Bamford…only we see later (I hope you’re reading along because the actual reveal doesn’t come until the end of the chapter after Griffiths’ court martial–proper placing for the end of chapter cliffhanger, again taking cues from the show) that this is a Bamford from a different timeline, where the Doctor didn’t stop her from walking through the loop. This reminds me…has any parallel universe ever been shown to have their own version of the Doctor or even the Time Lords? Maybe one of the Big Finish audio dramas, or perhaps the comics or novels did in a story I never read, but as far as the show and the ones I have read it’s like the Time Lords are a multiversal singularity, only existing in the one universe the show normally takes place in–not counting that time during Moffat’s run they moved Galifrey to a pocket dimension for a while. I find that interesting, and I kind of want it to stay that way. There actually may be more potential there than seeing Jodie Whitaker with a goatee or something.
Andrews helps Ian escape and I’m guessing he’s going to rescue Barbara and Susan, who still think the Ian of their timeline is dead. We also confirm that Griffiths does have a connection to Abi the invader, but I wonder if Griffiths was lying about the South Africans not having access to enough information to build their own time travel device? I’m guessing he was and that he was lying about being a free agent. In the continued pokes at stories set after this book we learn that all communication devices were done away with after they were taken over by something called “the Machine”, which the TARDIS Wiki suggests is WOTAN, a computer the First Doctor would later meet in “The War Machines“, a story that also introduces Ben and Polly, his last Companions before regenerating. Will this actually come into play since we know the Doctor will defeat WOTAN like we know he ultimately ended the Daleks on his first actual meeting with them (later stories took place before his first trip to Skaro–wibbly wobbly timey wimey indeed) or is this just another nod to the past that doesn’t make much sense other than to highlight how desperate the South Africans are by risking another WOTAN out there. Though if the humans eventually took down WOTAN without the Doctor–just with a lot more damage and death first–I don’t know what they’re worried about. I guess we’ll see if it even matters in the end.
Next time, will Ian rescue his friends? Will the two Bamfords try to out-gruff each other? Join in next week and find out…if we learn the answers to either question.