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 somewhere around the halfway point of this book depending on if you’re counting chapters or looking where my bookmark is. Chapter-wise we’re there, but the bookmark is slightly before the middle of the book. We’ll see how close we are when the chapter ends. At any rate, we have time-clones, a war whose origin has yet to be explained, and killers all over the place. This is a long day for the Doctor and friends.
Since I’ve taken time to discuss the various Companions as they appear in the book it’s time to get to the last of our heroes, Susan (Foreman). I think we forget that Susan, though a teenager, is still a Time Lady. She may not be as learned as Romana but as we see in this story it makes sense that she understands time and how it works. Even back in the pilot she looked at a history book she borrowed from Barbara and saw information that she claimed wasn’t right. However, in this case we’re talking about time itself, the “d” of the equation (space being the “e”). While the rules of time came with exceptions as the story demanded it there are still rules to be followed. Susan is able to figure out where the alternate Andrewes (and presumably the Ian and Bamford) come from and that stopping this experiment is so important to the future of the space/time continuum as well as possibly the multiverse that what happens to her and Barbara are secondary concerns. Even the Doctor, who loves his granddaughter very much, may be forced to sacrifice her for the future of all reality, and despite being the more emotional of the quartet she accepts this and her possible fate/ And yet she still believes in her grandfather, who I remind you isn’t the savoir of time we know him as today. As Ian once pointed out, Susan is brilliant in some things, even more so than her teachers, and ignorant about others. We get to see more of her brilliance in this story so let’s see what she and the others do next.
We actually spend a bit more time with the South African attackers than in the past. Not a whole lot but they get two segments instead of one. It’s just Wu and Abi waiting for Griffiths’ word…and this made me think. If in this alternate timeline the Doctor didn’t stop WOTAN and Earth had to stop it themselves, then banned all electronic communications so another one couldn’t take them over again…how did they invent cell phones? I’m assuming even British mobiles need a cellular tower (or whatever they call it) but in a post-WOTAN world that seems highly unlikely that such things would exist. So how do the South African opposition have them?
Ian rescues Susan and Barbara, but he is forced to kill a man in the process, leaving Barbara to believe this can’t be the real Ian. We see her even looking for any clue that confirms this isn’t the real Ian and the Ian they know is the dead man. We haven’t been told about another Ian coming through but we don’t know how many alternate realities Ian was even present for, since again we don’t usually see the Doctor or any Time Lord having a counterpart in alternate universes. (That might make a good retcon for the Valeyard now that I think about it.) We have seen another Bamford, and we’ll check with her and the Doctor in a moment. I’m not sure if Barbara is being paranoid or if the writer is throwing us through a different kind of loop than the one in this story. At any rate they call on Griffiths to help them escape, though Ian knows he’s actually a spy for the South Africans. Naturally he uses them to signal his comrades. Methinks that was a bad idea, and really they could have escaped through the tunnel without them. Apparently they didn’t know about it or at least didn’t bother to lock it.
Meanwhile The Doctor and the Bamfords (there’s a name in search of a 1960s British pop group) and Kelly are all together. This timeline’s Bamford manages to convince her alternate self that she didn’t step through the loop (she claims she resisted but the book even reminds us it was actually the Doctor stopping her) and alternate Bamford accepts her shooting. This convinces the Doctor that Bamford knows something and suspect something about the TARDIS, as she’s still determined to put it through the loop. I don’t get her obsession either but we’ll have to wait to see how that works out because Griffiths’ buddies have launched their attack. And we STILL don’t know what this war is about and what part the altered history with WOTAN plays in it…unless that’s another easter egg that’s become a red herring for me. Now I’m curious what she’s really up to.
This is an interesting chapter. On the one hand we now have to question if Ian is our Ian or if Barbara is not just paranoid, what Bamford knows and what she’s up to, and then there’s a war on. I had to stop myself from reading on, which is a sign of a good chapter, so next time I’m really looking forward to seeing if anything is answered. Now we’re slightly past the halfway mark physically as well as chapter count so we should get something soon.