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.
Now we’re in the second half of the story and I’ve run out of Companions to talk about. Meanwhile Ian, Barbara, and Susan have been forced by circumstance to aid their country’s enemies, but given how the country treated them and how unlike the London they knew things have been they may not feel as bad about it as they should.
I guess I could talk about the TARDIS. When it comes to sci-fi vehicles the TARDIS may be my favorite. Outside of my distaste for time travel being a real thing (and a recent episode of Game Theory added yet another reason to hate/fear time travel) it’s a ship with a very small footprint. I imagine if you used it as a stable home property taxes would be cheap. It’s like having a mansion in a tiny house. My favorite version of the console room is near the end but until the TV movie and some more recent console rooms (my favorite is the one 11 and 12 shared) the first one was the one with the most amount of room to move around. However, I’m not sure it had all the rooms the TARDIS would be shown to have in later stories and we rarely get to go inside the inner halls of the ship anymore. I feel like that’s a shame as it leaves the TARDIS a bigger mystery than everyone complains the Doctor has stopped being (“everyone” being every writer and showrunner that wants to do their own take on the “Cartmel Master Plan” anyway) though personally I think there’s enough mystery still surrounding the Doctor personally that “the Other” or the “Timeless Child” are unnecessary additions to his backstory. He’s a Time Lord from Galifrey. We know quite a bit about the Time Lords and Time Ladies, but what do we really know about the Doctor prior to this Timeless Child nonsense? Okay, I’m getting off course…much like the Doctor himself with how he pilots that thing, so let’s get to reading this chapter.
Well, I was hoping for answers, but even the answers brought a new question. First though we see Ian, Barbara, and Susan meeting the South Africans, though apparently China and India are now part of South Africa? Or Abi and Wu were born in South Africa. This chapter took time to address racial bias in South Africa, which given one of our current situations in 2020 takes on a different tone but it doesn’t really stick to it very long so addressing the different races involve feels like a waste of storytime. It doesn’t play to the theme of the tale nor does it have time to be any really commentary. It’s there to be there, really. We also learn that the South Africans are getting help from the “machine people”, which I’m assuming means the Cybermen, who were alluded to earlier by Griffiths during the interrogations, trying to figure out if the TARDIS crew knew of them. Of course they don’t and only The Doctor will years later in his final adventure until a different actor can play him. (I hardly count hanging out in a pyramid because Hartnell was too weak to join in the actual story as being part of the adventure…in fact I’m not sure how that works in Who lore but most of the Doctor team-up tales suffer from that.) They also gave the invaders the laser guns, and I’m guessing the cell phones. So does that mean the Doctor actually alters history when he fights WOTAN and the Cybermen in later years, or is this all part of the hoop issues?
At this point I’m also getting tired of Barbara’s insistence that this isn’t the Ian from this timeline that I’m starting to hope she’s correct just to condone her paranoia. When the invaders–and they killed civilians in this story so any attempt to make me connect to these folks as people is right out the window no matter how much Guerrier tries–are attacked while hiding in the train station (surprised to see that place again) Ian goes off to help people and she insists her Ian wouldn’t leave her and Susan alone despite them being with the other invaders. And yet her main reason for not believing this is Ian, when he killed the soldier back in the jailhouse, should be undone by her grabbing one of the English soldier’s knives and stabbing him to protect Susan, though she takes his death a bit harder than we see Ian. This plot point is really bugging me. Either prove he’s Ian to her or prove he isn’t Ian to us already!
Later, Griffiths leads a group into the lab, with our trio tagging along, only to learn that Bamford sent the TARDIS through the hoop. Apparently the invaders want her alive for whatever reason. However, the big revelation is that the Doctor has realized that Bamford is herself a time traveler. That’s how she knew the police box was a time machine, if not what a TARDIS is, but it still doesn’t explain why she wanted it pushed through the hoop so badly or what about her being a time traveler has given her such a mad-on for the time-clones which the Doctor makes a point to bring up, meaning it’s possibly important. It may also explain why alternate-Bamford was so willing to be filled with lead. Then you also have the potential Cybermen connection mentioned earlier. Answers with new questions.
The chapter isn’t bad but the “not our Ian” thing is really getting on my nerves. With any luck next time we’ll finally get an answer to that question and all the alterations to our present (as the reader when the book came out) that’s going on.