Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 11/3/17 4:42 pm
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Captured by Cardinal Ollistra and the Time Lords, Bliss and the other refugees have been transferred to an internment camp while the Doctor has been press ganged and conscripted in to front line training for battle against the Daleks. Commandant Harlan has a reputation and philosophy to keep up and so his training is harsh and strict but the Doctor is not so easily intimidated especially after all he has seen and been through. But with the War looming closer every day, is this really a time to be making trouble? First of all, I love the cover of this one. The gorgeous Gallifreyan style with touches here and there fit the story and the Time Lords beautifully. The cast is also amazing this time with more of a focus on the Time Lord garrison than the refugee group which I somehow find a lot more interesting. In terms of the main cast, Paul McGann's dry wit and shenanigans as Eight in the midst of the training camp are simply hilarious. It's really nice to see something more positive and silly from him in the midst of a more serious set especially in some of the more fun moments that have a purpose. With lines like "all the most interesting people fail something at the Academy", if this is how the Doctor was at the Time Lord academy then we need a school days story with him desperately. But we also get hit with some strong feels too especially when his screwdriver gets completely destroyed by Harlan and casualties start to happen about two-thirds of the way through. Eight's thoughts on the Time War are right out and on the table in this story for all to see which brings him in to contact and conflict with everyone especially the Cardinal. Speaking of which, Jacqueline Pearce as Ollistra plays a more direct role in the story than in the previous one. She's cold, calculating and frankly intimidating and it's amazing when normal humans like Bliss are able to stand up to her in the way that they do. When events lead to a full out confrontation with the Doctor, it's frankly chilling with higher stakes than we've seen between the two and intense power and emotion behind every word. While the plot is bit on the basic side, it's done well enough to the point where you aren't bored with it. There are lots of references to deep Time War lore and information that will play a huge role later on even in TV episodes and it's a major change of pace from the previous story but in a good way. 'Conscript' ups the ante yes but it also allows us time to breathe and interact with the characters across the board even as the war eventually comes to the camp. While both prior stories 'Theseus' and 'Echoes' had a few flaws, I honestly had a hard time finding something to dislike with this penultimate story. It's well paced with surprising moments of both drama and comedy all at the same time, a strong conflict about the War with powerful arguments on both side, a great side cast you really come to know and like, and an intense cliffhanger that leaves you breathless for the finale.