Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 10/24/17 2:22 pm
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This story teases us with a fascinating time-travel angle only to reveal it to be a red herring. This is dangerous, as replacing an interesting story with a less interesting can easily be a disappointment. It puts a lot of pressure on the underlying story to be strong in its own right. Fortunately, Martin Day delivers a tense, evocative story about the psychological effects of war.
There's not much more than a thin veneer of science fiction draped across this story. By the time it's all over, we discover that the whole situation is a psychological experiment run by the Forge designed to produced a new breed of hardened soldiers, but that's little more than a background detail. The story itself is basically a straight war drama (or perhaps a crime drama set in the midst of a war).
For me, the story is less important than the various reflections on warfare, but that's not to say that there isn't a good story in here. There certainly is. But the thoughtfulness of the script elevates the story further. It would be somewhat reductive but hardly unfair to label this an anti-war story. Certainly, it is that, but I don't mean to suggest anything as glib or easy as "war is bad". By centering the story on a military hospital, the script is able to focus on the horrors of war itself. That is to say, the injuries aren't all inflicted by the enemy.
The story makes this point quite literally by centering itself around a so-called "friendly fire" incident, but the point goes much deeper than that. Who is ultimately responsible for the injuries, physical and emotional, suffered by English soldiers? It is the government that chooses to fight a war that is responsible for the consequences that ultimately befall its own troops. By basically writing the Germans out of the story altogether, Martin Day creates a powerful story that forces us to ask ourselves who the "enemy" really is.