Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 10/13/14 1:07 pm
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The story is told mostly by the Valeyard in “testimony”, which is really just a form of narration. There’s really no particularly good evidence to suggest that any of this stuff is true. The evidence that does exist seems suspiciously convenient. For example, if the Time Lords were trying to secretly interfere in their own history, they inexplicably failed to cover their tracks at all. However, the story presented is quite intriguing, particularly the implication that the Inquisitor was aiding the Valeyard all along. The idea that the Doctor might inadvertently create the Valeyard in his efforts to avoid doing so is not new, but it works especially well here.
The major appeal of the story is the delicious interplay between the three characters. I always enjoyed the courtroom scenes in “The Trial of a Time Lord” for the same reason. These three characters work extremely well together, so focusing on them is a great way to get a dynamic, engaging, small-cast drama, which this is.
Since the main appeal of the story is the interplay among the characters, there’s a lot of barbed conversation which doesn’t particularly advance the story. As a result, the story really is quite thin. The Doctor’s only real accomplishment is to avoid one elaborate trap. He also suggests that the story isn’t over, and mentions some of the plot’s loose ends. However, while this was a pleasing enough story on its own terms, I’m not eager to hear more from the Valeyard.
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Valeyard stories. I think the concept was irredeemably muddled at its inception, and subsequent efforts haven’t really helped. At this point, ambiguity is really the essence of the character. Attempts to explain the character inevitably diminish him. Perhaps that’s why my favorite take on the concept comes from “The Wormery”, a story in which the character does not appear.