Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 7/31/17 12:06 am
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I feel quite ambivalent about this one. The first time I listened to it, I remember disliking it quite strongly. Now, I find I like it quite a lot. The difference, primarily, is that I no longer expect the story to make sense, at least not in any straightforward or ordinary way. Part of me thinks that's okay, and the story doesn't really have to make sense, especially if it manages to be suitably entertaining along the way (as it does). But another part of me things that this is some kind of cheat.
Let me elaborate on that. I feel like a lot of the drama of the story comes from certain assumptions that the audience would naturally make. For example, that death is permanent. Eventually, this story reveals that those assumptions don't apply, and the story never really provides any kind of explanation as to why that is. This was extremely frustrating for me on my first listen, but now it's just something I know about this story. I don't expect events to have consequences, and I can enjoy the drama that comes from the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz thinking that events will have consequences.
Fortunately, the script is packed with fascinating ideas, and the cast is very strong. Carolyn Jones gives an especially strong performance as Excelsior, who has to rank as one of the great mad villains. The idea of a leader so disconnected from reality that she doesn't seem to understand that her entire world has been destroyed is chilling, but also darkly absurd.
But once again, I'm confronted by the fact that the basic set-up of the Divergent Universe has never been adequately explained. This story involves an entire planet being devastated by a catastrophic war. The nature of the crucible world is alluded to, and we're told that Bortresoye is the name not only of the world in this story, but of the crucible world itself. And yet, the characters don't know about the Interzone or the Kro'Ka. There's even a point where characters board a rocket and fly off into space, and yet no one notices that the planet below has been subdivided into zones. With only two stories left in the arc, the basic concept has simply never been properly established.