Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 8/1/17 12:54 am
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I am not a fan of the Divergent Universe Arc as an arc. It just fundamentally doesn't work, and it's riddled with inconsistencies. The first three stories played up the fact that an entirely new universe would contain nothing that was familiar. In "The Creed of the Kromon", the Doctor remarked that Eutermesans were the closest thing they'd seen to human so far, and "The Natural History of Fear" got a dynamite plot twist out of revealing the non-human nature of the denizens of Light City. Since then, there have been humanoid characters in every single story, and this has been totally unremarked upon. This story also has humanoid characters in it, and this is not considered strange, but the appearance of cows, rabbits, and a Minotaur is deemed highly suspicious indeed. The Divergent Universe does not operate according to any consistent set of rules.
And yet, although the arc doesn't work at all, this is the third story out of eight that ranks as legitimately great. That's a very impressive hit rate. While "Caerdroia" doesn't quite reach the same dizzying heights of genius as "Scherzo" and "The Natural History of Fear", it's still pretty damn great.
Part One starts things off well with a long, well-written confrontation with the Kro'Ka. Some of the Kro'Ka scenes have been getting a little tired, since he usually just shows up to act vaguely nasty for a few minutes and then disappears. This is different. Part One is a signpost that things are now moving distinctly in the direction of resolution.
Part Two could be considered somewhat pointless if it wasn't so much fun. The Doctor has been split into three different facets of himself. Each goes exploring a different area of their surroundings, but pretty much none of them accomplish anything. The rational Doctor has a maddening time dealing with an impenetrable bureaucracy. The enthusiastic Doctor explores a kind of zoo with C'rizz. The irritable Doctor explores the inside of a giant cuckoo clock with Charley. None of them achieves anything, and they all wind up together at the end of the episode. Plot-wise, you could say that the episode is entirely pointless. But it does a great job of exploring the three facets of the Doctor's character, which I imagine was the point. And it's fun.
Things do start to feel a bit stretched out in Part Three, but the writing remains so sharp and so crisp that it isn't really a terrible problem. And then Part brings everything together in a very satisfying way, making full use of the three-Doctors concept, and totally justifying the seemingly point second episode. It also provides a nice dramatic reveal which foreshadows the next story.
The story is also quite funny and full of wit. It's just wonderful.
ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that Stephen Perring is wonderful. His performance as the Kro'Ka is one of the highlights of the Divergent Universe arc, and he's especially wonderful here.