Sunday, January 7, 2018

Season 12, Episode 4

Episode 4: Heir Apparent
S’ral, the Throne Worls of the S’rax. 25 years ago, Prince Mordred sacrificed his life to help his half-sister Penelope to defeat the psychic, sun-eating ghost of their mother Morgana*. And now the Time Lady has returned to claim her rightful title of Empress and rule the Nine Worlds – or has she, indeed?  Introducing the Dark Lady, Penelope’s own shadow nemesis…

* This was back in Season 2, Episode 13…

Talk about a "blast from the past", eh?  So who (or what) is this new "shadow nemesis" anyway?  And how can she have the face of the Second Penelope?  Is she a clone, an evil twin, an alternate Time Lady from an alternate timeline, some kind of doppelgänger?

Well, here again, we must look back at some earlier (but far more recent) episodes. In our previous season, Penelope had a multi-episode battle with the Dark Dimension, which was trying to get hold of the Key to Time in order to create a new omnipotent avatar of itself, a new Fenric or Black Guardian (since both entities have ceased to exist in Lady Penelope's current reality - yes, that means there's a vacancy!). 

This battle involved, among other things, facing an evil copy / dark doppelgänger of the Doctor and preventing the "Millington Entity" from reaching the Dark Apotheosis which would have made it the new supreme avatar of the Dark Dimension... Last but not least, Penelope's victory was obtained at a very heavy cost: to escape the hold of the Dark Dimension and to prevent it from corrupting her TARDIS, the Time Lady had to regenerate, triggering the "regeneration / purification" of her ship in the process - all this being made possible by the now-completed Key to Time. The Dark Dimension had been defeated - but as the one who had defeated it, Penelope was now right in the middle of the whole dimensional struggle.

And now the Dark Dimension's riposte has manifested itself in the person of the Dark Lady, an evil doppelgänger / clone wrought by the Dark Dimension itself, using all the biodata and psychic stuff which it had managed to record and copy during an even earlier confrontation with Penelope (we'll get to this in the next paragraph). This Dark Lady doesn't have a "dark TARDIS" - probably because Penelope DID manage to save her ship from contamination by bringing its aforementioned rebirth - but seems to be able to open "dark portals" allowing her to arrive at some chosen times and places, most likely linked to Penelope's own timeline, as was the case here. As for the Dark Lady's agenda and personality, she could be described as her negative twin or Shadow, in the Jungian sense of the word, embodying her "anti-personality", a reflection of her own inner darkness. 

So why does she have the face and body of the Second Penelope?  For two reasons: first, probably because this was the face that the S'rax knew, allowing her to pose as the Time Lady returned to claim her imperial birthright... but also (most probably) for a darler, deeper reason: back in her second incarnation (and shortly before entering her third), Penelope had been captured by the Black Guardian (who was still active at the time - those were the days...) who had tried to influence / manipulate / possess her. The Guardian had failed but this meant that the appearance, personality and surface memories of the Second Penelope had long been stored / imprinted in the abstract, unliving "memory" of the Dark Dimension (which can be seen, among other things, as the Black Guardian in a completely disincarnate and abstract form - or if you prefer, back when he existed, the Black Guardian was the embodiment of thie dimension).

So if the Dark Dimension HAD to create a dark clone of Penelope, her Second incarnation would definitely be the most logical choice - but at the end of our latest episode, Penelope's player wondered whether or not the Dark Lady would now be able to alter her face to imitate her current's appearance...

Last but not least, Penelope's first encounter with the Dark Lady gave her the opportunity to discover a unique, quite weird (but quite "logical", in the broadest sense of the word) feature of thie new Nemesis: they have symmetrical psyches, as if the Dark Lady was the dark reflection of Penelope's own mind... and consequently, they CANNOT enter any form of psychic conflict between themselves, because that would be the equivalent of attacking yourself - or, as the Doctor explained it afterwards, like adding "-X" to "X": the result is always zero. And this "psychic neutrality" (along with the intertwined / interdependent nature of their fates) will, of course, impact the way their next battles are fought... when and where will these take place?  As always, time (i.e. the GM) will decide - and it's interesting to note that Penelope has decided NOT to try and track down the Dark Lady, being 100% certain that their paths would soon cross again anyway...

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