Episode 6: The Cardiff Syndrome
2012: following the closure of the Cardiff Rift and the departure of Jack Harkness from Earth, Torchwood 3 was dismantled, its Hub closed and its Rift Manipulator disassembled. 2018: Everything Changes – again. The Rift has reopened and an ancient, unstoppable evil is rising from oblivion. Can Penelope and Gwen Cooper prevent the return of Abaddon the Devourer?
In Lady Penelope's Odyssey, the closure of the Cardiff Rift was one of the most important events of Season Four (yes, this takes us way back - back THERE, actually) - but I felt like reopening it once again and the recent space-time cosmic crisis generated by the reassembly of the Key to Time and the return of Gallifrey from the Time War gave me the perfect excuse to justify this kind of continuity-warping events. Everything Changes, right?
The actual plot of the episode involved the return of Bilis Manger (remember him?) who was attempting to bring back Abaddon into being by a complex process involving stealing and harnessing the psychic energy and sleeping time of a growing number of Cardiff citizens (hence the "Cardiff Syndrome" of the title) to create a "reality focus" acting as an interface-cum-beacon (yes, this is "psycho-techno-babble") and allowing the dispersed essence of Abaddon to reshape itself through the space-time maelstrom of the Rift...
Eventually, Penelope DID manage to defeat (and destroy?) Manger, using the time-honored method of turning a villain's weapon against himself - here, the process involved unleashing her own psychic strength AND the formidable power of her TARDIS through the psychic conduit which linked Manger to his growing army of sleepless psychic drones / puppets / pawns. A desperate, next-to-impossible move which involved massive expenditure of Story points and some lucky dice rolls - but in the end it succeeded and Penelope even managed to repair all collateral psychic damage...
The epilogue saw the resurrection of Torchwood Three - complete with its beloved Hub and a reassembled Rift Manipulator, with a new team entirely composed of existing NPCs - including Gwen Cooper, Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (grandson of the Brig, former time travel companion of Penelope and Torchwood One wonderkid), the time-sensitive Indira Kapur and a few others... This new development creates a new "21st century anchor" for Lady Penelope's adventures, giving new roles to existing NPCs and reinforcing the sense of continuity of the campaign - Everything Changes but the Odyssey goes on!
One final note: in a way, this episode could be seen as a homage to the Torchwood series, just like the previous one was a tribute to Quatermass... now I might (not sure yet) complete this emerging pattern by another 'TV sci-fi show homage' episode - but our next episode will be what we now call an "Everett Special" - you remember Everett Blake, our occasional guest-star, don't you? Check HERE and HERE for more details.