Sunday, January 6, 2019

Season 13, Episode 6 / January Special

Episode 6: Wintertime
January 2019. The UK is caught in an unprecedented wave of cold, with snowfalls, ice storms, frozen rivers and the whole gamut of wintry weather phenomena, leaving experts baffled. Only the Torchwood Cardiff team knows the truth behind this aberrant climate shift: it came through the Rift, from a long, long time ago. Winter is coming - time to call the Time Lady!

So, despite what I announced last time (about “taking a break for a few months”), I couldn’t resist the lure of running my own New Year’s Day special (well, sort of, since this was played on the 5th of January) for Lady Penelope – an episode with some nostalgic echoes from the Russell T. Davies era (Torchwood, Cardiff, the Rift…).

And despite what the above blurb may suggest, most of the action took place in 1895 (but still in Cardiff), during another of Britain’s “great winters” – at a time where the Cardiff Rift already existed… but NOT the all-too convenient Rift Manipulator!

The main antagonist for this story was directly inspired by Kim Newman’s “Time and Relative” Telos novella: primeval, prehistoric Cold as a sentient entity trying to reclaim its lost dominion on our post-Ice Age planet. At first, I had contemplated using the Great Intelligence as my main villain (see HERE) but as I was working with this idea, I kept on ending up with something that felt like a remake of Steven Moffat’s “The Snowmen”, with no real extra element of interest. This episode also gave me a wonderful opportunity to reunite Penelope with her present-day friends at the Cardiff Torchwood Hub, including Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, one of her very first time-travelling companions…

The basic idea behind the whole Cold / Rift thing was as follows: the Cardiff Rift allowed the Cold from Earth’s Ice Age to “travel” (or disseminate itself) to various times in our history (including, for instance, the great winter of 1962-63), with January 1895 acting as its most potent “open window through time”. There, the Cold entity managed to possess and manipulate a na├»ve, pious Psychic, using her as an entry point and interface with reality. Of course, being blinded by faith, the poor soul thought that the visions and commands sent to her “from beyond” by some seemingly eternal, disembodied “whiteness” could only come from God, heralding His new divine reign on Earth. Through the powers invested in her, she even created the Angel of Frost, a terrifying, immaterial being embodying her “righteous wrath” against unbelievers and sinners… 

In the end, Penelope could only defeat / banish the Cold by calling on the supreme power of the Sun - yes, in our campaign, suns are actually sentient beings, as Penelope discovered a few lives ago, in the reign of pharaoh Akhenaten (back in Season 5)… 

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