Sunday, February 9, 2020

Season 14, Episodes 1-3

Episode 1: The Shadow King
As Lady Penelope prepares to leave the court of her lover, King Fenn of the Tanu, Little Nuada, Princess Dana Ashworth’s 3-year old son and Fenn’s adopted heir, is suddenly robbed of his psyche and lifeforce by an invisible enemy. Penelope must race against time to prevent the Dying of the Light and save the child from the clutches of the mysterious Shadow King…

Episode 2: The Companions of Demnos
While enjoying a short trip to 1956 Paris, Penelope once again crosses the path of the Comte de Saint-Germain!  Soo, the Time Lady and the dear old (more or less) immortal rogue join forces to thwart the nefarious plans of the mysterious Companions of Demnos, prevent an atomic disaster and defeat the terrible Helix Mandragora before it changes history! Mais oui!

Episode 3: The Emperor’s Talisman
On her quest to find the scattered remnants of King Fenn’s psyche, Lady Penelope arrives to Charlemagne’s palace in the spring of 803 AD, with the Comte de Saint-Germain at her side… just a few days before a terrible earthquake ravages Aachen! Are the time travellers ready to face the Judgment of God? A tale of court intrigue, historical destinies and human ordeals.

Episode 1 focused on Lady Penelope’s long-time relationships with the Tanu people, a race loosely based on the species of the same name from the Many-Coloured Land book series by Julian May – and more specifically on her very peculiar rapport with King Fenn, who first started out as a full-blown enemy of the Time Lady (that was back in season 1!), before becoming her ally (that was in season 8)… and then her lover. The romantic evolution of their relationship was completely unexpected and developed in actual play, at Sylvie’s initiative, providing us with one of those fascinating story twists that make some episodes unforgettable. Since then, Penelope and Fenn’s story had acted as a recurring plot device within the larger context of her alliance with the Tanu… and it needed a new twist, which The Shadow King delivered. At the end of this season opener, King Fenn ended up in suspended animation inside the TARDIS’ clinic, with his psyche scattered all around the vortex. Thus, Penelope started a new quest to recover, collect and reconfigure these psychic fragments in the hope of bringing back the Sleeping King alive, adding an extra dimension to her usual travels through space and time… And for those wondering, here is what King Fenn looks like...

Episode 2 was great fun. It started with Sylvie expressing an interest in travelling to 1950s Paris… a setting which I knew quite well but which, somehow, gave me absolutely Zero Inspiration as far as the character of Penelope and our chronicle was concerned. I just couldn’t figure out what kind of strange adventures I could develop in this context… until I got hit by The Idea: to bring back the Comte de Saint-Germain, a character first introduced in season 8 (how time flies…) and who later played a major role in season 10 and, to a lesser extent, in season 11, just before Penelope’s latest regeneration. Not only did the Count gave me the perfect catalyst for a typically Parisian adventure – but he also proved to be the perfect kind of temporary travelling companion Penelope was needing at this very moment of her odyssey. Their reunion was actually quite moving… For the story itself, I used the Mandragora Helix and the cult of Demnos from The Masque of the Mandragora, transplanted into the Parisian catacombs, with an extra “1950s atomic research” twist and a few meta-references to Les Compagnons de Baal, a French TV series from 1968 which featured an occult cabal of masked conspirators whose look was oddly similar to the Brethren of Demnos’ (just see HERE).

A quick note about our version of the Comte de Saint-Germain: when Penelope first met him, he was a flamboyant charlatan, claiming to have lived for centuries and doing the classic “immortal ascended master” act – a complete confidence trickster, with a fair amount of flair and panache… and it was Penelope herself who actually made him (more or less) immortal (or, at least, very long-lived) by giving him some Elixir from Karn to save his life, after he was critically wounded by an alien entity… thereby causing the Saint-Germain legend to come full circle!  Later, in season 10, she took him to the fabled Library of Alexandria because he wished to trace the true origins of the mysterious manuscripts of Hermes Trismegistus (what else?) - which he ended up writing himself, making once again things come full circle and reinforcing his status as a truly unique, time-defying character!  Here he is - in his 18th century attire, back when Penelope first met him.

Episode 3 was originally intended as a purely historical story, in the style of, say, The Aztecs – but with an obviously very different historical period! No alien threat to defeat, no otherworldly menace to tackle, just a tale about the challenges and problems of temporal travel… In the end, it did include a small (but decisive) fantasy/SF element about Charlemagne’s famous talisman, which allowed me to make a nifty connection with the ongoing theme of King Fenn’s scattered psyche fragments AND the “psychic stones” encountered by Penelope back in episode 8.05, when she first crossed the path of the Comte at the court of Catherine the Great.

See you in a few weeks for a couple of new episodes!

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