Monday, April 6, 2020

Season 14, Episodes 9-10

Episode 9: Ends and Means
Following her deliberate regeneration, Susan has decided to leave Avalon to find a place in Gallifrey’s rising new order. A saddened Doctor asks Penelope to take his granddaughter back to the Time Lords’ home planet, where the usual amount of secrecy, scheming and skullduggery awaits the Time Lady – not to mention the Rani’s latest soulless science project.

Episode 10: Night of the Machine Men
The Time Lady returns to Avalon with a new travelling companion – Alecta who, being Rassilon’s daughter, is fed up with being used as a pawn on the grand Gallifreyan political chessboard! To celebrate this decision, Penelope takes her new protégée to 1928 Paris! But in the shadows of the Grand Guignol theatre, the Machine Men are already waiting for her…

Episode 9 proved to be more pivotal than I had anticipated, with Lady Penelope inviting Alecta to join her in her travel… ah, I realize I must explain who Alecta is. I’ll try to be as quick and clear as possible but as you’ll see, the matter is somewhat convoluted. Very early in our campaign, I introduced my own version of the Sirens of Time (based on the Big Finish entities of the same name), who first acted as recurring villains before becoming the subject of a very important, timey-wimey mystery. A few seasons ago, Penelope first discovered that the so-called Sirens of Time were actually once known as the Harpies of Rassilon and had been originally created by the progenitor of Time Lord society as temporal retaliators and harbingers of temporal justice. According to legend, there were twelve of them.

In season 10, Penelope managed to finally defeat the Sirens, theoretically erasing them from reality, before discovering the true origin of Rassilon’s Harpies: they were, in fact, splintered remnants of Rassilon’s own daughter Alecta, whom he had used as an experiment subject, managing to split her past and future incarnations into separate (but obviously) linked temporal beings (hence the number twelve). And in season 11 (our “Key to Time” season), Alecta finally came back as a single, wholly regenerated (but slightly disoriented) individual… who was eventually returned to Gallifrey – before deciding to take leave in Ends and Means.

Episode 10 was a great classic Lady Penelope episode, with the Time Lady facing the now disfigured Master (you know, the one who came from an alternate reality and got partially cyber-converted - the big hidden villain of season 13, which culminated with his attempt to invade Avalon with an army of Cybermen… It ended up with the Master being captured by Penelope and with a very rare ‘mopping up’ intervention by the Doctor (a case of force majeure), who decided to deliver the prisoner to Gallifrey – not the end of the story, obviously… This episode also gave me a wonderful opportunity to portray the real-life Paula Maxa, the Grand Guignol actress known as "the most assassinated woman in the world" (check her out...).

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