Monday, August 19, 2019

Season 13 Finale

Episode 15: The Music of Time
On the heels of their uneasy reunion, Penelope and her former travelling companion Dorian go back to the Paris of the belle époque - only to discover that the eccentric musical genius Erik Satie, who once graced her TARDIS with a private piano recital, has disappeared from Montmartre… and from History itself! Did he even exist at all? In order to save the unique composer from oblivion, the Time Lady will have to create a temporal Dissonance of her own.

So here goes another season of Lady Penelope’s Odyssey! 

This season finale was really emotional, starting with a bittersweet, awkward, not-as-I-had-planned reunion with Penelope’s former travelling companion Dorian / Miranda… and ending with their heart-rending farewell, which was somewhat reminiscent of the Tenth Doctor’s adieu to Rose in “Doomsday”.

One of the most interesting aspects of this very moving denouement was its unexpectedness.

When I built the plotline of this episode, I had (somewhat naively) thought that Lady Penelope would be delighted to be reunited with Dorian / Miranda, considering they had got on like a house on fire while they were travelling together across time and space – and indeed, I was more or less expecting this NPC to be welcomed back aboard the TARDIS, embarking for at least another season…

But things didn’t take this direction. At all. Penelope was completely caught off-guard by Dorian’s sudden reappearance. Following the harrowing events of the whole Avalon/Gallifrey crisis (including her encounter with a new incarnation of the Master), all she wanted was to “turn the page”, as we say in France. Dorian’s departure (back in episode 7 – only eight episodes ago but it felt more than a lifetime away to her…) had deeply saddened her – but it was now in her past, a finished story, with Dorian / Miranda living the high life of a galactic singing superstar of the 40th century. He was safe. He was no longer in danger. Penelope felt ready to move on to other things.

And then Dorian was back, without a warning, her responsibility once again. He was no longer safe, once again vulnerable to the perils of travelling along the Time Lady – and it was too much for her.

Needless to say, this added a very intense, almost brooding emotional mood to the whole episode – and the difficulty and consequences of this (from Penelope’s perspective) unwanted reunion quickly became at least as important as the “mystery at hand” (a timey-wimey conundrum about musician Erik Satie).

In the end, I did what I always try to do as a GM – follow the players’ decisions and their logical consequences, even if it takes things in a completely unexpected or unplanned direction. The final scene of the episode was, as I said, almost heart-rending - but also solved the problem in a very neat way, with Dorian now living in an alternate 1978, as one of the companions of an alternate, earthbound Doctor (first met in the final episode of season 12)… an unexpected but perfect conclusion for a season where alternate timelines and parallel continuums featured prominently.  

The Parting of the Ways…

See you in a few months for a new season!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Season 13, Episodes 13-14

Episode 13: The Darkest Hour
The fall of Avalon is at hand. The home of the free Time Lords is under attack! The Master has breached the quantic gates, opening the way for hundreds of Cybermen, who are now wreaking havoc on the once safe haven created by Penelope and the Doctor. As Jack Harkness, a newly-regenerated Doctor and the other valiant defenders prepare for the last stand, the Time Lady must evacuate the entire civilian population before it is too late...

Episode 14: The Hand of Harmony
Avalon has endured. Lives have been lost – but the Darkest Hour is now over. The Cyber-Master and his legions of steel have been defeated. But what about Gallifrey, still shut off from the vortex and the rest of the universe? With the Dissonance under control, it is now time for Avalon to extend the Hand of Harmony to the Time Lords of the Capitol, with Lady Penelope as the peacemaker. A tale of power plays, diplomatic intrigue and hidden agendas.

The Cyber-Master mentioned above is actually The Master (or, more properly, one of his incarnations from an alternate continuum - but this doesn't really change anything, really, since He Is The Master And You Will Obey Him) after a partial cyber-conversion - yes, that is a weird idea but one that made perfect sense in the context of our storyline. Having forged an alliance with the Cybermen of the Cyberiad, he was supposed to offer them full time-travel technology and capabilities, in exchange for their services as a tireless workforce and as an armed force to carry out his grandiose plans of conquest of the universe...  But after Penelope's daring deeds in episode 12, he was put in a very difficult position with his Cybermen allies, who demanded a solid proof of his loyalty and commitment - and (you guessed it) decided to partially cyber-convert him against his will. 

How THIS will affect his next regeneration remains to be seen - for yes, the Cyber-Master did suffer some heavy physical damage before escaping from the Avalon debacle in his special stealth-model TARDIS... Needless to say, I plan to answer this particular question in a forthcoming episode, probably in the next season of Lady Penelope's Odyssey.

NEXT POST: Episode 15, the Season Finale!