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!