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Fascinating

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Thursday, April 05, 2007
Rating:   9

I'm really surprised that He Jests at Scars... has received such a low rating here. To my mind, it is by far the most unbound of the Unbound series so far, and it is fascinating. But I guess appreciation of it depends on whether or not you like Michael Jayston as the Valeyard.

The story jumps around a lot, moving backward and forward through time after an altered ending of The Trial of a Timelord. In He Jests at Scars..., the Sixth Doctor has lost and is no more, and the Valeyard has been let loose on the universe. The events at the end of The Trial of a Timelord and shortly after it are explained, and then we have the first of many paradoxes to come - Mel, though she has memories of adventures with the Doctor, has been prevented from ever meeting him by the Doctor/Valyard's new companion, Ellie. The Doctor/Valeyard then proceeds to wreak havoc on the established timeline, revisiting old foes and familiar situations, and changing them completely with reckless abandon, as he seeks to gain ultimate power and do all of the things he never allowed himself to do as the Doctor. And the threads of time begin to unravel, as it seems that Time itself has had enough of his interference and is attempting to eliminate him. It is apparent that there was a good reason that the Doctor avoided willfully changing established history, as seen for example in his reaction to Tegan's and Nyssa's request to go back and save Adric at the beginning of Time Flight. One of the first things the Doctor/Valeyard has done is to get the Time Lords out of the way, so now it is up to 'Lady Melanie Jane Bush' to stop him.

Michael Jayston's Valeyard is fantastic here, scripted in the same style as seen in The Trial of a Timelord, complete with the illustrious, lugubrious linguism harping on things such as spurious morality and such... that was his trademark there. Jayston and Langford both shine throughout this production, and the rest of the cast are excellent as well.

The heart of the story is an examination of the identity of the Valeyard. His actions seem to prove that he is not the Doctor, yet... he is still dependent on the Doctor's past for his own existence. And his denial of the Doctor's sensibilities is what ultimately threatens his own continued existence.

The one weakness I found in the story is the question of just how the Valeyard was able to draw creative power from the technically non-existant Matrix to contruct his monstrous Chronopolis at the heart of the time-space vortex. The explanation of its origin just doesn't quite make it, but then again, at that point, we are in a general state of such extremely fluid reality anyway that the end result, whether or not Chronopolis actually existed, is the same.

Making great use of the 'Unbound' format, this one comes very close to a 10 in my book.




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