Friday, 30 June 2017

Gallifrey 2.3: Pandora by Justin Richards (June 2005)

[I'm writing this on a plane from Bangkok to Auckland, so if it's all nonsense I would like to blame air pressure or oxygen deficiency or lack of sleep or something.]

If we can view Gallifrey Series 2 as a traditional five-act structure, then its third part - Justin Richards' Pandora - is The One Where Things Escalate. After the 'breather' that was episode 2, Spirit, this instalment sees events ramping up fairly significantly. The idea of a villainous embodiment of Time Lords' worst thoughts developing sentience and breaking through into the present is a tantalising one, if only because it emphasises the Time Lords' more despotic nature. While they have never exactly been presented in the televisions series as unambiguously good, some portrayals have lacked the bite of tackling just how oppressive, fascistic and corrupt the Time Lords really are. Here, Richards embraces their propensity for Gothic, chthonic underworlds of forbidden secrets and terrible deeds, of the kind we glimpse in Hell Bent - "not all our thoughts are pure and innocent. The Pandora partition is how the Matrix deals with the darker thoughts of the departed Time Lords: ambition, greed, lust for power... all these are siphoned off and stored separately." Even the words signifying the concepts over which they would claim to be Lords ("past", "present", "future") are echoed by the spirit of Pandora as she watches over her world's future.