After the wonderful first series of Gallifrey: Time War, I’m incredibly excited to be continuing the story with this new boxset. With Leela, Brax and Ace gone, Romana and Narvin will have to navigate the horrors of the Time War alone, and the latest incarnation of Rassilon isn’t making it easy for them. But will it stand up to the brilliance of the first set? Read on to find out!
1. “Havoc” by David Llewellyn
The set opens soon after Desperate Measures from the last series finishes. Rassilon (Terrence Hardiman) is now President, Romana (Lalla Ward) is on trial for treason and Narvin (Seán Carlsen) is faced with a mysterious visitor from the future who is murdering his way through the Capitol.
Havoc wastes no time in getting us up to speed on what’s happened in the gap between this series and the last. We learn what Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Trave (Paul Marc-Davis) have been up to in the wake of their actions concerning the election, with some rather surprising results. It was great to hear both characters getting a bit more of the limelight in this episode, as I was impressed by them last time around and was hoping that they’d get some development, which they definitely do here.
There are also some new additions to the Gallifrey team. Samuel Clemens plays the tyrannical Mantus, leader of Rassilon’s new internal defence corps, while Samuel Gosrani joins the CIA as new recruit Eris and Lucy Robinson plays Bovari.
I was surprised at how little Rassilon actually appears here, though the few scenes he does have are expertly played. Hardiman captures the role perfectly, bringing both the gravitas of the character’s other iterations and something new and unpredictable that promises to add a spark of danger to this series.
The story ends on rather a shocking note, promising that the boxset to follow is sure to be a most interesting journey…
2. “Partisans” by Una McCormack
Partisans by Una McCormack is the first of two stories in this set to focus on the planet Ysalus, which the Time Lords believe is a vital part of their plan to destroy the Daleks.
Narvin and Eris are focused on most here, travelling to Ysalus to support the rebels win a violent civil war whose result may result in a huge upheaval for the Time War. Following on from his introduction in the previous story, Eris is given a lot more development, and is fast becoming my favourite new addition to the Gallifrey cast.
The main cast is bolstered by Stephen Critchlow and Abra Thompson as Ysalan rebels Temmis and Ysta, as well as Jessica Hayles (PC Forrest in Flatline), who plays Aladra, a Time Lord working for Mantus.
Overall, this is a great story, giving us a glimpse at both Gallifrey’s dealings with other worlds, and at the way the Time War is slowly spreading throughout the cosmos.
3. “Collateral” by Lisa McMullin
The Ysalus story arc continues with Lisa McMullin‘s Collateral, which sees the consequences of Partisans revisited, with some shocking results. This story sees Eris return to Ysalus, joining with Carlyss Peer‘s Knyla to stop the villainous Sythes, who threaten the world’s safety.
I must admit that I was a little confused by this story- there’s a lot of timey-wimeyness going on here. The strength of the cast, both regular and guest, shines through, however, and we are treated to another rather shocking ending which sets up the final part of the boxset with aplomb.
4. “Assassins” by Matt Fitton
The series concludes with this story by Matt Fitton, which rounds off the set in an exciting and intriguing fashion. The Sicari (Silas Carson) have come to kill Rassilon, Romana is about to make a terrible decision and the Time War is closing in on Gallifrey. What more excitement could you ask for?
This is a particularly strong showing for Romana and Livia, whose actions in this episode are shocking to say the least, but Narvin and Mantus also get some development, reminding me of just how strong the Gallifrey cast is.
Hardiman‘s Rassilon really comes into his own here too, butting heads with both Romana and Narvin and really getting to show his manipulative side. An absolutely wonderful casting choice to be sure!
I won’t go into too many more details about this one, but suffice it to say it’s an absolutely thrilling conclusion to the boxset, tying up all of this series’s plotlines and pushing the characters in a new (and incredibly exciting) direction for the next one. Bring on February 2020!
The sound design on this release is absolutely brilliant, and made even better by the behind the scenes feature, wherein Russell McGee takes us step-by-step through how he constructed some of the series’s sound effects. It was incredibly eye-opening to hear just how much effort goes into creating even the smallest sounds (like the sound of the TT Capsule doors), and this is definitely something I’d like to hear more of on behind the scenes discs in the future.
All in all, Gallifrey: Time War 2 is another fantastic installment in the series. Brilliantly directed by Scott Handcock, sublimely scored by Ioan Morris and starring an absolutely wonderful cast, this set is full of drama, character development and adventure.
While undeniably very different from the first volume (not a Dalek to be heard!), this Gallifrey: Time War 2 is absolutely as good, perhaps even better, and so is thoroughly recommended.
Gallifrey: Time War 2 can be purchased on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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