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Review of Split Second by PalindromeRose

5 May 2024

Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles: Timejacked!

#2.02. Split Second ~ 9/10

◆ An Introduction

History is a balancing act, and time travellers have got to be very careful not to tip the balance into absolute universal carnage. Unfortunately for the Doctor, he’s having to baby sit a rookie time traveller… who has done exactly that. The real question is, can the Doctor and Keira fix what has went wrong with time?

◆ Publisher’s Summary

Oh dear. That wasn't meant to happen. 

◆ The Twelfth Doctor

Jacob Dudman continues to impress me with his take on the Twelfth Doctor, with yet another superb performance.

The Doctor doesn’t find the colours of the temporal split beautiful, because he can see time differently to his companion. Confronted with a confused French soldier, he starts acting like he’s some kind of important dignitary, demanding a fruit basket (really shows how effortlessly he can inveigle his way into a civilisation’s trust). The Doctor is convinced that the V&A Spaceport is a bit too flash, but he’s glad the PA announcer speaks properly. Following the destruction of Newground, he tries to give his companion some perspective – in his not-so-insignificant experience, the universe doesn’t care at all. It’s bigger than we are.

◆ Keira Sanstrom

‘Split Second’ sees our trainee Time Agent grow as a person, and Bhav Parmar does such a marvellous job with her performance in this episode too.

Keira wishes that the Doctor would stop referring to it as “her fracture”. She claims that they were checking the battlefield for omens on behalf of the King of France… not realising that this is an extremely superstitious age that punishes acts of witch craft (you really are a rookie, aren’t you?) Keira has been to the V&A Spaceport before, and is quick to point out its brilliant duty free!

◆ Crystal Maze

Following Keira’s interference in the development of Calandran civilisation, time has become fractured. The Earth and Calandra have now become linked, and the cracks are getting bigger by the second. The cracks in time will keep growing and expanding, until the histories and futures of both worlds slide into each other and collapse… shattering the time vortex like a sheet of ice, irreversibly so.

The Doctor and Keira have one chance to fix the damage, by locating several temporal splits across the time fracture, and sealing them with a temporal shock grenade. What follows is basically Doctor Who meets the Crystal Maze, which is the kind of premise that instantly gets you excited. We jump around from location to location, like a walled city that is surrounded by wasteland where Bristol is meant to be; inhabited by woolly mammoths, and taking full advantage of some rather advanced Calandran technology.

Whilst these quest-like episodes are nothing new – the formula dates all the way back to ‘The Keys of Marinus’ – this is certainly the most fun I’ve had with one of them.

◆ Keira’s Tragedy

I’ve seen a lot of people draw very obvious comparisons between this episode and the ‘Ravagers’ box set with the Ninth Doctor. While a lot of the set pieces are painfully similar, I do think that Lou Morgan’s script has a lot more depth and polish to it… and I think that’s down to our new companion.

We saw in ‘Flight to Calandra’ how out of her depth and arrogant Keira could be, but this episode sees that façade melt away to show someone who genuinely cares about what happens to others. When attempting to close the first big temporal split, in the city of Newground, the whole place is devastated by a tsunami. There’s a localised time distortion meaning people can’t even get to their families for the final moments of their lives, and this fact seems to break Keira. She knows that this is all down to her, down to her interference on Calandra; she feels awful, but who wouldn’t in her situation? It’s like what the Doctor tells her: she didn’t know, she didn’t mean it to happen. But it has happened now, and it’s what Keira does next that matters.

◆ Sound Design

I absolutely adore these adventures that flit about from location to location, because it gives the sound designer a chance to create a gorgeous and varied audio landscape (and if you want more proof of that, go listen to something like ‘Seasons of Fear’). Lee Adams really delivers when it comes to the sound design here.

Buzzing electricity comes from pylons that stretch right into the Bristol Channel, connecting up to a sub-ionic turbine. Bustling citizens inside of the alternate walled Bristol, using hover-cars to zip around the city, and horse drawn carriages to get around too. A Virginian Mammoth thumps around the confines of the city, roaring at the Doctor and Keira. In 13th century France, soldiers native to the era fight across the battlefield… against armoured tanks from several centuries in the future! Bullets ricochet past Keira’s head, as more anomalies fly through the temporal split. The bleeping of a temporal grenade. An ear-grating speaker system at the V&A Inter-galactic Spaceport informs travellers of the lost luggage policy. Bracing cold winds batter the Doctor and Keira at the North Ice Arctic Research Station. Pre-historic Ethiopia is filled with all sorts of exotic animals… including an angry mammoth that wants to flatten our dynamic duo! A piano playing inside of a bustling tavern in the Old American West. A huge rumbling comes from the ground, as a water spout turns into a tsunami… which will completely annihilate the city of Newground. Bath Abbey begins crumbling around one of the temporal splits. As the final temporal split goes haywire, alarms start blaring in the TARDIS, accompanied by the Cloister Bell.

◆ Conclusion

Oops! Sorry I accidentally destroyed everything you’d ever known or loved.”

The Battle of Crécy is infested with modern day tanks; 21st century Bristol is a walled city filled with both outdated and ultra-futuristic tech, surrounded by a wasteland. Time is cracking like ice on a pond, all thanks to Keira’s interference on Calandra. There is a chance to fix it, but our duo don’t have long.

‘Split Second’ is a wonderful adventure, but Lou Morgan does have a reputation for writing some utterly excellent scripts. It’s Doctor Who meets The Crystal Maze, as our new TARDIS team race to stop time shattering like an IKEA vase dropped on the pavement!

Review created on 5-05-24