James Goss’ story for this penultimate episode of Gallifrey introduces us to a later incarnation of Romana herself, played by Buffy star Juliet Landau, known in the story as the Lady Trey (something I’ll adopt here for clarity). Right from the start, there are questions about Trey’s motives, and indeed her very presence, with the character proving to be every inch as clever and resourceful as Romana, capable of pressing the buttons of not just her predecessor, but everyone else around.
One of Romana’s strengths throughout the Gallifrey series has been her determination to do what she believes to be right, even against opposition, and it is that single-mindedness that can equally be a weakness. Narvin and Leela aren’t comfortable around Trey, but, as ever with Narvin, his loyalties appear to be to the concept of a president, rather than the person holding the office.
The opening conversation between Romana and Trey cleverly mirrors that between the Doctor and the cowled Time Lord at the start of Genesis of the Daleks (appropriate, given that that was meant to be the start of the Time War, according to Russell T Davies). However Goss’s borrowings don’t stop there – there are quotes from Logopolis, The Five Doctors and more, (although not the one from The Curse of Fatal Death that I really expected after a line about looking after a place in someone’s absence), and by the end, they’re just a little bit too much of a speed bump.
That aside, this ramps up the tension, and leaves us with all to play for in the final story…
Verdict: Introducing a key new character at this stage could be risky, but successfully mixes everything up. 7/10