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After escaping from a Sargasso Sea in space, the Doctor and Ace are horrified when a Dalek enters the console room…
It’s an idea that’s been played with a few times – particularly with this most manipulative Doctor: what happens if the Doctor knows that the timeline in which he has arrived is wrong, but to do something about it might cause more damage than letting it continue? There was a whole arc about this in the New Adventures which was part of the cause of the rift between the Doctor and Ace in that continuity.
Blackman keeps the readers’ sympathy where she wants it: fans will know that the Doctor caused the explosion of Skaro, yet it was back for the TV Movie, and in the new series, so there’s always the possibility that she has produced a story that fits seamlessly into continuity. Things aren’t that simple, and there’s perhaps more of a moral dilemma sewn into this short tale than the majority of the stories that have come before.
While Blackman gets the personality of both the Doctor and Ace spot on, the dialogue for the Time Lord feels just slightly stilted, but that’s a slight quibble in a story that captures the era so well.
Verdict: Some surprises along the way in an intriguing tale. 8/10