Doctor Who Unbound from Big Finish are “What if?” style adventures – things that wouldn’t happen in-canon, but contain interesting themes to explore. I’ve listened to a couple before – Masters of War and Sympathy for the Devil – in which David Warner’s 3rd Doctor didn’t become scientific adviser to UNIT but he did team-up with the Brigadier. These were two excellent adventures. Others in the range pose questions such as – what if the Doctor had never left Gallifrey, or if a (female) Doctor had escaped the justice of the Time Lords.
He Jests At Scars poses the question of what if the Valeyard had succeeded in gaining the 6th Doctors lives after the TV adventure Trial of a Time Lord.
Michael Jayston is back as the Valeyard, and he’s teamed up with a new companion. The Timelords have given the Valeyard his reward and he is now the Doctor – complete with his memories of past lives, and his future regenerations.
The adventure is played out on several levels. The most interesting one is the Valyeard, having “won”, now exploiting that which he’s won. Less interesting is that of the original 6th Doctor’s companion – Mel Bush – in her quest to “save” the real 6th Doctor.
This latter story thread doesn’t really go anywhere, because the story doesn’t really have an ending. It just poses further questions. As a result, Mel’s quest is all a bit pointless.
It’s the former thread that’s the most interesting and enjoyable. With the freedoms and memories of the Doctor, the Valeyard goes on a spree of fulfilling his heart’s desires. This involves gaining from past experiences, rather than just saving the underdog, and exploiting the ability to travel back through time to change things on a whim.
During this spree of the Valeyard’s, we revisit/name drop known stories such as Logopolis, Colony in Space, Terror of the Vervoids, Genesis of the Daleks, as well as Silurians, Dodo, Peri, Ace, etc.
*** SPOILERS ***
The crux of the story revolves around the Valeyard playing such “fast and loose” with the past that he ends up killing the Doctor’s fourth incarnation – so he can’t actually exist (the old paradox chestnut). Before time can “catch up to him”, he goes further back in time to try and prevent himself from causing the incident. Then it’s pointed out that, to know about the place where the incident took place, he must have visited there once before, and this continues…
Eventually, the Valeyard’s schemes imbue him with such awesome power that he can do absolutely anything with barely a thought. At this point, he realises that the more he changes things the more they get out of hand. His greatest prize becomes his greatest fear.
*** END OF SPOILERS ***
It’s an intriguing story but one that has no real conclusion – as, I suppose, can happen with these out-of-canon stories. That said, whereas I wanted more adventures with David Warner and Nicholas Courtney when I listened to the previous Doctor Who Unbound adventures, this one would have no scope for a sequel – as enjoyable though it is to have Michael Jayston playing a “rogue Doctor”.
Unlike the other Doctor Who Unbound stories I’ve listened to so far, this one is a single-disc 79 minute adventure.