The Last Resort

Roots: The insectoid Martians might be inspired by the Martians from Quatermass and the Pit. There are references to Escher and Microsoft.

Goofs: Why don't the Doctors who are stabbed to death regenerate? [Their injuries are too severe, probably to one of the Doctor's hearts].

If Jack's machine is a time machine, how does he travel back into the history of Mars, which would require a trip through space?

Continuity: Due to the state of the Vortex (see Time Zero and The Domino Effect), anyone who travels in time is duplicated, except for Sabbath. This includes the Doctor, Anji, and Fitz - the TARDIS is also duplicated. Circa 2000AD, Jack Kowaczski builds a time machine and travels back into the past. Impressed by the dignity of his father's Martian servant, millions of alternate versions of Jack travel back into the past of Mars in an attempt to warn the Martians that they will be enslaved during the twentieth century. Many of the versions of Jack went back too far and died on the hostile surface of Mars; their corpses decayed, releasing water and nutrients and changing the Martian environment so that it could support life. The gut bacteria from the dead Jacks evolved over millions of years into the insectoid Martians who were enslaved by humanity, and thus inspired the Jacks to travel back in time to try and warn them To protect themselves, they travelled back in time to prehistoric Earth and culled the early humans, using robotic machines. Occasionally, they would take a human and make them into one of their own to preserve the species. Following the disappearance of his son into the past, Aaron Kowaczski spent money on research into time travel to make it safe; he founded Good Times, Inc, a time travelling tourist company that organises trips into Earths history. The operators of Good Times, Inc believe that when they travel back in time they create alternate realities and therefore do not affect their own history; in fact, they are incorrect, further disrupting the fabric of space/time. Sabbath points out that cross-temporal sexual relationships compound the paradoxes that result. In an attempt to repair the damage to space/time, the Doctor and Sabbath attempt to deal with Jack Kowaczski before he invents his time machine; refusing to let Sabbath kill a baby, and instead abducts him, leaving him with an Egyptian woman in the past. He becomes Akhenaton, a man who later becomes duplicated by time travel and interacts with the Jacks, the Doctors and Sabbath [it is not clear whether this resolves matters or not the realities from which the Jacks originate become cut-off fragments of the universe unconnected from the main universe, suggesting some kind of stability as a result. It is possible that the Doctor's abduction of Jack in some way closes off the multiple paradoxical loops, but it could just start the entire chaotic cycle all over again].

Sabbath is the only time traveller who isn't duplicated by the process; Jack says that this is because he is the unique cipher. He makes the apes that crew the Jonah wear uniforms (see The Adventuress of Henrietta Street). Sabbath uses the aliases Khal and Mr. Day. He becomes able to travel in time at will, without the Jonah, because time is failing and the normal rules do not apply.

The Doctor again uses the alias Dr. John Smith. Once of the duplicate Doctors takes over the role of Cheops and is assassinated. The millions of duplicate Doctors, Fitzs, and Anjis who aren't killed in other ways die in the destruction of the Martian ship.

Anji gives a mobile phone to Fitz. He programmes it to ring to the tune of Help! by the Beatles, since only the Doctor and Anji are likely to call him on it.

Anji is starting to have qualms about her career as a futures trader, partly because of the irresponsible devotion to capitalism of Good Times, Inc.

Trix is still hiding in the TARDIS. She introduces herself to Iyeeye as Tee-Ex. She mistakenly thinks that the Doctor doesn't know she is in his TARDIS.

It isn't clear who the Time Police work for, although they are reluctant to kill an officer of Good Times, Inc. They often refer to the Statute of Time Travel Prevention ratified unanimously by Congress in 1943.

Links: Fitz refers to EarthWorld (Earthworld). He wistfully recalls Totterdown (Reckless Engineering). There is a reference to Juliette (The Adventuress of Henrietta Street).

Location: Jumpsville, America, 1852 and c2000AD; London 2003; Egypt during the reign of Cheops, 3000BC; prehistoric Earth, date unknown; all in various alternate timelines.

The Bottom Line: Incredibly complicated and possibly even nonsensical, The Last Resort succeeds as a result of Leonard's superb prose, his ability to juggle numerous paradoxes at once, and some great concepts. It raises more questions than it answers, but it makes the best use of Sabbath since Time Zero and (hopefully) paves the way for some resolutions to the alternate history arc in Timeless.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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