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19 October 2008 @ 06:14 pm
audio review: BFA 53: "The Creed of the Kromon"  
BFA 53 The Creed of the Kromon

So in Scherzo, Charley got to have meaty introspection on how having chosen to go off with the Doctor out of love for him meant forever giving up the sort of love involving a husband and children. The position of lady of the house was really Charley’s social birthright, what she might always have expected to return to after adventuring (if indeed she wasn’t adventuring in the first place partly due to pursuit of a man—specifically the one she sought to meet up with in Shanghai). After all this, a story in which Charley’s chosen to become a human-ant hybrid, mother to scores of children who desperately need her, might have creepy poignancy. Sadly no, nothing’s made of Charley’s potentially interesting issues in The Creed of the Kromon.

This BFA left me with a lot of questions. Not the deeply thought provoking sort, more ‘things I would ask were this being workshoped.’

1) Why is a society controlled by a few female queens apparently super-patriarchal? All the decision-making of the Kromon was done by male managers. Does that make sense given the biological hierarchy of the insect world, confirmed by this audio? Why do the Kromon even want hybridized Queens? Is there some need to genetically innovate? Where are all their own, natural Queens?

2) Why does the Doctor not blink at all at the genocide of the entire Kromon race? Granted the slave rebellion of the Oroog is a natural result of their oppression, that he has little to do with, but still: it seems odd that he’s not even slightly bothered by the elimination of the entire race.

3) Isn't it great how this pocket universe still has a lot of basically humanoid life and parallel structures like Companies? Man, I'd been scared for a moment that we were going to do hard scifi or something--thank god, no, just Scherzo and a return to something very safe and done.

4) I thought C’rizz’s harping on how Charley Must Die was an interesting psychological defense: in a fit of indignant rage, C’rizz killed L’Da. If, as Charley’s not being /irretrievable/ shows us, he might well of saved her if he’d adhered to his monastic principles and acted less rashly, this insistence serves as a method of denying his own guilt. …but then no one ever brings up in the face of Charley’s recovery that oops, C’Rizz might have fucked up, and killed L’Da for nothing. So then it just turns into a weird belligerent insistence unmotivated by his character.

5) …which is a boring one. It’s been said before, but Really. C’rizz is pretty dull. Like a cheap movie-verse Nightcrawler from X-Men. …only 10x more dull and not the kid of Mystique and the Devil (probably—if that’s revealed next audio, don’t spoil me, team). Also why does he say of L’Da that they’ve turned her into a human-slug? Last I checked she wasn’t ‘human’ at all…

6) I am unimpressed by Charley’s miraculous quick physiological and psychological recovery from what amounts to massive invasive body modification. In a universe like Who’s, especially when you can’t see that universe for yourself due to medium, there must be real consequences attached to Dire Fates, or else everything feels too Children’s Teatime Program and the predicaments are invalid and uninteresting because we all just know the plucky Doctor and his jolly assistants are going to bounce right back as if nothing ever happened. And that’s bloodless entertainment—no one likes a matador who passes the bull too far from his own body.

7) The Doctor’s remarkably unconcerned about Charley in this. He wants her back and safe, but he’s calm and poised about the whole thing—weird given the emotional intensity of Scherzo. Here he just seems blasé.

8) Interstitial Guy (who I otherwise found rather interesting) has to info dump at the end. Hold up and listen to this crap about C'Rizz being interesting or something. And to do his best ‘Davros in Journey’s End’ impression by accusing the Doctor of having made C’Rizz violent or something, just by having said hello? I didn’t buy it in Journey’s End, and given how little Interstitial Guy knows the Doctor, and…well, what actually happened as far as C’Rizz, it makes even less sense now.

9) The Oroog: what is this sentient thing protesting ‘but I am an animal!’ for? What is his weird personality-free ‘oh let’s bring Charley back, I miss her, though we exchanged all of ten words’ thing? Why are there kindly creatures lurking in the deep that really enjoy helping lost Oroog to antidotes? That’s exceptionally convenient. Also this ONE friendly Oroog that Team (Absent) TARDIS had previously met being the one to find the antidote, and being apparently religious/philanthropic enough to go visit C’Rizz on his water wheel (cool torture, btw)—everything’s just coming up Divergent Universe Roses, isn’t it?

10) Pacing. Several conversations in this retrace each other, a lot of the action could easily be condensed—I didn’t realize until this episode how uncluttered a lot of the audios were, how largely free they were of the Classic!Who malady of ‘this six parter should have been four, tops’ syndrome. So generally well done, BFA, but here a bit grating.

11) Unless it’s REALLY well done in the upcoming audios, I don’t buy no one having a concept of time in this universe. They have a clear causal narrative of events, and generally static societies without a firm concept of dynamism/linear time are jolted into the recognition of one by imperial incursion a la the Company. So why not here?

12) Given how often it crops up in classic Sci Fi, some dudes must have a 'women pregnant with insects/reptiles' fetish. I mean obviously that's O_O, but really how else does one explain ALL those 50’s B-movies where insectile aliens impregnating human wimmins is a threat?

Conclusion: I probably would have been ho-hum about a decent audio after the OMGWTFBBQ!!1 that was Scherzo, but this was just lame. I mean I was making rolls of twenty out of the nets they use to collect the dates from palms at the time I was listening to this—my threshold for ‘will it entertain me?’ Was low. Low enough to answer the implorations of Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz. /Still/ The Creed of the Kromon did nothing for me.

ALSO: I think I would like Charley better if she kept her freaky ant womb and occasionally plopped out a bug baby as a companion on the TARDIS, because that would make her Interesting. "Some prefect Charley bullshit dialog--excuse me *pulls out screaming ant thing*--there we go, run along and play with your 500 brothers--as I was saying, But Doctor, I LOVE you!!"

EDIT: And what was with the weird alt-rock music? That was just odd.

aralias: eight is dramatic and a cartoonaralias on October 19th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
i like 'we have no concept of time'. i mean obviously - it's rubbish as you point out things do have cause and effect, but it is, things happened in the past and there is a future - but- it does sort of work later. you have to wait for next life for that to happen though. and not!grace is there. which is very exciting.

c'rizz... is still boring, but they do deal with the death of l'da a lot, so hold on.

i also quite like the oroog, but otherwise kromon is rubbish. which you know.

x_losficx_losfic on October 19th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
I REALLY think it could be cool in theory. Like the weird Shakespeare Code word magic could be. But then... no, they don't really do that, do they?

*Shrug* Next Life is just three audios and the rest of Twilight Kingdom, so not terribly far off. Where are you now?

Also, my internet tonight remains tragic. Back at that building site again. But have you seen this? http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/6429358.html Made of cute.

Eh, I don't think I'd be entertained by them /harping/ on the death of L'Da, though I'm sure that's up next--I just wanted some in-the-moment psychologizing of an otherwise weird choice.

But yes: Kromon. Rubbish. Indeed.
Bagheera: confusedbagheera_san on October 19th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
See, I told you it was bad. #6 was what annoyed me the most.

Also, about the Oroog and the genocide: it's like this audio was written by someone ridiculously anthropocentric (and for a sci-fi writer this is rather ridiculous). The Kromon are not people because they're insects, so the genocide is okay. And "animal" is sort of an odd category when you're writing about aliens. On Earth, animal means "any life-form that is not a plant, fungus, microbe etc.". In the cultural sense usually it's distinguished from "human" and then it means non-sentient. But if you try to transport it into an extraterrestrial setting, then it doesn't work: either you still keep the biological distinction, and then the Kromon and the Eutermisans and the Oroog are all animals (and so are the Doctor and Charlie). Or you keep the cultural distinction, and then no-one is an animal. But obviously the writer thought "Eutermisans look humanoid, so they're people, Oroog look like moles or whatever so they're animals." How naive is that?

11)here's actually a scene in one of the other audios when C'rizz asks the Doctor how long it'll be until something happens "minutes, hours days?" Hello, wtf. If there's no time, then there certainly are no minutes. Also, why did anyone thing telling stories in a universe without time would be a good idea? Stories need time. Narrating our lives is why we need time in the first place or how we conceptualise it.
x_losfic: My Sandwich!x_losfic on October 19th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
I think the anthropocentric!issues were among the biggest casulaties of this audio--like that Five episode where he can kill whole swathes of Daleks but wibbles over killing /Davros/ because Davros has a little face. Waaaay to look either racist or ridiculous, Five.

See I always feel the 'non-sentient' definition to hold in sci-fi, generally (excepting the equal sense that since we are all biological non-plant, microbe, etc. creatures, we're all animals)--it's just convenient for discussing off-world fauna? But right, this was like scifi written aaaaages ago or something, before anyone came along to trouble the idea that all intelligent alien life worth associating with would look mostly like us.

I see your point re: time/narration, but I still think the idea of a people without a concept of time encountering someone whose life is predicated on an instinctual knowledge and educated contemplation of time could be interesting. For like ONE episode. If it were handled with grace and done REALLY well. Not a whole alt-universe arc where it's only sloppily mentioned as 'oh yeah, and also there was no time.' That's just cheap.
Sageshobogan on October 22nd, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)
I always assumed the Doctor considered the Daleks less sapient than Davros, hence having an easier time killing them. To him they're like...tragic killer bees, or something.

I also thought Eight's apathy was supposed to be a characterisation point, but I might be giving too much credit. I actually haven't finished the divergent universe audios yet, because...it really hasn't lived up to its potential, for me, beyond Scherzo. Well, and Natural History of Fear, but I don't think they needed a different universe for that.

I know C'rizz's issues are dealt with in The Faith Stealer. I...should really finish that one.
x_los: The Green Death--wait.x_los on October 25th, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
To him they're like...tragic killer bees, or something.

That...is a better explanation, and lets me have 'not a complete dick!'Doctor, and as such I cling to it as drowning woman to raft.

Eh, Id but apathetic characterization, but it's just uneven, isn't it? Sometimes he REALLY REALLY cares, other times he's like 'well that's sad, I quite liked those guys.' I just need Eight to make up his mind about the way he cares about Charley and to do that consistently, 'not in my otp backyard' angst aside--this is a good writing issue, and as such bugs me almost more.

Eh on Faith Stealer: it's one bit of the complicated mosaic of wtfery that is C'rizz's religious background--again, my consistency. I needs it.
Sageshobogan on October 25th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
*pulls you on, offers hot chocolate* I'm so happy when I fanwank makes sense to other people.

It's been a while, but - yeah. All of it is clumsy and uneven and jagged, which might be on purpose, and might just be shoddy writing, and I suspect a bit of both, really. Eight constantly changing his mind about his feelings does make some sense, though, I think.

Should I bother finishing or just hit up the Reference Guide?
x_losx_los on October 25th, 2008 06:47 am (UTC)
Eight as fundamentally ambivalent is an interesting idea.

For the Div!universe? I'd listen to The Next Life, which makes no sense anyway even if you have heard the whole thing, and Reference Guide it all the way.
amaresu on October 19th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Here via the daily
The no time thing is crap and continues to be crap throughout the div!universe stuff.

I'm pretty sure (It'd been awhile since I've listened to this one) that the Kromon queens were dying which is why they were trying to make hybrids.

The L'da issues are dealt with later on, The Faith Stealer springs to mind.

I don't want to spoil things for you so I'm just going to say that Kromon is a bit shit, but things get better. A lot of your issues with C'rizz will actually make quite a bit of sense later on once you learn more about his species and the Church of the Foundation. The Next Life is really quite amazingly awesome for that.
x_los: The Green Death--wait.x_los on October 25th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
Re: Here via the daily
*nods* And then for one brief moment re: cyclical time being something a TARDIS can't fix on in the last bit it's okay, but you're like 'where was that in the rest of this thing, hm?'

Er. Was there any reason the Queens were dying? I can't remember one--and that'd be odd, unless it was connected to the water shortage or something. ALSO--why do they need C'rizz to be L'Da's 'escort'? To be part of a 'royal couple'? If he's not contributing to the process what's he doing? It's not like the Kromon need him to stand around looking pretty and bolstering the illusion of heterosexual normativity or something--Kormon don't give a crap.Plus when your babies are all ants it's pretty clear that C'rizz is Not The Daddy.

See, I liked a lot about Next Life, Clusterfuck Out Of The Divergent Universe that it was, but having listened right up until The Girl Who Never Was, I'm still a bit ? re: C'rizz's religion. He's regected his religion entirely! No, he hasn't. But he's not maleable anymore! Except he is. That guy's his dad, check the bitchin' moonstone--v. convenient this. Except that'll never come up again. ALSO C'rizz is a reliquary--why'd they let L'Da's family buy him out of the church when he was that dude's son and had the moonstone of awesometude and was this super-special reliquary thing? Who knows! How did C'rizz get this stuff from the Div Universe onto the TARDIS when they were busy running through the hole back hole and into Davros's crazy, crazy lap? Don't ask! C'rizz is telepathic and murderous and maybe blinds that dude and is maybe appalled by the Doctor's murderousness and--look, C'Rizz is whatever this audio needs him to be, okay? C'Rizz is Really Convenient.

This is not to diss on the character--there's several things about him that might have been terribly interesting. I like the idea of a personality that molds itself to those around him--if that had been better led up to and used. I like the idea of L'Da having been redemptive, and killing her being a horrible means of reopening this psychological wound. But none of it except L'Da death=bad was sufficiently developed, or consistently explored. I wish someone had sat down and outlines this character, his abilities and background like they were making an RP character and wanted to prevent godmodding. To steal from [Bad username: aralias"], it's like audios with C'rizz are a big potluck, wherein people bring whatever they think is really cool about him/what they think they can make best to dinner. While this is a delicious plan for dinner, it's a pretty confusing plan for a character.
Pretty Arbitraryprettyarbitrary on October 20th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
O.o See, there are multiple reasons that Doctor!romance does not work. The weirdness of the crap they do to romantic interests in sci-fi is definitely among them.
x_los: Brig is just a dubious person.x_los on October 25th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
What, you don't have an urge to read about the Doctor and Charley's insect babies? You're missing out, I swear..

At least no one Eight's macked on ia secretly actually the Doctor's sister.