Roots: Paradise Lost. Catholic cosmology (Limbo and Purgatory) C'rizz's boulder-raising mental training recalls Yoda's training of Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. The Doctor mentions Harlequin and Il Dottore and calls Charley "Alice" while they contemplate a large looking glass. He quotes Measure For Measure Act 2, scene ii ("condemn the fault..."). Charley misappropriates Ecclesiastes 1:2 ("vanity, vanity saith the preacher") and sings 'Oranges and Lemons'. The Book of Revelations (a darkened world being likened to sackcloth over the sun) Nineteen Eighty-Four (The Ministry of Peace)
Technobabble: A Kolith 'weaver' spaceship uses pre-cognitive technology to fabricate a destination so the resulting paradox of two co-existing zones of identical space and time forces the source sector to cease to be and the new woven sector to instantaneously snap into the resulting hollow, taking the ship with it.
The dimensional probe lacks gravitic stabilisers and a breach induction loop, but comprises a Gyroscopic Core and a projection rod cluster.
The Doctor attempts to create a telepathic interference pattern through increased reverberation of the probe's turbines and reconfigures the projector core to 'fold' genetic material together rather that space and time.
Goofs: Surely C'rizz is technically more of a phylactery rather than a reliquary?
Double Entendres: "C'rizz — withdraw now!"
"It won't be long now, Journey's End"
Dialogue Disasters: 'The pain - it's like daggers in my mind!'
Dialogue Triumphs: "I'll have you know I do some of my best thinking while skulking"
"Tell me, did you get a higher school certificate in advanced breaking and entering?" "-top of the class"
Continuity: Utebbadon-Tarria is a (literally) hellish planet located in a remote dead-zone of space. Around it and seemingly brought there by the powerful forces about the planet is a spaceship graveyard filled with hundreds of derelicts, including a Bazali pulse carrier and a Kolith weaver. The planet itself is in a state of eternal night (due to an unexplained atmospheric anomaly), its suns last having illuminated the surface at least 3,000 years ago. Geothermal energy powers the hidden labs in the Citadel, while outside its boundaries locations mentioned include the Wood of Suicides. The people of Utebbadon-Tarria seem unaffected by an absence of passing time and share a belief in the Great Forsaker and a devilish counterpart (an 'energy amoeba') alternatively named Borarus the Formless, the Great Beast of Athligar and the Omega of Time and Space. Prophecies surrounding the world's existence tell of an end when a pilgrim from beyond sacrifices himself to Borarus, filling the Beast with such melancholy that it bursts into a shower of crimson tears, never to rise again. Then, and only then, will all torment come to an end.
The Citadel is formed from the remains of an experimental dimensional probe belonging to a 'Citadel Industries', an organisation conducting military experiments for the Ministry of Peace into simultaneous troop movements. A calamity with the caused the probe's failure (which the Doctor suggests may be due to a lack of gravitic stabilisers and a breach induction loop), inverting a localised area of the space-time continuum and creating the conditions upon Utebbadon-Tarria. Technology aboard the probe includes retinal scan-based security barriers and portable bio-scanners. Carbolic soap is still used as an antibacterial agent.
Hellions, also known as gremlins, are trans-dimensional parasites who home in on chaotic eddies in the probability stream. They feed off improbability; the larger the odds of something happening or not happening, the more palatable it becomes to them.
In the Church of the Foundation the Absolver is a hand-picked emancipator rewarded for obedience and total devotion with the power of absolution for any believer. The Doctor postulates that the Eutermesans, seeking immortality, weren't clever enough to achieve it so created a living vessel, C'rizz, that would preserve their thoughts and essences beyond death in the hope that future generations would solve the problem of eternal life. The 'absolver', an alleged reliquary possessed by C'rizz and containing those purported souls is actually the key to unlocking the multitude stored within him.
C'rizz's people believe the dreams they have immediately before waking are the most prescient — in his case he dreams of a blasted, fog-shrouded world calling for his help, and concludes that it is Utebbadon-Tarria. His necklace is made from the sun-bleached knuckle bones of scatterfish, creatures that live under rocks in the deserts of his home world.
The TARDIS has inside it a Mark IV British tank. Its quarternary (or possibly quinary) console room is a smaller, dustier version of the usual one. It hasn't been opened "in centuries" and the room may never have been used at all. Charley says it seems dusty, like an old lady's parlour. The TARDIS is susceptible to psychic forces. The Doctor has recently twice burnt out the TARDIS' reciprocation circuit, materialised it on the back of a giant prehistoric turtle, and nearly collided with a shiny, swirly burgundy blob he calls the Bertram. The TARDIS' Cloister Bell rings at a different modulation — a phenomenon which the Doctor says is unprecedented. Psychic contamination of the Ship produces chaotic internal reconfiguration and hallucinations. Regenerative circuitry engage to rebuild it.
Charley's blood type is AB negative.
The Doctor's favourite (theatrical) comic character is Il Dottore (naturally); he calls (rather revealingly) C'rizz "my own personal deus ex machina". He can identify human blood types by taste (see: Links) and owns a pair of moccasin shoes given to him by Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. He says that every culture in every galaxy has a concept of hell.
Links: The Next Life (C'rizz's moon stone pendant), The Last ("all things must die"), The Creed of the Kromon, Storm Warning. The Overseer offers the Doctor a hot sherva, which he finds delicious and which reminds him of some silver needle tea he once had in Tibet (either The Abominable Snowmen or the previous adventure referred to in the same story). This story leads directly into the opening scenes of The Girl Who Never Was.
Location: Utebbadon-Tarria, non-planetary space somewhere in the constellation of Aries.
The Bottom Line: "Charley, everybody leaves. Everybody. When it comes down to it, it's just me and the TARDIS."
Big Finish clears the decks (part two) with the demise of C'rizz. Sadly, a character in whom much was invested and little really paid off — he won't be missed. Absolution also commits the cardinal error of audios in being too visual and relying on characters standing around describing things as they happen. As a result, it's a bit of a mess, just when it's trying to matter. Shame.
LIFE INSIDE THE VORTEX
There is sufficient evidence in the audio stories to suggest that the time-space vortex itself is an ecosystem, albeit one based around the various and (one imagines) rare intrusions upon its space by travellers and beings from outside. We might therefore conclude that life inside the Vortex is as much based around strength and cunning or the idea of 'survival of the fittest' as on physical worlds. Nearly every creature encountered thus far exists to prey upon the unwary traveller of the Vortex's temporal expanse, such as the Vortisaurs, flying social reptiles which act like birds of prey in Storm Warning and feed on temporal energy from stricken time ships. Other creatures feed on the consequences of temporal instability: Absolution's Hellions are the 'gremlins' of the probability stream and may be an aspect of Vortex life, causing mishaps and upset by their own interaction with devices from outside their home; in some circumstances they intrude upon our universe, as does 'time corrosion' fungus, a virulent green living organism, seemingly sentient to a base level, infecting those ships (literally, in the cases of The Girl Who Never Was and perhaps also The Macros) who are insufficiently guarded to brush with the turbulent environment. Only the Tar-Modowk of No More Lies appear to be a recent arrival in the Vortex, introduced by a tremendous temporal accident and adapted to living in the temporal wastes, existing alongside the Vortisaurs which they likely use to hunt their prey, as always, the unfortunate victim of the Vortex's unpredictable wake.