Okay, okay, when it comes to a season that already had two 'event' stories with three others of the 'normal' variety, one of those event stories so big that it tries to integrate every still-living cast member of the show into one ludicrously long plot, you can understand that the finale won't seem too big. In fact, it will inevitably seem so trifling next to the self-consciously 'big' muck at the start of the season that you might as well make it as trad and trivial as possible to save time. Even though it means that the season unarguably ends with a whimper, I see the logic behind that.
But THEN... to start the next season, a season that only actually has four stories in it, with a story with exactly the same scope and relevance.... I don't even know what that is? Chutzpah? Hubris? Frigging insanity? I can't be arsed to actually go on Google and research how long they had to prepare this season, how many months exactly they had to write a good debut story for a, but that time was probably all spent cyber-stalking Ewen Campion-Clarke, copying everything he wrote into a notepad before sticking it into a manilla envelope and sending it to RTD with "RIP THIS SHIT OFF!" written on the side in big letters. Well, that's what Ewen himself tells me, and this season is terribly thought out, so it all checks out. I realise that Gary Russell was concentrating on The Next Life at this point (And we all know how well that turned out, hey?) but some forethought would have been handy here..
This intro may lead one to believe that Faith Stealer is bad. Well, it depends on context - as a story it's good. As a season opener it's DEAR GOD WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?
One of its roles as season opener is to give the audience a taste of what the oncoming year of stories may bring. It only fulfills this role with regards to one facet of the show - C'rizz, as he goes batshit insane. Yes, all of those of you who desperately want to hear "C'rizz, kill me!" and "I'm sorry my love... but this HAS TO BE!!!" again and again and again until your ears begin to bleed - this is the season for you! Oh, sorry, I suppose that was a bit insensitive of me, considering that you're all in Big Finish's imagination.
Anyway, in a plot twist so left field that its nearly worthy of Nev "Peri is a teenaged mother and functional retard" Fountain, the Kro'ka actually does something helpful and points the Doctor and Charley to a place that could do C'rizz the world of good. The sinister laughing after he does so suggests this is yet another completely frigging deranged 'experiment' of his and we are possibly meant to care. I think that's the last we see of him this story which is a very good thing.
Now, the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz arrive in the Multihaven, and the quality of the story from here on is directly proportional to the obviousness with which it has been written for the Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem - very high! The three, being all jolly-good friends again, arrive in The Multihaven, which is basically a stock market trading in religions. A scene that tells you straight up that, unlike any of the last season at all, this story is going to be charming, funny, and understated, is one of the earliest when the three arrive and are interviewed by Assisstant Bordenan about their religion - when they realise that they can't be accepted having no religion, the Doctor and Charley explain that they are The Tourists, who worship the Lord C'rizz and ritually have a pot of tea every morning. Yeah, it loses something in print but there hasn't been anything like this since... well, I guess since the softer moments of Seasons of Fear.
Religion is a topic that DW tends to shy away from, because in spite of the fact that everything about the show makes it clear that there is no God and the Doctor would find any of our Earthly religions a complete joke, there are still people like the DWADs around who freak me out, by being very Christian and Doctor Who fans. And some of these people have, honest to... er, God, complained about Big Finish's atheist bias. Allow me to blaspheme - Jesus Christ! You honestly think that a thousand-year old bloke from another planet with the mastery of time travel, who constantly states that he doesn't believe in magic and that science is the only truth, who has seen an unimaginably vast array of worlds with their own systems of worship, is going to show up in your planet, in your country, by your church, get handed a pamphlet by your sorry arse, read through it, and then say "Well, that sounds about right. When do I start worshipping?" If so, you disgust me.
I have to applaud Graham Duff for having a story about religion with its tongue planted so firmly in cheek that it's impossible for anyone bar George Pell and Shiekh Taj Al-Din Hamed Abdallah Al-Hilali to be offended. (And given the fact that Al-Hilali appeared on The Chaser alongside Anthony Mundine, he gets the benefit of my doubt and I assume he'd be cool with it) There's many inventive and humourous religions at work in the Mutlihaven - the worshippers of Whoops the god of accidents, those who believe that salvation can be found in the Universe's one source of perfection - music, and the Bishop Parash who runs the church of... erm, Calbari? Which is funny because it's just a weed that sells really well, hence 'economic miracle' . I'm writing this like a month after hearing this, you need to realise. But there's some other wacky cults around, you can bet on it.
The font of all villainy in this story is an odious creep named Lan Cadre, who we know is the badguy from the start beyond his mixed camp-and-menacing old guy voice, due to the fact that he's the only character who doesn't have any funny lines. (Well, except C'rizz) He is the grand master of the Church of Lucidity, which worships the crackling ball Hermaculite which, curiously enough, lives in a burnt-out wardrobe bigger on the inside than out.. he also makes crystals fall out of people's skulls. Okey-dokey...
It doesn't take long for Cadre to turn the visiting Bishop Parash into a gibbering loony who acts like a five year-old, and much less time to make C'rizz completely insane. The real problem, however, is that Cadre is, completely predictably, taking over the entire Multihaven!
The Doctor, bizarrely, is still concerned with C'rizz's wellbeing, even after C'rizz attempts to strangle Charley to death. For a second time. Getting to be a bit of a habit, old boy, but strangely enough Charley seems quite unfazed. Anyway, after the Kro'ka's suggestion for helping C'rizz turned out to be not-so-brilliant the Doctor decides that the obvious candidate would be the Bordinan's personal physician.
Who turns out to be a psychopathic mofo named Garfolt who shouts out "I'M GOING TO TORTURE YOU AND HAVE FUN DOING IT!!" the instant he meets C'rizz. I have no idea why Garfolt is in the story, why he has so many torture devices, why he decides to use all of them on C'rizz, or how the hell he got hired as the Bordenan's physician. But I love him. I'm not sure if the C'rizz torture scenes were meant to be side-splittingly entertaining as they ended up or whether it's a side effect of Neil Bett's Tekker-esque performance, but I get the distinct vibe that Duff isn't a fan of the character and decided to incur his wrath in an immature and entirely gratuitous manner. And I like it.
This is the problem with Faith Stealer, though... the plot's a bit of a mess. C'rizz's mental breakdown is ultimately irrelevant to the rest of proceedings save for a reason for him to be shunted around in a rather painful and angsty-subplot. All the talk of the TARDIS is really irrelevent as well. There are a great many scenes that are massively entertaining but don't add anything to proceedings. It's like Duff had a thin plot but felt the need to add padding.
But then there's the curious thing... the story ends in 'blink and you miss it' mode. The explanations for what's going on with the skull-crystals, what Hermaculite is, WHY Cadre is doing any of this shit are over lightning quick. And then the Doctor points out that Cadre doesn't even really exist, causing him to go "Oh shit!" and vanish which is completely baffling I can tell you, and, from memory, the traditional explosion followed by the Doctor appointing a random person he met during the course of the story to become the new ruler of this civilisation. Trad or what? Most bizarrely of all, the idea that the Hermaculite Cabinet could be the TARDIS is barely flagged up at all by the cast. Whuh?
Anyway, Faith Stealer is a mess, but a very funny and entertaining mess which puts it up over the last three releases easily. A nice story to just pop on for a charming little listen. Again, not arc material, but who wants it in this arc?
So... five stories into the Alternate Universe arc and there has been precisely zero stories that couldn't have been set in the 'regular' Universe. For a moment there I thought Scherzo counted, but then I stopped and thought and realised that even though it utilises the Divergent Universe well as a plot detail, it could actually have been done with the Doctor and Charley being stranded from the TARDIS via some other way in the beginning and landing in the middle of the experiment. So. Bit disappointing that.
The Last, ironically, is the first story that could only be set in the Divergent Universe. Not because the fact that this is a parallel Universe is anyway integral or even particularly important to the plot, but simply because at no other time at all would you get away with this shit.
Despite a fairly healthy running time, it's my estimation that about 50% of the story is actually taken up with nothing but overlong and pompous speeches from a character I dub Queen Bitch for obvious reasons, a stock 'ominous winds' sound effect and the shrieking and twanging of a poorly-tuned sitar that plays on loop, serving as the incidental music for the entire story. This soundtrack serves as, what, the first six minutes of episode one. A gripping start to proceedings.
This is followed by the Kro'ka tediously gloating at the Doctor, something that was quite dull when he first appeared, and I have no idea what he is, or even could be gloating about. He's stopped referring to experiments mercifully, so we're not expected to believe that this has anything to do with anything vaguely important, but he still persists in dumping the Doctor at random locations on Bortrasoye and letting him run amok. To quote Paul McGann himself "Oh, wow - I mean, wow, that's REALLY clever!!!"
Essentially, after the Doctor bags out the Kro'ka enough for the ghost-frog to vanish in a huff, the Doctor, Charley and C'rizz wander around a post-apocalyptic nightmare world complete with inexplicable random earth tremors and relentless acid rain, commenting on the fact that it isn't really very nice. Then a building falls on them. Then they get rescued, except for C'rizz because even people who've never met him and know nothing about him don't like him. He gets to meet this guy who is really obviously a ghost, due to the fact that he talks ultra-creepily, is named after an angel's song and disappears/reappears all the time, but we're seriously not meant to work it out until the end of the next episode. Thank you for that vote of confidence as to your audience's intelligence. And the episode ends when Charley announces she's paraplegic.
If anyone made it this far without being majorly pissed off at this story, this should be the point where they crack, unless they are ridiculously optimistic. Everyone knows India Fisher is in the next two stories. So if you believe that the writers will go to the effort of having Charley in a wheelchair for the remaining two stories before giving her a graceful exit, knock yourself out in "BF-actually-think-before-writing-these" land. For the rest of us, it's all too obvious that a gigantic reset button is going to be smacked on sometime soon. It's just a dreadful countdown to When...
Basically, the rest of this story is a heap of icky and trite moralising about war mixed along with the most half-arsed 'political commentary' that I have EVER heard - failing dismally because the nation is populated entirely by 2D-ciphers. The Minister for War and The Minister of Defense seem to have three bits of dialogue a piece they just word different in every scene. There's a Nurse who does the things nurses do. Requiem does nothing but say ghostly, vaguely ominous nothings in C'rizz's ear. Landskar is quite obviously not what he seems, which we know because in his first scene some guy's all like "Hey, I think he's not what he seems" and he goes for the longest without being killed off. And then there's Queen Bitch, the Queen who is a total Bitch and has nothing vaguely credible to her character, forcing any 'hard-hitting' elements of the portrayal of life in a nightmare nuclear landscape to evaporate entirely - due to the quite simple fact that if any country elects a woman as droolingly-deranged, obviously psychotic, arrogant, deluded, with such boring and meaningless never ending fucking speeches as her they deserve everything they get. Up to and including genocide in the face.
This is amplified when Queen Bitch starts killing people left right and centre in a very obvious and conspicuous manner, and nobody thinks of, say, JUST KILL THE BITCH! There's like a dozen people left aside in the entire world - hmm, should we let this deranged, trigger happy bitch who caused the holocaust in the first place live? A clue - YOU ARE RETARDED! WHO WROTE THIS? GARY HOPKINS? YOU HAVE PROBLEMS! SERIOUS PROBLEMS!!!
To my disappointment the final disc turns out not to consist entirely of humourously inept trailers for upcoming releases, and there actually is a Part Three and Four. FUCK! Let's see... the Doctor calls C'rizz a loony non-stop for seeing ghosts (even though other people see the exact same ghosts), everyone decides to get a rocket ship out of there, and then Queen Bitch kills Charley and C'rizz.
It's after this that the Doctor finally gets some balls, and yells his brain out at Queen Bitch, about how he does not care that she is a Queen, for her Bitch quotient is far greater. He even goes so far as to claim that she is the only person that he's ever met that he has ever truly hated. It seems a big claim to make, but the character is so fucking irritating you find it quite easy to believe. Besides, the Doctor's also quite keen in speaking in absolutes when his temper's going so it's very easy to excuse all round.
The Doctor still doesn't kill her then. Instead a volcano opens up under her feet. Well. That was satisfying said in a sarcasting tone of voice.
Now Landskar pops up out of nowhere as he is wont to do and annoucnes WHY exactly he is not what he seems - he is the spiritual representative of the entire planet and... screw it. He's a god. As in 'deus'. As in a Deus Ex-Machina. He goes on about some shit about how everyone has to die before things can be mended, and Queen Bitch was meant to be the last. The Doctor is sick of this shit and headbutts a 500-megatonne warhead.
When the smoke clears - lo and behold! The city is filled with happy people celebrating a new peace treaty! OH, how joyous! And look, Queen Bitch is even still in charge, except it's magically now a NICE Queen Bitch! Oh, glorious day! This brilliant piece of storytelling moved me to tears and made me wonder as to why more people did not use the brilliant, most satisfying form of resolution.
Jesus Christ did PMG get some duds or what? The poor guy. He could have been doing Sharpe audio dramas instead of this shit... thankfully we're given a quick and easy option to wash our ears out with:
Oh my. It seems all this time it was a woman's touch that this twisted arc needed. Albeit one with a guy's name. Noted EDA author Lloyd Rose takes a long hard look at the borderline retarded setup for the Divergent Universe given in Kromon and, unlike every single other writer in the interim, nods and says "I can work with that". She then looks at the other stories and sees how this has been built on. She sees that it hasn't. And she probably rolls her eyes, mutters "Men!" and gets to work, weaving spun-gold from her laptop like that chick from Rumplestiltskin.
The entire story is about what should have happened a while ago - a full-on duel between the Doctor and the Kro'ka. Why the hell HAS the Doctor been cow-towing to this pissweak Ghost-frog for the past five releases? I have no idea but NOW HE'S SERIOUS! He's hitting the Kro'ka where it hurts... by falling asleep.
No, I'm serious, this is cool: the Kro'ka is left powerless when the Doctor sleeps, so his teleport-y powers become meaningless and he's left begging Charley and C'rizz to wake him up. And, as you can imagine, they take the piss out of Kro'ka for about five minutes straight.
The Kro'ka gets serious and prepares... THE MIND BLAST! I gather it's like a sand blasting but directed at a Mind. But PMG can't help but snigger at it like me and dares the Kro'ka on. The Kro'ka unleashes his powers... and ends up captive in the Doctor's own mind. Where the Doctor takes the piss out of him, roughly interrogates him, and finds out his secrets. Now, to his delight, the Doctor knows the secrets of Interzone travel and pisses off to find the Kro'ka's employers and tell them about the improper materials on show at thekrokaistotallynotgay.blogspot.com
When the Doctor gets to the zone, though, he has a new enemy to deal with: HIMSELF! Specifically, the Lieutenant Bush side of his personality (Eeyore) and the Withnail & I side (Tigger!) have split themselves into two different people. Leaving the original intact, gaping at them and saying "What... the... fuck?"
The Doctor doesn't want to be stuck with himself though, and so runs off to the Castle on the horizon where he's sure those pesky Divergents are, leaving Happy Doctor with C'rizz and Grumpy Doctor with Charley for maximum shenanigan power.
The story has rather an obvious fault: it is too good. It sticks out of the arc like a sore thumb, and its quality really throws its progenitors into a depressingly sharpe relief.
Symptomatic of this is the fact that the Doctor knows that the Kro'ka has interfered with the environment that they're exploring because elements of Charley and C'rizz's homelands have appeared, along with relics of their own Universe. This would actually have impact if the preceding stories had actually gone to any effort to make this seem like a different Universe at all, but sadly they didn't. There's also the fact that the Doctor gives the Kro'ka such a fierce smackdown here begs the question of why did he wait so long to do it, and so on and so forth.
Because of these things, Caerdroia can only really be enjoyed if you ignore the stories that have preceded it, but then you have the problem of this being the only story at all that takes the arc seriously and actually RELIES on the established subplots and mythos, so it can't be listened to in isolation. So there's quite a bit of mental acrobatics required to enjoy it proper. But they're worth it.
I may even like Caerdroia more than I did Scherzo, incredible as that claim seems, given its adventurish atmosphere and truly novel concept of a multi-Doctor story with just the one Doctor. And an appropriate comparison given that they work much the same way - Paul McGann, India Fisher, Conrad Westmaas and Stephen Perring are the entire cast. As Perring was a regular in every sense for this season, it makes this story once again a regular-cast only affair, and sound design is used fairly sparingly. Impressive, then, that the canny writing manages to create an epic feel to proceedings, but then again that could be due to the miniscule scope of the other stories in this arc..
When the Three Doctors band together and defeat the Kro'ka's plans, revealing with gleeful nonchalance that he didn't have them fooled for a second, and then go on to find the TARDIS that the Divergents stole all that time ago, and C'rizz does the "It's bigger on the inside!" bit for the first time in seven stories (although Charley acknowledges it for the first time as well, thanks to Nick Briggs' Season 1 atrocity) it's a very uplifting ending. Good enough for you to ride that high to a place where the next story doesn't actually exist and write your own arc finale in your mind. Heehee.... Ice Warriors.
Bafflingly, though, this incredible story was released in a CD cover so vomit-inducingly designed that The Doctor Who Reference Guide page actually has a fan made cover to divert your eyes from the original. Merciful and just.
The Next Life
This is so much worse than Creed of the Kromon. I was beginning to doubt my own slating of this as PMG's absolute worst, but on attempting to listen to this a second time I stand by my decision like a giant piece of balsa wood on a sinking ship. See, Kromon is bad due to simple badness - a combination of utter blandness with a smidgeon of ignorance about the show. The Next Life is offensively bad, because everything in the story is shoved right in your face, and the story comes right after Caerdroia which actually aimed to do something with all the retarded ideas in 'the Divergent universe' and effectively uses that story as toiletpaper by smearing it with all of it's fecal-esque ideas.
On a second listen-through and in context, the sheer horrible laziness of the entire story is so hideously clear - Gary Russell doesn't give a shit about this, he really doesn't. Once you know how everything ends and what's happened so far, thousands upon thousands of continuity errors become obviously. I refuse to believe this story had a second draft - Russell has typed this up Sparacus-style I'm sure. Don't believe me? Well, why does Keep, who is actually an entire village of people, bribe an eight-year old girl with magic tricks to help her find the key to our universe? Obviously a hundred people isn't enough, he needs that extra eight-year old girl! And obviously, if she is unable to find the key that he himself, Paul Darrow, and 100 others are unable to find that is INEXCUSABLE and he has to kill her instantly. And even though he has 100 followers under his complete mind control he needs to frame the Doctor for her murder.
The exposition is the clumsiest I've ever seen, er, heard. Listen to C'Rizz and Charley calmly describe what they're seeing in the TARDIS scanner as they hurtle into certain death. Hear L'da mystifyingly describe every element of C'Rizz's own culture to him, when she has no reason to believe he's ever travelled somewhere other than Bortresoye. Oh, and the continuity errors, did I mention that? The Kromon are from an alien planet now, with spaceships! Hah! That must be why they needed the Doctor to build their first-ever rocket ship and why C'rizz knew them all then. Despite even mentioning that 'Time' is an alien concept to him in the same scene C'rizz specifically mentions that the Kromon attack 20 minutes into his wedding ceremony. GAAAAH!
I have to admit I haven't actually made it past the first episode on this attempted re-listen. Nor do I intend to. Briefly I fooled myself into thinking that the later episodes were better. But no, this is a falsehood. I'm sure they are worse because logically the gibberish contradictions and continuity errors would simply get worse and the amount of Stephen Conicard's 'French accent' in evidence increases exponentially with each episode (Dear God ARE THERE NO FRENCH ACTORS IN ENGLAND?!?)
I really can't logically explain the way this is done, aside from Ewen's theory that with Christopher Eccleston annoucned everyone making this shit stopped caring, which is almost certainly true. I mean... Gary Russell seems to have decided that he's got Daphne Ashbrook, Paul Darrow and Don Warrington for this one (*Breaks down in tears at the criminal waste of glorious talent*) so he doesn't need to actually work on the script. Wow. Fucking awesome logic. Maybe you could have put at least one of them in the first episode. Okay, Warrington appears at the cliffhanger or something, but that's just not good enough.
Probably the best thing I can say to condemn this is this: the first episode is pretty much entirely taken up by C'rizz and Charley having lengthy dream/flashback sequences controlled by the Kro'ka. With the Kro'ka typing everything their memories say into a keyboard (?!), and occassionally getting bored and typing in "Haha, I'm evil". Just to make this more intense and gripping, both Charley and C'rizz realise that this is clearly a load of crap about a minute into their flashback scenes. GAAAH!
The absolute worst thing, among so many bad things, is that The Next Life, if really, really, REALLY good could have actually saved the abysmal arc it caps off - at least to a degree. After all, Caerdroia did so much to turn things around. But listening to this load of crap its all too clear that as much thought has gone into this as the average Ben Chatham story.
No fist. Not even a knuckle.
Much has been made of the sheer terribleness of the Divergent Arc. It's easy to see why. The removal of the TARDIS is irrelevant to almost all the stories, for the simple reason that the Kro'ka serves the exact same purpose, the only difference being that he functions in a much more contrived manner. Because of this their is only really one 'gimmick', and it comes in the form of an incredibly irritating and quite pointless character.
Add to this the fact that the first story set in the Divergent Universe proper, as opposed to a freaky lab secluded somewhere around, is in fact the most trad runaround that BF have ever done and you have some very serious problems.
Not many people seem to have speculated on how the arc could be improved. For a starters, I'd say 5 years was ridiculously ambitious, and I'll plump for 3 instead with my estimation. Here we go:
Zagreus: Give the punters what they want - all three Doctors battle against the threat to the Universe. No proving how clever you are. Same result.
Scherzo: Leave well enough alone.
Creed of the Kromon: Here's the big one ... against all their will Charley and the Doctor get separated upon entering the Interzone. Charley is kidnapped by the Kro'ka, so she is stuck with all his gloating, whilst the Doctor lands in his first 'experiment'. He undergoes a sensory bombardment - to see how his temporal sense react to information leaked into the Interzone from Eutermes. To the Doctor's confusion, the lack of time makes events impossible to identify - the events he experiences are those of C'rizz's bombed wedding, thus saving us from tawdry exposition, seen from Guidance, L'da's and the Kromon's viewpoint, although he undergoes the events out of chronological order (naturally).
Charley believes that she has overpowered the Kro'ka mentally and is able to escape, but he has actually tested her mental reserves and is instead releasing her into an experiment to test her survival instincts - this happens at about the same time that the Kro'ka is satisfied that the Doctor will be able to survive prolonged exposure to the timeless environment of Eutermes, reveals himself and gloats before releasing his Doctor into a separate wing of the same 'experiment', telling him that Charley is a prisoner of the Kromon. This is to test the Doctor's 'offensive capabilities', and the Doctor does not disappoint. Both Charley and the Doctor realise that they can't actually understand any of the local language due to the loss of the TARDIS and its translator - Charley is only able to get by once she finds C'rizz and his handy latent telepathy.
Then... stuff happens. The nature of this universe drives the Doctor slightly insane, before he is captured by the Kromon and teams up with L'da. In this version the Kromon are actually vicious, dangerous, and very powerful. Rather than having the dream of travelling to other planets they instead learn of the Doctor and Charley's home and decide to invade their Universe, but their clumsy attempts will tear down the barriers and allow the Divergents to attack!
In the meantime, the Doctor's ruthless streak is meant as a shock to the audience rather than bad writing, L'da takes on a temporary role as a companion so that her eventual death means something and leads the Doctor to believe that C'rizz is a villian, and this is coupled with the Kro'ka gaily messing with Charley's mind: initially he programs he survival instincts to protect her from the shock of the new world by seeing C'rizz as a friendly human, and then destroys this programming suddenly at the worst possible time, leaving her shrieking and in shock at the sight of this horrific monster...
In short, Kro'ka introduced as sadistic and conceited - a scumbag with supposed god-like powers - Kromon an actual threat, and in the end the Doctor is left wondering about what these experiments are about...
The Next Experiment: Either TNHOF made less weird or TWK made more weird.
Season Finale: An expanded version of part one of Caerdroia, with the Doctor put into a morally bankrupt experiment, cracking, and deciding to battle the Kro'ka. He wins and discovers how to travel through the zones.
Season 2: The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz do all the zone-juming stuff, firstly to just escape the Kro'ka, but soon realise that he follows them everywhere. And then try to find out all they can about him to hopefully find a way to defeat him. At the same time, however, they discover that the Kromon are a wide-reaching power in this Universe and by destroying their Bortresoye outpost in Creed the Doctor has become their Public Enemy #1 and, by extension, that of every power-hungry free agent in the Universe. A real B7 vibe. Events get resolved in a story similar to Caerdroia parts 2-4, and the the Doctor discovers Rassilon's presence through actual detective work.
Season 3: ...I dunno, more stuff happens. It couldn't be worse than TNL.
The biggest problem with the Divergent arc in my view, is the fact that it is not in anyway really an arc. Kro'ka is really irrelevant to proceedings bar revealing Rassilon's presence - the rest of the time he serves as an irrelevent framing device, utterly meaningless to everything else in the story, seemingly script-edited in somewhere around the last-minute mark. Yes, Kro'ka is the new Ramsay.
And this irrelevent frog-ghost is the ONLY recurring element in most of the 'arc' stories! That is, save for Caerdroia and The Next Life which are genuine pieces of arc storytelling, but jar so unbelievably horribly with each other that I feel that they should be discounted utterly from that definition. Everything else feels like normal DW (Save TNHOF which doesn't fit in with anything) that has 'Bad Wolf' style buzzwords sprinkled throughout in the form of 'Divergents' and a couple of other things.
Few words can describe the frustration felt at the end of this crap that amazingly, despite non-stop references and serving as the catalyst for the monumentally fucked up events of Zagreus, the Divergents not only never appear, but are said in a throwaway line of dialogue to have been killed off-screen!
There are very few words to describe the ineptitude of what must, for want of a less misleading term, be called 'The Divergent Universe' arc. And most of them have four letters.
The question is now: is what comes next any better?
(SPOILER - Yes)