stratagems

So I realized something really interesting about Lotor’s team and how it’s set up, even though we haven’t yet seen the five of them all take the field at the same time.

Narti and Ezor are both ambushers. Narti can climb walls and ceilings, has her one-touch mind control and an extra set of senses that allow her to spy very effectively and make it very difficult to sneak up on or hide from her. Ezor has her disappearing act, and is also a grappler who traps limbs and manipulates her foes physically.

Acxa and Zethrid are both primarily ranged fighters, though Zethrid is also very good at suddenly lunging into close combat.

Where does Lotor fit into this? At first glance, he doesn’t. He’s a close quarters fighter, and while he certainly has aptitude for ambushing, he has to rely on his environment to give him those advantages- it’s reliant on picking good places to hit from, like the setup on Puig or, the entirety of the shindig on Thayserix.

But Lotor is a performer- and one whose main underlying stratagem is that he’s deliberately flashy and draws focus to himself. S3e3 relies entirely on the fact that Lotor puts himself out there and hassles the paladins for a bit, and then scoots- and Keith chases him blindly right into a trap.

The paladins were aware of and focused on Lotor for basically all of season 3 after the first episode. But they only realized the generals existed in s3e6, when from their perspective, a fully-actualized and specialized strike team popped out of thin air to kick their butts.

And isn’t that exactly what Lotor did to Throk? As either the anonymous gladiator or revealing himself, Lotor commanded center stage and kept Throk’s focus on him- while the generals surrounded Throk.

Basically Lotor’s surrounded himself with people who are all devastating to distracted targets, and then set himself up as a performer, the charismatic, obvious ‘face’. And he can keep that up as long as he needs to, because his greatest skill is evasion and maneuvering.

Lotor baits people into attacking him and cheerfully lets them miss by inches- oh, so close, maybe next time?- and when they’re good and mad and focused completely on him, the generals drop in and eat them alive.

7

Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Six)

Excerpts from the DVD Commentary with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, and producer Susie Liggat:

[discussing the Doctor shouting “Get them out of there!”]
SL: Oh I have to say, David, when you did that, “Get them out of there!”

DT: Yeah?

SL: Until we ADR'ed that [ADR = additional dialogue recording], until we dealt with it, it blew my ears off every time

[ DT & RTD laugh ]

SL: There was the most extraordinary projection in that

DT: I was getting ready for returning to the theatre, love.

SL: Something. I had to put my fingers in my ears in anticipation of it

RTD: Brilliant. 

A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos

Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ four ] [ five ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]

8

Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Five)

Excerpts from the DVD Commentary with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, and producer Susie Liggat:

RTD: Do you know, I’ve always wanted to ask you, David.  When you get a script what do you do?  From scratch
DT: I read it.
RTD: Yeah, but…
DT: I just read it to read it the first time.  And then I’ll read it and I’ll usually mark it up, which is literally just underlining my bits
RTD: Yep yep yep
DT: Which is the first stage of learning it, I suppose, and then you just read it again and you go over certain scenes.  Depending upon how much time you’ve got, whether it’s a script that you’ve had a few weeks in advance or whether it’s one of the ones that creep in at the last minute
RTD:  [laughs] Like they do
DT: …for whatever reason.  Sometimes you have to sort of just buckle down and start learning specific scenes if a schedule is in front of you…
RTD: Do you have to learn it according to the schedule
DT: Yeah, you do.
RTD: Sort of going, “Right, all of the UNIT scenes are first so I’ll learn those first”
DT: Yeah, yeah
RTD: That’s hard, isn’t it?
DT: Well, it’s easier than just learning it chronologically, because you’re just kind of keeping up with the schedule as it comes
RTD: Because it always strikes me, and actually everyone always says this, that you come to read-throughs incredibly prepared.  Do you, or are you winging it?
DT: Weeellll, it’s somewhere between the two, I think.  I think probably as the years have gone on, I enjoy winging it a bit more
RTD: Right
DT: Because I think it can be a bit more… sometimes you can over-prepare things, I think.
RTD: Yep
DT: and I think when we started I think I probably, sort of, would come to the read-through having practiced
[ RTD & SL laugh ]
DT: having made some decisions.  As time goes on it’s better sometimes to… especially when you’re meeting actors for the first time and responding to what they do for the first time, if you’re less… Because the first read-through, you’re sitting there thinking… and everyone… all the BBC bods come up from London… and we did three scripts!  We did The Christmas Invasion, New Earth, and School Reunion in one day and I’d never read The Doctor out loud before
SL: [ gasps ] How frightening!
DT: …and there’s all these people, all these bods coming up from London to kind of… and you’re just sitting there thinking, “I’m going to get sacked!”
RTD: [ big laugh ]
DT: That’s all you’re thinking.  So you’re very precious about it, and I think as time goes on you begin to feel slightly more confident of your position, and you think, well, it’s more interesting, actually, to maybe be a bit looser with it.  A bit freer with it.
RTD: And when do you learn the lines?  Is it late at night?  Is it first thing?  
DT: Just as you go.  Weekends a lot… you know.
SL: Because you are extraordinary.  I can say, I’ve worked with you now virtually solidly for four years - on Casanova and then on to this…
DT: Yeah, yeah. That’s true, that’s true
SL: …so I have seen HOURS of television with you
[ DT & RTD laugh at how she dragged out the word “hours” ]
DT: Hours of it!  
RTD: Sound a bit happier about that!
SL: Hours of Russell’s great writing!
[ waiting for the laughing to die down ]
SL: No! What I’m going to say is, I think in all that time, in all those days and all those lines, I think you’ve probably fluffed twice. You know, it’s extraordinary, you are extraordinary.  
RTD: That’s cursed it!
DT: Yeah!
SL:  No! You really are - at learning your lines
RTD: You are, that’s true
DT: It’s the homework, isn’t it?  You’ve got to do the homework.
SL: Well, you say that but you know some people don’t.  It’s brilliant - you are a great leader by example.
DT: I think you’ve got to. I think we’re in such a privileged position, and I don’t want cameramen standing around waiting for me to remember my lines, you know?
RTD: But also it is a skill of yours, actually.  Actors who have learned their lines, who’ve done all the work, can fluff on the spot
DT: Sure, and sometimes we all do, yeah
RTD: Yeah, but you do it less than most.  Now we’ve cursed it - it will all just go to pot!
DT: Yeah!  Tomorrow’s going to be a really long day!
RTD: Never speak about it out loud. 

A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos

Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ four ] [ six ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]

The Signs as Magi

Aries: Explosive, always in motion. Magic rooted in their physical forms, powerful sweeping gestures blood pumping movements, and raw pulsing fury. Will more than likely just try and beat you up. Barely restrained and always looking to fight as it is, duel them at your own peril. Incredibly gifted when dealing with elementals.

Taurus: Potent hex-weavers and blessing-givers. Enchantments and curses, long-lasting and incredibly difficult to remove. Often very petty, was it chance your alarm didn’t go off and your pen exploded today? Who knows. Always bring one if you’re raiding a tomb. Responsible for every single noteworthy hereditary curse, hex, and jinx in magical history. 

Gemini: A chaotic mess, but an effective one. Notebooks full of ‘add a bit of powdered monkwood’ and haphazardly drawn sigils. Some of their most effective work is completely accidental and unrepeatable, often followed by an ‘I meant to do that.’ Very very prone to their own creations violently blowing up in their faces, they’ve gotten very good at dealing with explosions.

Cancer: Often underestimates their own successes, a jack-of-all-trades of spellcasting. Unsure exactly which phase of the moon to perform that exorcism? Ask a Cancer. Almost organic libraries full of every topic imaginable. Very creative, and frankly amazing problem solvers. For your own sake never EVER corner them.

Leo: Very flashy, and pretty. If you’re looking for masters of illusion and spectacle, look no further. Simply the BEST when it comes to the decor of their havens. Second only to Scorpios in their mastery of deception. Underestimate their deadliness at your peril though, their silver tongues are often forked. ALWAYS bring a blessed mirror when dealing with one.

Virgo: Very, and I mean VERY thorough. Usually has a spectacularly well tended garden of every kind of herb, weed, flower, and elemental flora imaginable. Very potent even if not immediately apparent. Incredibly practised and incredibly precise. Defensively impregnable. And for the love of all the gods and devils in all of the worlds do NOT fight them on their ground.

Libra: Diplomatic to a fault and brilliantly talented truthseers, wordsmiths, and hieromancers. Can and will talk their way out of almost any fight. Experts of defensive magic. A dazzling array of binding spells, seals, and law-sorcery. Give up after the first 3 layers of bureaumancy.

Scorpio: Unrivaled secret keepers and masters of malevolent subtlety. Layers upon webs upon stratagems of contracts, debts, and influences. Masters of puppetry and poison. Never ask a favour from them, just don’t. An incredible ally or fatal enemy. Best faced head on, and vulnerable to unexpectedness. Few things surprise them though.

Sagittarius: At the forefront of experimentation and research. Mind mages, intellectuals, and philosomancers. Absolute experts in finding loopholes and capable of extreme acts of brutality in the name of progress. Knowledgeable about their chosen fields, and often apprehensive about sharing their considerable expertise.

Capricorn: Very good combat mages and healers, very straightforward and efficient sorcery, not one for unnecessary flair or flamboyance. simplicity does not equate a lack of power, however. VERY aware of their own relative strength and chooses battles accordingly. Incredible calculating precision.

Aquarius: Some of the best necromancers, there are none better in manipulation of the flesh. Prone to hordes of minions, but dont worry, they grew the flesh, no animals were harmed in the construction of this shambling horror/sacrifice. Voted #1 most likely to lose soul in demonic contract in high school. Often misunderstood. Often benevolent. 

Pisces: The vaguest, and most terrifying mages. No one quite understands what they do or how they work. Masters of the most esoteric subjects, Time, Death, the Soul. Demonic, angelic, and fae ambassadors. Often very distant, rarely concern themselves with the concerns of this world. They never quite make eye contact with you. Prone to disappearing for long periods of time. Do not anger them.

7

Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Four)

Excerpts from Jason Arnopp’s set report from DWM 396

[Discussion while eating deserts and tea with David]
The Doctor’s relationship with violence is a complex one, though, isn’t it? Much as we’re doing now, he often has his cake and eats it.  “The violence is the final resort,” David stresses.  “You should always give people the benefit of the doubt.  In the final moment of the story, the Doctor basically knows he’s gonna have to sacrifice himself and go back up to the Sontaran ship.  But it’s important and valid that he allows them the chance to back down.  It’s important that he will always allow people to find the good in themselves.  He gives them that opportunity even though he knows that because they’re Sontarans and because of what they’re about, they’re not going to back down.  But it’s the morally correct thing to do, to allow that possibility”

That ‘second chance’ opportunity is a very Tenth Doctor thing, isn’t it?

“He would have you believe that he has quite strong rules about it,” nods David.  “'You get once chance, and then I’ll do ya!’  And again, that came up in Partners in Crime, when he tells Ms Foster, ‘You get once chance.  I’d advise you to take it.’ And she doesn’t, and ends up splattered on the pavement!  Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that, and he will bend his own rules now and again.  But that moral framework, that moral righteousness, is very important to him.”

A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos

Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ five ] [ six ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]