Subject: By Jove, I think she's got it!
Posted on: 2021-08-26 08:44:25 UTC
The fact that the right eclectic selection of canons is involved would probably be enough for me regardless, but the clincher is the publication dates: the reviews for Part 5 show that the second chapter came out in July '02, and so only the first chapter of Tangled Web 5 was out when J&A posted their mission. It can't be a coincidence that the chapter introducing both "Touched by an Angel" and "James Bond" came out, and then Jay saw both of those in the fic.
I don't think you need to worry about not seeing multiple Doctors. Bond doesn't actually appear in person in 5:1, only as a mention, and Xena isn't even in that chapter. I think J&A were just viewing the whole fic as a sort of collapsing spiral of madness. They describe it as a "chaos zone", which doesn't actually describe the events of the chapter - but perfectly describes the feel of the flurry of references. They were just riffing on the entire thing, not writing themselves into a specific scene.
This is some seriously impressive detective work! :D
I'm wondering now if we have any named Untanglers who would have been part of the team who got stuck in there. Looking through the category... turns out yes! There's a bunch of agents who show up around 2008 with unclear start dates (Ketay the Cardassian, for example), but there's also several early ones:
- April Halloway is confirmed to be DIC in 2002, either before or after her partner Dmitri's death.
- Nia and Shelley, both featured in the last Despatch story, are confirmed, because that story took place in May 2002.
- The Disentangler and the Agent are almost confirmed, since Dis is confirmed in the PPC three years earlier, and they have the Doctor Who knowledge to be useful.
- Narto Telyan. He would have to be 14 and very new, but it's possible.
- Random. She recruited Death in 2004, so this would be about right for her to be operating as a solo agent (before partnering with the chameleon). The chameleon is a possible too, but he was transformed for being useless in 2004, so probably hadn't been around for long.
- Most intriguingly of all: Elisabeth, the First Agent. We know she was still active around 1992, and Osbert isn't claiming to be the First Agent (Apart From Makes-Things) until 2009. Could it be that the Tangled Web was what finally drove her out of the PPC?
Chuck in the likes of Ketay, Alan, Allison Brown, Bart Ronson and Canta Enqueo - all of whom fall into the 'not confirmed to have started later' category - and we could actually make up the "some dozen" out of confirmed agents! That's kind of cool, actually.
(No, I do not now have plans to try and write the failed mission. It would have to be a cowrite anyway, and I am abysmal at those.)