We’ve heard later Doctors battle the Eminence over the past year or so – Colin Baker in The Seeds of War, and then Paul McGann in Dark Eyes 2 – but this is their proper debut, and Nick Briggs’ script explains a number of the unexplained references in those stories. Now that the Viyrans have been given considerable exposure (and a lot of answers about them provided in the recent Charlotte Pollard box set), it’s time for a new enemy across the Big Finish universe, and I suspect we’re going to hear a lot more of the Eminence. They’re a good foe for audio – they have a distinctive voice treatment, and their methods are easily imaginable (and probably not something which the TV show would care to have to do too often).
Briggs is a fan of war movies, and there are a number of them at the heart of Destroy the Infinite – it’d be interesting to see who he’d cast if this were being made at the peak of popularity of such films. The way some in war perceive life as cheap (there’s a totally shocking death in this which is made all the more powerful because it’s so sudden and almost casual) and the way that commanders have to weigh the deaths of hundreds against millions are both addressed.
What makes this particularly unusual is the ending: as Louise Jameson points out in the extras, there are a couple of speeches which emphasise the cost of war (and these aren’t just from the Doctor). Briggs also provides a reason why the Doctor chooses to slip away at the end of his adventures rather than stay for the festivities – I won’t spoil it here, but it’s one of the best speeches Big Finish has given Baker’s Doctor in his time with them.
Verdict: On the surface it’s a Boys’ Own adventure, but there are some meatier issues addressed, and a new enemy introduced. Recommended. 9/10