This second batch of reunion adventures for Tom Baker and Louise Jameson starts off with a bang and keeps the excitement level high throughout – a nice piece of work from director Nicholas Briggs, given that John Dorney’s script does contain a fair amount of time spent on moral discussions.
It’s a moderately straightforward story in many respects – Doctor and Leela arrive, are separated then encounter either side of a situation – but Dorney throws in a few twists, notably a scientist who is working with the proto-King of Sontar whose moral compass is more than a little askew (a great performance by David Collings), and a Sontaran who has lost some of his honour (an equally strong one from John Banks).
The story revisits some of the moral dilemmas from earlier in Tom Baker’s tenure, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Leela elects to cut the metaphorical Gordian knot when it’s presented to her. This leads to a scene between the Doctor and Leela which would be worth the price of the disc alone, with both Baker and Jameson firing on all cylinders.
The question about Leela not recognising Sontarans when she sees them in The Invasion of Time seems to be fudged (perhaps it will be addressed later). It is however good to have the race being treated seriously again – Strax was established as a very different Sontaran in his first appearance, but from The Time of the Doctor, it seems as if the whole race is now getting the Ferengi treatment in the new show, and a powerful menace is being undermined. Hopefully Big Finish can continue their “rehabilitation” in this respect – and Dan Starkey does appear to be enjoying a more serious role – although perhaps with a little less of that Sontaran motif in the incidental music – it’s a real earworm!
Verdict: A strong start to the new season. 8/10