Justin Richards kicks off this new series of full-cast adventures with a story that quite deliberately showcases all seven of the crew (counting Zen and Orac), as no one knows who to trust, or quite what is going on. The fault lines between the members of Blake’s merry band have always been present – and they could mean their downfall.
After the success of Warship, it’s hardly surprising that Big Finish have forged ahead with new full-cast stories – it’s sometimes quite hard to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that audiobook tales seemed all we were likely to get. Yes, some of the cast’s voices have lowered with age (although you may suspect that Michael Keating has made arrangements with Basil Hallward to paint his portrait!), but they’ve not lost the rapport between them. How many years have we been waiting for Paul Darrow and Keating to reprise the Avon/Vila relationship with new material?
The story is built on the sort of conceit that could easily grow stale quickly if not handled correctly, but it’s been paced accurately, and director Ken Bentley ensures that each character presents exactly the right note of panic as the situation worsens (which of course in at least one case is a lack thereof). My only criticism is that the season arc gets introduced in what feels rather like a tagged on scene at the end of the adventure although it would have been hard to bring it in any earlier.
Verdict: A good start which throws the listener straight back 35 years to the mid point of series B. 8/10