Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s first part of this ‘season finale’ gathers all the pieces together, and throws in the President for good measure, with Hugh Fraser giving a very gripping performance as a man who seems to really feel the effects of high office. (Anyone who thinks such a person wouldn’t be fit to be given that power needs to read the biographies of certain Prime Ministers and Presidents – in some ways the paranoia on display here is quite muted compared with the real thing.)
The full-cast audios have been very good about spreading the dramatic beats and the action between the full cast. In this, everyone has some moments which play to their strengths, whether it’s Blake taking his eye off the ball, Vila having a St Augustine moment (resisting everything except temptation), Avon reluctantly conceding a point to Orac, Jenna being the voice of reason or Cally facing a nightmare decision. Add in Travis – with Brian Croucher rather less manic than in the previous episode – and Dr Tirus, a eugenics specialist with divided loyalties, and you’ve got a fast-moving, epic episode – true space opera, as Ken Bentley points out in the extras.
With this series, Big Finish are really starting to mine the potential of the licence, as they have done with Doctor Who: yes, they have got to put the toys back in the box in the same place at the end of it, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t tell stories that have resonances for the characters and may explain some of their later actions.
Verdict: Managing both to set the scene for the final showdown and tell a good tale in its own right, this is an exciting hour. 8/10