There used to be a ritual enacted when I posted Big Finish reviews to the site and sent a link across to the much-missed Paul Spragg at the company, in which he would ask what it would take for an audio to get the coveted 10/10 rating – something which has probably only been given for a dozen or so stories over the years. Eventually we came up with a likely combination of writer, director and stars that was most likely to achieve that (and on the whole that’s actually been the case). A new combination can be added: writer Andrew Smith and director Louise Jameson.
Escape from Destiny is one of my favourite B7 audios in some time: it’s a Liberator Chronicle, inasmuch as there’s narration from both Michael Keating and Jan Chappell, but there’s a great deal of standard “full-cast” drama as well, with guest stars John Leeson and Jameson herself contributing to three- or four-hander scenes.
Leeson is reprising his role from the Series A story Mission to Destiny, to which this is a direct sequel, with considerably more to do than he did in that whodunit. As with the best of the Big Finish stories in this universe, it provides a new perspective on events that we saw in the TV series, while still keeping true to what we saw on screen – and using the ensemble nature of the crew well. Occasionally, B7 can become generic space opera, but here the realpolitik of the Federation’s actions is captured well.
Jameson lets the story breathe where it needs to but slowly ramps up both the stakes and the tension, and draws strong performances from all her voice cast. The sound effects and music help to tell the story, rather than, as sometimes happens, illustrate what’s provided in the narration and dialogue, and, particularly given the nature of some of the scenes that Smith scripts, the audio becomes cinematic in scope. It feels – in the best way – as if the story goes on much longer than it actually does!
Verdict: A strongly scripted, acted, directed and produced tale. 10/10