Released April 2016
‘And Now You Will Obey’ starts off a trilogy that finally sees Big Finish take advantage of the fact that it has multiple actors who have played the Master in its many ranges.
Alan Barnes’s script is most successful in that it shows just how indomitable the Master’s will to survive truly is. Fitting snugly into established Doctor Who continuity, ‘And Now You Will Obey Me’ pits Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor against Geoffrey Beever’s disfigured and shrouded Master, deftly mixing in unaging 1980s teenagers, short-lived giant dragonflies, and a devout group of assassins obsessed with raising their perceived worthiness through their actions. It’s the young teenagers who prove most fascinating, though, as the Master gives each of them a small piece of himself and his powers of manipulation which allow him to control each of them, coercing them into doing his evil deeds as needed throughout the years.
At its heart, this is a story about those teenagers and the enticement and desire they face after coming upon something well beyond the scope of their understanding. In a way, the Master’s effects on these children is a distorted mirror image of the sort of usual result the Doctor has on his young companions during his own travels. Fortunately, though, the script is clever enough to not limit itself just to this singular aspect, maintaining an air of mystery throughout as basic assumptions about the plot and characters are continually called into question as new information slowly comes to light.
All of this eventually allows for the return of the Master after a personal thirty-year absence, making references to other Master appearances including Beevers’s own regeneration into Ainley’s incarnation in ‘The Keeper of Traken.’ It takes some time for Geoffrey Beevers to properly appear- though the path getting there is still immensely enjoyable and creepy- but once he does he completely dominates the role, quite possibly giving his best performance yet. He emanates a sort of paternalistic charisma and persuasion to the children at the requisite times, but he also unabashedly shows his truly brutal side at others.
The Sixth Doctor is probably the best example of a character who has been served well by Big Finish as further exploration and depth is allowed, but Geoffrey Beevers’s Master surely is a close second after only two brief televised appearances. The Master on display here is undoubtedly at his most dangerous, especially once he has his controlled pieces in place and discards his grandfatherly visage. Even when it seems as through events have reached their natural conclusion, the dark and brutal twists keep coming, again hearkening back to ‘The Keeper of Traken.’ This story perfectly displays the Master’s intense yearning to acquire a body that won’t make him suffer the same degeneration and decay back into that hollow figure- in this case even choosing to survive as individual pieces of his essence distributed amongst teenagers- and adds an extra layer of depth to the torment of this particular incarnation of the Doctor’s foe.
Aside from Beevers, the rest of the cast is in fine form as well, of course highlighted by Peter Davison as his Doctor slowly starts to uncover the greater narrative after starting off the story at an auction bidding for a certain grandfather clock that was the only surviving item after a fire took the life of the reclusive Martin Masterson. Annie, Janine, Colin, and Mike all do well in their youthful roles, and each is great at playing things closely as the script continues to swerve and offer new revelations while assumed identities and purposes become circumspect. The dragonflies’ and assassins’ appearances offer a nice additional level to the proceedings, but the resolution involving them ultimately feels more outlandishly bizarre than the tone of the story in general creates. This is a release that will challenge many listeners at first, and knowledge of who everyone truly is and what is truly happening may make for a more rewarding second listening when events within the two temporal narratives can be pieced together more easily. Regardless, the humour and nostalgia mixed with the intrigue and threat make ‘And You Will Obey Me’ a superb start to this new trilogy, giving incredible depth and charisma to the Beevers Master and setting a high standard for Anthony McQueen’s to meet in the next release.