Day of the Master Part Two

Posted in Audio by - October 14, 2019
Day of the Master Part Two

Released October 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After fifteen stories that have introduced an eons-old threat that strikes fear into even the Time Lords and that have reintroduced the Eleven as both apparent friend and assured foe and no fewer than four incarnations of the Master along the way, the Ravenous epic comes to a close in John Dorney’s ‘Day of the Master Part Two.’

Ravenous has been anything but a tightly-linked narrative, the Ravenous themselves far too often not appearing at all in stories and only in brief carnal roles in others. While it’s certainly understandable from a marketing standpoint to release titles under one banner, these sixteen tales overall have been far too disparate to truly warrant that release structure. However, ‘Day of the Master Part Two’ finally lets the shackles off of the Ravenous threat and does a surprisingly good job in providing a more deep-rooted sense of continuity that calls upon recent adventures to further develop its sense of scope. In retrospect, however, this fourth box set could have served as an extremely tight single-set Ravenous narrative with some tweaking of the first story to allow it to serve as a full introduction while putting key players in place. Still, a finale deserves a strong menace that seems assured of achieving victory, and the unique circumstances in play that allow the Ravenous to finally fulfill their thirst for regeneration energy and to divide into more as a result absolutely fills that need and gives a genuine sense of tension and immediate danger to this literal race against time.

Rarely are legendary figures from Gallifrey introduced in person in Doctor Who, and so it’s no surprise that Artron remains such a prominent throughout these events, though the extent to which he guides events in wholly unexpected. Indeed, as a mythical figure on Earth who the legends say suddenly appeared alongside another man, Artron with his understanding of just what would happen to him if Rassilon found him given the knowledge and abilities he possesses has lived a quiet and isolated life for so very long, eventually even all but forgetting his own sense of self. While his relation to the Doctor’s recent adventures in Salzburg don’t alter events too much here except to take away one potential course of action once the Doctor and his companions are reunited, this gives a brief but strong means of support to his legend and also serves as a reminder of just how much time can be guided as the Doctor creates his own past. Naturally, however, it’s Artron’s past that becomes of paramount importance, and as he finally asks himself what it is that he really wants, his time on Kolstan and how drastically events veered away from the utopia in which he had initially found himself there come to light in dramatic and emotional fashion to provide a satisfying close to the Ravenous threat that may have resonated just a bit more had the grounds for this resolution been introduced earlier in the overall Ravenous collection. Robert Whitelock is given an immense task in holding together this giant narrative given how intertwined his character is on multiple fronts, and he excels with an impressive range and scope that always stays true to the genuine kindness of his Time Lord amidst so much conniving and peril around him.

‘Day of the Master Part Two’ is one of the busiest stories that Big Finish has ever produced, and it’s a testament to the writing and acting that all of the characters are able to come to life so vividly and memorably. As a much newer introduction to the Doctor’s gallery of rogues than the Master, the Eleven here proves again just how intelligent and versatile he is, able to make sense of the constantly shifting information and foundations around him to further bolster his position and strengthen the Ravenous until the one piece of information he could have never expected comes to light. Mark Bonnar has truly been a revelation as this unique foe, and the lesser reliance on the Eleven’s former selves breaking through to interject truly allows the might of this incarnation to fully shine and to give an extra layer of menace to the prospect of an alliance with the Master. As the title suggests, however, this is very much a celebration of the Master and the shifting nuances that underscore this Time Lord’s constant threat as three incarnations come together and achieve the ultimate goal of ensuring their continued existence after the recent events at the tomb of Artron. As when the Doctor meets himself, there is, of course, a bit of self-indulgence and fan service once the three incarnations of the Master here meet up; though Missy does perhaps skew a bit too comedically in this segment, the combined efforts of Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi, and Michelle Gomez are an utter delight and wholly enthralling. Roberts seemingly gets a little less memorable dialogue and in some places serves more in the traditional role of the companion to ask questions, but whether this is due to his Master being less defined and a bit more difficult to write for as a result or not, he still oozes an understated power in every breath that perfectly complements the War Master’s more aristocratic charisma and Missy’s more flippant snark. The Masters in their many incarnations all offer something wholly unique despite their obvious similarities, and this is a strong celebration of what has been and could be that finds a nice balance between story and characters.

With such an expanded cast of prominent guest characters, Dorney still manages to find ample time for the leads to share the spotlight as well, and the Doctor’s importance to the legend and poignant fate of Artron as well as Liv’s painful moment of discovery alongside the War Master who is all too eager to experiment on her and to inform her of her impending fate in gruesome detail are spectacular highlights. Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, and Hattie Morahan have absolutely perfected the relationships among their lead trio, and both separately and together they expertly drive this twisting narrative and its diminishing hope to its conclusion. So while celebrating the Master in the final act of a sixteen-part epic that centres around the Eleven and the Ravenous in a series fronted by three leads sounds like far too much for one story to accomplish, ‘Day of the Master Part Two’ with its uniformly strong performances, direction, and sound design manages to do everything it achieves while adding further depth to some of its preceding stories, a testament to Big Finish and the overall path that has been crafted for the Eighth Doctor even if the insistence on continuing with linked box sets did not necessarily help in the overall scheme of the Ravenous arc.

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