Divine Intervention

Posted in Audio by - June 20, 2020
Divine Intervention

Released June 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Through three stories, Stranded has already proven how successful amplifying the more familial dynamic of the early Third Doctor era within the Eighth’s can be, favouring interpersonal relationships and the trials of everyday life over epic battles sweeping across space and time that had become all too familiar for this incarnation. Yet as the Doctor becomes increasingly desperate to leave while Helen and Liv urge him to accept their situation, a threat from the future exposes a difficult truth and mortal danger in David K Barnes’s ‘Divine Intervention.’

The Doctor at the best of times may not understand the nuances and pressures of daily living, but ‘Divine Intervention’ proves just how far his perceived imprisonment in modern London has changed him as he here plans to use his vast wealth of knowledge to accumulate as much money as possible to invest in and buy technology companies that he can then use for his own advantage with repairing the TARDIS. This willingness to change events to suit his own means is a decline in morality almost never seen, and that angst and anguish as his first game show winnings cause initial euphoria with his companions and colleagues before revealing their disparate thoughts about potentially settling down here and making a home is wonderfully realized and a continuing source of strong drama.

Of course, this is only a precursor for the much more devastating actions the Doctor stands accused of committing far in the future, and members of a peaceful race the Doctor knows well that have traveled back in time to prevent the Doctor from fulfilling his role in their imprisonment and destruction bodes well for future sets even as the scale of events here remains comparatively small while that scene is set. Indeed, it’s the unanswered questions about just how the Doctor is involved in this complex paradox that keeps the threat from falling completely flat here, the makeshift time technology that the Doctor disparages throughout and that is undone by falling and a cork hardly the most formidable challenge in its own right that the Doctor has confronted.

In a surprising development, Sergeant Andy Davidson has the opportunity to work alongside the Doctor when both meet under dire circumstances at a store known to deal in alien technology. By this time, Andy has experienced most of what life in Torchwood can offer, but it’s clear that he’s still somewhat out of his depth as he tries to take everything in stride while unintentionally revealing that he knows more than he should to this particular Doctor who must remain ignorant of his truth. With the Doctor hunted but still trying to save his companions, Liv, Helen, Tania, and Andy all have great moments in which they can stand up to protect everyone else, and with the expanded cast of Baker Street likewise continuing to develop there is already an incredible sense of family and comradeship that will assuredly continue to fuel Stranded in its future sets. Naturally, Robin receives a good deal of focus as well when he is recruited by the titular Divine Intervention to join their ranks to help subtly influence people for the betterment of society, and Joel James Davidson plays this youth who clearly desires more as he tries to cope with his troubled familial situation exceedingly well in the time allotted. Aurora Burghart likewise provides a compelling voice during her brief moments with Robin here to emphasize the sway that this company can have, though it seems clear that bigger things are left for her character once the series continues.

Given the well-advertised hook of this series with its Stranded title, it will be intriguing to see how the drastic changes that unfold at the end of this story maintain and change the more grounded nature and dynamic going forward. Nonetheless, while the science fiction element itself once again proves to be one of the weaker components of the story as its characters and their motivations and secrets continue to take centre stage, ‘Divine Intervention’ manages to take what the preceding three serials have offered to create an enticing conclusion that appears set to give more context to the many warnings of the future that are centred upon this particular incarnation of the Doctor. Stranded 1 may not contain the most explosive or wide-ranging stories in Doctor Who, but its experimental approach to deconstructing and slowly reconstructing the traditional components of the franchise must be deemed a success with plenty of room still to develop and flourish along with its narrative.

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