Fugitive in Time

Posted in Audio by - August 16, 2019
Fugitive in Time

Released August 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Although the Eighth Doctor has not yet chosen to sacrifice his title to join his people in the devastation of the Time War, the Time War saga has thus far brilliantly highlighted how far the Time Lords have deviated from their trusted non-intervention policies and the sense moral superiority that simply monitoring events afforded them. In ‘Fugitive in Time,’ Roland Moore shows the darkest extremes of Time Lord power, and the Doctor and Bliss must confront the believed final remnant of that ultimate travesty of justice as Major Tamasan calls in her favour.

The Time Lords, of course, are no strangers to at least proposing alterations to established histories when it suits their needs, the Doctor’s mission in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ to prevent the Daleks’ creation arguably setting in motion the inevitability of the Time War, but completely deleting an entire race as an act of revenge shows a sort of heartless brutality that has thus far been reserved for the Daleks alone. Unsurprisingly, rumours of one sole survivor of the race of genetic engineers are too much for the Time Lords to ignore, and the stern and assured Tamasan played here by Adele Anderson leads the small group charged with uncovering the truth without revealing any connections to Gallifrey because of the implicit mistrust and wariness present. A new Tamasan regeneration highlights the dangers of this war even to those closest to the Doctor, but the boldness and determination that Anderson imbues provides a fitting comparison and contrast to who the Doctor is and will become as each reacts to this unspeakable action with distinctly different emotions and hopes to rectify what is staring back at them.

As the sole survivor of a race who is clinging to an agonizing semblance of life after altering her own genetic structure to avoid the Time Lords’ act of erasure, Wendy Craig’s Shonnath is a fascinating character who is dedicated to escaping this world and finding someone to help with her condition. Both sympathetic and callous in her experiments to create a functioning transmat, Shonnath’s constant determination to survive despite the unending pain is a brutal reminder of the true power of the Time Lords and a glimmer of the hope that the universe at large can still hold despite that, and the presence of a Dalek ship in orbit and allegations of a Dalek agent within the general populace searching for Shonnath’s genetic modifier blends past and present threats together well while amplifying the threat facing the Doctor.

The trouble with ‘Fugitive in Time’ is that it never really amasses any genuine sense of pacing or tension despite the truly fascinating foundation of Shonnath as a character. Once the Doctor’s identity is uncovered, he of course apologizes for his peoples’ past actions, but far too much time is spent with the Doctor simply telling Shonnath that she should trust him to get her off this world and eventually insisting that she disregard the Daleks’ claims of genetic mastery given their own mutations and their proposed desire to help her. Still, this immense decision and its emotional toll on Shonnath given her past is undercut somewhat by the Daleks’ own impatience and forcefulness, and this conclusion seems all the more rushed because the Doctor was so insistent on the wrong person being the Dalek agent for so long leading up to it. With little done with Bliss as the lady in waiting and Tamasan more sidelined than expected until presented with the opportunity to complete her own mission without the Doctor’s knowledge, ‘Fugitive in Time’ relies much more exclusively on dialogue than is typical for Big Finish, and the rather meandering route it takes with its leads split up never really manages to capitalize on the immense potential that its component parts hold. With no genuine sense of danger created and featuring the repercussions of an act that in no way drives the Doctor closer to willingly entering the war even as this saga enters its final stretch, ‘Fugitive in Time’ is something of a forgettable misfire that even the strong central performances and ideas can not elevate into something more memorable.

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