Fugitives

Posted in Audio by - November 07, 2018
Fugitives

Released November 2012

Unable to return to Gallifrey or even to contact the Time Lords, the Doctor finds little going to plan with his assigned mission to retrieve Molly O’Sullivan that he still doesn’t fully understand. As Molly discovers that conflict is a near universal theme, the Doctor and she must discover just what secret the mysterious Ides Institute holds as they continue to cross paths with the Daleks.

The Eighth Doctor has been part of Big Finish for so long now that it was all but inevitable that elements from his audio past would come to have a direct bearing on the epic events of the Dark Eyes saga and the heavy involvement of the Daleks as the Time War looms large, and the presence of the Dalek Time Controller gives an enhanced scope and danger to what at times feels like a very modern and fast-paced update to the First Doctor serial ‘The Chase.’ The Doctor carries with him a certain despondency regarding the terror that often follows in his wake, a darker shade that Paul McGann continues to imbue to offer a distinct contrast to the more romantic and relaxed nature that defined his audio incarnation early on, and the continued presence of the Daleks as the action switches from World War I to World War II and much farther abroad than Molly could have ever imagined certainly lends a degree of credence to his thoughts. Still, his overt anger and disgust is tempered by a continuing unbridled enthusiasm for adventure, and his gleeful excitement as his locations and modes of transportation continue to change and even afford him a brief moment of respite between pursuing and being pursued maintains a needed familiarity that shows that all hope is not yet lost.

This, of course, marks Molly’s first proper adventure with the Doctor outside of her normal wartime confines, and she acquits herself exceedingly well. Perhaps because of the very nature of her latest line of volunteer work, she has no qualms throwing herself into the action and speaking up to the Doctor when she disagrees with something he says or does. She certainly has a bit of a rougher and antagonistic edge to her, but away from the mistress she cared for so deeply she’s already beginning to show the true compassion that resides just beneath her stern exterior, and Ruth Bradley continues to excel as further nuance is added to a character who perhaps too bluntly introduces the fact that something is not right when she recognises the TARDIS despite ostensibly stepping into it for the first time here.

Still, the means by which some of the information is presented to listeners in what amounts to one four-hour story with cliffhangers interspersed rather than four individual but interlinked episodes is a bit strange. Whether because the mystery surrounding Molly and the burgeoning relationship between the Doctor and her are so engrossing or not, it does seem odd to finally reveal Straxus’s instructions for the Doctor after the events of ‘The Great War’ have already unfolded, and not explaining just why the two leads are allowed to escape when they are dead to rights leaves a certain anticlimactic sentiment in the short term, though one that future stories obviously have the chance to rectify. With Straxus also set up to be a major player but suddenly cut to as he attempts to commit suicide, the total impact of this scene is unknown and strangely inconsequential at this time, mirroring the plot of ‘Fugitives’ as a whole that is practically impossible to judge on an individual basis because so much information- both from a development and fallout standpoint- is almost nonexistent at this time.

Sally Armstrong’s fate is quite shocking simply given just how quickly her role develops with Ides after receiving a mysterious electronic message, but it nonetheless hints at a far greater scheme in motion behind the scenes in which nobody outside of Molly and the Doctor for unknown reasons are safe. ‘Fugitives’ is a fast-paced sequence of vignettes spanning much of time and space that the incredible sound design manages to vividly manifest, but the plot itself feels more like a placeholder for something greater despite some assuredly big moments that will resonate more in the future as here the leads quickly continue to develop their captivating chemistry.

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