Glory Days

Posted in Audio by - September 04, 2018
Glory Days

Released June 2009

Following a ninth series comprised of four stories that saw Bernice Summerfield and her son Peter exploring the universe in earnest after fleeing the Collection and Braxiatel’s machinations, for the most part unfettered by past continuity otherwise, the beginning of the tenth series thrusts Bernice squarely back into the life she left behind. With ‘Glory Days’ by Nick Wallace, the complicated relationships that exist among Bernice, Adrian, Bev Tarrant, and Braxiatel with the many traumas this man has caused are front and centre as if no time has spent away from them.

With no time to sit and discuss everything that has come before, the lead trio take on the conniving Braxiatel himself as they raid an impenetrable bank run by the sociopathic mastermind, capturing the spirit of the very best heist stories along the way. Shockingly given everything Bernice has experienced with Braxiatel trying to convert Jason into a Cyberman and later having a hand in Jason’s death along with the significant collateral damage his handcrafted war resulted in, she’s surprised to see this bank so heavily protected even with its reputation of being one of the safest locations in the galaxy. Fittingly, though, her companions and she prove remarkably adept at outthinking the master manipulator, and their apparent defeat that results in them being placed directly in the secretive vault needed is a masterful ploy that pays off the fact that this plan is all down to Bernice’s implicit knowledge of Braxiatel rather than a plan that Bev created as is initially portrayed.

Indeed, the story revels in the fact that Bev is a thief by trade, and revealing her to not be the White Fox jewel thief that seems so befitting of her reputation but instead to be the Matted Stoat who is an assuredly fake thief that represents a joke within criminal circles because of the targeting of inconsequential companies with petty thefts, is a masterstroke that shows just how well-planned this true heist is. She has been putting the money she takes back into the dull companies, and the generators and secure uplink backup are each taken into account to assure Braxiatel remains on the defensive. With Bernice’s time ring the key to access the hard drive disguised as a painting that provides his own backup that can be downloaded into any of the many clones of himself staffing the bank should anything ever happen to him, the painting is also a trap for those who dare challenge Braxiatel that sends anyone who touches it back in time to become the model for the bank’s artificial intelligence. In so doing, Wallace expertly ties together several threads while also explaining why the Glory begins to sound more like Bernice as she advances due to the probability of her actions solidifying, and the surprise swerve when Bev instead takes her place and thus leaves the painting’s history open to adjustment to completely subvert Braxiatel’s own plan is both momentous and incredibly satisfying dramatically.

As enjoyable and strong as the heist story is, however, it’s the reunion of all of these beloved characters with tremendous performances and characterisation that is just as important to this tale’s overall success. Miles Richardson excels in the multiple roles asked of him with the clones, and he proves just as adept at delivering more comedic scenes as with his usual air of mystery. Adrian reveals that he has been tortured at the hands of Doggles in an attempt to lure Bernice back to the Collection, and this paired with Braxiatel’s complete disregard of Bev begin to hint at the current state of affairs at Bernice’s erstwhile home. And although the clone of Bernice provides a raucous sendup of the stereotypes of this character who has undergone such change through the years, it’s the flashback to a time when Bernice and Braxiatel were still genuine friends that provides perhaps the most truly emotional moment. She is not afraid to admit that Braxiatel’s charm completely fooled her, and the opportunities that living on the Collection afforded her further blinded her to the truth of his character for far too long, and the painting she did of him that holds no financial value but that he nonetheless promises to cherish forever is a telling encapsulation of their relationship as a whole.

‘Glory Days’ dangles the truth just out of reach right from the very start, but the continual string of deceptions, plots, and counterplots make the journey to reach that truth a thoroughly rewarding one that makes the most of the incredible amount of history these characters share. With tight pacing and wonderfully evocative imagery, this is an immense opening instalment for this tenth series that looks to the past to once more boldly pave the way forward.

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