Released November 2011
Big Finish’s The Lost Stories Fifth Doctor trilogy continues with ‘Hexagora,’ a story from Peter Ling and Hazel Adair and adapted for audio by Paul Finch. When the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan arrive in Brisbane and uncover an alien abduction leading them to the planet of Luparis and a city very reminiscent of Tudor London, they soon uncover a secretive plot that threatens the very livelihood of two species.
‘Hexagora’ is a story that certainly contains immersive visuals and strong ideas, none more so than the Luparis façade of Tudor London complete with people skating on the frozen Thames River. Fortunately, the titular Hexagora race is just as intriguing, an insectoid race that migrates through space and conquers in order to colonise but that is now on the verge of extinction due to the impeding Ice Age on Luparis while its population remains too weak for another journey. With the ability to move amongst a planet’s native population unnoticed, they have added human memories of that time to their hive memory and are now relying on abducted humans to form the unwilling hybrid crux of their species’s continued survival through the harsh conditions. Even if the story doesn’t do altogether too much with the race memory contained within the giant droplet, the notion of the Hexagora hive mind and society slowly breaking down as humanity’s individuality takes hold is nonetheless a fantastic one.
Some of the potential drama stemming from this interesting premise is slightly lost due to a reliance on Tudor themes and motifs, though this does at least provide a familiar context in which common themes can be juxtaposed and explored. Still, the drama stemming from court intrigue, rebellion, and even the Queen’s proposal of marriage to the Doctor are all played excitingly and convincingly, giving a strong emotional core for the more fantastic elements of the plot to incorporate. At the same time, ‘Hexagora’ manages to imbue a bit of backstory to Tegan as the missing reporter is revealed to be a one-time crush. While the story surely could have delved into this past a little bit more to help underscore the personal plight of the two, Tegan’s fear of acknowledging Mike’s transformation even as Mike proves to be every the bit he hero she wants is a strong notion that ably ties together the many story threads.
As with ‘The Elite,’ the characterization of the Fifth Doctor is superb here, and the Queen is quick to point out that this chivalrous and gentlemanly incarnation has the bearing of a warrior. The accidental engagement and intent of marriage based upon science rather than emotion doesn’t quite ring as completely true as other moments of flirtatiousness and love the Doctor has experienced in his many lives, but it makes complete sense within the context of the story once enough information about the Hexagora is revealed. Similarly, while Nyssa is again shunted to the sideline somewhat, ‘Hexagora’ does nicely bring the royal nature of Nyssa’s upbringing to the forefront to help provide some brief moments of meaningful characterization as she blends her past and present wonderfully. However, although the poignant writing that briefly allows each of the leads and Mike to shine is the standout portion of this release, the story never perfectly meshes the alien with the Tudor, resulting in rather traditional and uninspired historical elements further taking away from what ultimately proves to be a fairly straightforward story that doesn’t quite take full advantage of some of its more unique ideas.