Released April 2016
‘Legacy of Death’ carries on the story set forth in ‘The Paradox Planet’ in which the planet Aoris is at war with itself in different time zones. Understandably, there is a serious note to proceedings as they can directly be applied to the real world presently with the future citizens traveling into their own past to save species and resources that their ancestors wasted and squandered while polluting their world. However, the ecological message is satisfactorily layered within a madcap adventure that it never becomes too preachy or hindering to the story.
‘Legacy of Death,’ by necessity, is a bit more serious and somber than its opening act in some regards, but it’s unafraid to continue with its comedy as well. The major supporting characters from the first story, Tom Chadbon’s Embery who discovered time travel and Simon Rouse’s Drang who is coordinating the war against the past, have less to do in this half as the situations themselves are managed and the main characters become more involved. Still, the resultant non-linear story offers plenty of logical and surprising twists and makes good use of each of its characters. Jumping back and forth through time zones may be confusing to some, but it’s all laid out very well and writer Jonathan Morris makes sure that each plot thread is tied up adequately by story’s end. As with many stories of its televised era, there are strong messages of learning from past mistakes and not needing to resort to violence to resolve issues, but again these are a natural part of the narrative rather than pointed remarks inserted for effect.
With the Doctor working in the past and K-9 recounting events from the future, a lot of exposition and setup work is avoided, allowing the story to proceed with its actual narrative more easily. Ingeniously- if somewhat unsurprisingly- the two factions of Aoris have brought about the worst parts of what each hates about the other. The past generation seemed to squander their resources and pollute the world, prompting the future Chronauts to come back and steal resources and species to save the future. However, by doing so, the Chronauts have taken away the crystals that could have been used as source of clean energy in place of dirty fossil fuels. And it’s Embery’s discovery of time travel in the past that makes the entire war a reality. The possible creation of a paradox should the future take overt action against the past is lost on nobody, but that possibility still creates some genuinely good dramatic moments. K-9’s legacy created throughout the ages as Machina is cleverly inserted into the story even if there isn’t quite enough groundwork laid to truly understand and support his followers, and its resolution at the end is nicely done as well.
Despite the inclusion of time travel, explosives, races against the clock, and double agents, it’s truly Tom Baker who steals the show and offers arguably his strongest performance for Big Finish yet. He, too, manages to retain his unique sense of humor despite his intense anger at the the temporal events around him. ‘Legacy of Death’ may not be as overtly entertaining as ‘The Paradox Planet’ was, but it certainly avoids the common pitfall of completely failing to live up to its opening act and offers a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle that never lets go of its listeners’ attention.