Released September 2016
‘Maker of Demons’ is an intriguing release for Big Finish, taking a rare opportunity to showcase the negative long-term effects of the Doctor’s actions. Though certainly not a unique plot point, hearkening all the way back to 1966’s ‘The Ark,’ the vast majority of tales are quite content to end with the notion that the Doctor has done good and that all will be better going forward. Writer Matthew J Elliott subverts expectations by beginning his tale with a pre-credits sequence that showcases the end of an unaired tale where that familiar feeling of optimism and hope are overflowing, only to jump ahead one hundred years with the Doctor, Mel, and Ace seeing how that positivity of potential has crumbled.
As references to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest abound, the Doctor and his companions revisit the planet of Prosper, intending to celebrate a century of the peace he and Mel helped broker between the humans aboard The Duke of Milan and the native Mogerans. With the planet being the source of a self-replenishing and completely clean energy source dubbed Doctorium, all of the pieces were in place for a prosperous and harmonious future for both races. Upon his return, however, the Doctor instead finds the two sides engaged in an unending war, the peaceful Mogerans somehow transformed by the Doctorium into an alarmingly brutal race and the human populations reduced by millions in the ensuing battles.
‘Maker of Demons’ gives both of the companions plenty of opportunity to shine, Mel with the Doctor as they try to determine and solve the issues of war and Ace with a Mogeran captor. Although the two are separated for the vast majority of the story, they do share some very nice chemistry in their few scenes together and the two have clearly developed a relationship of mutual respect for each other through their travels. As it is, Ace’s scenes with the Mogeran warrior Taipa are some of the most heartfelt of the story as the unwitting brute slowly discovers the truth of his situation and admits to himself the horror of what he has become. Although the chosen slovenly vocal stylings for the mutated race do veer on the edge of absurd, Taipa undergoes a great deal of character development that’s quite impressive for a guest character, adding an incredible amount of depth to the overall story along the way.
As the Doctor and Mel explore the remnants of what the Milanese- the descendants of The Duke of Milan- culture has become, they slowly uncover a secret a hundred years in the making after several wrong turns and assumptions. Nothing is quite as it seems with very long game being played from the shadows, but the slow revelations and their implications for both of the warring sides are very fulfilling. The fact that everything that has occurred is apparently down to the Doctor not looking ahead to see how the numbers of the human population could realistically fare in a colony on Prosper is simple but harrowing, and the Doctor certainly becomes more hardened and distant as his sense of guilt and liability takes hold. The ending is particularly touching, one in which there is no clear winner and one about which the doctor will have to dwell for a very long time.
In the end, ‘Maker of Demons’ is a strong morality tale that once more shows that the Doctor is not a flawless being. Featuring strong characterization of all of the leads and a surprising amount of development for its guest characters, this is a strong concluding act to Big Finish’s latest Seventh Doctor trilogy that inevitably shows the Doctor taking a step to becoming more of the master manipulator he will become.