Memories of a Tyrant

Posted in Audio by - July 16, 2019
Memories of a Tyrant

Released July 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Reuniting Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant for the first time since 2014’s ‘The Rani Elite’ but set much earlier during their characters’ companionship, Roland Moore’s ‘Memories of a Tyrant’ poignantly asks what happens if someone commits an unspeakable crime but truly cannot remember doing so. Arriving at a state-of-the-art space station known as the Memory Farm that is dedicated to retrieving and analysing memories as they truly occurred rather than as they are remembered, the Doctor and Peri find the facility’s resources in front of two opposing factions awaiting the truth wholly dedicated to exploring the memories of the elder Garius Moro who may or may not have killed billions many years ago.

Memories, of course, are a crucial component of the foundation of identity, but whether that still applies if a person has truly forgotten everything is a fascinating central premise that later ties into the importance of false memories and suggestions also contributing to a person’s identity exceedingly well. Brilliantly, Garius Moro who seems to legitimately be suffering from some form of dementia is never revealed to be guilty or innocent as his story remains completely open-ended, but this decision is an absolute strength of ‘Memories of a Tyrant’ because it allows the interpretation of memories and their context to unfold naturally without any sort of bias or preconceptions interfering with the process even as those witnessing events and following their own agendas hope for innocence or guilt to be shown.

Just like this sixth incarnation of the Doctor, perhaps no companion has benefited from Big Finish’s characterisation over the years as much as Peri, and the opportunity this technology affords her to look back at the life she had before her father passed away that she has since forgotten is immensely touching and reaffirms just how much Peri has been through while hinting at just how profoundly her life was shaped and changed as a result. However, ‘Memories of a Tyrant’ is more than just a journey down memory lane for Peri, and she soon becomes integral to uncovering the truth of the man before her when he shockingly remembers her and responds to certain key words she happens to include in her normal speech. The pacing rightfully slows down to allow this prolonged sequence to develop and unfold naturally with the characters very much at the forefront, and Bryant and Joseph Mydell are superb as the uncertainty surrounding who they are individually and in relation to each other comes to light.

However, as perceptions and memories suddenly change with the Doctor apparently remembering his own identity and the past atrocities he has committed, Peri suddenly finds herself as what she believes to be the sole voice of reason and truth when all of the evidence points guiltily at him. Baker seems to relish the opportunity to let loose and play a much more villainous iteration of his character than is usually offered, and the contrast to the kind-heartedness and shrewd intelligence shown earlier in the story works wonderfully to drive home the effect of different formative memories. The decision to feature a resolution that is more reliant on the actual technology than on the characters is somewhat of an underwhelming letdown, but giving the Doctor the opportunity to spread his message and hope of pacifism is certainly a victory he can still be proud of even if the means taken are somewhat out of character. Still, this decision makes perfect sense within the context of the story, and ‘Memories of a Tyrant’ delivers a thought-provoking tale that makes the most of its dynamic leads and sets the bar high for the remainder of this trilogy.

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