Night of the Fendahl

Posted in Audio by - March 27, 2019
Night of the Fendahl

Released March 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Much like with its fourth series of Bernice Summerfield audio adventures, Big Finish has dedicated the fourth run of its monthly Torchwood series to revisiting foes made famous in Doctor Who, beginning with the Fendahl in Tim Foley’s aptly-titled ‘Night of the Fendahl.’

Stories attempting to reintroduce lesser-known enemies must always strike a fine balance between avoiding too much exposition based on what has already been revealed and providing enough information to ensure old and new listeners alike are able to pick up on the true nature of the threat in equal measure. Given the more mature stylings of Torchwood compared to its parent franchise, Foley wisely avoids filling time with the finer details of the gestalt psychevore Fendahl’s origins on a planet originally between Mars and Jupiter that the Time Lords placed in a time loop, instead focusing more on the terror of this personification of death and the conversion of certain individuals to the twelve Fendahleen that accompany the almighty core as the appointed stroke of midnight fast approaches.

The Fendahl thrives off the emotionally weak, and ‘Night of the Fendahl’ quite brutally continues the theme of mistreatment of women from ‘Image of the Fendahl’ to provide a shocking backdrop that once more reveals that no being is quite so monstrous as humanity itself. With aspects sadly still all too relevant in today’s society, the production team behind a series of snuff films in which atrocious fates await women is all too keen and willing to take advantage of women in extremely vulnerable states. Although Marco with his fated surname of Fendelman has at least an inkling of the danger he is proposing to unleash through his anthology piece in order to reap the power he knows is possible, this in no way excuses the horribly sexist behaviour of him or his colleagues. Through disturbing comments and actions, the very worst of supposed machismo and superiority is on full display with only Phil stopping to question what is being planned before ultimately still giving in and accepting others’ suffering. Bradley Freegard quite brilliantly brings the layered struggle of Phil to life, encapsulating the good and bad present within a single flawed man and offering at least a semblance of light in an environment blanketed in darkness.

Showcasing the evil of humanity throughout is naturally necessary to providing an adequate payoff once the Fendahl has manifested, but it’s an engrossing performance from Eve Myles that carries this dark narrative. Even with Gwen possessed by the Fendahl for the majority of events, there are just enough fleeting glimpses of the true character interspersed with her atypical behaviour to never preclude a warranted return to form. The many steps taken to reach this moment for the Fendahl and the further research that Gwen undertook lead to a frightfully ominous confrontation with Phil that perfectly taps into the steadfast earnestness and morality of Gwen, and the very real struggle she has to regain control of herself in the midst of so much evil on all sides is wonderfully played in every regard. This is not an event from which she escapes unscarred, and the physical and emotional turmoil she experiences add an incredible extra layer that will ensure this tale resonates far after its running time has concluded. Aided by superb direction, sound design, and music that all accentuate the emotional distress, ‘Night of the Fendahl’ is Torchwood at its finest, perhaps not featuring the titular threat as much as might be expected but still making the most of the premise to highlight even greater and more personal evils.

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