Rule of the Eminence

Posted in Audio by - November 14, 2018
Rule of the Eminence

Released November 2014

With the Eminence entering into an alliance with the Master and not knowing nor suspecting that it is simply being used as a means of delivering ultimate control of humanity over to this Time Lord who is all too keen to assist with its spread around Earth, the war between the Eminence and humanity takes an unexpected turn in the finale to Dark Eyes 3, Matt Fitton’s ‘Rule of the Eminence.’

The Master is certainly not one to shy away from assuming grandiose titles and positions, and the Doctor has no trouble believing that he has inserted himself as Walter Vincent, the Grand Administrator of Earth, at a time when news broadcast boldly decree that the fifty-year war with the Eminence is over. However, this particular version of the Master once more proves able to outthink his friend-turned-foe, using his own past inclinations to at least temporarily lure the Doctor away and then capturing Narvin when he attempts a rescue. The long game the Master has been playing going back to the very formation of the Eminence is quite complicated even by his own standards, and he continues to add layer upon layer to ensure all aspects run smoothly, including toying with Molly’s memories so that he takes the place of the Doctor during their initial meeting during World War I and even suggesting that he was the one who initially implanted the retrogenitor particles into her in the first place, lending a nice sense of cohesiveness to previous events and reminding everyone of just how much these characters have been through in short order.

Quite cleverly, Walter Vincent is instead revealed to be a construct that the Master has created from Molly’s memories of her own father, acting as a trigger whose mental ability brings all of humanity under the Master’s control. Newscasters explaining recent developments is a tried and trusted means of providing exposition and a sense of immediacy to proceedings, and witnessing the narrative stream switch from that of post-war celebration to a simple rally cry for the Master as humanity prepares to enter space with a vengeance under its new ruler is genuinely chilling. However, this intriguing means of attaining control also provides an unexpectedly easy means of rebellion as the Doctor finds that by coming into contact with Vincent he has picked up some of his innate ability to influence others to break the Master’s control. It has long been established that there is a physical aspect to the Master’s plan as evidenced by Molly long ago providing immunity from the Eminence to those she touched, but this comes off as something of a narrative shortcut that the Master who has been so on top of every aspect of his plan is negligent to overlook.

The Eminence remains a being brimming with dramatic potential and is absolutely one of Big Finish’s most intriguing creations, but at this point it seems to have lost some of its sense of inherent danger by playing second fiddle to the Master and not realising what is truly happening as its influence continues to be spread farther and more thinly. Likewise, although Nicola Walker continues to give a strong performance as Liv Chenka, she still hasn’t received a truly defining moment for her character despite her well-meaning nature, extreme dedication to her friend, and rather fascinating conversation with the Master that completely changes what she assumes to be true about herself. As a whole, ‘Rule of the Eminence’ just doesn’t quite click as well as the previous stories because of its focus on spectacle rather than characters, and even the Doctor fails to sparkle as only this incarnation can. Instead, it serves more as a checklist to progress the plot to the upcoming fourth set, and though Molly does make a welcome return to greater prominence here among a bevy of clever ideas, the end result shortchanges the intelligence of the Master and the danger of the Eminence without compensating by giving the leads something truly unique for development, an enjoyable but comparative misstep for Dark Eyes and what has so far been a thoroughly rewarding journey.

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