Released March 2014
‘Scavenger’ closes out 2014’s main range Sixth Doctor trilogy and possibly the saga of Flip herself, venturing into true science fiction territory more than most Doctor Who stories along the way. As the Doctor and Flip aboard a nearby space station view the Anglo-Indian Salvage 2 device tasked with cleaning up a century’s accumulation of debris from 2071 Earth’s orbit, they quickly become involved in a plot dating back some 500 years that threatens both Flip and millions of citizens on the planet below as Salvage 2 comes across something distinctly non-human in origin.
‘Scavenger’ is a story that highlights both of its leads and is filled with clever ideas and concepts. The Doctor reawakening a dormant alien scavenger satellite as he shows off his technical prowess would be a decent enough premise for many stories, but author William Gallagher more fully rounds out his script by injecting substantial amount of history of both the satellite and Earth to make ‘Scavenger’ an altogether more satisfying tale. Thus, interspersed with the tale of the Scavenger tearing out equipment from anything nearby to incorporate into itself while also clearing the Earth of its inhabitants that it views as junk is the tale of Crown Prince Salim and his illicit love affair with a slave girl, Anarkali, in 1600s India. Scavenger’s creators originally sent it to Earth at that time to search for higher technology; finding none, it put itself into hibernation while waiting for Earth’s technology to sufficiently progress to meet its needs. Needing a living mind within its circuitry, Scavenger took Anarkali away from Salim after Salim developed a cough and was deemed imperfect. Not aging a day since, Salim has continued to work tirelessly for centuries to reclaim his love from Scavenger’s clutches, even protecting the alien device from Earth’s attacks to ensure Anarkali’s safety even as Anarkali’s doomed fate is discovered and repeated with Flip in the present.
‘Scavenger’ also highlights the pride of the Sixth Doctor while perfectly showcasing the dynamic presence that Lisa Greenwood brings to Flip. Confident until the very end, the Doctor breezes through each hurdle presented to ensure the safety of humanity from the alien threat, leaving Flip to the end because of the faith both Flip and the Doctor have in him. Flip’s final scene is the perfect manner to potentially wrap up her storyline, jumping from the edge of Scavenger with her fate undetermined and unconfirmed. Her final speech, given as much to herself as anyone else, taps into her inner psyche perfectly and puts her heroic actions into a much different context as she proudly reminisces about her successes while also questioning what her role truly has been in the Doctor’s life. Flip is a reckless character who is unafraid to run away but also unafraid to stand up to a challenge, and ‘Scavenger’ encapsulates her entire personality wonderfully.
This is the definite highlight of this trilogy, and its emotionally impactful final moments will assuredly stick with the Doctor and listeners for quite some time. With solid pacing, a thrilling sense of danger throughout, and exciting plot-based action spanning several centuries that perhaps may contain too much technobabble for some, ‘Scavenger’ easily tells the interlinked but very disparate tales of the confident Doctor and scared Flip as they both work to save the world from a very menacing threat.