Scenes from Her Life

Posted in Audio by - December 17, 2018
Scenes from Her Life

Released March 2016

Though ‘Beachhead’ began Doom Coalition 2 on a fairly standalone note, the destruction of the Voord homeworld nonetheless provided the Doctor, Liv, and Helen with the impetus to travel to the other side of the universe to a derelict gothic city lost in the ravages of space and time. Discovering that the few remaining inhabitants are performing monstrously inhumane experiments that are close to yielding results, unimaginable consequences threaten to overtake all of reality in John Dorney’s ‘Scenes from Her Life.’

Dorney is one of the most visually imaginative writers in Big Finish’s employ, and the fantastic presence in the Voord planet’s place of a labyrinthine structure left hanging in the vortex as the result of a TARDIS having its outer shell torn away is a monumental backdrop for these dangerous proceedings. Realising that the force shield holding the Citadel together could give out at any moment, the Doctor can’t help but explore to discover the trutharound him, hoping beyond hope that his companions will stay behind in his TARDIS and disregarding the danger that the cloister bells again insist on signalling. It’s here that he comes upon the outlandish figures of Stormblood and Sepulchra who populate this castle, and while it’s not wholly surprising that they are Gallifreyan in origin given the setting, the mystery built up about determining if they are mad and the cause of this or if they have gone mad because of this prolonged exposure is an engaging one. Unfortunately, while thecharacters do serve their role well, Vincent Franklin and Jacqueline King togethergive tremendously over-exaggerated performances that make each of their scenesmore tedious than necessary, even if demonstrating their madness is effectively achieved.

Far more effective in terms of balance, however, is the burgeoning story of Caleera told both through her current state of entrapment and experimentation and through short vignettes from throughout her life leading up to this point. As an Academy student who developed powerful telepathic abilities, Caleera quickly found herself at odds with the Time Lords at large who predicate their society upon strict order and uniformity, and they all toos adly attempt to suppress and control her abilities without ever trusting or accepting her even after their own interventions. Accordingly, while there is some nice paralleling between certain elements of what drove the Doctor tol eave Gallifrey, the very personal torment Caleera experiences predictably leads her down a more vengeful path, one from which she is perfectly willing to use and abuse others to achieve her goals.

Indeed, it’s through Caleera’s past and present desires to be special that Helen is developed in much more detail than at any point since her introductory story. Caleera is incredibly intuitive, understanding the insecurities and frustration Helen carries with her from living and working in a male-dominated society, and she is able to say just the right things to sway Helen to her side. To the benefit of this story, this duo carries the main weight of the present narrative, and Emma Cunniffe and Hattie Morahan are superb together to give each scene the requisite gravitas. Yet although it is Helen who is so instrumental in discovering Caleera’s plight and pushing for her release while the Doctor and Liv uncover more about this strange world, the Doctor is fittingly quick to reassure his companion by reminding her that he is ultimately the one to blame for the immense danger now facing the universe. The puzzle that is Doom Coalition is beginning to come together, and though there are a couple of jarring components that keep the piece from seamlessly flowing in whole, the decision to split the narrative with the Doctor simply a part rather than the focus of the plot works to great effect with a new threat and his newest companion allowed to develop all the more successfully.

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