The Age of Sutekh

Posted in Audio by - May 29, 2018
The Age of Sutekh

Released May 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The latest run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures comes to a close with ‘The Age of Sutekh’ by Guy Adams, culminating the groundwork displayed in ‘Kill the Doctor!’ as the ancient Osiran tries to re-establish his hold in reality as Drummond takes on the glittering gold spectacle of his own culture with Osiran servicer robots patrolling the streets. Blood sacrifices and worship enhance the strength of this god of war, and a brutal battle with the fates of the entire galaxy’s population at stake is about to begin.

Sutekh already established that with Rene.net he has the ability to sway public consciousness and activity to his every whim, but ‘The Age of Sutekh’ sees him cavalierly impose his will on the world around him much more overtly as he aims to win his eternal battle to destroy everything while also looking to his own past and his fractured relationship with his brother in particular. The network has fused the psychic potential of everyone connected, and he is able to feed off of the rampant fear and resulting belief stemming from his actions to continue to become stronger. The Doctor, however, is able to look beyond the glamourous scenery to notice specific details that hint that Sutekh is not yet in complete control. As glimmers of the original Drummond begin to break through, the Doctor questions just why Sutekh has created only one Osiran sky barge when at the height of his powers he would be able to summon an entire fleet into existence with just a thought. Whether because of a lack of raw materials or of power, it’s clear that Drummond is not yet lost and that the galaxy is not yet doomed to fall if the Doctor can put a plan into motion.

Sutekh’s plan using Rene.net and Rania Chuma as a focal point to take over Drummond has at least passing similarities to an evil plan recently used in an Eighth Doctor Big Finish story, a fact that at least superficially takes away from some of the inherent might of the Osiran despite his weakened condition currently and the incredible power he will wield if fully returned. Unsurprisingly, Rene.net proves to be the core of the Doctor’s plan to break Sutekh’s influence, and he quite easily disrupts the neural net of the guards with a sonic pulse to allow him time to formulate a plan. This world is Sutekh with his memories made real, however, and soon anything and everything becomes a weapon as he realises that he must fight to maintain control. As the Doctor, Leela, Kendra, and Joyce fight for survival and justice in their own ways, Sophia Myles does well to portray Rania’s internal turmoil as she tries to maintain a sense of self and take control of her consciousness that has been subject to Sutekh for so very long, and it’s fitting- if inevitable- that it should be the dreamers of Drummond who help break down the walls of Sutekh’s imposed world.

‘The Age of Sutekh’ is a much more engaging and well-paced adventure that its opening half, and Leela’s plot where she implores the poor and disenfranchised of Drummond to not make the same mistakes as the rich before them when they suddenly find themselves the fortunate ones to have been spared adds an extra layer of humanity and emotional depth that Louise Jameson delivers perfectly. Although the resolution to the plot is straightforward and inevitable given the means of Sutekh’s success, the journey is filled with some intriguing visuals and characters along the way, and Myles and Baker absolutely deserve full credit for the emotion on display as the battle for reality plays out in real time. Without Sutekh allowed to reach his full potential, however, the threat never quite fully resonates and feels like something of a missed opportunity despite the danger he still manages to create and the strong performance from Gabriel Woolf who recapture his character and suave menace well. Nonetheless, ‘The Age of Sutekh’ is easily the best story of this troubled set, but this box set as a whole could have benefitted from condensing this two-parter into one and expanding ‘The Bad Penny’ with its myriad ideas to two regardless of the presence of a returning foe here.

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