The Crystal of Cantus

Posted in Audio by - August 16, 2018
The Crystal of Cantus

Released March 2006

With Parasiel continuing to press about Braxiatel’s fate following the Fifth Axis incursion at the Collection, Bernice finally relents and tells the harrowing story of just what occurred on the lost colony of Cantus as the sixth series wraps up with Joseph Lidster’s ‘The Crystal of Cantus,’ a story after which nothing will ever be the same.

Though Miles Richardson as Irving Braxiatel has not featured in recent stories, he in unquestionably the most enigmatic figure within the Bernice Summerfield range, and even his bevy of appearances in the written medium have failed to ever diminish the dangerous and mysterious mystique that surrounds him. One of the more fascinating developments, however, came in ‘The Mirror Effect’ when Jason confronted him about not having a dark version of himself manifest, prompting Braxiatel to alter Jason’s memories and to cause him terrible headaches whenever he began to question Braxiatel or the strange gaps in his own memory that have continued to manifest. With hints since that Jason remains a pawn of Braxiatel, long-standing arcs that looked set to remain unaddressed finally come back to the forefront in the most tormenting fashion as Braxiatel’s true colours are revealed. This is a man who is unafraid to break the laws of time to get what he needs, and his seeming cowardice, his ruthless willingness to look beyond a single life, and his manipulative scheming to ensure everyone is exactly where he wants them when he wants them there are all called directly into question. ‘The Crystal of Cantus’ is unafraid of looking back at Braxiatel’s time on Gallifrey, and the story as a whole becomes a deeply satisfying look into this fascinatingly brutal character and his own sense of loyalty or lack thereof that should continue to deliver plenty of drama going forward.

The inclusion of multiple narrations, viewpoints, and timeframes has the potential to create a rather confusing instalment, but the fragmentary jigsaw nature of this setup is perfectly edited and allows every event to be detailed with maximum impact. Truly, after an impressive but alarming opening, the pace never relents, and the eventual discovery of Braxiatel’s plan for Jason whom he considers to be too stupid for Bernice is fearsome, exemplified perfectly by the incredibly uncomfortable torture at the hands of the Cybermen. With Braxiatel using literally everyone around him to ensure the future of his precious Collection, the willing army the Cybermen present for him to exploit provides the perfect zenith for a series that has continued to develop and twist with exciting repercussions all along the way, at the same time taking Braxiatel squarely outside of his comfort zone as he desperately tries to determine what the Cybermen want to do with him.

As satisfying as ‘The Crystal of Cantus’ is in its own right, however, listeners who have not been following Bernice’s exploits within her concurrent written adventures- especially as those tales go out of print- will not experience the same level of satisfaction just because of the long-standing groundwork that that has crossed mediums. This is perhaps most telling with story of Ronan and his history with Clarissa Jones which has been much more extensively explored in the prose and Joseph Lidster’s ‘A Summer Affair’ in particular, and his appearance and the detailing of his end of the bargain is all the more chilling with that backstory in place. Nonetheless, the brutal emotionlessness of the Cybermen provides an incredible menace for the emotion-laden individuals and circumstances here, and the discovery of just how Cybermats are created is one of the most fearsome moments in the long and varied history of the Doctor Who universe. With Braxiatel gone, the Mim threatening, and the Draconians laying claim to the Collection, ‘The Crystal of Cantus’ features incredible performances, direction, and sound design, integrating the Cybermen and the history and fears of those in the Collection to remarkable effect and promising a distinct and reinvigorated series full of potential going forward now that Braxiatel has been forced to leave and Jason has regained his full complement of memories.

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