The Enigma Dimension

Posted in Audio by - April 16, 2018
The Enigma Dimension

Released February 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

With its twelfth story, ‘The Enigma Dimension’ by Nicholas Briggs, Big Finish draws to a close its fascinating look into the life and mindset of the most mysterious of the Doctor’s many incarnations in the most terrible of times. The Dalek Time Strategist has developed the ultimate plan to assure his side’s victory in the Time War, but while his fleet amasses and advances, something strange hovers above the planet Gallifrey while terrifying shadows move along its surface. The Time Lords face their most powerful threat yet, and only an entrance to the unknown Enigma Dimension may save the universe as a whole.

The Time War is a setting inherently filled with complex and catastrophic weaponry and schemes, and so while some may bemoan the fact that the Daleks have found their way into another dimension with denizens who have no concept of time and can thus rewrite history on a whim, it nonetheless makes perfect sense thematically and unquestionably escalates the threat to Gallifrey while continuing to expand upon the increasing desperation of the Daleks as they persist in finding distinctly non-Dalek ways with which to take the fight back to their eternal enemies. Of course, Daleks will always be Daleks with one ultimate goal no matter the cost or means, and their willingness to threaten the Enigma with extermination in order to assure their cooperation is anything but surprising, but Leela’s apparent affinity with the extra-dimensional beings proves the worth of an individual and exemplifies the very best of the character who has been the focus of so much wonderful characterisation over the years with Big Finish. While it is true that the suggestion that her more primitive brain is somehow unsullied by negative emotions and the potential for immoral thoughts does follow a storyline more in line with some of her televised tenure than with the remarkable experiences she has had on Gallifrey and beyond since, it does simultaneously exemplify the very best of the character and of Louise Jameson’s acting even if her role as a vessel of sorts for these beings means that the true Leela is once more absent from the majority of events here as in the previous tale.

However, with this being John Hurt’s swansong, ‘The Enigma Dimension’ is wholly successful in giving the War Doctor and the actor the farewell so rightfully deserved. This entire series has been an internal exploration of a man trying to reconcile his actions in the present with the ideals and morality that have been the foundation of his character from the very beginning, whether he chose to admit it or not. He has seen countless atrocities and been responsible for or contributed to just as many more, and Hurt has been able to imbue an incredible amount of sadness into the resolute determination that underlies the accepted need to do whatever is right at the time even if history will not be so kind with its memories. Given where the character inevitably ends up with the Moment in ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ it’s perhaps unsurprising here that, when faced with a power that can literally rewrite history into any story imaginable, he is prepared to sacrifice the very existence of both Time Lords and Daleks alike to best ensure the common good is attained and maintained throughout the cosmos for all time. With the Daleks simultaneously all-powerful and feeble within this strange dimension and Ollistra lobbying for a total Time Lord victory, the Doctor proves to be the most moral of them all even if the costs incurred with his desires may be the highest of all available options. ‘The Enigma Dimension’ highlights the wonderfully strategic nature of this incarnation, but it’s this culmination of so much building and heartache that represents the true arrival of the man who would leave such a lasting impact on his future selves.

‘The Enigma Dimension’ is ambitious and represents everything that the Time War saga should, in the process highlighting how the Doctor’s way of thinking can change even the resolute Ollistra for the better before taking the Doctor to perhaps his darkest moment yet. For a series that, as a whole, has been fairly faithfully exploring wartime tropes with a novel spin, it’s fitting that the final story should be the biggest in scope and scale even as the action and dialogue remains wondrously intimate. With immense performances from all involved and the usual strong Big Finish sound design and direction as the fate of the Daleks and Time Lords hangs in the balance, ‘The Enigma Dimension’ may not be the perfect story in every respect, but it’s the perfect story for John Hurt and his War Doctor as he continues down his path of inevitability, and that’s all that could ever be asked of it.

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