The Iron Maid

Posted in Audio by - July 01, 2018
The Iron Maid

Released June 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Following two tales that brought more of a modern flare to the Second Doctor era, writer John Pritchard delivers arguably the most traditional instalment of The Second Doctor Volume Two with ‘The Iron Maid,’ thrusting Zoe into the spotlight as the TARDIS arrives in fourteenth century France at a time of devastation and despair while a woman inside an empty church beisde a crowded graveyard warns of a terrible future awaiting the world.

The harrowing conflict between the French and English that sustained the Hundred Years’ War and brought about so much prolonged devastation is one rife with dramatic potential, and Pritchard manages to perfectly evoke an atmosphere drenched in despondency alongside a grim determination and acceptance of the situation by those always hoping for a brighter future. Inspired by a true woman purported to be a visionary during this time, Marie’s vexing and troublesome visions provide the perfect gateway through which the TARDIS trio of the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe can become intertwined in affairs, and the assortment of twentieth-century armour riddled with bullet damage that appeared some fifty years ago in an immense light that made no sound and left no impact is a wonderful hook to ensure intrigue remains high. Evoking the presence of Joan of Arc when the darkness of the times seems to be at its most complete, Marie claims that she has been told that the armour is meant for a maid other than her who will save her country from its enemies.

Fittingly for the time, events that the locals simply cannot understand carry with them religious undertones from their perspectives, and Zoe astutely comments on how much Jamie has changed in a short period of time given his willingness to now pursue the unknown without fearing superstition. However, when Marie claims to hear the inhuman voices of the unholy dead from within a strange tomb communicating with her and showing her terrifying visions, Zoe soon learns not to disregard what at first seems to be superstition quite so quickly, discovering with the Doctor that there seems to be two distinct time zones unfolding within this region at different rates and only hinting at the sheer terror of the unknown those trapped within what is revealed to be a British tank must be experiencing. Unfortunately for all involved in the past, a change in time for soldiers from their future does nothing to quell the innate feelings of hatred for the opposition still present once they transition to their new surroundings, and one man’s resulting vision to utterly change history with the advent of superior technology turns very deadly very quickly.

With a rift between the two times open and her companions exploring the nearby locale, Zoe is able to prove time and time again just how brave, resourceful, and intelligent she is as she must work within the belief systems of others to uncover the truth without alienating those around her, and Wendy Padbury captures the plucky and boastful spirit of the character perfectly. ‘The Iron Maid’ is very much a story about the many nuances of humanity within the wartime setting, and the science fiction and temporal aspects of the plot allow those nuances to come to forefront with spectacular effect before Zoe finds herself the unwitting heroine in the truest sense. This is very much a script that could seamlessly fit into the televised era, and the strong imagery, direction, and performances ensure that it’s an engrossing adventure from beginning to end.

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