The Judas Gift

Posted in Audio by - August 28, 2018
The Judas Gift

Released April 2007

With ‘The Tub Full of Cats’ bringing Bernice and Braxiatel back to the Collection that finds itself in the crossfire of the war between the Draconians and the Mim, the eighth series of the Bernice Summerfield range begins in earnest as Bernice tries to fathom the motives of the new Draconian ambassador who has come to present a gift and to discuss the opinions and ethical implications of his people changing their means of attack against them. As Braxiatel assures everyone he is there simply to fix the Collection after furtively merging his TARDIS with the locale, the focus amidst all of the political drama is squarely on Bev Tarrant, the woman still trying to recompense for her past misdeeds in an important and impossible position for which her life as an art thief could never have prepared her.

Louise Faulkner deserves full credit for her most harrowing portrayal of Bev yet, and her audacious idea to actually talk to both the Draconians and the Mim to try to find common ground is a wonderfully grounded foundation for ‘The Judas Gift’ after the Collection has so recently been subjected to alien pollen and time and gravity shifts. As the Draconian Kothar arrives, he offers Bev a symbol of peace that she graciously accepts, and the reminder that the powerful Draconians have been through exactly the same trouble with the Daleks and Fifth Axis as the Collection has expertly helps to develop a greater sense of scope to previous events while better fleshing out at least one side of this ongoing war. Unsurprisingly, Kothar comes with his own intentions as well that become further developed as the story progresses, but his initial plea to gain credible academic claims that the chameleonic sponge-like Mim are not sentient in order to use banned weaponry on them is an interesting dynamic that captures the haughtiness of the Draconians and the uneasy foundation for this war as a whole.

The feudal Draconian culture stretching back thousands of years remains one brimming with dramatic potential, and Michael Fenner gives an immense performance as Kothar to further develop both the past and the present as he proves willing to destroy his reputation now as attacks persist in order to assure his lasting legacy when the outcome of his actions are reassessed in the future. The gauntlet he presents to Bev is the titular Judas Gift with ties to the very first Emperor and his power to divine right from wrong and, through devastatingly violent distractions to allow the gauntlet the time needed to read Bev, Kothar hopes to restore his disgraced family name that comes to explain just why his voice has a more humane aspect to it than the typical Draconian’s. Indeed, the intertwining of Bev’s ex-lover Ethan and Kothar is a dramatically satisfying twist that brings the Collection under Draconian control, and the suggestion that Kothar could never have known what Bev did to Ethan and that someone else from her past is attempting to sway events by using the Draconians is a dangerous but monumental tease at the events yet to play out in subsequent releases. With Braxiatel deleting Bev’s final message before anyone else can listen to it as she waits for them at Port Royal, the mystery and intrigue only intensifies throughout the story and again bodes well for the heavily-serialised setup of this eighth series.

With a wonderfully complex antagonist in Kothar who is just as difficult to read as Braxiatel is, ‘The Judas Gift’ takes everything that has been subtly playing out behind the scenes in this range and begins to bring it to the forefront with immense payoffs already manifesting. Every scene and event is relevant and all come together in an unexpected but wholly satisfying manner, and the continued progression of the relationship between Adrian and Bev and among all of the Collection leads make for an enthralling experience in this tightly-plotted and ever-deepening mystery that continues to develop the universe and conflict at large.

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