The Lost Museum

Posted in Audio by - August 14, 2018
The Lost Museum

Released December 2005

As is often the case with more scholastic characters in long-standing science fiction series, the more cerebral side of Bernice Summerfield is often sidelined in order to allow the spectacle and character drama to come to the forefront. In his first feature-length audio contribution for the character after editing written anthologies, Simon Guerrier explores all aspects of this fascinating woman in what is arguably her most mature outing yet in ‘The Lost Museum’ as Jason and she arrive on Trib City at a time when the population has turned on itself following the overthrowing of the old dictatorship.

As the military struggles to maintain control with local divisions and conflicts constantly rising up, the story is unafraid to have Bernice who has a history with both military and academia confront the atrocities and true toll of wartime both on a personal level and in regards to how the two can interact and each lead to the downfall of the other. Lisa Bowerman has always given incredible performances that bring out the true emotional state of Bernice perfectly, but her utter anger upon seeing the true devastation even if she can understand why the military and its claims of liberation are not being willingly accepted by the locals is palpable and enthralling. With personal danger at its highest with Bernice even losing an arm during the ordeal, her grim but total determination as she must confront what exactly the purpose of a museum is and what kinds of stories it can tell depending on who is in charge is magnificent and feeds directly into the conflict at hand while also highlighting just how she views her own beloved Braxiatel Collection.

‘The Lost Museum’ is also the second consecutive story to feature Jason in a meaningful and well-written role that highlights the very best of the character. While not disregarding that he also has a life away from Bernice producing items that aren’t always for the most honourable purposes, Jason’s true compassion is on display as he confronts and tries to comfort a group of children that was injured during a terrorist attack. With Stephen Fewell also providing a voice for all of the locals through the monotonous tones of the translators, everyone in this story gets their say in unnerving fashion, and these people united through language as never before soon find warlike tendencies all the more prevalent and likely. To that effect, Jason’s tinkering of the translators to provide a fitting resolution is comical and yet profoundly satisfying as well, once more exemplifying the unique presence that he can provide within the malleable confines of Bernice’s life.

The two major supporting characters of General Markwood and Curator Enil each feature very intriguing histories that again tie directly into this complicated world and provide great counterpoints for Bernice’s own views. As the scope changes from a simple archaeological headache as fragments of different displays have been mixed to something altogether more harrowing as a torture chamber is revealed, the pacing and emotion never relent from beginning to end as the tension continues to build. That the old regime played different groups off of each other to conquer provides all the needed backstory for the disparate groups of this world that now find themselves without any semblance of leadership, but the far more horrific history featuring experimentation and torture that spared no family from any town is much more visceral and reveals Enil’s true self that encompasses both the horrors of the past and a glimpse of hope for the future.

‘The Lost Museum’ is certainly not afraid to look at just how far individuals will go to maintain power and unquestionably has some of the highest personal stakes that Bernice has yet faced as her past and ideals come squarely under fire, meaning that all of the pieces are in place for this to become a true classic that plays to a slightly more cerebral angle than most entries in this series. Unfortunately, the sound design and effects don’t have quite the same nuance and seamless integration as in previous instalments, and a few continuity references seem at odds with recent written developments, though Bernice admitting that she’s glad Bev and Adrian are together so that Peter will have a mother if she dies is fittingly poignant. Still, ‘The Lost Museum’ blends the very best aspects of the character and franchise of Bernice Summerfield and represents a strong foundation and template for what could be an immensely satisfying trajectory going forward.

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