The Lost Resort

Posted in Audio by - September 11, 2021
The Lost Resort

Released September 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

At least part of the reason Big Finish chose to end the monthly range of adventures featuring the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors was because of the sheer number of instalments which could seem overwhelming to newcomers looking to delve into those classic eras of Doctor Who. Similar to The Companion Chronicles which long ago switched from a monthly release format to that of the occasional box set, the 1980s Doctors have followed suit and left Torchwood as the only monthly range in Big Finish’s increasingly diverse offerings. However, just as the first First Doctor box set of The Companion Chronicles continued with storylines from the monthly offerings, AK Benedict’s ‘The Last Resort’ incorporates unfinished business from the Fifth Doctor’s final monthly adventures to begin to offer a sense of closure in more than one sense for the Doctor and his companions who have been through so much. With the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, and Marc reunited, plans to travel to Gallifrey to properly talk are cast aside when the TARDIS lands on Soresia, home to a strange temporal atmosphere and to the Welkin Sanatorium where renowned potential for recuperation has been overtaken by decay and dark secrets.

Marc quickly established himself as one of the more honourable and yet tragic figures to have traveled with the Doctor, and yet ‘The Last Resort’ tries to straddle a fine line between delving into the true emotional aftermath of Marc’s experiences and the Doctor’s own ensuing grief-driven actions and remaining open to new listeners unfamiliar with the monumental events of stories such as ‘Conversion’ and ‘Madquake.’ This is something of a brave choice given just how adeptly Big Finish has probed and explored the emotional nuances of characters that were often glossed over on screen whenever tragedy and turmoil struck, but the unique environment on Soresia allows for a profound exploration of loss, grief, and the meaning of life as a whole without necessarily delving into explicit specifics. George Watkins excels as Marc continues to come to terms with what he simply claims to be his condition amidst the strange inhabitants and androids of this world, but this is a very much a story about larger themes and motivations rather than the intimate exploration of this TARDIS team’s current dynamics that seemed inevitable given the TARDIS’s original trajectory and the Doctor’s stated intent.

With that in mind, ‘The Last Resort’ has to be considered a resounding success, and despite all three cliffhangers more or less being variations of the same thing, the inclusion of Adric in this ghost-filled Sanatorium so soon after his apparent demise in ‘Earthshock’ brings forth another overlooked trauma to fuel immensely deep introspection from a team that has tried to heal and move on as best as possible. It’s clear that the emotional pain is still present and raw, however, and Peter Davison makes the most of the incredible opportunity to delve into the emotions and certainties that fuel his Doctor beneath what is normally such a stoic and calm exterior. Adric’s final word being Doctor still haunts him, and the prospect of having to face the boy he failed is almost too much for him to bear. As such, his assumption that he is being tortured when confronted with an apparition of the past perfectly sums up his mindset at this point in time, and the ensuing discussions about the constraints of mortality, the grief that those constraints bring about in others, and making the most of the time one has are expertly delivered by everyone and wonderfully contrast the notion of perpetual life with the chaos and emotional corruption that could arise.

The atmosphere of Soresia comes to life with an equal mixture of surrealism, horror, and mystery, and the truth behind the inhabitants of this Sanatorium is devastating and profound. With Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding likewise at their most dynamic as Nyssa and Tegan directly confront their recent past and the eerie mystery before them, and with strong supporting performances from Glen McCready, Anna Barry, Clare Louise Connolly, Julia Sandiford, Alibe Parsons, and Chandrika Chevli, and the incredible emotion that is so integral to the core of ‘The Last Resort’ is realized and exploited to its fullest. Given the profound storylines that were not wrapped up in the now-defunct monthly range that have carried over at least superficially here, ‘The Last Resort’ manages to intertwine and develop multiple personal traumas the Fifth Doctor has experienced and ends up delivering one of the more profound character pieces for this particular team as the past and the nature of life itself stare down its members.

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