The Robots Volume Three

Posted in Audio by - December 19, 2020
The Robots Volume Three

Released December 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Over the course of six stories in two box sets, The Robots from Big Finish has quickly established itself as one of the more engaging ongoing audio series currently being produced. Set on a Kaldor rife with corporatization and class divides while the distrust in this society’s robots and the resulting pushback and wariness from its humans both continue to mount, the stories have to this point wonderfully fleshed out the many nuances of life in this context while giving voice to so many different affected parties, and the third volume looks to continue that trend as tensions continue to escalate.

Robert Whitelock opens The Robots Volume Three with ‘The Mystery of Sector 13’ as Liv continues her determined investigations to link the rogue Sons of Kaldor group to recent robot-related incidents. In doing so, she presents a direct window into the poorer side of society that has been important to the narrative and yet not fully explored to this point. This is an area where the prospects of individual employment are startlingly low and where robots are accordingly not omnipresent, and the more subdued and downtrodden backdrop comes to life incredibly well with a subtle soundscape and immensely visual dialogue. With SV56 as her companion as she likewise tries to uncover the truth behind a recent medical emergency, the palpable unease of Sector 13 becomes much more overtly dangerous as she continues to press forward, and the hints at a much darker conspiracy provide a satisfying counterbalance to the much more personal pressure Tula faces on the public relations front as she discovers suspiciously absent information that has triggered no alarms or sense of urgency. By splitting up its two charismatic leads to explore very different aspects of Kaldor while hinting at just how intrinsically linked they are without revealing all of Kaldor’s secrets, ‘The Mystery of Sector 13’ provides the perfect template for how this series can continue to succeed and expand, and the wonderful nuance added to the robots reacting to unique external pressures adds yet another subtle layer of depth to this society that unwittingly finds itself in such chaos.

An unexpected but unquestionably successful idea from the previous set was to reintroduce David Collings’s Ander Poul and Pamela Salem’s Lish Toos from the original ‘The Robots of Death’ serial. Creating a more developed and established world around the events that had been hinted at so long ago proved to be a narrative masterstroke, and Guy Adams continues with that thread in ‘Circuit Breaker.’ Poul, of course, was revealed to be suffering from the robophobic Grimwade’s Syndrome within the televised serial when he found blood upon a Voc robot, and the repercussions of this condition within this particular society come to the forefront in a surprisingly emotional fashion as he investigates another crime at a local hotel. The underlying mystery provides a wonderful vehicle through which Collings can showcase an increasingly dramatic range of emotions that expertly mirrors Poul’s ever-shifting emotional state as the brutal and shrouded truth slowly comes to light, and the resulting exploration of a hidden undercurrent to this society that shows how even the most surprising subversion of expected desires can be accepted by willing individuals proves how much Kaldor with its many facets still has to offer this series. The broken class structure of this world continues to deliver plenty of emotional background in which its characters can operate to develop both themselves and Kaldor further, and the sense of oppressive tension that Adams is able to imbue to this script with its environment, characters, and crushing personal secrets makes ‘Circuit Breaker’ another impressive outing for this range even without the Chenkas featuring.

The Sons of Kaldor, terrorists or freedom fighters depending on one’s point of view, have been an important source of narrative drama for The Robots to this point as tensions human tensions regarding robots continue to escalate while mysterious and dangerous occurrences continue to strike fear in society at large, and Lisa McMullin brings that group to the forefront in ‘A Matter Conscience.’ McMullin wisely chooses a very human character as a window into this group whose furtive attempts to sow discord and to end the presence of robots on Kaldor are growing increasingly brazen, and the morality of what actions and losses are deemed essential or acceptable comes to be a necessarily important backbone for this story and both those involved in the increasingly persuasive events as well as those looking into them or experiencing them from the outside. With the Chenka sisters once more reunited during this investigation that brings them ever closer to the survivors of Storm Mine Four, Walker and Rushbrook once more give superb performances that highlight their characters’ similar and yet distinct outlooks on life and just what drives them to continue to look into the world around them that so many others take for granted even as it approaches a seemingly irrevocable shift. And yet through it all, it’s the actual definition of humanity and consciousness that provides what just may end up being the most intriguing plot point by the time this series concludes, and the resulting questioning of even the most basic assumptions of identity is sure to pay immense dividends. While it’s unfortunate that ‘A Matter of Conscience’ leaves so many unresolved threads both from its own story and those before it, it nonetheless provides a strong ending point for this third volume that absolutely maintains the series’s momentum and intrigue while opening even more narrative opportunities for those upon Kaldor to confront and consider.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.