Released March 2013
Earth is emerging from a long and tenuous war against an intergalactic enemy that seemed utterly unstoppable until it simply and inexplicably stopped its advance. With humanity still crippled, the Doctor and Mel join its struggle to survive in order to ensure its future. Their fates intertwined with the Teveler family as events progress across ten systems from the Great Tower of Kaslos to the Reliquaries of Earth, the Doctor and Mel devise a plan while remaining ever cautious of the waiting Eminence.
The Eminence represents Big Finish taking full advantage of its complete control of all of Doctor Who’s history. While the Sixth Doctor recognizes the Eminence and is wholly aware of the particular threat that he poses, especially since he still carries a taint within his mind, this is the audience’s first introduction to the enemy that will make its chronological debut in an upcoming The Fourth Doctor Adventures tale. Although it is unfortunate that the usually talkative Sixth Doctor does not want to go into detail about his previous possession at the hands of the Eminence, Colin baker still does a wonderful job in portraying a bristlier version of the Doctor to unsettlingly imply that something is not quite right.
Although the Eminence and its Infinite Warriors are perhaps not fully realized here, possibly to leave surprises for the upcoming release, they nonetheless emerge as very powerful foes that should make an intriguing recurring villain. A gaseous intelligence that can occupy the minds of those it chooses and turn others into invincible cadavers through the Breath of Forever, the Eminence is a great addition to the list of Doctor Who foes, one that can take survivors of war and still meld them to its will. With Earth and its colony worlds depleted of resources and food, the Eminence deliberately explodes ships in the atmospheres in order to introduce traces of itself into the environments and seeds in order to give it access to the minds of and the ability to transform every human, a frighteningly effective tactic.
Fortunately, the rest of the story lives up to the villain and its intent as well, each episode suitably moving events to a new location while increasing the stakes and sense of mystery. Placing a single family at the heart of events helps to provide a personal and emotional anchor for events that could otherwise become rather generic no matter the level of threat, and the return of war heroes to offer very different accounts of battles than the recorded propaganda speeches is used to great effect. Indeed, the opening episode is one of the strongest episodes Big Finish has ever produced, and the oncoming demolition of the Tower of Kalsos amidst the introduction of the Eminence is powerfully realized and immensely tense. However, even as the plot takes unexpected turns and emotionally puts the Doctor through tremendous internal turmoil, the climax and resolution come off as rather muted without any sense of occasion since the insidious plan never really manifests or comes close to being achieved, a testament to the heroes but surprising nonetheless.
‘The Seeds of War’ nonetheless is an incredibly engaging and sprawling science fiction tale that hits all of the right notes. Although it’s surprising that Big Finish would release three consecutive heavy science fiction releases in a row, not taking away from this individual release but perhaps taking away from its impact when listened to in quick succession with the previous two, ‘The Seeds of War’ is an experiment that should continue to pay dividends in the future and absolutely makes great use of Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford in the present.