The Sword of the Chevalier

Posted in Audio by - November 24, 2017
The Sword of the Chevalier

Released November 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The audio adventures of the Tenth Doctor and Rose continue as the two arrive in 1791 and quickly happen upon one of the more fascinating historical figures not yet encountered in Doctor Who, The Chevalier d’Eon. A one-time French diplomat and spy whose very identity was shrouded in mystery due to androgenous characteristics and an innate ability to mimic, this figure was able to pursue more masculine professions in public while also infiltrating important areas as a female, this fluidity creating a perfect foil for the ever-changing Doctor as they discover and try to thwart the mysterious Consortium of the Obsidian Asp.

Much like this set’s opener, ‘Infamy of the Zaross,’ ‘The Sword of the Chevalier’ dips into the overall lighter tone and stylings of David Tennant’s first year in the role when the Doctor seemed to have at least partially shed the burden of guilt that weighed down his previous incarnation. This is aided wonderfully by the continuing chemistry between Piper and Tennant who are clearly relishing the opportunity to reprise their iconic roles at a time when their characters were simply having fun together with little regard for any bigger picture. Thankfully, however, the script and Nickolas Grace treat Chevalier d’Eon with all due respect after some humorous asides, and the intrigue and drama surrounding the character as well as the superb characterization help to keep this adventure grounded in a semblance of reality.

The alien menace is another new creation for Big Finish, and the tri-sentient nature of the foe creates a wholly unique threat with a very dynamic set of voices and interactions. Wielding an incredible sense of entitlement, this dramatic being poses a fairly distinctive and certainly powerful danger and rightfully receives a great shock from the extremely confident Chevalier. Unfortunately, this personality aspect ends up resulting in a villain that doesn’t receive quite as much exploration as is usual, meaning that there is no great understanding of the evil on display and that the resolution exploiting this flaw is fairly predictable as the Doctor truly asserts himself. As a plot device, the menace here is unquestionably intriguing and more than serves its purpose, but a little bit more nuance and information could have truly elevated this foe from intriguing to truly memorable.

Everyone at Big Finish has already proven on several occasions that they fully understand what it takes to deliver an authentic experience set within the modern Doctor Who universe, and ‘The Sword of the Chevalier’ is certainly no exception. With a blistering pace, superb sound design, and fantastic interplay between its key characters as the Doctor once more delves into Earth’s past, this is another enjoyable success that overcomes the fact that its engaging threat remains somewhat ill-defined. Though this ultimately may be another enjoyable tale that does not quite reach classic status, like this set’s preceding serial it also deftly touches upon an issue that is pervading modern society more and more and manages to blend past and present together perfectly with its confident execution. While audio alone may not be able to perfectly recapture the manic energy of David Tennant’s early tenure, the first two stories of this new set have proven that the relationship between the Doctor and Rose remains a timeless one and has plenty of life in it yet for further exploration.

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