Released June 2015
Following ‘And You Will Obey Me’ and ‘Vampire of the Mind,’ Big Finish’s arguably most ambitious trilogy yet comes to a close with the ‘The Two Masters,’ the story that finally brings together two incarnations of the notorious Time Lord to face the Doctor. With the universe and the entirety of both the past and the future in danger of dying, the Doctor must turn to his oldest foe for help to have any chance.
As enjoyable as getting to experience Geoffrey Beevers explore deeper aspects of his Master and then to experience Alex Macqueen further refine his manic incarnation in consecutive releases, ‘The Two Masters’ is the one that fans have been clamoring for, bringing both together with immense potential. The two actors have such different takes on the role that having them interact is an absolute joy, and the differences of opinion overlying the mutual respect for each other certainly evokes some of the best interactions between multiple incarnations of the Doctor in other stories.
There are some stories where revealing too much about the plot ruins the entire experience, and such is the case with ‘The Two Masters.’ Needless to say, writer John Dorney does an absolutely spectacular job filling his script with clever plot twists, subverted identities, and explanations for both why the TARDIS was damaged in ‘And You Will Obey Me’ and why the Master had such gaps in his memory in ‘Vampire of the Mind.’ With these explanations in place, a certain added level of enjoyment can certainly be attained in those previous stories. Additionally, there are also some smart references to recent Big Finish mythology such as the inclusion of the Rocket Men as well as a critical piece of backstory and a character who could possibly come to affect the entire mythology of Doctor Who itself.
Of course, the tale cannot stand on simply the potential of having two incarnations of the Master meet. Fortunately, Beevers and Macqueen both deliver truly standout performances that rival their very best in the roles, whether working for or against each other or the very intriguing Cult of the Heretic, as their plan to take over a remodeled universe comes nearer to fruition. Satisfyingly, ‘The Two Masters’ completely flips the typical script of a story featuring the Master. Here, the Master is the hero of his own story, the Doctor being the great villain who foils his plans at the end. It’s a subtle shift in dynamics, especially as the Doctor must reluctantly join forces with his foe, but it works wonderfully in this story, especially given the multitudes of double crossings, half truths, and secrets throughout.
For those who are willing to pay attention to the convoluted series of events, the payoff is absolutely tremendous, but this is certainly not a story to be listened to when full attention is not available. Sylvester McCoy is absolutely brilliant as the Seventh Doctor nearing the end of his life, skeptical about the Master while also trying to repair the many paradoxes and issues that arise because of the events in the story. After taking on more of a companion and background role for much of the story, he McCoy firmly delivers when needed at the end, showcasing his Doctor making the most out of what he is physically given within the story to bring about a satisfying resolution to the Anomaly Cage. Added to the wondrous performances by Geoffrey Beevers and Alex Macqueen and to the spectacular scripts that keeps many surprises coming up until the very end, ‘The Two Masters’ is the perfect conclusion to a very strong trilogy and certainly opens up many more pathways for future stories as well. It’s a shame that the plot is so intricate and so well-crafted that more can’t be spoken of it, but going in with no true knowledge of events will certainly give the fullest and most rewarding experience.