UNIT: Dominion

May 27, 2016

Released October 2012

UNIT: Dominion is an ambitious and epic four-part box set that brings together several loose threads and mysteries in the Doctor Who universe in a very satisfying manner. With the return of Elizabeth Klein and of the televised companion that never was in Raine Creevy, UNIT and its human soldiers, alien invasions and interdimensional threats, and an unknown future incarnation of the Doctor, Dominion throws everything at its listeners with unabashed glee, creating an intense and thrilling experience along the way.

The first part does quite well in setting the initial scene. The Seventh Doctor and Raine, following a distress call through the dimensional divide, land on the Tolean homeworld, desiccated by an ancient Gallifreyan device called a Node. It is here that the Doctor meets his future incarnation who warns him not to help the Tolians, and it is back on Earth that UNIT’s scientific adviser Klein is offered assistance by this same unknown Doctor when she discovers another Node herself.

Naturally, the Seventh Doctor succumbs to his hubris and ignore his future self, using the Node to open a path to another dimension from which he can transfer energy back to the Tolean homeworld to revive it and its people. Finding himself soon trapped in that dimension, it is up to the future Doctor to help with the interdimensional rift that has formed on Earth, allowing a wide array of bizarre alien beings to travel to Earth as their own dimensions collapse. When the Seveneth Doctor and Raine finally do arrive on Earth, only to find UNIT a bit less than trusting of their motives given Klein’s past history with the Doctor, they work alongside the future Doctor to offer some sort of control over the situation.

Indeed, the scope of the story being told may be offputting to some, but it’s also a testament to Big Finish that, despite all of the characters involved in the increasingly-strange events, it never comes off as too continuity-laden or padded. The story breezes along at a rapid pace, but it also takes time to invest in the individual characters such as the UNIT soldiers so that, when they inevitably die, it’s meaningful and carries with it the requisite weight needed.

As Beth Chalmers’s Raine takes a bit of more marginalized role in the overall proceedings, Dominion very much becomes a story centered around Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor, Tracey Child’s Klein, and Alex Macqueen as the future Doctor. McCoy manages to bring something fresh to his performance here as his incarnation approaches its end, seemingly invigorated by Raine’s presence in his life, somewhat distraught by his relationship with and handling of Klein, and unimpressed by his future self and his more relaxed demeanour that would seem perfectly in line with the Tenth or Eleventh Doctors. Klein, having such a tortuous past and jagged relationship with the Umbrella Man, very much provides the anchor for listeners here, maintaining a grounded sense of reality and sometimes pessimism even in the most arbitrarily bizarre events.

Of course, the performance and character that will have the most lasting impact here is Alexander Macqueen’s. Unsurprisingly, and quite obviously when listened to with hindsight, the future Doctor is simply another facade for the Master. This instantly makes perfect sense of everything that has occurred as the Doctor and company are simply caught up in another Master scheme as he plays for multidimensional control and domination. Just as his demeanour could be believable as future Doctor, it’s instantly recognizable as the polar opposite at the same time, a testament to Macqueen’s skills.

Introducing a new version of a beloved foe is no easy task by any means, yet Macqueen’s version pays due respect to the actors who have held the Master role before him while also making it entirely his own. This is a Master who is having fun, having disposed of his more dour persona, and he amply fills his performance with hints of insanity, boldness, mystery, and antagonism perfectly as each situation needs. He’s completely unpredictable in his actions and certainly has the ambition and power to achieve his visions of grandeur, easily stealing the spotlight of this box set all to himself. At this point, there is absolutely no way that this will be a one-off version of the Master, and Big Finish has assuredly found themselves an epic villainous presence that can torment the universe for years to come.

UNIT: Dominion features a crazy, somewhat complicated plot but it all makes perfect sense as events unfold and further mysteries are unraveled. McCoy and Childs give their all to their performances, but it’s Alexander Macqueen’s surprise revelation as the Master along with his infectiously unpredictable energy and plans that turns the Doctor Who universe on its head the most. As a means of bringing together many loose plot threads while also introducing several successful new ones, UNIT: Dominion is a fantastic and resounding success.

Wrap Up

UNIT: Dominion

Pros

  • + Sylvester McCoy and Tracey Childs on top form
  • + Alexander Macqueen steals the show as the Master both before and after he drops his future Doctor disguise, ensuring his lasting position as a Big Finish menace
  • + Great pacing throughout, and the plot somehow all makes perfect sense in the end

Cons

  • - Increasingly bizarre sequence of interdimensional beings may be offputting to some
  • - Raine sidelined a bit more than expected

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