Vienna Series One

Posted in Audio by - March 04, 2018
Vienna Series One

Released February 2014

After an intriguing debut alongside in Sylvester McCoy in the Big Finish audio ‘The Shadow Heart’ and a thrilling headlining outing in ‘The Memory Box,’ Chase Masterson’s glamorous assassin for hire, Vienna Salvatori, returns for three new adventures in series one of this self-titled audio range to further demonstrate the intelligence, intricacy, and spunk that have already so distinguished this character and her exploits.

‘Dead Drop’ by Mark Wright opens the series with a grand space battle between the humanoid Dyarid Primary Vanguard and the insectoid Chtzin in the Hyspero system. Undercover as Executive Officer of the Dyarid hyper-dreadnaught flagship Custodian, Vienna finds herself employed to kill Supreme Commander Jamela K’Lynn, a refugee psychic and mass murderer who has taken advantage of circumstances to achieve a position of significant power. Shockingly, her mission proceeds to completion unencumbered very quickly, completely overturning expectations and storytelling conventions to remind the audience that Vienna’s world is anything but straightforward as she quickly finds herself unable to escape the Custodian due to damage incurred from the Chtzin that leaves the ship trapped mid-warp and hurtling helplessly toward the nearby sun.

‘The Memory Box’ suggested that Vienna would be a range with layered plots that subverted anticipated narrative paths, and ‘Dead Drop’ seemingly confirms that this will be the norm even in what will likely end up as one of the more traditional stories, an element that significantly enhances the overall tension and atmosphere since any character, action, or element could suddenly gain prominence as the mysteries and escapades careen to their unexpected conclusion. While the argument could be made that Vienna achieving her goal so early takes away from the actual bounty hunter element of the character, this story proves just how intelligent and resourceful Vienna is and resultantly proves to be a strong reintroduction to the character when she finds herself out of her element. Given how quickly the action progresses as Vienna takes charge to restart the warp engines while uncovering that the crew has unknowingly become more like the Chtzin in their thoughts and actions than they could have ever known, no revelation or sequence ever feels rushed or unexplained, and Masterson puts her time on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to good use as she confidently leads the foray into exploration of the many conditions of the structures and people surrounding her, both mental and physical alike as needed.

‘Bad Faith’ by Nev Fountain introduces the vile concept of faith stealing, the extraction of one’s faith to then sell to the highest bidder, a popular activity in criminal circles because of its perceived victimless distinction since those who lose their faith invariably believe themselves to have been deserving of that fate in the first place. With the script obviously poking fun at the more consumerist and materialistic avenues of some religious ventures while avoiding any sort of preachiness of the devout or rancour of the atheistic, Frazer Hines takes centre stage as Bax Spendlove, the leader of the celebrity-infused Church of New Wonderment, itself a breakaway sect of the Church of Old Wonderment. Displaying the hallmarks of a grade one miracle, Vienna becomes a willing disciple in Spendlove’s plan to reunite the two branches through the murder of his Old Wonderment equivalent, Parsival.

Though it’s no surprise that Vienna is not a new convert and that Spendlove is anything but a figure worthy of praise and loyalty, ‘Bad Faith’ is yet another case where a seemingly uncomplicated mission for the bounty hunter becomes anything but due to the complex nature of Spendlove’s wife, Kendra, herself a convert from Old Wonderment. There are two sides to every story, and Kendra as portrayed so aptly by Rachel Atkins provides the surprising conduit for the truth to manifest as Parsival’s own steps to reunite the Church become known. Vienna once more proves how resourceful she is as she guides the plot from the shadows despite always being in open view with the devices available to her, and the resolution following the Church finally finding itself with one surprising figurehead once more is fittingly emotional and allows Vienna a rare chance to show true compassionate respect as someone learns her name and is allowed to live. Quickly paced and surprising to the end, ‘Bad Faith’ uses its small cast to flesh out the darker side of those in power to great effect and keeps the momentum high going into the finale.

‘Deathworld’ by Jonathan Morris closes out this first series on the planet Mercator where twenty trained assassins enter a game arena armed only with their wits in a contest of survival with only one victor. Vienna’s universe has from the start been one that has questioned perception and memory, and that notion is taken to its logical extreme when even Vienna’s own most haunting memories from her past are examined for authenticity as others claim suspiciously similar memories with key alterations to drive the narrative forward. Vienna has been searching for Crevo Finn throughout this set to avenge a past wrong, and this glimpse into her proposed past allows Masterson the opportunity to portray a more grounded and emotionally invested version of the character than the more detached and flippant nature of her bounty hunter profession normally dictates.

It almost goes without saying at this point, but Vienna’s involvement is this story is anything but predictable even as this moment to prove her prowess as an assassin after a lifetime of training finally arrives. As with ‘Bad Faith,’ ‘Deathworld’ almost flaunts the fact that it knows it is wrong-footing the audience due precisely to the forward-thinking aptitude of its heroine, and fortunately the payoff for this bold decision once the truth is revealed is more than worth the known deception in which Vienna seems to fall. With plenty of danger and a surprisingly emotional core as several individuals come to question known truths and memory manipulation, ‘Deathworld’ has both the plot and the main antagonistic figure in Mark Frost’s perfectly-pitched Crevo Finn to exemplify the true range of Masterson and prove that there is ample potential for further development of Vienna as a character going forward to buoy the thrilling and pacey action that has already become such a forceful mainstay of this burgeoning franchise that hurtles so effortlessly from locale to locale.

Vienna Salvatori, at least to this point, is not quite the ruthless figure that the series sometimes suggests that she is, but her mercurial and self-serving nature that is nonetheless underscored by a sense of empathy and morality is an intriguing characterisation that continues to make her a wholly distinct and well-rounded being. With twists and turns pervading every story and an intriguing cliffhanger for further stories to pick up, this range has hit the ground running and instantly shows that it has the potential to become something truly special given the key components already in place.

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