Vienna- The Memory Box

Posted in Audio by - March 04, 2018
Vienna- The Memory Box

Released February 2013

With so many supporting guest and recurring characters to have crossed the paths of the many incarnations of the Doctor, it’s unlikely that galactic bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori, an engaging but shadowy figure who made her debut in the Seventh Doctor audio ‘The Shadow Heart,’ would top the list of most likely figures to head a spin-off series. However, those at Big Finish have proven over the years that they have an eye for talent and for grand ideas and spectacle, and so Chase Masterson reprises her eponymous role to front dangerous, self-serving missions into new corners of the universe of the Drashani Empire and beyond as laid out in her debut story and its trilogy as a whole.

‘The Memory Box’ by Jonathan Morris serves as a standalone pilot before Vienna begins anchoring subsequent three-story series, and the seemingly perfect crime in which aristocrat Berkeley Silver is found dead in the penthouse suite of the Galileo space hotel is a great opening gambit. It’s quite clear that Vienna Salvatori is the culprit as she tries to escape the locked-down premises under the guise of one Miracle Valentine, but every single guest of the hotel has an alibi for the murder when subjected to a memory scan. What follows in anything but a traditional bounty hunter story, and the brief running time is absolutely filled with intriguing action and revelations that make the most of Chase Masterson who is allowed to portray a distinctly anti-heroine character whose every action is unpredictable after gloriously being introduced while on the run from the law. This is a woman who makes it a habit of killing anyone who hears her name and has no moral qualms forcing others to help her by any means necessary, but the twists that take even her out of her comfort zone prove that she is fallible and capable of heading very human drama no matter how spectacular or dangerous the events and consequences of her chosen profession become.

The mention of Kylo and Aliona from the Drashani trilogy ends up being vital to the plot while also remaining subtle enough to avoid becomgin intrusive, and this combined with the inclusion of the Pakhars first introduced in the Virgin novels who are currently running gambling rings along with the Slithergees first introduced in the audio ‘Flip-Flop’ who have learned to use their passive aggressive aura to get more tips give this audio a greater sense of cohesion within the Doctor Who universe at large. Of course, the crux of the plot comes down to the titular memory box itself, a device that allows someone to lock away his or her memories so that even the memory of using the memory box to do so is no longer present. This is a fascinating conceit that obviously allows individuals to escape the memory scans of the police and other forces, but it inherently brings with it the question of just how much this ability would change an individual since memories are the intrinsic building blocks of the whole. The memory box also allows the plot to swerve in unexpected directions as the truth behind the Flaming Sword terrorist cabal, Berkely Silver, and just who has been manipulating whom slowly come to light with magnificent effect.

‘The Memory Box’ expertly uses its small cast to give a tremendous sense of scope to events, and Tom Price as Norvelle Spraggott, John Banks as McGinnis, and Gemma Whelan as Mead all give wonderful performances to keep the burgeoning mystery unfolding at a reliably quick pace with plenty of emotion. While this is not the most challenging story even with the constant influx of new information provided, it is immensely confident in its delivery and tremendously fun, and the superb direction and sound design already make this story seem like part of an established series rather than a first outing, a remarkable achievement that bodes well for the future exploits of Vienna Salvatori.

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