Posted in Audio by - May 20, 2023

Released May 2023


Posing as a Dalek killer and her squire in Timothy X Atack’s ‘Berserker,’ Case and the War Doctor join a mission in which the remaining survivors of the Sunspire race have returned to their home planet centuries after the Daleks ravaged it. Looking for the Sunspire heritage to save these people from extinction, they find a lone Berserker Dalek remaining, driven mad by centuries in isolation.

‘Berserker’ boasts an impressive list of resonant individual components that form an incredibly strong foundation for this story. Case acting essentially as a companion for the War Doctor is already an exciting proposition, but with her life in imminent danger because of her Dalek components which has forced the Doctor and her to seek out a Berserker Dalek in order to study it and hopefully save her adds an exciting and palpable tension to the tale that is often not present with a main character. Given the limited time between apparent destruction and then reformation of the Berseker Dalek, that tension is elevated on multiple levels and further accentuates the distinct threat that the Sunspire people faced long ago and now confront once more. Of course, the Doctor and Case present themselves as being present simply to kill the Dalek, and members of the mission as well as eventually Case herself come to question the Doctor about his ulterior motives within the context of the Time War. Obviously, while the War Doctor is fascinating as a concept, he has been somewhat difficult to write since the sometimes grave actions he has taken are still so clearly dedicated to the common good. Here, however, the Doctor is fully immersed within the Time War with little reservation about the consequences that his actions may yield, and he openly accepts that people and even planets will be lost with no hope for salvation. It’s a shade of the character that even this wartime incarnation rarely explores so bluntly, but it’s wholly effective and makes his desire for times to return to how they used to be in which he and his companion actually can work to save people all the more profound.

On top of the strong ideas, the performances are uniformly excellent, and Ajjaz Awad is particularly strong as Case who is still so selfless and kind-hearted even with her own life as stake. She is unafraid to stand up to the Doctor and to confront Daleks as required, and in so doing she proves herself to be the epitome of everything the Doctor typically looks for in a companion. Likewise, Lynsey Murrell, Deeivya Meir, and Esmonde Cole bring the Sunspire plight to life vividly as the Dalek and even the Doctor himself come to represent very real- if very different- threats to their existence. However, despite an incredibly intriguing real-time setup, the story is predicated upon the extreme dangers of this Berserker Dalek but rarely actually shows any of this. Each of the characters spends a tremendous amount of time discussing the particular terrors of this unstoppable Dalek, and Nicholas Briggs gives a chilling performance as this Dalek who has been bred only to kill but who has been trapped for centuries. However, even with a great exploration of this descent into madness while discussing labels for different types of deaths, words can only do so much to really exhibit the scale of this threat. The Dalek’s malice behind the actual action scenes is superb, and the reformative powers that offer only a brief reprieve for the heroes is a fascinating concept rivaled only by the fact that it brings in victims and debris alike to always change as it reforms. The actual action scenes are far too brief and far in between, though, with even the fallout of a monumental confrontation between the Dalek and Case that certainly changes the trajectory of the series also occurring offscreen, meaning that this one-shot story is occasionally less energetic and tense than it should be. Nonetheless, there are so many incredible plot points and performances throughout ‘Berserker’ with the Doctor further being stripped of his humanity and a certain distrust from Case resulting as a new arc hopefully forms that this absolutely should be a story that anyone looking to experience the War Doctor should give a chance.

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