Break the Ice

Posted in Audio by - August 22, 2022
Break the Ice

Released August 2022


Into the Stars draws to a close with Tim Foley’s ‘Break the Ice,’ bringing the Doctor aboard a space station near Venus that houses experiments with cryogenics to facilitate deep space transportation and exploration. When one subject returns from exposure to absolute zero, however, a winter god from another dimension has taken up residence inside the body and threatens the very existence of Earth and beyond.

While the narrative of the Doctor coming upon the last member of an alien species is becoming far too common for Big Finish, this being the third story this month after ‘Reverse Engineering’ and ‘Last of the Zetacene,’ ‘Break the Ice’ makes the most of the format by presenting an enemy that showcases the genuine threat it possesses within a confined environment. Pip Torrens brilliantly imbues a chilling menace to this powerful being, his frequent taunting always reminding the Doctor of the ever-encroaching danger as space and resources continue to become more limited. With the escape of just one snowflake holding the potential to inflict untold damage as the legends of Jack Frost return with a vengeance, this is the type of threat that stands up visually and audibly and requires the Doctor and his new colleagues to continue to adapt to have any chance at survival. While it is true that the resolution may be just a bit too easy even if the post-credits scene intimates that the threat has not been eliminated forever, the story sets up the climax well and makes the most of the scientific and practical elements aboard this ship.

Of course, Big Finish is continuing to work around the assumption that Rose was the first companion of the Ninth Doctor, and Thalissa Teixeira is magnificent as Dr Lenni Fisk who capably fills the companion role here. Suffering from anxiety and with her mind always on her wife who is at home with her ill son, Lenni is instantly a nuanced character brimming with depth that is instantly relatable, and her desire to stay alive to find a way to help her son even when it seems like self-sacrifice must be the answer in order to save everyone ends up being an undoubted strength that ensures she never gives up trying to think of alternatives as the heat of Venus beckons. Indeed, as the Doctor and she together navigate the pitfalls of corporate pressure, Teixeira and Christopher Eccleston quickly form an immense chemistry that could certainly form a strong foundation for future travels together. Lenni is rightly in awe of the Doctor’s capabilities even as he tries to assure her that she is every bit as important as he is to this story, and the Doctor capably showing a grim determination to defeat Jack Frost while likewise gently helping Lenni through a swelling of anxiety perfectly encapsulates the very best of this incredibly layered and lonely incarnation whom Big Finish continues to develop so well.

While Pal is certainly less noble in his daily intentions than anyone else aboard the space station, his greed and more insensitive nature quite brazenly on display, Foley’s script and an energetic performance from Simon Shepherd are vividly able to integrate these familiar aspects of humanity into the script while managing to provide an optimistic and redemptive outlook. This is a script that needs each of its leads to give strong performances to bring the tension and danger of this base under siege to life, and while the story as a whole is a fairly traditional one by Doctor Who standards, the complement of incredible sound design makes ‘Break the Ice’ an impactful note upon which to end this latest collection of The Ninth Doctor Adventures.

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