Posted in Audio by - December 10, 2021

Released December 2021


Following a startlingly brilliant introduction to the world as the man tasked with filling Sir John Hurt’s legendary shoes, Jonathon Carley returns to the role of the enigmatic War Doctor in his earlier days in Big Finish’s second The War Doctor Begins set, Warbringer.

As the War Doctor continues to find himself while determining which lines he will cross and what he is willing to sacrifice to end conflict, Warbringer opens with Timothy X Atack’s ‘Consequences’ with the Doctor and Veklin landing on a ravaged planet that worships war. With weapons and technology from throughout space and time, this is a world that comes to life surprisingly vividly, and its unending war designed to fuel and support its participant’s fervent adoration for fighting and dedication to the scripture and the rules of the contest is a brilliant setting to place this incarnation of the Doctor who is so trying to escape and end his planet’s own cycle of war.

Interestingly, with the Doctor assumed to be the titular Warbringer for this world, Veklin is chasing after him for an entirely different reason, knowing the Doctor of old and fearing that he could do something reckless on this world whose fate has already been sealed. The fact that the Doctor and Veklin are more knowledgeable about the situation than the warring citizens helps to create a certain sense of scope to these affairs that would otherwise be missing and hints at what the remaining stories here will cover, all the while remaining true to the Doctor’s ever-present desire to help when possible. This setup also pays tremendous dividends with Case, a woman suffering from memory loss who is constantly trying to rediscover herself as her organic and technological parts often struggle against each other. This, again, is a fascinating mirror into the Doctor’s many lives- and especially this incarnation- as he attempts to define himself, and Ajjaz Award is brilliant as she deftly switches between the dual roles required of this unique individual who will hopefully continue to play a significant role in the remainder of this series. Unfortunately, the script grinds to a halt upon the introduction of Oya who initially is strangely pitched with an incredibly over-the-top stereotyped accent of deep Southern America. The character itself as well as the incredibly important content and exposition she provides for the Incipients and Germinals are both fascinating and truly help to develop this world’s enduring conflicta long with those higher up, but the chosen accent at first draws far too much attention to the character for all the wrong reasons and again begs the question of why Big Finish is so dedicated to utilizing such heavily stylized versions of the Brooklyn, Old Western, and deep South accents with little else in between. Thankfully this accent is toned down somewhat later to help create a more seamless experience with the overall tone of the tale.

The War Doctor himself isn’t featured quite as heavily as might be expected in this opener, but he nonetheless has some incredibly powerful scenes when directly confronting the prospects of war and killing, and Carley continues to impress as his confidence continues to grow. There is a slightly different nuance to this character than the elder version that Hurt so quickly made so famous, but Carley’s vocal timbre continues to impress and highlights this incarnation’s own confidence and morality as he continues to face overt and personal challenges. The dichotomy between Carley’s man trying to be true to himself in a universe that continues to make its way to the edge and Beth Chalmers’s soldier who has fully dedicated herself to her cause with little regard for personal thoughts or sentiments is a strong throughline, and as pieces of the narrative puzzle begin to slot together, Warbringer gets off to a suitably strong start that uses its sound design and music to maximum effect to create the foundation for what is yet to come narratively as well as- by default- what has already occurred.

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