Dark Eyes 2

Posted in Audio by - February 18, 2016
Dark Eyes 2

Released February 2014

Continuing on from the ending of Dark Eyes, Big Finish continues the Eight Doctor’s adventures with another four-story box set aptly titled Dark Eyes 2. Comprised of ‘The Traitor,’ ‘The White Room,’ ‘Time’s Horizon,’ and ‘The Eyes of the Master,’ this time the Doctor finds himself and acquaintances pitted against the Daleks and a resurrected Master.

Dark Eyes was an astronomical success for Big Finish, and fortunately the high quality continues in the sequel while even managing to eliminate many of the pacing issues that hampered the first set. That improvement is primarily due to the individual stories having stronger individual plots, allowing for events at hand to be managed while the overarching plot can be gradually revealed without relying on superfluous padding to fill the running time.

Dark Eyes saw the Eighth Doctor at his lowest point before finally finding a renewed sense of hope that allowed him to continue with his life; this sequel set sees him as still a very fragile being, but one being unwittingly drawn into the temporal affairs of both the Time Lords and the Daleks. Clearly Big Finish is building towards something grander down the line- quite possibly the start of the Time War- as both races are preparing themselves for something yet come. Mention is made of the Doctor’s failure to avert the creation of the Daleks in ‘Genesis of the Daleks,’ and the Time Lords have resurrected the Master for some unknown agenda, and events are certainly headed to a momentous showdown at some point.

This set of stories, like its precursor set, is anchored by very strong performances. Molly O’Sullivan truly starts to assert herself as a strong companion here, mellowed a little by her previous experiences but still just as confident and proficient. She is still a key figure in the overall plot, but having resolved much of the mystery surrounding her in the previous box set allows for her to be more active and well-rounded in her own right. Likewise, Alex MacQueen continues to deliver outstanding performances as Big Finish’s resident Master. There is little doubt of the danger and madness hidden beneath his civilized exterior manner, but it’s that masking facade that allows for such an incredibly strong scene between the Doctor and him.

The setup of the stories is a little strange since the first one seems wholly unrelated until much later on; accordingly, ‘The White Room’ seems more like the proper beginning of Dark Eyes 2, and it does cost a bit of a disjointed feeling at first as if some linking events are missing. So, whereas the first story focuses on the Doctor going confronting an unabashed Dalek group on Nixyce 7 to ask for help while the usual havoc is being wreaked, the second story brings the welcome return of the Viyrans studying time as a disease and a creation with unintended consequences. It is in ‘The White Room’ that Molly is reintroduced, and the action picks up immediately, saving the usual time spent chatting and catching up for actively moving the plot on instead.

It’s in the third story, ‘Time’s Horizon,’ that Dark Eyes 2 really starts to interconnect its tales as the Doctor takes Molly to the end of the universe where they land on an exploring ship and come face to face with Liv Chenka. Liv had seen the Doctor ally himself with the Daleks on Nixyce 7 and obviously does not trust him, but those events are in the Doctor’s personal future and so must remains hidden to him. Unfortunately, the potential for confrontation and discussion is minimized as Liv spends most of her time with Molly while the Doctor battles with another returning enemy, the Eminence. This is one of Big Finish’s greatest creations, and the Eminence is again displayed as a proper and credible threat, especially with the ability to possess other beings. ‘Time’s Horizon’ certainly ups the threat level, and the plot twists are suitably intriguing, but the generic supporting cast and slower pace unfortunately keep it from reaching the lofty levels of the other stories included in the set.

‘The Eyes of the Mater’ is tasked with tidying everything up, and it does so nicely as the Doctor, Molly, and a now trusting Liv come up against the Master, the fourth distinct villain of this set. To say the storyline is a bit uncharacteristic would be an understatement, but McGann’s first audio outing against the Master pays off immensely, filled with sparkling dialogue and plenty of references to their personal histories. Some history of MacQueen’s Master is finally revealed, and he helps to successfully bring closure to Dark Eyes 2 while setting more events in motion for Dark Eyes 3.

The non-linearity of the stories can be a bit disjointing and confusing in the audio medium, but the sheer scope of Dark Eyes 2 merits praise. While not all of the supporting performances match the leads’, the parade of villains and the plot reveals and interconnections are fantastic and certainly whet the appetite for McGann’s continued adventures.

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