Dead Man’s Switch

Posted in Audio by - September 10, 2018
Dead Man’s Switch

Released December 2010

With the universe seemingly reset at year zero following events unknown and under the stewardship of the mysterious Great Leader, Bernice is desperate to find a semblance of home no matter how far away it may be. The capital world of Zordin seems to be her most likely chance for answers, but finding a way to pay for the long voyage will test the very limits of Bernice Summerfield’s spirit and determination as she tries to discover just what secrets a protected moon holds in a time when archaeology is illegal.

Like with ‘Year Zero,’ ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ by John Dorney and Richard Dinnick offers a much more foundational approach to its story with Bernice alone and squarely the focus complete with diary entries. Twenty-six years ago, a group of scientists arrived on this moon to uncover the secrets of a lost civilisation; its members were later found dead following what was reported as an anti-matter explosion, and Bernice cannot help but wonder if this was truly an accident or perhaps an attempt to punish the crime or else cover up whatever information was found and about to be revealed. With no safety nets to fall back upon in this universe where even the most basic assumptions can change on a regular basis to protect the truth of the past, Bernice must use all of her wits to survive the physical and mental challenges before her while managing the overwhelming sense of homesickness that always bubbles just beneath the surface.

Indeed, Bernice is able to get to the heart of the matter quite quickly given the evidence before her, and it’s fitting that she should offer a lengthy list of options to Otek who has spent more than two decades thinking of alternatives to his fixed position of holding down a button to avert the destruction of the universe, a preposterous notion that just might actually be true given the tremendous amount of unknown around her. Aided only by his robot armed only with a water bottle, Otek quickly becomes an incredibly sympathetic figure, not because he wanted to find out about this civilisation that left its technology behind but because of the tremendous sacrifice he has resigned himself to as Bernice discovers that this man has had to give up his life with his wife and daughter in order to keep the nothing in its own universe. He knows that his family is not waiting for him and in all likelihood has forgotten him if they are even still alive, and this heartrending admission parallels Bernice’s own hurt about not wanting to admit that Peter could be dead for fear of it becoming the truth rather wonderfully. It’s difficult enough for one character to properly emote this personal despair, but both Lisa Bowerman and William Whymper manage to achieve this feat to further bolster what is already an immense chemistry, highlighted by an exceptional moment of anger when Bernice lashes out at Otek for flippantly suggesting how careless she was to lose Peter and another heartbreaking moment when Bernice can only think of all of the events in Peter’s life she is sure to miss when her own life appears to be over.

Fittingly, Bernice’s maternal instincts also align with those of Matak who serves as the figurehead of this threat that feeds off of anti-matter and whose motivations to protect her children likewise dovetail with Otek’s desire to protect the family he no longer knows, allowing a genuine sense of empathy and grounding for this spectacularly powerful and dangerous menace. Although Bernice is not a character who can routinely come up with intricate temporospatial solutions like the Doctor and Braxiatel with whom she has spent so much time, it’s wholly fitting and satisfying that the one solution that has any chance of working is tied implicitly to her time ring that the Doctor gave her so long ago, providing a grandiose symbol of closure for her past life even as she so desperately struggles to find any connection to it once more. As Bernice finally arrives on Zordin which looks so strikingly familiar but that now carries the name Atlantis, this eleventh series finale has set the scene for what is to follow in excellent fashion.

  • Release Date: 12/2010
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