Exit Strategy

Posted in Audio by - December 25, 2023
Exit Strategy

Released December 2023


Following Case’s failure to eliminate her target in the preceding story, the Dalek Emperor remains unconvinced of Case’s effectiveness as a weapon to open the finale of The War Doctor Begins saga, Matt Fitton’s ‘Exit Strategy.’ Just as the Dalek Time Strategist refuses to give up on his key asset, however, the War Doctor is likewise determined to help and save his one-time friend, confronting his own past and principles in the process.

The cover art of Enemy Mine boldly advertises the inclusion of Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, and so it’s no surprise that arguably that most empathetic and human iteration of the Doctor appears in this story to round out the formative stages of the conflicted War incarnation into which the Time War drove him to turn. At ten years since the War Doctor’s introduction and integral role in Doctor Who’s televised fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the sixtieth anniversary presents a perfectly fitting time for these two little-seen incarnations to cross paths and to highlight the immense characterization and development that the audio medium has provided each.

Of course, the War Doctor has always had trouble reconciling his actions in the Time War with the ideals he has always carried through his many lives, and to an extent he has learned to live with the losses and consequences of his actions as long as he can alleviate the suffering of others in some capacity. For the most part, the War Doctor acts in isolation of the lives and actions of his former selves given his tortuous surroundings, but the Nurse striving to help anyone he can presents a very direct link to his previous selves and ideals. Fittingly, the Doctor is still trying to help where possible by delivering field dressings and medical supplies, and Jonathon Carley magnificently plays this particular version of his Doctor who truly needs to experience who he used to be in order to let that go and advance down his chosen and necessary path. David Monteith as the Nurse is likewise immense at providing a principled and resolute individual who owes so much to the Doctor and whose status here presents a very visceral representation of the Time Lord and Dalek conflict, and the flashbacks and the present scenes featuring McGann’s Eighth Doctor provide a sterling contrast in the typical empathy and optimism of these two incarnations on either side of accepting his role within the Time War. Though the Eighth Doctor remains somewhat unsure of whom he is dealing with and addressing, in many ways this particular interaction between two Doctors is the most profound that the series has ever offered and truly serves as a formative moment, a poignant reminder, and a springboard for the War Doctor to take more overt action.

Naturally, the Daleks also feature in this story, and the divisions forming between the Emperor and Time Strategist continue to add nuance to what has traditionally been presented as a unified front. Certain Daleks have, of course, shown independent thought processes before, but the Time Strategist showing blunt defiance in order to continue to work and adjust Case indicates a certain sense of self-belief that has rarely been seen to this point and again hints at just how much both the Daleks and Time Lords have strayed from certain ideals along the intensifying wartime paths. Nicholas Briggs is synonymous with the Dalek voices and can be taken for granted because of the ubiquity of his voice and the frequency of Dalek releases, but he truly gives some of his strongest performances here to bring this internal Dalek conflict to life so vividly and to continue to flesh out the Time Strategist in particular. And with Case such a focus both for the Daleks’ schemes and for the Doctor’s own sense of self and redemption as well as to help the Time Lords Ajjaz Awad continues with her dynamic performance as the conflicted Case who must finally confront the truth of the Dalek cause and her role in it. Although earlier parts of her arc have been rushed to spur her along the Dalek path, this conclusion is handled deftly and incorporates the two Doctors brilliantly even if the importance of her own self-belief in shedding the Dalek ways is somewhat contrived. Nonetheless, with an intriguing and even positive endpoint for Case and a truly brilliant incorporation of the Eighth Doctor to compare and contrast with the War Doctor who has now truly found himself, ‘Exit Strategy’ is a very strong conclusion for this early look at the War Doctor and the incredibly strong work of Carley and all involved in The War Doctor Begins as a series.

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