Lady Christina Series Two

Posted in Audio by - July 15, 2021
Lady Christina Series Two

Released July 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Charming, confident, capable, and perhaps not entirely trustworthy, Michelle Ryan’s Lady Christina de Souza instantly captured her audience’s imagination in 2009’s ‘Planet of the Dead’ as a brilliant Doctor Who companion in every sense of the word. Unsurprisingly, Big Finish chose to revisit the enigmatic adventurer for further exploration in 2018’s Lady Christina box set, and three years later the glamorous and globetrotting thief returns to the forefront with UNIT not far behind her.

Lady Christina Series Two opens with James Goss’s ‘The Wreck’ and Lady Christina joining her father on a cruise off the coast of Zanzibar. She is surprised to find his new fiancée, Bunny, aboard as well, but it soon becomes clear that her father has his eye on a wholly different prize altogether. Combing an underwater shipwreck and the strangely prosperous coral around it, the de Souzas find treasures as deadly as they are beautiful, but obtaining such unrivalled beauty naturally comes with a cost that cannot be easily accepted. Lord Alfred, of course, has been introduced before, and William Gaminara once more effortlessly steps into the shoes of this egotistical and self-serving man who is always looking to increase his own wealth. ‘The Wreck’ neatly delves into the somewhat tortuous relationship that exists between father and daughter here because of his previous actions during her formative years that, accordingly, factor into how Christina initially views Bunny. However, while Lord Alfred does little to redeem himself as he shows a callous disregard for anyone but himself until far too late, the burgeoning relationship that Lady Christina and Bunny form as they begin to open up to each other is an undoubted strength of the script that Ryan and Rosa Coduri beautifully develop. Narratively, ‘The Wreck’ doesn’t feature the most complex or intriguing plot, but the vivid imagery fueling this new attempt at life and its unintended repercussions brings with it plenty of emotion while matching the immense visuals that such a unique underwater setting evokes. This second series is very much one prepared to delve into Lady Christina’s family, and a strong tease of the danger Lord Alfred poses as he leaves in his wake his daughter and UNIT who has finally answered her calls for help capably sets the scene for the remainder of this set while beginning to look into some of the major factors that came to develop the woman who made such an instant impact on the Doctor and fans alike.

Looking for a moment of rest and relief, Lady Christina seeks out her Great Aunt Eugenia in Sarah Grochala’s ‘Outback.’ With Sam Bishop and Jacqui McGee of UNIT hot on her heels as they seek any lead on the potential whereabouts of Lord Alfred, she finds herself looking for answers in the Australian outback and the mysterious Jajutuma crater. There are rumours that the once-famed criminal may have been abducted by aliens, but the truth is altogether stranger and more dangerous with the direst of consequences. ‘Outback’ continues the trend of superficially delving into Christina’s personal history through conversations and interactions with a family member, and Eugenia- especially when contrasted to the more traditional Flint family- proves to be the perfect vessel through which to explore why Christina ultimately refuses to be tied down to one location when presented with the opportunity. Siân Phillips is superb as Eugenia, evoking a confidence and charisma befitting of the de Souza name, and the ultimate vanity that reveals itself opens a genuinely dramatic and emotional window that challenges Christina like nothing she has yet encountered. Similarly, Sarah Blackstone and James Smillie give dynamic performances as the Flints, keeping this increasingly grandiose escapade grounded in a sense of familiarity and providing friendly faces in increasingly difficult territory with UNIT and the surprising truth continuing to close in around Christina. Blackstone’s dialogue does sound a bit tinny and removed from the immediacy that the other voices provide, likely an unintended consequence of the cross-globe recording required during and surprisingly one that hasn’t really manifested in other lockdown recordings, but otherwise the sound design perfectly captures the unique setting to further underscore this surprisingly personal journey for Christina. Again, the plot is somewhat on the lighter side, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to maintain momentum throughout, and the surprising ending will assuredly have repercussions as this set reaches its conclusion and the search for Lord Alfred continues.

John Dorney pens the concluding ‘Long Shot’ and takes Lady Christina, Sam Bishop, and Jacqui McGee to Royal Northcote, the highlight of the racing calendar. Everyone is looking for his or her own personal victory as a series of local bookies mysteriously disappear and deaths continue to mount, and Lord Alfred following the events of ‘The Wreck’ finds himself squarely in the crosshairs of UNIT and other would-be dangerous forces. Of course, as the evidence mounts against her father, Christina continues to become all the more personally invested while attempting to ensure that the same fate that befell her great aunt previously does not befall her father here. The relationship between the two is as strained as ever, and Ryan and Gaminara are again perfect alongside each other to bring that friction so vividly to the fore. Wisely, and precisely because of those preceding story events, Dorney avoids the temptation of having Christina strictly ally with UNIT during her journey, but the many developing relationships on display as the intrigue and danger continue to mount add an extra depth to this plot befitting of a concluding act. The mystery at the core of ‘Long Shot’ is certainly the strongest plot of the set, and the typical strong sound design again provides an immersive and emotional experience that is incredibly visual and always engaging. Delving into Christina’s family likely isn’t a focal point that sustain an entire series in the future, but Michelle Ryan and everyone involved combine to create a thrilling production that further delves into Christina as a person without sacrificing any of the unique fun, energy, and slight moral ambiguity that have made her such an enduring character since her one on-screen appearance. Although this set isn’t necessarily the deepest or most unique as a whole, its tone and energy are top-notch and certainly prove that the future for Christina is bright should Big Finish continue to choose to revisit her in the future.

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