Posted in Audio by - July 04, 2019

Released July 2013

To begin the eighth and final series of The Companion Chronicles released in monthly instalments throughout the year, writer Jonathan Morris offers a sequel of sorts to ‘Tales from the Vault’ and the saga of Captain Ruth Matheson and Warrant Officer Charlie Sato within UNIT’s Vault deep beneath the Angel of the North. Foregoing the former story’s anthology format as different stored artefacts came to the forefront, however, ‘Mastermind’ instead focuses squarely on the extraterrestrial they know only as the Master who has been imprisoned under lock and key within these confines for so very long.

The hypnotic prowess of the Master is, of course, well known, and UNIT has certainly taken a bevy of precautions to best ensure that the operatives charged with interrogating him during the one hour he awakes from suspended animation every five years do not fall victim to his influence. With full lockdown and no hope of escape a very real possibility should any concern arise, the threat the Master poses is overtly clear from everyone’s perspective, and as such it doesn’t quite make sense that these two particular soldiers- and Sato, in particular, who has not yet had the chance to prove what would be expected of him- would be sent in alone to find out how and why the Master arrived. This is hardly the monumental information that the Master assuredly has that could change the course of Earth’s history or prevent its annihilation, and with no external threat providing a pressing impetus for this interrogation it instead seems like an unnecessary risk with potentially devastating consequences and little reward.

With no grand threat or problem to solve, ‘Mastermind’ instead uses Matheson and Sato to delve more into the Master’s past to reveal how he came to be here. This does allow holes in the Master’s continuity to be addressed as he explains how he came to assume the form he had in Paul McGann’s sole television outing as well as how he escaped from the Eye of Harmony he found himself trapped within at its end, but the more fascinating aspect from a narrative perspective is that no matter how many bodies he assumes, they always decay and return to the husk of Geoffrey Beevers’s version. This is a monumental revelation that could have tremendous ramifications for the character in the future should writers continue with that thread now that he has remorselessly escaped the Vault with UNIT’s precautions proving to be of no consequence to him, but it also helps to further develop this character’s particular thirst for life and willingness to do evil whether for his own gains or simply for entertainment.

Unfortunately, beyond the intriguing ideas offered, the actual account of the Master narrating his time on Earth as he moved from the England to the United States and set up criminal enterprises in New York and Las Vergas is somewhat devoid of the emotion and drama that a first-person account in the present rather than in retrospect could have offered. Instead, the Master simply reaffirms that he is evil and has simply been biding his time until he can get his TARDIS back, and the hints of backstory for Matheson who spent time in the United Nations and for Sato who has lost his father offer only a fleeting glimpse of the further drama possible as the Master tempts both with the prospect of changing their respective pasts. Thus, while ‘Mastermind’ has a fascinating premise and showcases the brilliant Geoffrey Beevers who exudes malice and charisma in equal measure, the actual narrative and characterisation of the supporting cast don’t quite deliver the impact that was intended and, indeed, so close to being allowed to develop on so many occasions.

  • Release Date: 7/2013
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