Missy: Bad Influence

Posted in Audio by - May 24, 2024
Missy: Bad Influence

Released May 2024


For the first time since September 2021, Michelle Gomez returns to lead a new series of Missy with Bad Influence as her titular Time Lady comes across several other individuals with distinctly wayward plans and schemes.

David Quantick opens this set with ‘Missy and the Time Assassin’ and Missy meeting her childhood hero, the legendary James Blakelock whose callous killing of innocents and willingness and ability to start atrocities and endless wars are known throughout the cosmos. Desperate to find her master TARDIS following recent events, Missy joins Blakelock on his next mission, becoming progressively more disillusioned along the way as she realizes that this man- no matter how handsome he may be- is anything but what his repute suggests. Quantick proves masterful at bringing vivid imagery to his narratives, the lengthy description of a musical instrument’s continually amplifying dangers to a planet and entire galaxy being a particularly mesmerizing affair that rightfully captures Missy’s own imagination as well, and the interplay between Gomez and Paterson Joseph is brilliant throughout as these two characters who are steeped in deaths and atrocities come to learn the truth about each other. The story does somewhat falter, however, as it fully commits to Blakelock being something of a pacifist simply looking to rewrite his own reputation, awkwardly trying to recontextualize previous events such as planting the seeds to start World War I in order to show this man as something of a master conniver who can plan out lengthy sequences of events that will eventually get him into Missy’s presence. This by itself is still an intriguing storyline, but having another long-standing plan of his undermined because of another, more obvious choice he did not think of and also having him fall victim to the far overused bit of Missy being the mistress of switcheroo severely damages any claims this clearly reckless man may make about himself. Nonetheless, ‘Missy and the Time Assassin’ perfectly captures the unique comedic stylings of this particular range and the chaotic energy that Missy exudes, and the brilliant performances and evocative imagery combine to create a wholly amusing and engaging experience from beginning to end.

Now stranded on Brownsea Island with a young group of female reform students in ‘Bad Apple Brigade’ by Freddie Valdosta, Missy soon realizes that they are not alone here and that her past- or future- may be integral to any chance for their survival. While Missy is an unpredictable force that revels in bedlam, there is one particularly callous action near the story’s beginning that does seem somewhat out-of-character for this version of the Master who has so often been portrayed as an antihero rather than a true villain. Nonetheless, once Missy crosses paths with the eponymous group of girls in this locale where others have gone missing as she focuses on trying to repair her vortex manipulator, Gomez is once more superb at commanding each and every scene she is in, displaying an immense energy and charisma that proves just how capable Missy is at adapting and strategizing as unique dangers continue mount. The three young girls certainly create a memorable presence as well as Missy tries to turn them against each other before seemingly growing bored with them, but ‘Bad Apple Brigade’ succeeds most because of the unique and again very visual threat at its core. Even with the perceived danger of this force of nature, however, the good intentions accompanying it make for an altogether more interesting presence. Unfortunately, twisting this story of survival into one of spurned love lessens the drama significantly as all eyes instead turn against Missy. No matter the immense alien powers or the interpersonal dynamics of the reform students, the narrative can’t quite match its ambition and can’t successfully build up the threat against Missy or actually turn Missy into any sort of sympathetic character. While this does in essence reinforce her more detached and untroubled nature, this characterization does create a disconnect when the overall story turns against her as much as the more comedic tone of this series allows with little genuine danger apparent. ‘Bad Apple Brigade’ is another visual and unique experience, but its focus seems somewhat misplaced at times and so is a somewhat more uneven affair than many.

‘The Baron Robbers’ by Lou Morgans concludes Bad Influence as Missy is now looking for a way out of the fourteenth century. Eyeing a wondrous ruby owned by the renowned Black Prince to fix her vortex manipulator, Missy quickly connives and blackmails her way into planning a heist with two well-intentioned thieves looking to help the nearby village. While all of the typical heist tropes are here including the planning and the ultimate plan going wrong, however, the scheme itself is far too simple and easily accomplished to deliver any sort of drama or consequence. Even with Missy unsurprisingly putting herself front and centre without her accomplices’ knowledge, the double-crossing and escape from accountability are likewise far too simple; undoubtedly this does in effect highlight just how advanced Missy is compared to everyone else involved as this comes off as mere child’s play that fits well with the overall tone of this set, but someone of the Master or Missy’s intellect deserves a story featuring at least some sort of challenge. Somewhat surprisingly, ‘The Baron Robbers’ also features the return of Ian Conningham to further develop the mysterious relationship hinted at in ‘Bad Apple Brigade.’ The characters continue to meet out of sequence, and while it’s still difficult to imagine Missy truly developing feelings for anyone or to having that storyline continue to feature without detracting from her chaotic presence or making her seem even more cruel, the very fact that she is thinking about how she might see viability in a relationship she has been told she will come to have is nonetheless an unexpected but fascinating turn for the character. Despite the remote and separate recording sessions needed for this set, the writing and performances from Gomez and Conningham capture a wonderful chemistry that helps to create a deeper point to what is otherwise quite a superficial story. As always, comedy is subjective, but whereas previous sets have been able to tell some more profound and consequential tales with that tone, Bad Influence as a whole is a much lighter affair as Missy bounces from place to place and time to time. The tease of an upcoming Arthurian set is an intriguing one, however, and fans of Missy as a character will still assuredly find plenty to enjoy with the character here even as her surroundings and narrative are a bit more uneven.

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