Missy Series Three: Missy and the Monk

Posted in Audio by - September 26, 2021
Missy Series Three: Missy and the Monk

Released September 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Stuck with the Monk in a TARDIS that requires both of them to function, Missy must learn to live with her fellow Time Lord in the third series of Missy, aptly titled Missy and the Monk.

Wasting no time with any prologue or setup, James Goss begins this series with ‘Body and Soulless’ and Missy having realized that she only needs the Monk’s brain to fly his TARDIS. Landing in the middle of a planetary war that sees one side’s dead loved ones become the other side’s hosts, the Time Lords are quickly confronted with the prospects of mortality and morality, a dilemma that becomes all the more pronounced as the two are separated and experience the war from opposite sides. Unsurprisingly, Missy is adept at reading the situation and ensuring that she always maintains the upper hand, and the manner in which she is able to charm and threaten her way into a position of power is perfectly befitting of this woman who so casually traverses the chaos that so often surrounds her. Michelle Gomez easily steps back into the manic and unpredictable energy of Missy, and the scope of her character’s ability to plan for every eventuality here is suitably impressive and certainly reminds the audience and the Monk of just how capable and dangerous Missy remains. Likewise, Rufus Hound gives an incredible performance as the Monk, running with the absurd premise and instilling a sense of menace and even compassion into this hapless character who never quite lives up to his own grand notions about his own self, importance, and capabilities. Gomez and Hound share a superb chemistry when paired together that leans on comedy while instilling a genuine drama at the core of the relationship, and the desire to live on both sides of this war as well as the unique hopes and disappointments that go along with that life present an engaging and surprisingly thought-provoking storyline that complements the more comedic tone perfectly. Missy has quickly established itself as the most comedic range that Big Finish offers, and ‘Body and Soulless’ perfectly exemplifies the typical energy, strength, and heart that has made Missy such an instant and resounding success.

In Johnny Candon’s ‘War Seed,’ Missy takes the Monk to Earth simply to prove her point that she can be nice if she wants to be. However, this is an Earth far different than the Monk has ever seen, one on which Time Lord regeneration energy is a corporate entity instilled into practically every item on the market. The result is a human population that increasingly has no flaws with health or appearance, and the Monk is quick to try to charm the corporate sharks while trying to uncover the truth behind this untenable acquisition and application of Time Lord physiognomy. However, the enduring source of this energy is far darker than he could have ever imagined, bringing Missy’s past selves and the Time War squarely into question as enduring life and enduring agony are weighed and balanced. If not for the broad comedic overtures of this series, ‘War Seed’ and the unwitting weapon at its core would inherently be an unrelenting dark and introspective piece of drama, and it would be incredibly interesting to see another range with the Doctor confront similar themes simply to more fully exploit the raw emotion this being feels and instills. Nonetheless, Gomez and Hound once more excel with a brilliant chemistry that manages to advance the characterization of each Time Lord as they both confront their past actions and their own sense of morality, and the energy of each carries every scene as the underlying threat to humanity becomes ever more present. Lynsey Murrell and John Telfer give strong supporting performances as the Temples who come to realize too late what they mean to each other after so very long of looking out for themselves no matter the cost, and the flaws within humanity prove to be a perfect counterpoint to the flaws of Missy and Time Lords in general in another brilliant story that takes a wonderfully unique premise and that squarely delves into the hearts of its leads and supporting characters alike.

Following her dynamic debut in Dalek Universe 1 earlier this year, it was clear that Gemma Whealan’s iteration of the Monk would continue to wreak havoc within the audio Doctor Who universe, and in James Kettle’s ‘Two Monks, One Mistress’ she crosses paths with her old self as accompanied by Missy as each searches for weapons-grade plutonium in Renaissance Italy. In a series predicated upon more outlandish humour, this is the story that definitively delves into farcical territory with all of the strengths and tropes that go along with it. Thus, while the Time Lords try to ingratiate themselves to an elderly Borgia, the plot relies on an overabundance of characters overlooking the obvious, including gender-swapped disguises with minimal attempt to hide the truth, accepting haphazard excuses or double talk as truth, and of making foolish mistakes to advance the plot. The most egregious of the latter aspect is the Monk inadvertently giving Missy the location of her Master TARDIS by not paying attention to what scroll he holds onto himself; while the Monk has never been on the Master’s level in terms of scheming and conniving which is a grand part of the fun surrounding the character, having him suffer from this tired plot point is unfortunate and paints him as far more inept than he truly is. Still, Hound and Gomez once more showcase a brilliant chemistry as their Time Lords attempt to get their hands on Borgia’s treasure, and Whealan easily matches the energy and charm of her fellow actors to add a great dynamic to what quickly becomes a multilayered scheme. Missy, of course, takes this change of plans in stride and adapts as needed to remain in control, and though the luck that befalls her at the end is a bit of a cop-out to set the series back on a more normal trajectory, at least temporarily having everything not fall her way is a nice dramatic reminder of the stakes that she always faces. Big Finish does seem to be taking more of a freewheeling approach to the time-locked Time War which has for so long separated eras of Doctor Who, especially given the Tenth Doctor’s own concern about traversing to the pre-War side when confronting this Monk previously, but the end result here is a an incredibly energetic piece that covers just about every mainstay of farce in the process, for better or for worse. It’s not a tone that the series should attempt to replicate too often, but Gomez is the perfect conduit for it with Hound and Whealan strong supporters, and the intriguing tease of the two Monks in the past and of Missy regaining her freedom is a strong endpoint for another strong series in the Missy saga.

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