Naomi’s Ark

Posted in Audio by - June 30, 2023
Naomi’s Ark

Released June 2023


In Far from Home’s second and concluding story, Alison Winter’s “Naomi’s Ark,” Naomi is separated from the Doctor and Harry in the middle of a galactic evacuation stemming from a supernova. While she attempts to find her way amidst a strange alien population, her friends must traverse the policies and livelihood of an endangered and long-lived population in their attempts to find her.

Naomi Cross has quickly made a name for herself as a no-nonsense, determined, and wholly capable companion, but so much of her still remains a mystery given the non-sequential order in which the audience is experiencing her adventures. By all accounts, however, “Naomi’s Ark” represents her first foray into deep space, and her needing a moment to appreciate just where she is adds another very human and relatable element to her character that will invariably feed into her wrestling with which of her two lives to return to- or whether to return at all- as the Doctor looks to take Harry and her back to their proper time and space. Unfortunately, with Naomi separated from her friends, this moment of awe and appreciation unfolds through an extended monologue that doesn’t quite feel natural; this is a predicament that can’t really be avoided in these circumstances given her isolation and need to express her feelings and thoughts, but it’s nonetheless a bit heavy-handed and blunt.

However, with Naomi very much taking on a leading role as the story’s title suggests, she again proves her resourcefulness and moral fortitude while trying to help a young group of aliens who have become stranded from their parents and population after the ship they stole for a joyride broke down. That these aliens are born with a race memory regarding how to use the ship is a major convenience and allows Naomi to show how adept she is at picking up new skills in comparison while also taking on a protector and almost motherly role, but their overall naivety, innocence, and relative lack of understanding of the myriad emotions of those they may encounter gives Naomi plenty of opportunity to take charge and to help her new friends. She proves herself to be quick on her feet and is willing to fabricate a story and lie to protect those she knows are in the right, and her implicit trust both in herself and in the Doctor serve her well throughout and provide a formative story for this new companion that should serve as a foundational blueprint for her going forward.

The portion of the story away from Naomi doesn’t fare nearly as well, however, as a wide array of truly brilliant ideas fail to receive the exploration they deserve and instead serve as something of an underdeveloped checklist to simply advance the plot to the point that the Doctor can help save Naomi and the young aliens looking to reunite with the group around him. Obviously, a wise and peaceful race that can live for millennia is an intriguing starting point for a story, and Indra Ové gives a suitably strong performance as Queen Maylee in this society that has meshed traditional concepts with very progressive notions. The Doctor ultimately saying that he would tell these aliens to run from the Time Lords rather than to ally with them during a discussion with Harry likewise speaks to the high regard in which he holds this race and the relative disdain he holds for his own people. However, while the psychic abilities create a potentially fascinating avenue through which to explore the Doctor- and particularly this incarnation who so adeptly manipulates others while walking in the shadows- as the Queen enters his mind during his offer of help, the Queen ultimately decides that the destroyer of worlds and oncoming storm monikers are simply how he thinks of himself rather than true and earned descriptions from his prior actions. This makes her previous accusations and condemnations immediately after ring hollow and seemingly absolves him of the darker and nebulous actions he has unequivocally performed, failing to look at the moral complexity of the Seventh Doctor and painting him strictly in the most flattering of heroic lights. The Doctor has rarely been so defenceless as when the Queen is in his mind, and though Sylvester McCoy plays this fear and uncertainty well, not nearly enough is done with this plot point.

While the plot does try to explain away the inability to psychically communicate with the missing youths by saying they have not yet reached maturity and the ability to enter the hive mind, the Queen’s ability to sense the youths and changes in their circumstances nonetheless suggests that a reunion could have happened much sooner with less intransigence about their trajectory. Even with the technology on display, this doesn’t necessarily affect the plot as it is presented, but it’s a tenuous balancing act to be so acutely aware of missing individuals and yet be unwilling and unable to better search for them. Much less effective, however, is the handling of the truly fascinating visual of what has happened to the TARDIS interior in these intense circumstances. This is a unique occurrence that should have served as a primary source of drama for the Doctor and truly challenged the character physically and emotionally, and yet after serving as an immense cliffhanger ending, this is rectified within seconds and seemingly minimal effort. That this sequence features another odd and somewhat ethereal monologue from the Queen that doesn’t quite land also makes this somewhat jarring and less of a cohesive overall experience. As it stands, “Naomi’s Ark” is a story that handles Naomi’s arc exceedingly well and that features Eleanor Crooks expertly, but it falters substantially with elements not featuring her despite an incredible bevy of ideas that by themselves could more than capably carry a complete story with more time and exploration.

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