Night’s Black Agents

Posted in Audio by - April 05, 2019
Night’s Black Agents

Released May 2010

The Companion Chronicles has once before linked with a concurrent trilogy within Big Finish’s monthly range with “The Prisoner’s Dilemma,” but Marty Ross’s “Night’s Black Agents” is the first to explicitly continue the narrative, here as “City of Spires” and “The Wreck of the Titans” are directly bridged with Jamie and the Sixth Doctor seeking shelter with Reverend Merodach when lost on the moors of Scotland.

Those unfamiliar with the associated full-cast trilogy and those not intending to listen to “Night’s Black Agents” as part of what can be seen as a tetralogy will not fully appreciate or understand all of the nuances and lack of explanation for the seemingly supernatural events in play as a kelpie is blamed for destroying the castle where the TARDIS was, and not taking the time to explain what has come before makes this is something of an unwelcoming story when taken on its own. However, this insightful look at an older and hardened Jamie who has battled through life and experienced a certain loss of memory is brilliant and highlights just how connected to the Doctor Jamie implicitly remains given the incredible amount of trust he has developed for this strange man he knows so little about in such a short period of time. He is haunted by the many deaths he has caused and can’t help but wonder what he has achieved in his unending fight for his cause, but he also knows that the warrior’s life was always his destiny and that he must deny any desire for a better life when offered.

Likely because of its placement within a series of other stories, however, the depth of exploration for Jamie doesn’t quite translate to a deep experience overall. Indeed, despite a wonderful villainous performance from Hugh Ross and brilliant visuals including a horse rising out of a black liquid, crooked creatures swarming from under Merodach’s cloak, and flames engulfing the TARDIS, the overall progression of the plot is fairly generic and provides few genuine surprises. Combined with the rather heavy-handed imparting of knowledge regarding the surrounding locale and the handling of Jamie’s attraction to a female character, “Night’s Black Agents” never quite manages to achieve a seamless flow despite the charm that Frazer Hines exudes even with this distinct version of Jamie who finds himself in rare company once more.

Fortunately, the direction and sound design are able to craft an immensely ominous atmosphere that balances the stunning character study of Jamie expertly, highlighting the beloved companion’s enduring loyalty and sense of honour even when his very life is being questioned. Understandably, Hines can’t quite capture the mannerisms of Colin Baker as brilliantly as those of Patrick Troughton, but he absolutely captures the spirit and essence of the more bombastic Sixth Doctor who here uses his grandiloquence to escape torture in the most unexpected fashion. Still, it does seem as though the unique format that The Companion Chronicles offers could have better provided information to make this story able to completely stand alone without necessarily spoiling the mystery that the main range stories would continue to explore and resolve. Instead, while there is undoubtedly plenty to enjoy within “Night’s Black Agents,” it doesn’t quite manage to distinguish itself and at times feels rushed with little true resolution despite the many positives at its core.

  • Release Date: 5/2010
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