Operation Dusk

Posted in Audio by - June 29, 2023
Operation Dusk

Released June 2023


Now traveling with the Seventh Doctor who has promised to return them home after the Fourth Doctor left them so far displaced from their normal time, Harry and Naomi find themselves in London during the Blitz in ‘Operation Dusk’ by Alfie Shaw. The darkness here is ravenous, though, and Winston Churchill has called in the services of the Doctor and his friends to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding a growing number of victims.

Increasingly frequently, the so-called classic and modern eras of Doctor Who have blurred and interlinked, leading to many fascinating story opportunities that remaining bound to one era’s continuity simply would not allow. And almost universally, the franchise has found great success visiting the harrowing years of World War II and exploring its wartime effects on individual and general mindsets and livelihoods alike, Winston Churchill as a recurring character and Constance Clarke traveling with the Sixth Doctor being two prime examples of how these notions have intertwined. In ‘Operation Dusk,’ however, all pretenses and assumptions about the Allies, Nazis, and other conventional forces are put to the side as the Doctor finds that the Vashta Nerada have arrived on Earth, ones that have seemingly foregone their usual habits of eating mice in isolated portions of forests to instead combine to take on people and much larger prey. Under this tense setting that the sound design brings to life so evocatively, such fearsome power would instantly tip the global balance to anyone who could control it, and the race is on to discover the truth and to prevent a burgeoning catastrophe from taking hold.

Fittingly, while Harry admits that he is more of a Fleming reader compared to the stylings of Christie that Naomi may prefer, everyone soon finds themselves under suspicion as a conspiracy far greater than anyone could have imagined begins to come to light. With help from the TARDIS translation circuits, the Doctor discovers the involvement of multiple alien species and the resurgence of the nefarious Forge organization he has crossed paths with so many times in the past, in the process uncovering the shocking use for entrapped Vashta Nerada as instruments of justice and the harrowing tales of some of the alleged convicts hoping to stay alive. Truly, creatures that can strip the flesh from bone in an instant are some of the most terrifying that this franchise has ever produced, but to see them put to use in such a dramatic fashion in any context is powerfully frightening; the brief moment of contemplation afforded prisoners before their sentence is carried out is all the more harsh given the instantaneous end awaiting them and an indictment on societies in general. Much like the Weeping Angels, the Vashta Nerada is a very visual menace given the stark remnants they leave in their wake, but Big Finish has managed to expertly incorporate them here while adding a new twist to their usual means of functioning, culminating in a superbly solemn conclusion as the Doctor helps a stranded alien determine just why her communications home have gone unanswered.

While the wartime setting and Vashta Nerada are superb elements of ‘Operation Dusk,’ the characters are every bit as strong. Nicholas Rowe, Emily Raymond, Pepter Lunkuse, and Leon Parris all combine to create an immensely tense atmosphere in which the stakes are never in doubt, but Christopher Naylor and Eleanor Crooks are likewise excellent as Harry and Naomi determinedly and resolutely step forth. The two have already formed an immense chemistry that perfectly highlights the incredible amount these two have been through together both in released audios and even earlier adventures that have yet to be released. Just as intriguing, however, are their responses to traveling with the Doctor once more, Harry recognizing that he will be born just down the road from here in a short time and pining to return to his normal time and life while Naomi references UNIT under Kate and Osgood and is conflicted about leaving the new life and friends she has made in the future despite still obviously missing her old life dearly. These are circumstances that no companion of the Doctor’s has really confronted before, and the differing mindsets and how each will manage as the Doctor promises to discuss this with them in more detail and to return them home is an inherently fascinating source of drama that will hopefully be revisited in great detail going forward. Sylvester McCoy is on top form throughout as his cunning Doctor comes to realize the threat confronting Earth as he pieces together the sinister puzzle before him, and although the Seventh Doctor seems to have featured somewhat less frequently than many incarnations recently, ‘Operation Dusk’ is a firm reminder of just how enthralling this iteration can be as he manoeuvres furtively and overtly and serves as a brilliant opener to Far from Home with its rather unexpected lead trio.

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