Slow Beasts

Posted in Audio by - May 21, 2024
Slow Beasts

Released May 2024


Big Finish newcomer Dan Rebellato closes out Echoes with ‘Slow Beasts’ as the Doctor tries again to create a sense of wonder for Liv and Helen who have already seen and experienced so much alongside him. Traveling to Ran-Zoan where the largest known land animals tower and loom over the plains and the mobile settlements of the Renn, the three soon uncover a dark secret that could bring about the demise of everyone.

Rebellato quickly establishes himself as a master of the very visual component inherent to the audio medium. Hulking figures moving at something like one-millionth the speed of their surroundings is a brilliant backdrop upon which to establish this story, the statuesque creatures always present but able to easily be avoided through the movement of settlements as needed as they continue their path ever onward across the plains. On the eve of the one day every four years that this planet’s three suns align to force the Renn settlers inside, this is a world and a peace-loving society of nomads who harbour strong thoughts about just how the Time Lords should use their influence through the cosmos to ensure peace that come to life quickly and vividly.

Indeed, it initially seems as if ‘Slow Beasts’ will be a well-deserved and restful respite for the Doctor, Liv, and Helen since the only blemish on the otherwise peaceful façade of this world and its people is the presence of a few rather innocuous protesters. Derek Griffiths is superb as Mathryn who always keeps such a level head while guiding this society that had to colonize this world so long ago when their ship was unable to go any farther, and Maya Saroya is equally effective as the bold and shrewd Iri who follows her own intuition and principles even when they come into conflict with her settlement’s accepted teachings. However, with strange sounds hinting at an unknown truth hiding in the open, a guided tour to the creatures takes a terrifying turn when genuine questions about their sad expressions and obvious tears turn into genuine fear as the creatures begin moving at a much more regular speed. With only a few hours before the settlement in their path is destroyed, the search is on for just what could have brought about this change as the Ren face the prospect of having to leave behind and lose certain knowledge and experiments in order to maintain their lives and livelihood.

At a time when stories often feel the need to go bigger in terms of twisting plots or incorporating historical figures or personal connections in order to stand out, ‘Slow Beasts’ succeeds precisely because its story that is so squarely centred upon such an engaging hook remains laser-focused from beginning to end. While there isn’t much actual character development for the three leads, the performances of Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, and Hattie Morahan expertly evoke the sense of wonder and excitement that the Doctor is hoping for initially as well as the virtue and indignation that is so rightfully present once the subversive truth is finally discovered. That the Doctor still pleads for mercy to be shown even when those secrets rewrite all previously-assumed truths is a strong testament to his character that in turn reaffirms the very best of Iri, and Rebellato’s incredible yet understated use of the TARDIS’s abilities to bring about the resolution in a fashion that allows the Doctor to impress even his increasingly hard-to-impress companions is again a showcase of the ingenuity of both the writer and the Doctor. Though ‘Slow Beasts’ is a much more linear story than many, it makes the absolute most of what is seen and not seen right in plain sight, utilizing its brilliant visuals, sound design, and performances to create an enthralling and truly enjoyable experience at all point.

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