Sontarans vs Rutans: Born to Die

Posted in Audio by - March 14, 2024
Sontarans vs Rutans: Born to Die

Released March 2024


In the third release of Sontarans vs Rutans, Big Finish newcomer Tiegan Byrne and ‘Born to Die’ take the Sixth Doctor and Charley to the planet Taxodon, home of the Nox race that is so adept at blending in with their environment to remain unseen in any situation. The Sontarans are also on Taxodon, however, and after some quick thinking by the Doctor to invoke ancient Sontaran law, the two travelers have until sunset to prove themselves innocent of murdering a Sontaran.

With the Doctor under prime suspicion despite the deaths of Sontarans beginning before his arrival, the Sontarans naturally do not trust him to lead any sort of independent investigation unchecked. The unlikely pairing of the Doctor with Cadet Skole proves to be a masterstroke, however, Skole epitomizing the honour that forms the foundation for his race while the Doctor continues to slowly uncover the Sontarans’ true purpose on this world. Colin Baker and Dan Starkey form a strong rapport as the morality of the Sontarans’ eternal war effort is questioned more than ever before given yet another genocide that could result, and Christopher Ryan and Jon Culshaw round out the militaristic dynamics of these Sontarans who continue to look for any advantage that might finally turn the tide of battle in their favour.

While the setup to this story is quite simple and the involvement of the Rutans is anything but a surprise given the range within which it appears, the sheer magnitude of the Rutans’ scheme is impressively horrific. It’s surprising that Big Finish should choose to take the Rutan threat to this extreme given the fact that they are still such a seldomly featured race with a natural potential for shape-shifting and nuances that have largely been unexplored, but the lengths the Rutans have gone to in order to infiltrate Sontaran ranks without detection indicates a certain scientific prowess that can rival any of the Doctor’s greatest foes. The brutal truth here brilliantly reframes assumptions about the Sontaran deaths and provides a fitting backdrop for the apparent civil war that has erupted while presenting the prospect of an altogether more frightening fallout of this eternal war between the Sontarans and Rutans across the cosmos.

Along with presenting a host of difficult moral and philosophical decisions and highlighting the trust that the Doctor comes to have in Skole individually, ‘Born to Die’ also takes great advantage of the unique pairing of the Sixth Doctor and Charley. Charley, of course, was recently entwined in this Sontarans vs Rutans conflict alongside the Eighth Doctor, providing her with certain knowledge and experience that she again must hide- sometimes wholly ineffectively- from the Sixth to protect the web of time. This particular facet of their relationship has always been the most fascinating, and though this pairing of Colin Baker and India Fisher has not featured much in recent years, it’s clear that there is still a tremendous amount of drama that can be mined from Charley’s uniquely nonlinear affiliation with the Sixth Doctor and the wonderful chemistry these two leads share. Charley is at her most determined here as she steadfastly sets out to do what is right to prevent any unnecessary loss of life in the name of misguided conquest, and she continues to support and challenge the Doctor at all of the proper moments to ensure that her friend and the audience alike are always on their toes. ‘Born to Die’ is certainly the strongest entry in this series so far that will hopefully continue to crescendo in intensity and emotions, and the sterling sound design and music help to create an altogether more immersive experience that truly delves into the promise of this range’s overarching title.

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