The Demon Rises

Posted in Audio by - January 28, 2018
The Demon Rises

Released January 2018

‘The Mind Runners’ deftly introduced the Doctor, Leela, and K9 to the dying world of Chaldera in a gritty, noir account of people trying to survive and carry on until the rocket that represents their salvation is completed. With the enigmatic Mr Shift revealed as a killer as the hunt into a recent spate of Mind Runners deepens, it soon becomes clear that there is a far darker secret at the heart of Chaldera that has been going on far longer than anyone could have possibly realised and that every single life bar one is in jeopardy.

The notion of individuals jumping into others’ minds to see and experience an escape from their limited, dire existence was a fascinating premise to anchor ‘The Mind Runners,’ and without forsaking that idea completely ‘The Demon Rises’ dexterously introduces the darker political motivations at play as the sinister trail following the threat of a gruesome secret leads to the rocket itself. With the Mind Runners and their technology rightly taking initial prevalence to help build the world and society of Chaldera, Mr Shift was something of a background presence until stepping brashly into the limelight and explaining just how his unique abilities and physiognomy allowed the rash of murders to look like suicides. Andy Secombe excels with this charismatic and disturbed figure, and the truth behind Shift’s transformation is quite emotionally disturbing and almost manages to imbue a genuine sense of empathy to this man who murders without second thought given the emotional and physical trauma he must have endured. However, it soon becomes clear that Shift is not acting on his own and that he is but a front for a more powerful force driving the murders.

As the slow introduction and development of the mysterious Night Mind unfolds, ‘The Demon Rises’ goes down a most unexpected but wholly satisfying route to explain the true danger in which the people of Chaldera find themselves. Initially playing with expectations through subversions of familiar aspects, the stunning revelation at the heart of the city and these twisting events works so exceedingly well by not only intensifying the present danger but also putting the very humanized story of ‘The Mind Runners’ into much greater context. Suddenly, the murders take on a much more ominous tone, and even the politics behind the scenes are dwarfed in comparison to the exposed plot that grows to threaten the universe beyond Chaldera’s boundaries as well. With every building and every crack in the sidewalk a piece of this vile menace, the people literally have no escape from the malevolent influence, and the beckoning of the people to the completed organic rocket that is ready to fuel up and leave with the promise of escape becomes one of the darker ideas that Big Finish and Doctor Who have explored in recent times. Intriguingly, though, it’s the very familiar notion of unfounded paranoia that ultimately brings the truth of Chaldera’s gruesome past and present to the forefront, a past that has remained hidden beneath the guise of the natural life cycle of sentient beings over the planet’s long history, and the resolution excellently brings out the darker and more manipulative aspects of the Fourth Doctor that always sit just beneath the surface while tying together the many disparate plot points of this two-parter spectacularly well.

It’s rare for the second part of a two-part story to live up to the bevy of ideas presented in the first as the breadth of imagination must be tempered to offer a satisfying resolution, but ‘The Demon Rises’ manages to continue introducing new ideas throughout that both expand upon and refine everything that has come before. The core of this story is a mesh of very familiar ideas when taken on their own, but the gradual tonal shift from a noir dystopia to an emotional horror is handled spectacularly by the deft direction and sound design and with each of the leads and supporting performers given profound and powerful scenes delivered with spectacular conviction that bring together the Mind Runner technology, the Night Mind, the Digitals, and Mr Shift absolutely satisfyingly in an immense conclusion to the first half of 2018’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures.

  • Release Date: 1/2018
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