The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Victory of the Doctor

Posted in Audio by - February 10, 2024
The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Victory of the Doctor

Released February 2024


The current iteration of The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles as well as the journeys of the Doctor and Valarie Lockwood come to an end in Victory of the Doctor as the Daleks come for all of creation in a universe the Doctor has made forget his very existence.

John Dorney begins this set with “Didn’t You Kill My Mother?” and the Doctor mostly unaware of his own identity but filling the position of arbiter in the consequential case of Lockwood versus Hendricks. This is a story that unfolds mostly in two distinct halves, and the interactions between Valarie and Arabella Hendricks are every bit as emotional and explosive as they should be given the many lives that have been lost due to Hendricks’s role in earlier events, Valarie’s own mother included. For her part, Hendricks claims that the deaths were a necessary step in the defense of the universe against the Daleks’ unending conquest, and Safiyya Ingar and Lara Lemon superbly bring forth the respective intense personal emotions and level-headed detachedness to make both sides of the fallout of these claimed sacrifices profoundly resonant even as their characters also can’t remember much about the Doctor and his influence. Indeed, even with Valarie not necessarily looking for closure, the Doctor is committed to deciding the case on merit as his job decrees, and Jacob Dudman again spectacularly captures the intonations and mannerisms of Matt Smith as the Doctor slowly comes to realize that all may not be as it seems around him. Joined by Homer Todiwala’s keen and enthusiastic Tim who is every bit committed to the company and advancement, strange discrepancies in time and personnel along with glaring gaps in what should be basic information hint at something much more far-reaching than the implications of Hendricks’s prior decisions, the ramifications of killing and the question of what the personal consequences may be if one person asked to be killed to protect many making for staggeringly profound drama that reaches back to the depths of the Time War itself and the man the Doctor became to bring about its end. This is very much a setup episode designed to maximize the emotions of the Doctor and Valarie while beginning to draw together disparate plot threads as the conclusion draws near, but the offshoot of the Daleks shown here brilliantly encapsulates the sheer power of the Daleks as well as that of free will and thinking. Dorney makes a bold decision to feature a Doctor not truly knowing himself to begin, but the result is a mesmerizing affair that- aided by strong direction, sound design, and performances- hits the ground running and expertly draws listeners back in to this very distinct era of the Eleventh Doctor’s timeline.

In ‘Daleks Victorious’ by Felicia Barker, the Doctor learns that erasing himself from universal records and in turn any need to fear him has not lessened the Daleks’ hatred and viciousness as he had hoped. Instead, with the Daleks claiming victory following the Great Time War and their attacks now focused on the planet Medrüth, it seems that there is nothing that can stand in their way of conquest and destruction. Of course, despite their immense power, the Daleks are not always portrayed as the most competent or dangerous foes to allow the Doctor to emerge victorious as the programme requires, but with this story firmly embedded within an ongoing arc, the Daleks presented here are unquestionably at their most powerful and merciless. As always, Nicholas Briggs is fantastic in voicing the many iterations of Daleks involved here that include the somewhat-controversially-designed New Dalek Paradigm that featured alongside Matt Smith on screen. Yet even with a relentless pace supporting this pervasive sense of danger, Barker still manages to bring genuine emotions beyond simple fear to the forefront, highlighted incredibly effectively as the Doctor must confront the consequences of his actions, the man he became within the Time War, and the prospect of becoming that type of person once again. The Eleventh Doctor is immensely complex on an emotional level even as he tries to put on a confident and easygoing demeanour in order to protect those around him, but Dudman handles these introspective moments incredibly well while expertly conveying the weight that the emotions of so much history with the Daleks and the increasing threat to everything that they again present are placing on him. Likewise, though, the unique relationships that exist among Valarie, Roanna, and Hayden help to further flesh out the immediate danger of Medrüth and the complexity of their own timelines that are so intricately interlinked. With Valarie’s endpoint and future already seen, the careful balancing act- from Hayden, in particular- is handled well and leads to the heartbreaking discussion about what may have happened to Roanna’s people on Medrüth had the Surge been shared despite her overwhelming fear. Consequences of actions both taken and not abound throughout ‘Daleks Victorious’ as the Yearn and its unique properties also return, and Mia Tomlinson, Christopher Ragland, Samuel Clemens, and Ingar are each pitch perfect as previous storylines and present dangers spectacularly collide. With only two stories remaining, the physical and emotional stakes have rarely been higher for the Doctor and his friends, and the scene has been set perfectly for what promises to be a monumental conflict and resolution.

Events reach a peak in ‘The Last Stand of Miss Valarie Lockwood’ by Alfie Shaw, effortlessly drawing together lingering strands from this entire arc with the Daleks at their absolute strongest. With the Blight, the Surge, the Archeon device, and the Yearn all featuring to certain extents as hurdles and options to manage the Daleks and to remind listeners of the incredible journey this series has taken, the Doctor continues to try everything at his disposal to stop the Dalek advance while refusing to give any information about himself or the Daleks’ assumption that other Time Lords have likewise survived even when under extreme duress. The Daleks realizing that there is certain information missing from their records to explain prior defeats ties nicely into the Doctor’s earlier decision to erase records of himself, their resulting fear and paranoia that a predator remains providing a strong motivation for certain actions here that complement their devastatingly effective brutality against all those they confront. Yet the Doctor is anything but victorious here despite Valarie’s implicit trust in him, and Dudman plays the emotional turmoil and anguish of this Doctor who continues to directly confront the ramifications of his previous actions in the Time War as this eternal battle against the Daleks continues on and as his friend is put in a precariously similar situation. Truly, few characters have been through quite so much personal trauma as Valarie, and while her proposal to Roanna is touching and emotional in its own right given their tenuous relationship within the web of time, her journey when presented with the proposition offered the Doctor earlier to rewrite time itself brilliantly highlights the shrewd intelligence and fierce honour of this character who has so deservedly earned the Doctor’s implicit trust and respect. Ingar gives one of their finest performances as Valarie is truly tested to the limit while suffering yet another devastating loss and an impossible choice, but the scale of the Dalek’s might shown here and the Doctor’s relative ineffectiveness at stopping the Daleks and helping Valarie present only one inevitable path forward. Nonetheless, with the mysterious voice on the phone revealed and the jumps in time deftly contextualized, ‘The Last Stand of Miss Valarie Lockwood’ is a masterful penultimate episode that beautifully amplifies the genuine emotions of its lead characters and that absolutely pays off the drama stemming from previous events even as the present and future seem so uncertain for the Doctor who has been given one final hope thanks to the harrowing actions and heartbreaking decisions of his best friend.

Alfie Shaw brings this limited run of The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles to a close with the story that gives this set its name, ‘Victory of the Doctor.’ Of course, the Doctor has already lost resoundingly to the Daleks here and has been reminded all too frequently that his most consequential decision in the Time War has ultimately done nothing to lessen the Dalek threat. Truly, the Daleks have rarely seemed quite so indomitable and fearsome, and while this story does mine some humour out of the Doctor’s stated goal of turning the Daleks nice by showing a Dalek officiating Valarie’s wedding and explaining that it had to blast a door because of its inability to use the handle, Nicholas Briggs amplifies the vocal menace and power of the Daleks immensely as they ultimately achieve their own goal of universal dominion. Yet even as it becomes clear that the Doctor will be using key plot components of earlier scripts to put his plan into motion, it’s still shocking to see the Daleks so capably subvert his stated plan and use the temporal disparity to their advantage, something made all the more resonant as Roanna and even Valarie must struggle with very Dalek urges stemming from the Doctor again failing them after they had lost and sacrificed so much for him. Companions’ trust in the Doctor is almost uniformly resolute and total, and Dudman, Ingar, and Tomlinson perfectly convey the conflicted emotions that a rare misstep and miscalculation from the Doctor that has finally allowed the Daleks total victory create. Of course, the story title and the nature of the franchise itself require the Doctor to emerge victorious, and that lost trust is a fascinating and integral part of his very layered plan that beautifully brings together the function of the Archeron device and the consequences of the Darinthian Blight to create a sterling resolution that builds off of everything that has occurred since Valarie first crossed paths with the Doctor. The Doctor ultimately knows the Daleks better than anyone, and his foresight and attention to detail even when knowing the emotional anguish he will cause his friends is a brilliant testament to the character that hopefully Big Finish will be able to continue developing in some new capacity. Truly, this final box set is a resounding success for the company that does feel like a missing series from Matt Smith’s era, and the incredible writing, vocals, directing, producing, music, and sound design that have all come together so seamlessly to make this incredibly satisfying drama work should absolutely be commended.

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