The First Son

Posted in Audio by - October 16, 2021
The First Son

Released October 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As Dalek Universe begins its final set of three stories with Lizzie Hopley’s ‘The First Son,’ the Tenth Doctor is still searching for a way back to his side of the Time War. Lured by an all too frightening variation of an all too familiar and friendly voice, however, he also finds himself embroiled in the height of the war between the Daleks and Movellans.

The Movellans, for their part, are one of the more intriguing races in Doctor Who, an android race with a penchant for aesthetics and a logicality to successfully combat the Daleks that has been visited and explored rather sparingly. However, with so much of the Movellan tapestry as yet unvisited, it’s perhaps surprising, then, that Hopley should take the race into a new direction with the typical trope of one emerging superior above the others, using an immensely engaging setting of a hidden planet composed of crashed spaceships to introduce a completely novel step in the Movellans’ evolution as the androids themselves continue to malfunction with increasingly violent tendencies. To this effect, the character of Kamen Vers is quite fascinating as essentially an infant imbued with a genius’s knowledge and the full spectrum of human emotion, all the while searching for his father and sense of placement in the universe. Unfortunately, despite a suitable performance from Matthew Jacobs-Morgan that aptly captures the requisite anger, questioning, and power of such an individual, there simply isn’t enough time for the script to properly develop the multitude of conflicting emotions and thoughts within this individual, and while the bevy of actions he takes certainly make sense within a certain context and mirror the notion of his unprepared and undeveloped mind having to confront so many thoughts and emotions at once, Kamen ultimately comes off as an impetuous infant out to wreak havoc simply because he can.

Without question, there is a far deeper and more profound story about Kamen that could have been told outside of this Dalek Universe saga, but Hopley does well to offer an intriguing source of contrast and even kindness and reverence via his mother figure who bears a striking resemblance to one River Song. Yet while a great deal of drama is mined from the fact that the Doctor is unsure whether this Movellan River is truly the River he knows or rather an advanced model of Movellan that Kamen can’t help but defer to, this storyline also comes with the unintended consequence of Alex Kingston not being allowed to fully embrace the vivaciousness that River so naturally exudes. There are certainly still flashes of the immense chemistry that David Tennant and Alex Kingston have developed in recent audio adventures, but overall this is a strictly atypical River Song appearance that nonetheless proves effective at providing the necessary information and impetus for the plot to continue to develop as the notion of the enigmatic First Movellan refuses to fade.

‘The First Son’ does try to cover a bit too much ground within its running time, but the fact that the Doctor is just as in the dark as his companion- or perhaps ever more so since Anya has crossed paths with River as the Queen of the Mechonoids before- is a tremendous asset to the script that enhances the overall intrigue and sense of danger. Tennant is as energetic and captivating as ever, and the unique relationship he shares with Anya as she continues her attempts to step out of Ann Kelso’s long shadow remains an engaging narrative force to further allow the Tenth Doctor’s development outside of the confines of his televised companions. As it is, however, the incredibly strong idea at this story’s heart is by necessity rushed and so comes off as somewhat disjointed and unbalanced, relying on its strong core performances to compensate for the immense internal drama of Kamen that is sadly simply told much more than shown.

  • Release Date: 10/2021
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