The Flying Dutchman and Displaced

Posted in Audio by - September 10, 2020
The Flying Dutchman and Displaced

Released September 2020


As Big Finish’s two-part double bill releases continue, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ by Gemma Arrowsmith and ‘Displaced’ by Katharine Armitage’ revisit the early days of Ace and Hex together alongside the Seventh Doctor.

In ‘The Flying Dutchman,’ the TARDIS crew members find themselves aboard a seemingly deserted ship in the middle of the ocean. When they find the crew hiding away in fear of suffering an attack from the legendary and eponymous ship that portends such doom, however, ghosts and otherworldly threats suddenly seem all too real. When dealing with legends, Doctor Who is divided into those stories that deal with an alien or science fiction foundation and those that deal with something altogether more human, and although the Doctor knows from the start almost exactly what the truth behind the glowing ship is, the journey as unfolds through the eyes of the ship’s crew and when compared to the varying experiences Ace and Hex have had aboard the TARDIS to this point ably encapsulates a large breadth of beliefs and superstitions. Of course, by the time the scene is set and the main players are introduced, there is little time for any sense of genuine mystery to further unfold before the answers must begin to be revealed, but the very human emotions driving the motivations, beliefs, and actions are well realized and ensure this story remains all too grounded in the good and bad that humanity has to offer. Stephen Wight and Nicholas Khan give strong performances to bring the dichotomy of command to life, and although there again is not much time for any storyline to fully develop, Carly Day is likewise superb alongside Sophie Aldred as Anna comes to assertively accept the truth about herself in this world in a touching and believable sequence that caps off an engaging and atmospheric- if straightforward- tale that makes full use of its maritime setting.

When the TARDIS locks its occupants out and in an ordinary house with sealed doors and no occupants but still something trying to communicate, Ace and Hex suspect the Doctor of playing another of his usual tricks in ‘Displaced.’ This is a truly suspenseful tale that builds at a very deliberate pace, offering only the smallest clues through the journey that so prominently features the mysterious message to ‘change one curse.’ Making full use of where Hex’s personal journey will take him and the genuine emotions at the core of the friendship between Ace and Hex that are already present, ‘Displaced’ scales back the action compared to its companion piece while bringing its characters’ internal thoughts to the forefront brilliantly. While the alien plot that is ultimately revealed is perhaps a bit too straightforward and filled with technobabble to allow this tale to truly reach its true potential, the very visual design of the alien threat as well as the core mystery inside these incredibly atmospheric and claustrophobic confines are brilliant, and the parallels to the lockdown resulting from COVID-19 certainly add an intriguing extra element to a tale that once more proves just why the Doctor needs his companions by his side. While this is a story that could have done with a bit more time to develop its alien menace in a more relatable fashion, ‘Displaced’ and its central truth is a fine counterpoint to the evils of humanity shown in ‘The Flying Dutchman’ and again proves the confidence and variability that Doctor Who offers no matter the story length or format.

  • Release Date: 9/2020
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