The Guardians of Prophecy

Posted in Audio by - July 21, 2017
The Guardians of Prophecy

Released May 2012

After successfully ushering in The Lost Stories with a collection of Sixth Doctor stories comprising a potential missing season twenty-three, Big Finish returns to the dynamic pairing of Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant to headline three further releases that delve into the annals of unproduced Doctor Who lore. As a sequel to ‘The Keeper of Traken,’ ‘The Guardians of Prophecy’ takes the Doctor and Peri to the last surviving planet of the Traken Union, Serenity, where they soon find that the birthplace of the evil Melkur houses a far greater and more dangerous secret.

The world of Serenity was the only world to survive the Master’s conquest and comprises the heart of a new Union under the rule of the Elect. But as it becomes clear that darker themes underlie the peaceful façade as Council members quarrel and the secrets of the Reliquary are revealed, the threat of a return to the times of evil before Prophecy begins to come to fruition as Mallador awakens. An immortal being of unsullied evil, Mallador’s repute has become legend even among the Time Lords, and his escape from the imprisoning stasis field as Prophecy is turned off quickly threatens the very nature of the world around them. Having only briefly touched upon the power of Mallador’s Melkur in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as backstory for the form of the Master’s TARDIS, it’s fantastic to finally see the beings as a sentient and uncaring malevolent force once awakened by Mallador’s release, and the notion of pure hatred being amplified and channeled into individuals’ consciousness is a chilling one that serves the back half of the story well as all of the disparate plot threads come cohesively together for a satisfying conclusion.

While Stephen Thorne imbues the requisite menace and gravitas to this foe of pure evil, ‘The Guardians of Prophecy’ doesn’t manage to do quite enough with the character before the resolution bar one utterly frightening scene in which negative emotions come to the forefront to make up for the missing nuanced depth that most foes- at least to some extent- carry. Still, even without the enduring mental fortitude needed to stand up to the Doctor, he adequately serves his purpose and helps to profoundly flesh out the mythology of the Melkur in the process, becoming a much more memorable character when his previous decision to remove his conscience in order to fully explore free will becomes known. That this lack of morality is the gift he offers his followers is terrifying, and the intrinsic differences between the moral codes of the Doctor and Mallador are used to superb effect in the climax as both actors unleash their full potentials.

As is typical with Big Finish releases, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant excel throughout. Baker, in particular, once more easily recaptures the spikier version of his early character on television, though he imbues enough softness from his years on audio that the Sixth Doctor here is easy to envision as a missing link between the different eras. The more natural friendship between the two leads is on fine display and makes for an easy listen whenever these two are together, and the direction and score keep the pacing fluid throughout while recapturing the essence of the intended era perfectly. With satisfying exposition in the first half and a satisfying resolution to round out the second, ‘The Guardians of Prophecy,’ while not the strongest entry in The Lost Stories, is certainly another fulfilling one that successfully builds upon what came before.

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