The Mission

Posted in Audio by - December 17, 2022
The Mission

Released December 2022


With the Time War taking a dark new turn as a mysterious figure known as the Barber-Surgeon wages a deadly crusade against Time Lords and Daleks alike, the War Doctor must again consider who he was and is and just what lines he is willing to cross as he comes closer to becoming the man the Time Lords thought they wanted when recruiting him to join their cause in ‘The Mission’ to begin the three-part He Who Fights with Monsters saga by Robert Valentine.

As the man once known as Doctor reflects upon friends lost during this war and whether Romana would approve of the Time Lord President’s public and furtive sanctions and actions, he hardly flinches when those on the Time War Council ask him to consider assassination on their behalf. He’s never been a pacifist, but the fact that he so brazenly refuses to rule out performing such an action himself speaks volumes about just how severely the Time War has affected the Doctor and how desperately he wants it to draw to a close. By no means is the Doctor happy about who he is becoming as even his comrades fear what may be in his future, and Jonathon Carley superbly delves into the strained but utterly determined psyche of this man who has fought against evil for so long but who sadly realizes that such clear-cut definitions as good and evil can no longer guide his own actions, a fact tested all the more when he is told that the Barber-Surgeon he must hunt down is a rogue Time Lord.

While the information provided to the Doctor is primarily via the Time Lords resolutely revealing how desperate the situation is, the danger of the Barber-Surgeon is made all the more palpable by the immense fear this figure instills in the Daleks as well. They have little information about the figure behind the deadly temporal attacks they now know are targeting the Daleks and Time Lords equally, but there is enough information available from their monitoring to infer that the Doctor is likely involved in some capacity and that he should remain a target of interest as they look to acquire more information and eliminate this threat. Indeed, as the Doctor begins his own investigations, he discovers that his foes hardly consider him a threat in comparison to the Barber-Surgeon, a revelation with terrifying implications that Nicholas Briggs who once again excels as the many different iterations of the Daleks delivers chillingly effectively.

In a story very much filling the needs of an expositionary chapter for this three-part narrative, a perhaps even more frightening proposition here is the introduction of a cyborg hybrid Dalek Hunter-Killer, especially when it is given autonomy to break free of the normal Dalek chain of command while taking orders from the Time Strategist in order to mercilessly begin its own pursuit of the Doctor. While it’s intriguing to note the Daleks’ continued infatuation with hybridization to advance their cause in a script that deftly includes many varieties of Skaro’s denizens, Jason Merrells makes an instant impact with an incredibly powerful performance that epitomizes the ruthless danger the role requires, in the process injecting a new and palpable sense of intrigue and dread to the Dalek menace that is otherwise such a known quantity. This visceral threat is a brilliant complement to the secrets pervading the war efforts of both sides that highlight the stratifications within each and the independent thoughts driving the responses to the unknown but mounting danger of the Barber-Surgeon. ‘The Mission’ may be a bit too padded in certain places, but as an introductory story it brilliantly achieves everything that could possibly be asked of it, setting the Doctor off on a dangerous personal and physical trajectory. With extremely confident direction from Louise Jameson and sound design and music from Howard Carter to complement the immense performances from all involved, He Who Fights with Monsters is off to a tremendous start and can hopefully continue to build upon this strong foundation.

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