The Poison of Peladon

Posted in Audio by - February 17, 2022
The Poison of Peladon

Released January 2022


Moving forward to the reign of Queen Thalira amid rumours that Peladon may be on the verge of a republican uprising in ‘The Poison of Peladon,’ Lizzie Hopley brings River Song into the fold in the guise of a high priestess as Alpha Centauri and she ally to get to the bottom of the mystery.

With her granddaughter ill from the plague spreading across the population and the planet’s trisilicate mines sending out an alert, Thalira finds her own reign every bit as troubled as her father’s as the Galactic Federation once more arrives to investigate the current state of affairs. In many ways, what follows is a retelling of ‘The Curse of Peladon’ with an immense focus on the power of women in a world that men have traditionally held power on, and Thelira’s chancellor now confronted by that truth is an intriguing narrative point given the continued and immense sway that the chancellors hold in court. River Song is certainly not one to follow tradition, however, and after offending some members of the Federation delegation and arousing suspicions from others, it becomes all too clear that the rich trisilicate resources of this planet have not led to any sort of riches for Peladon itself in another biting allegory to economic exploitation and the darker side of capitalism on Earth.

Foregoing the narrative structure of the preceding story, ‘The Poison of Peladon’ very much focuses on the tremendous relationship between River and Alpha Centauri rather than on the Pels themselves as the two discover an immense conspiracy that strikes at the very foundation of this world. River is relatively restrained by her own standards which helps to further blend the two distinct eras of Doctor Who that Peladon and she represent, and Alex Kingston and Jane Goddard are wonderful in their respective roles as the two beloved characters turn from friendly to adversarial and back again. Unfortunately, although the titular poisoning is used to great effect to drive the intrigue ever forward, the ultimate villainous reveal is a bit too rushed to fully resonate given the tremendous intrigue built up through the investigations, and the resulting turn in characterization is a bit too over the top given the tone up to that point. Still, it does highlight River’s own acuity and provides a fitting resolution to the many outside influences acting upon this world while providing hope that all is not yet lost for its people.

Despite some red herrings, ‘The Poison of Peladon’ is a very straightforward story that doesn’t stray too far from the types of events already witnessed on Peladon in other tales. While the vocal stylings of the delegation member Ribble do somewhat further undermine the drama on display, the performances are generally strong across the board and Deborah Findlay capably steps into the role of an older Queen Thalira to imbue the sort of dedication and empathy that would have made her father proud. Indeed, a touching flashback to the passing of King Peladon in which he tells his daughter how to rule wisely and fairly is a definite highlight, and the theme of a ruler trying to do the best for her people as others conspire against her vision continues to provide a strong foundation upon which to expand the unseen darkness wrought upon this world. Peladon is all too similar to Earth in too many ways, and bringing light to those truths under the banner of familiarity and entertainment is a fitting purpose for a series that already feels so dynamic and established.

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