The Silent Priest

Posted in Audio by - March 19, 2024
The Silent Priest

Released March 2024


Seeking relief from the horrors of the Time War, the Eighth Doctor travels to the city of Sunset in David K Barnes’s ‘The Silent Priest.’ His memories of this locale and previous visits here are decidedly absent, however, as he finds himself caught in the crosshairs of opposing criminal factions and the law on this one-time pleasure destination that has fallen so far from grace.

On screen, the Silence were generally presented as villainous figures, their memory-proof existence and fearsome visual appearance and ability to subconsciously command others presenting an immense threat that challenged the Doctor and his friends on an altogether different level than any other enemy they had encountered. However, the Kovarian Chapter depicted was but one portion of this religious order, and Barnes takes that notion in an unexpected direction as one member of this race as part of its training has installed itself as a priest within the Sunset community. Aside from allowing the Silence to showcase more noble intentions, the particular ability they possess by allowing others to confess their deepest sins or shames and to maintain the relief of doing so without any memory of the confession process is a uniquely powerful one that naturally becomes the object of desire for certain individuals looking to wield further influence here.

Unfortunately, the drama within Sunset between a thuglike mafia don and a James Bond villain-esque casino entrepreneur stemming from a murder and the resulting deceptive coverup fails to truly meaningfully develop as much of the story’s focus by necessity goes to the influence of the priest who seems dedicated to bringing about a truce and peace to this city. As such, much of the central conflict is simply told rather than shown, a decision that falters more given the rather questionable and often overexaggerated accents employed to characterize the mafia figures. Nonetheless, the setup of this fallen city and the ineffectual police force working within the dangers of these feuding criminals is a strong one, and the relief of confession paired with the need for one particular confession makes for a suitably engaging use of the Silence and the ultimate power this race can wield even when out of direct sight. The sound design and vocals to bring the Silence to life are hauntingly effective, and Paul McGann puts forth a tremendous performance as his Doctor unwittingly draws the attention of everyone involved as he once again looks to bring about peace but finds himself in the precarious position of not necessarily remembering why he is taking certain actions that at times put him in direct and mortal peril.

‘The Silent Priest’ is the first of two stories which will be concluded in ‘The Silent City’ with the Seventh Doctor, and so the ultimate fallout of the Silence priest’s powerful rise remains to be seen. However, the decision to elevate this figure to one of power is one that is naturally fraught with potential dangers given the subconscious control that is possible and the apparent impossibility of remembering any interaction or even that it exists. These are gaping questions that the Doctor attempts to pose before being turned away to continue on his adventures without any recollection of these events, and not answering them here does lessen the overall effect of the quasi-cliffhanger at story’s end as the competing factions look to work together in a power-sharing structure under this figurehead. Still, the novel approach to the Silence as a figure ostensibly looking to help others and who has such a surprisingly good regard for the Doctor is wholly effective and certainly creates an intriguing throughline for the next story to continue to develop and explore.

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