UNIT: Brave New World: Visitants

Posted in Audio by - December 13, 2022
UNIT: Brave New World: Visitants

Released December 2022


With the turn of the millennium fast approaching, Brigadier Winifred Bambera, Sergeant Jean-Paul Savarin, and Dr Louise Rix continue to confront incredible dangers- human and alien alike- in UNIT: Brave New World: Visitants.

Visitants opens with Tajinder Singh Hayer’s ‘Frequency’ and Brigadier Bambera’s team taking part in a top-secret US Air Force project intended to make those within individual military units function better as a team. This powerful Hoplite Frequency has obvious benefits in the field, and the charismatic Colonel Hagen adeptly points to his own military experiences in the past and how warfare and battles will continue to evolve going forward as he quite succinctly proves how effective his technology is with other units easily succeeding in the same tasks in which Bambera’s failed. David Menkin gives a wonderful performance as Hagen who knows that the positive effects of his frequency can speak for themselves as he eagerly nudges Bambera into accepting his pitch with promises of greater success for UNIT in the future. However, whereas Bambera is very much of the military mind and eager to increase efficiency in the field after experiencing first-hand how the frequency can streamline her own team’s thinking when tackling a theoretical problem, Sergeant Savarin is less keen to blindly accept the advantages the frequency will offer, fearing what a more conformist view in the military could yield after cautiously revealing his own sexuality that at that time would not be welcomed in Britain’s traditional military. UNIT accepts him for who he is and has allowed him to serve his country and beyond like he always dreamed, and he is acutely aware that perceived advantages in one respect can lead to personal and serious consequences in others. Angela Bruce, Alex Jordan, and Yemisi Oyinloye each highlight the individual strengths and mindsets that make their unique and now well-established UNIT team so successful even if in a somewhat dysfunctional manner compared to the alternative being offered, and their joint insistence on following up the slightest inconsistencies reveals unintended side effects that have been kept out of official reports as well as a far more nefarious track of thought that would almost inevitably accompany such profound technology being let loose into the world at large. ‘Frequency’ doesn’t necessarily do anything truly unique, but it is an extremely confident and stylish tale that subtly highlights the global importance of UNIT and the inherent strengths of the three leads when confronted with a very human threat that crosses extreme ethical boundaries no matter its promise, culminating with a mysterious and dark warning that eliminating a figurehead does not eliminate the threat as a whole.

In Lizzie Hopley’s ‘Haunt,’ Bambera and Dr Rix investigate the abandoned Greensands Hotel, the locale local legends say is the home of murderous ghost Baghead. The only way to uncover the truth is to stay overnight, and amid the accumulating strange noises, feelings, and even physical markings, the two learn about each other and themselves in the most remarkable of circumstances. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bambera resolutely refuses to believe in any of the paranormal rumours surrounding this place, sure that everything can be explained by locals looking to gain fame by using the legends to their own advantage and by technologies in the employ of those with admittedly impressive knowledge about Bambera or other individuals within the hotel. Even when presented with direct evidence that something supernatural is occurring here, Bambera remains determined to find a human element, and the contrast with Rix who eagerly looks to past recordings of a young paranormal investigator who disappeared to find answers while insisting they stay here longer to follow in that researcher’s footsteps allows for a remarkable study between the two that Bruce and Oyinloye portray exceedingly well. The shared resolve and self-assurance even when coming from two markedly distinct viewpoints is a testament to the strength of this UNIT team and, as in the preceding story, provides another example of how contrasting mindsets and beliefs can help lead to answers and a better overall understanding. Nathaniel Curtis likewise gives a strong performance as the very human element that Bambera believes this story needs, and Jason Forbes is remarkable as Baghead with an impressive array of voices that perfectly complement the haunting atmosphere and tension that blankets each and every scene throughout this story. ‘Haunt’ is quite a dark tale by UNIT standards, but the core mystery that never fully gets explained as Bambera and Rix do their best to work around the technological limitations of the 1990s that were so advanced at the time is an enthralling one that highlights how well this franchise can work within an intimate setting bursting with emotions both expected and not. Even with Savarin hardly involved, this is another strong story in a range that is already extremely confident in its storytelling ambition and prowess, and the strong performances, direction, and sound design ensure that it will be an enduring and formative one as UNIT continues to confront the mysterious, dangerous, and unexplained.

Robert Valentine brings Visitants to a conclusion with ‘The Last Line of Defence’ that sees Bambera installed as head of security at a secretive peace conference featuring the leaders of the world after a civil war in Valge Maja threatens to ignite an even greater global conflict. On the eve of the millennium, geopolitical and cultural tensions are nearing a breaking point with the threat of the Y2K bug lingering in the background, but dark forces have conspired in the shadows to create a new world order fronted by the alien Zeta Hydran utilizing the Hoplite Frequency from ‘Frequency.’ Whether this ends up being a series finale or not, ‘The Last Line of Defence’ certainly fills that remit by bringing together the lingering mysteries of past instalments while showing the best of UNIT to save Earth on the biggest stage even when the organization’s help is not necessarily wanted. Unfortunately, the biggest detriment to this story fully succeeding is that it tries to tie up storylines that simply have not had enough time to fully develop over the course of preceding stories, robbing their inclusion here of some of the dramatic impact that could have been present had they been percolating over the course of more instalments. Brave New World in many respect appears to be channeling aspects of The X-Files which successfully integrated long-standing mysteries into long series filled with standalone adventures, but as only the sixth story in this series that already has an alien invader using the frequency threat that has only been in one story on a much more localized level and revealing that Bambera’s trusted friend Dame Lydia Kingsley who so desperately wanted Bambera to head UNIT has been assisting with the Zeta Hydran takeover to ostensibly save the world’s population from the ravages of conflict, ‘The Last Line of Defence’ asks that the audience have a much deeper connection with this weapon and character than has rightfully been earned. There’s no doubting the power of the Hoplite Frequency as previously shown, and that Rix has used her experience to develop a cancelling device that can record and turn on its source is a fitting evolution of that storyline that highlights the best of that character, but it’s a big jump from ‘Frequency’ that could have landed more impactfully had another story shown a partway progression from US Air Force base to alien incursion. Likewise, though Liz Sutherland-Lim is wonderfully engaging as Kingsley who simply cannot understand why Bambera is not keen to join in her vision, this twist in her motivations is somewhat hollow and indistinct from any other person who might be in the villainous role simply because she’s still mostly an unknown quantity despite her obvious importance to Bambera as shown in ‘Seabird One’ and the resulting personal drama Bambera experiences as a result. Still, this is a finale filled with great pace, action, and intrigue, and Ian Abeysekera as Colonel Birch who was the enigmatic voice guiding Bambera in earlier stories and who very surprisingly fills a strictly heroic role when most narratives would have attempted to do something more nebulous with the character adds a strong supporting performance to complement UNIT’s regulars. It is nonetheless the weakest story of this set and doesn’t really highlight the supposed strengths of the Zeta Hydran species as invaders and conquerors, but it’s an undeniably fun story that ticks all of the boxes of 90s science fiction.

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