UNIT: Nemesis 2- Agents of the Vulpreen

Posted in Website by - March 09, 2022
UNIT: Nemesis 2- Agents of the Vulpreen

Released March 2022


UNIT has stopped the Eleven’s attempts to regain control of the Arch, but the true purpose of this advanced alien technology that was buried under an ancient lava flow and that forms a link to another world has still yet to be determined. Between Two Worlds admirably set the scene and introduced many key players, and Agents of the Vulpreen looks set to expand upon those possibilities while delivering some needed context as the UNIT: Nemesis saga continues.

Andrew Smith opens this second set with ‘The Man from Gallifrey,’ boldly revealing the Eleven’s whereabouts prior to the Between Two Worlds as Hasper of the Celestial Intervention Agency traps the Eleven millions of years ago between an Arch leading to the Vulpreen planet and a flow of lava that would assuredly kill him. Nothing ever goes to plan with the Eleven, however, and flashing forward to his confinement at UNIT’s hands, Hasper arrives on Earth to keep this criminal in check. Glen McCready, the man of so many voices for Big Finish, is superb in this role that brings Gallifreyan sentiments in line with UNIT’s as he traverses the organization’s overt familiarity with the Doctor and his race’s technology, and the connections Hasper makes along the way as he attempts to fulfill his duty are surprisingly resonant and make his ultimate sacrifice all the more impactful. Of course, this is just as much due to the incredible performance and energy the ever-adept Mark Bonnar once more pours into the many facets of the Eleven, and this conniving and ruthless Time Lord foe continues to be a worthy and engaging threat for UNIT. Unsurprisingly, this plotline is given the primary focus, but even as it attempts to introduce the incisive Lieutenant Jimmy Tan into the UNIT fold to a somewhat mixed effect given the short time allotted and the concurrent United Kingdom spaceship development unfolding, the secondary plot with Jacqui McGee being tortured into serving the mysterious Vulpreen is fascinating and creates an altogether more unique angle for this set to explore as its continues. Alisdair Simpson and David Holt are suitably menacing and powerful in these assertive roles, and while the vocal effects chosen for this race do waver between threatening and not, the overall effect is a strong one that vividly begins to flesh out the world on the other side of the Arch. There isn’t quite enough time for everything that this script wants to fully develop, but ‘The Man from Gallifrey’ is a suitably engaging re-entry point to Nemesis and more than capably maintains the overall narrative’s momentum and scope with an expanded UNIT roster at its core.

In Kenneth Grant’s ‘Power of the Dominators,’ Portstone New Town is a dream community for the future, but UNIT soon discovers that a deadly alien purpose is behind the new development. The Dominators and their robotic Quarks are one of the most rarely seen foes the Doctor has encountered, appearing on screen only once alongside the Second Doctor and thus allowing plenty of room for further exploration. Interestingly, with Josh Carter away training Jimmy Tan, it’s up to Kate, Osgood, Harry, and Naomi to investigate this locale and its frontman who has taken no effort to disguise his alien lineage. Intriguingly, both Harry and Naomi are all too familiar with the Dominators, hinting at a previous adventure with the Doctor, but the more comedic tone of this particular story does little to provide any sort of menace to this alien threat. While part of that is assuredly purposeful given the Dominators’ propensity to boast and their lack of imagination, it hardly makes for the most engaging audio introduction and seems like a distinct misstep for a series that has a far more engaging overarching narrative than this diversionary sidestep. Gareth Armstrong and Andrew James Spooner do well enough with material given to their Dominators, but the scheme is a fairly basic one and the resolution all too simple and done countless times elsewhere. Nonetheless, Beth Chalmers is excellent as the Quarks who have received a vocal upgrade in clarity from their original appearance, and the robots are effectively utilized for far more than window dressing or plain nostalgia. At the same time, Christopher Naylor continues to impress by expertly capturing Harry Sullivan’s mannerisms and intonations, and Eleanor Crooks has quickly shown just how determined and perceptive Naomi is, both bridging the gap between adventuring with the Doctor and defending the planet with UNIT exceedingly well. ‘The Power of the Dominators’ doesn’t necessarily do anything to prove why this particular race should be brought back for any future appearances, but the unwitting corporate espionage at its core and a definite strong outing for Osgood help to create enough enjoyable moments to overcome the weaker elements stemming from the Dominators themselves.

As the Eleven continues to tinker with the Arch to build a bridge to another world in Lizzie Hopley’s ‘The War Factory,’ time fractures and temporal anomalies continue to manifest within London’s past and present. Kate finds herself face to face with nineteenth century infantry at Belmarsh Prison, and Brigadier Winifred Bambera must confront Tudor warships on the Thames in the 1990s. Of course, it’s not long before these two beloved characters intersect, and while the time fractures aren’t quite used to their maximum effect even as explosions and dangers continue to mount, this blending of UNIT eras is a definite highlight. At no point is there any sort of competition between the more militaristic stylings of Bambera’s UNIT and the more scientific stylings of Kate Stewart’s, and the fact that both women so easily accept the truth of the situation before them to get on with their business of taking down the underlying threat of the Eleven is a testament to both of these incredible women. There are plenty of references to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to be sure, and his legacy is firmly shown to be in safe hands as Jemma Redgrave and Angela Bruce each assert a firm determination while their leading characters think forward and adapt to put themselves in the best possible position. The story is filled with many disparate visual elements to pad out the danger that the time fractures pose, but Mark Bonnar is once again brilliant as the Eleven continues to scheme without ever truly being able to escape the UNIT nuisance doggedly pursuing him. The Eleven feeds into the Vulpreen storyline effectively here as well through Jacqui McGee and Private Huff who are very much not themselves, and the seriousness of the Eleven and his associated threats that have been slowly but powerfully building to this point suddenly manifest in full with Kate’s own life hanging in the balance. ‘The War Factory’ is very much a setup piece for this set’s finale, but it is filled with incredible character work and visuals that make it a uniquely powerful and memorable instalment in this series that has already had so many incredible highlights.

John Dorney closes out Agents of the Vulpreen with Kate Stewart trapped on the other side of the Arch in a punishment prison in ‘Ten Minutes in Hell.’ Without question, Kate is the very foundation of this UNIT franchise, and Dorney tiptoes around the somewhat dubious military logic of keeping open a portal that could further an alien invasion on Earth in order to mount a rescue for one person by having time on the Vulpreen side running much faster than that on Earth. Thus, the ten-minute window on Earth equates to months in Kate’s own experiences while trapped, and Jemma Redgrave is absolutely superb as her character is thrust to the forefront and very nearly broken at the hands of her tormentors. She never reveals the desired information, however, and always stays true to herself while never giving up hope that her fellow prisoners will take up arms alongside her and lead a revolution to escape. This franchise doesn’t often go this dark with personal torment, and even though some elements of this particular storyline do become somewhat repetitive, that only serves to accentuate the brutality of Kate’s situation and the incessant chipping away of hope that such confinement would bring. With a split narrative that sees Jimmy Tan and the UNIT forces on Earth fight off Vulpreen and the Eleven alike with some shrewd tactics, there is plenty of complementary action, and Chris Lew Kum Hoi and Mark Bonnar completely sell the ever-increasing danger and stakes that serve as an enticing appetizer for more to come after a final twist that sees the imminent threat increase exponentially in scale. There certainly are more questions to be answered about how different time speeds can coexist and be linked together and whether this will ultimately be relevant in any way beyond this particular story, but ‘Ten Minutes in Hell’ capably spotlights UNIT’s most prominent member and its newest member alike while continuing to develop its expanding threat. Fans of Osgood and Josh Carter will likewise be pleased given the immense chemistry these two share during their search for Kate, and although that search is far too quick and easy to fully capitalize on the story’s premise, it’s another reminder of just how talented this large cast is and how much potential remains as this Nemesis saga enters its second half.

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