The Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex storyline continues with “Enemy of the Daleks”. Does this story continue the high standard set by “The Magic Mousetrap”? Or will this trilogy of adventures fall flat? Read on to find out, and beware: there will be spoilers!
Written by David Bishop and directed by Ken Bentley, this story follows the Doctor, Ace and Hex as they encounter the Daleks on the planet Bliss. Joining with a squadron of brave Valkyrie fighters, led by Kate Ashfield‘s Lieutenant Beth Stokes, the TARDIS team soon discover that they’re about to witness a terrible atrocity… and for once the Doctor is here to make sure it happens.
The main trio are well-characterised throughout. After being manipulated by his companions in the previous story, Sylvester McCoy‘s Doctor is back to his old scheming self; with foreknowledge of what’s about to happen on Bliss, he has a very interesting character arc here.
Ace (Sophie Aldred) gets the most focus of the companions, taking charge of the situation and coming to the Valkyries’ rescue with her knowledge of the Daleks. At first, it was quite jarring to hear Ace acting in such an independent and mature manner (in the previous story, she was characterised the same as she was on TV) but I’m thankful that Bishop- like Dan Abnett in The Harvest- has taken her character further in this direction.
The focus on Ace isn’t to say that Hex (Phillip Olivier) is sidelined. His reaction to meeting the Daleks for the first time is one of the best of any companion; the way he mourns for the dead, horrified at the Doctor and Ace’s blasé attitudes, is absolutely gripping. I’m intrigued to see where this thread leads in the next story, given the way this one ends.
The Daleks, played wonderfully as usual by Nicholas Briggs, are a menacing presence throughout. Their role in this story is rather different to any other; faced with the Kiseibya, voracious predators created by Eiji Kusuhara‘s Professor Shimura, the Daleks have finally met their match. One of the best moments was hearing the Black Dalek begging for mercy after having been consumed by the Kiseibya: a truly shocking experience.
The music for this story is particularly impressive: another fantastic job by Steve Foxon. The electric-guitar track that plays throughout this piece is absolutely one of the best pieces of music I’ve ever heard in a Big Finish production. The oncoming swarm of Piranha Locusts and the wobbly, modulated voice of Jeremy James‘s Sistermatic also stood out to me as particularly strong pieces of sound design, all of which add to the strength of this tale.
All in all, Enemy of the Daleks is a fantastic and innovative tale, competently performed, brilliantly sound-designed and with a great grasp on both the main characters and the villains. Thoroughly recommended.
Enemy of the Daleks can be purchased on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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