Kieran Brennan continues his journey through the Divergent Universe with Faith Stealer!
A new interzone means exploring new cultures, but the Multihaven is full of more than The Doctor and his companions could have expected. A society with dozens of religions that rise and fall in popularity as if in a stock market. But one religion seems to be rising faster than all the others, and destroying any other religion in its way…
Generally, I find stories that deal with the concept of faith to mishandle the concept. They can feel as though they’re trying to convert you, or overly cynical attempts to discredit the concept of religion. Faith Stealer is, to me, a good portrayal of religion. It shows its flaws, both in its foundation and in how people interact with it, but never seeks to outright dismiss the notion of religion. Like any great story, it examines the grey in-between states that nearly every worthy topic of discussion lives in. That, and its wise decision to omit the use of any Earth religions, creates an interesting premise for a story and a unique concept for a location. To have the Doctor claim he is of the made up “Tourist” religion, only for him to soon find out he’s started a new religion that is now growing in popularity is fun to see and well executed.
We also finally have some much needed expansion on the character of C’rizz. I’ve only now realised how little I’ve mentioned him in reviews since he popped up back in The Creed of the Kromon, but he quite simply hasn’t done anything worth talking about. It’s odd to see how fast Charley was well established and likable, but we still don’t really know C’rizz. His dynamic with Charley is charming, but apart from that he’s just kind of been present for the rest of the adventures. I can’t confirm it, but I suspect in the initial batch of Divergent universe stories his personality and the direction that was intended to go with the character weren’t concrete, or perhaps were even last minute additions, leading to those stories featuring a quite bland C’rizz.
Faith Stealer finally lets him shine. Not only does he play a pivotal role in the plot, but his PTSD from the death of L’da is explored a fair bit, being one of the stories focuses. Not only does it give us, the audience, a chance to get to know C’rizz a bit more, but it gives Conrad Westmaas a chance to really run with the material. Now, maybe I’m overhyping C’rizz in this story a bit much, but it really is a massive improvement on his previous outings.
Where Faith Stealer does leave me wanting more however is in its villain. They start out quite interesting, but I felt like the fourth part let them down quite a bit. And also the cardinal sin of Eighth Doctor audios is committed, that being I don’t think they had much chemistry with Paul McGann. Usually McGann can play off anyone, but for whatever reason I didn’t really feel like it worked here. Perhaps it’s the increasingly tired and frustrated Eighth Doctor as he goes from interzone to interzone, but it’s hard to tell which to me isn’t a particularly good sign.
Faith Stealer Does great work expanding upon the character of C’rizz and gives us a unique location to explore in genuinely interesting ways. It may not be the finest Eighth Doctor story, but it’s more than serviceable and most definitely in his top outings to this point.
Faith Stealer is available now as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com