Today, I’m continuing my journey through the Graceless series and delving into Graceless 2. The first boxset was really strong, so I’m excited to see where Abby, Zara, Marek and Joy go next. Read on for my thoughts on each story!
1. “The Line” by Simon Guerrier
Graceless 2 opens with The Line by Simon Guerrier, which sees Abby, Zara, Marek and Joy arrive in the city where Marek grew up. Taking place on a tidally locked planet whose city constantly moves to keep out of the searing sunlight, The Line explores the consequences of Abby and Zara’s actions, propelling them in an intriguing new direction.
This story very much focuses on Marek (Fraser James), who faces the plight of returning to his homeworld right before a major cataclysm takes place, and being unable to change it. We are also introduced to Manchu Golding, Marek’s father, who is brought to life wonderfully by Derek Griffiths.
The interplay between the two characters is very strong, serving to flesh out Marek’s character, and forming the dramatic crux of the story by throwing up an intriguing moral dilemma: can (or, rather, should) Marek seek to avert the tragedy of his past by warning his father of the future? This dilemma leads to a pleasingly shocking ending to the story, the consequences of which left me incredibly for the remaining two episodes.
With all the focus on Marek, I felt that Abby and Zara were somewhat sidelined for this story. This would ordinarily be fine, given the strength of the development Marek undergoes here, but I felt that, when they did appear, the sisters were characterised rather oddly. All they really do in this story is talk about having a threesome with Marek, which made me feel slightly uncomfortable, not least because Abby and Zara are related! I thought the first set did a really great job balancing the more mature material (sex, violence etc.), so to have such gratuitous sexuality on display here was a little jarring for my tastes.
Overall, this is a pretty strong opener to the boxset: a great story in its own right, with some interesting setup for the rest of the set.
2. “The Flood” by Simon Guerrier
After dealing with a sinking ship, Abby and Zara arrive in a coastal town with an eye to a bit of relaxation after the devastating events of the previous episode. As the title suggests, however, the town is under threat from a terrible flood, and that’s not all. Lurking out in the ocean are terrifying sea monsters
Abby and Zara get some good development here, with the former struggling to help temper the latter’s grief at the loss of Marek and Joy in the previous story. One of my only complaints with Graceless 1 was that I found it hard to tell the sisters apart personality-wise, so it’s great to have them set apart in such a distinct way in this story.
The guest actors for this story are all very strong, from Daisy Ashford‘s compelling performance as Nina to Joanna van Gysegheim‘s turn as army general Wing. The standout character, though, has to be Michael Cochrane‘s Brondle, a kindly museum curator and Wing’s husband, who welcomes Abby and Zara to the town.
This is the most aurally rich story in the set, with Andrew Edwards providing some top sound design. From the oncoming flood to the roar of the sea monsters, the soundscape here is just amazing, really bringing Guerrier’s fantastic script to life.
Overall, with a gripping storyline, some great character development and strong performances from the entire cast, this is another powerful story, and quite possibly the best in the set.
3. “The Dark” by Simon Guerrier
The finale of this boxset, The Dark, sees Abby and Zara reunite with Joy (Susan Brown) who, after being deleted from history in the first story, has somehow returned to life as an adult. Along with Joy’s own son, Maldon (Joseph Kloska), they must navigate a dark, stormy planet in the hopes of finding a way out.
This is a great character piece for Abby and Zara, who are faced with the consequences of their actions in The Line. As Zara and Joy become reacquainted, Abby becomes closer to Maldon, and they form a startling relationship.
Overall, this is another fantastic story, concluding the boxset in an exciting and thought-provoking manner, while sowing the seeds for more excitement in the next volume.
All in all, Graceless 2 is another really strong release- just as good, if not even better, than the first series. There’s a lot more development for the main characters here, which was one of my only issues with Graceless 1, and the stories are of a similar high standard to the last set as well. Ending on a heart-stopping cliffhanger, this set leaves me excited to see where Abby and Zara go next, even if, as an ominous voice says at the end of the final story, this means their adventures will be “concluded”…
Graceless 2 is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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