Doctor Who: Big Finish - THE DAVROS MISSION Review

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Tony Fyler completes his week long Davros mission...


Any Doctor Who fan who followed the career of Davros on-screen knows there was a continuity in his on-screen history from Genesis of the Daleks in 1975 to Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988. In Genesis he built the Daleks and they shot him. In Destiny they found him ‘only sleeping’ and tried to use him to break the Movellan Stalemate. At the end of that story he was placed in suspended animation for shipping to Earth to face trial – only to be woken up again in Resurrection where again the Daleks tried to use him to sort out their Movellan problems. At the end of that story, he was desperately searching for an escape pod and getting a bit white and foamy. Clearly though he found a pod, because he then set himself up as The Great Healer and started making Daleks that were loyal only to him on Necros in Revelation. At the end of that story, he’s carted off to face trial by the Daleks. And then in Remembrance, he’s Emperor of the Daleks.

Wait – what? Did we skip over a couple of pages or something? How does Davros go from being a prisoner, going to face trial in front of the Supreme Dalek, to being the Emperor Dalek?

Welcome to The Davros Mission.

This story from Big Finish fills in the pages that were skipped between Colin Baker’s Dalek Story and Sylvester McCoy’s. It explains how Davros gains his imperial casing, and wins the Daleks to his leadership.

So you’ll want to get your hands on this one then.

It’s a slightly odd adjunct to the four I, Davros stories in that it doesn’t in any way continue the story chronologically. But it is Davros alone, with no meddling Time Lords to get in the way of his plans. It shows the indomitable will to survive that characterizes Davros, shows his organic difference from his creations, delivers a gruesome moment of realism when we hear how the Daleks restrain their creator, and plays a game with the workings of Davros’ mind as he thinks he may be going insane – a theme developed in fuller colour in the Eighth Doctor story Terror Firma.

If the strength of Davros as a Doctor Who villain separate to the Daleks is that you can have intelligent, philosophical discussions with him while they tend to degenerate into hysterical screaming, The Davros Mission is a bit of a master class, using Thal infiltrator Lareen (she who is actually on The Davros Mission, not for nothing played by Miranda Raison, soon to play Constance Clark, companion of the Sixth Doctor) as a surrogate Doctor to question Davros, to goad him, to finally try and persuade him to redeem his legacy by changing the things his name is known for – changing his reputation. There’s even a cheeky re-run of the Genesis scene where Davros contemplates the power that would set him up amongst the gods. We hear Davros contemplate his life and works, hear him hesitate and ponder, and even contemplate destroying all his work – before it gets the chance to destroy him.

Without spoiling the ending for you, this story does explain the way in which Davros, from his position as prisoner bound for extermination, through a journey that has the Daleks treat him even more disdainfully when they think he’s going mad and hearing voices, manages to incite not only his own coronation as Emperor Dalek, but the factionalisation of the Daleks that is their reality when we meet them next in Remembrance of the Daleks. The truth is probably not what you think it is.

The truth is probably better, offering conclusive proof that – at least until they can move past their creator, Davros will always hold the destiny of the Daleks in his hand.

Is it perfect, in terms of the story it tells? No – written and directed by Nick Briggs, it has a couple of characters who, while necessary, quickly become irritating and threaten to overbalance the tense mostly-two-hander between Raison and Terry Molloy into comedy, for all Gus and Raz are examples of an enslaved species, slowly being poisoned to death by the Daleks. The point is, even Davros finds them incredibly irritating, and the thing they bring most to the party is a levity that practically doesn’t work. But if you can ignore them – as for the most part, you can, the tightness of the two-handed storytelling between Raison’s Lareen and Molloy’s Davros is hypnotic and enthralling, taking us on a journey through Davros’ mind as it was at a much later point in his career with the Daleks than any we encountered during the main four episodes of I, Davros – allowing for reflection on the creation for which he has been responsible, rather than just the drive towards that creation. As a kind of unofficial fifth Episode of the I, Davros story, it fulfills the same sort of role as The Godfather, Part III – allowing an older Davros, a more experienced Davros, time to think about his legacy, and perhaps make some changes to how that legacy will be perceived in the universe before he dares to give up and die.

While at £7.99, it’s also slightly more expensive than any of the other I, Davros episodes, the plot of this story is kept deliberately slight, so as to allow for more interaction and discussion between its two leads, to frame and explore Davros’ dilemma, and build to the conclusion he writes for himself at the head of the Dalek race.

The Davros Mission will fill in a gap in your knowledge if all you know is the TV Davros, and will thrill you if you’re a fan of the Kaleds’ greatest scientist. Ignore the comic counterpointing if you can, and The Davros Mission will deliver a unique slice of history that bridges two of his more successful TV appearances.

Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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