Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: The Enemy of My Enemy Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: The Enemy of My Enemy Review

Matthew Kresal finds a warm welcome on Wrax.

Having kicked off the Eighth Doctor's role in Time Lord Victorious with a western-inspired audio drama, Big Finish ended that story on a cliffhanger which serves as the jumping-off for this month's audio entry into the event, the intriguingly titled The Enemy of My Enemy. For, as that title suggests, it features a rather intriguing character pairing.

That pairing, as the cover art will attest, being Paul McGann's Doctor and the Daleks. And not necessarily as outright foes, which has been the tradition for the better part of sixty years. With a universe changed around them without apparent reason, both Time Lord and Dalek alike are seeking answers, making the strangest of allies. Their quest leading them across the cosmos to the Wraxian Empire and the secret behind its power.

Writer Tracy Ann Baines makes an impressive Big Finish debut here, and with a story that could easily have tripped up another writer. After all, the Doctor and the Daleks being in an uneasy alliance isn't something entirely original (see Death to the Daleks on TV, for example). What Baines does in The Enemy of My Enemy is to take a page from tales of Daleks past, albeit not from Terry Nation but David Whitaker. Whitaker's influence, namely both The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks, is writ large across this story, which features Skaro’s finest in their conspiratorial and manipulative glory. These are Daleks who are not above subterfuge and even subtlety (by Dalek standards at least) to accomplish their aims. What those are is never entirely clear, at least to the Doctor, which only adds to the tension of the piece. The result is one of the better Dalek tales in recent memory and a callback to some of their best stories on-screen.

Baines also, perhaps by where her story fits into the Time Lord Victorious release schedule, starts bringing some pieces together. Listeners to Big Finish's previous output for the arc should have an "aha!" moment or two before the episode is over, as well as being left with one or two questions yet unanswered. Even without hearing the previous entries, the strengths of the script are on full display, as are the thematic points about the nature of remembered history and culture. That Baines does so with pace and tension is an even more impressive feat given that it's her debut writing for Doctor Who.

The Enemy of My Enemy also draws on the strength of its performers. Both Paul McGann as the Doctor and Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks have been playing their roles at Big Finish for nearly two decades now, as fans likely know. The assurance that comes from that fact is clearly on display, especially in their scenes together without the rest of the sparse supporting cast. Assurance can lead to contempt, but not here, with the pairing of them as uneasy allies (especially with the Doctor and the Dalek Prime Strategist) keeping both character and actor alike on their toes. With Baines script giving them such strong material to play with, that's perhaps no surprise.

The supporting cast is small but played to the episode's advantage. Big Finish semi-regular Rachel Atkins brings a sense of strength and purpose to the Wraxian leader Sarathin, a role that could easily have been a cliche in the hands of a lesser actor. Raj Ghatak as Boros serves nicely as her right-hand man, while Briggs steps away from his Dalek duties for a little bit to fill in another small role. It's a sparse cast, but something one might not realize until you look at the cast list, and bouncing off each other nicely, all the more remarkable as this was another example of Big Finish's lockdown recording, with everyone recording separately. It's something you'd never know listening to it, a compliment to the cast, the work of director Scott Handcock, and sound designer Peter Doggart.

Without hesitation, The Enemy of My Enemy is the strongest Big Finish entry into Time Lord Victorious yet. From Baines channeling some of the best TV Dalek adventures while bringing elements of the arc into focus to the pairing of the Eighth Doctor with the Daleks, it's a story full of intriguing elements. Even if you haven't heard any of their output for Time Lord Victorious yet, this latest entry is a wonderful story in its own right and a fine Dalek adventure too. Not to mention, for those who have been listening, a great set-up for what promises to be one heck of a finale for this Eighth Doctor trilogy.

Time Lord Victorious: The Enemy of My Enemy is available to purchase from the Big Finish website.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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