After the shocking events at the end of Gods and Monsters, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity – to listen to the follow up story. Now I’ve finally caught up, with the follow up entitled Afterlife. A rather apt title I must say. Once more the Seventh Doctor and Ace find themselves caught up in another adventure, in Big Finish’s most excellent range of audio books. Yet will this carry on the stellar work found in Gods and Monsters? Or could it be just too tough a challenge to top?
The opening scenes have us aboard the TARDIS, Ace and the Doctor are still not seeing eye to eye. With the events of the last few adventures, I can’t say I blame Ace for feeling so betrayed. We’ve seen a darker Doctor, one that seems to see everything as a chess game. Ace wants the Doctor to realize just what his actions can mean to the common man, how his actions create further consequences. So she decides that he needs to complete a task – to meet someone and give them the news they deserve. I’m deliberately being vague here – I hate spoilers!
So they travel to Liverpool where Ace is in for a shock and before long the things we, thought we knew, are suddenly turned on their heads. There’s more trouble from the elder gods and their minions, some fires are lit and some good old fashioned gang fights. All the while the Doctors and Ace’s relationship, really seems to be in jeopardy with Ace no longer trusting him. This is the killer blow for this story, and where Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy excel. Their scenes together really manage to tug at you. For the first time, even I was sat wondering if the Doctor hadn’t lost the plot – whether he hadn’t lost some of his compassion over time. It also manages to make you question whether the companions are actually that lucky to travel in the blue box – or whether they’ve been turned into something a little less human.
At one point Ace turns to the Doctor and proclaims that she no longer knows how to interact with other people, she cant socialize or trust anyone. She questions the Doctor’s own emotions and compassion. These scenes relly just blew me away, you could hear the pain in her voice. Sylvester’s Doctor struggling to make Ace see what he’s trying to achieve and how sorry he is
that he may have got it wrong! Its this dynamic that certainly kept me hooked from the very first scene.
It’s unusual to see an episode dedicated in a way to a tragedy from the previous story, it certainly allows for some deeper soul searching from both the main characters. At times it feels like the Dr is a ten year old begging for forgiveness – at others we seem to see an even darker side to the seventh Doctor. One that very rarely raises its head. Also returning is Private Sally Morgan, whom is wonderfully played again by Amy Pemberton. Although she has only been in a few of the adventures, I would love to see more of this character in the future. It’s a wonderful episode, which in true Dr Who style manages to turn things on their heads and leave us with a big question mark at the end. Another top notch story from Big Finish, with Sylvester and Sophie on top form. A must listen for any Dr Who fan out there.