Review: Dark Eyes 2 (Doctor Who) / Author: Nick Briggs, Alan Barnes, Matt Fitton / Publisher: Big Finish / Starring: Paul McGann, Ruth Bradley, Nicola Walker, Alex MacQueen / Release Date: Out Now
Dark Eyes 2 is a four-story box set of adventures for the Eighth Doctor (McGann) that follows on from the award-winning Dark Eyes and sees the return of Molly O’Sullivan (Bradley – Primeval).
The Traitor by Nick Briggs explores how medic Liv Chenka (Walker) can reconcile her conscience as she helps the Daleks by providing treatment to injured mineworkers. She is widely known as the traitor of the title but this is thrown into sharp relief when the Doctor arrives on Nixyce VII and has the chance to defeat the Daleks but won’t if it means loss of life. This is really reminiscent of the Ninth Doctor’s scene near the end of Parting of the Ways where the Doctor couldn’t use a weapon to defeat the Daleks as the people of Earth would die.
Next up is Alan Barnes' story The White Room. This is about the Doctor back in London in 1918 and finding Molly living in his house in Baker Street. To make matters more complicated a race known as the Viyrans are in town searching for the cure to a temporally active virus with a view to containing it (by excessive lethal force). The only cure seems to be Molly and her so-called retrogenitor particles (don’t ask).
Matt Fitton takes over for the final two stories. The Doctor and Molly travel to the edge of the universe where they encounter a mysterious energy. A spaceship is nearby, having spent 900 years travelling with a cryogenically stored crew amongst whom is Liv Chenka. For Liv this is post the events of The Traitor, for the Doctor it is before. The elements of time being twisted are important to the final two stories but not so complex that they can’t be followed. The edge of the universe is where an evil known as the Eminence lurks and the Doctor only narrowly defeats it. The story ends with the Doctor, Liv and Molly now going back to the 1970s to investigate the mysterious Ides Institute.
In The Eyes of the Master we find a new timeline from one first presented in Dark Eyes. Returning character Sally Armstrong is working with The Master and we have a fast-paced plot in which once more we are astonished at just how far The Master is prepared to go to wreak evil, defeat the Doctor and betray the Time Lords. The Eminence makes another appearance and pieces from all the other stories come together in the resolution. This story does end with a cliff-hanger that will presumably lead straight to Dark Eyes 3, due out in November.
Unlike the previous box set, Dark Eyes 2 is written in the knowledge that there will be a Dark Eyes 3 and 4. This means the stories can feel part of a large continuity but still need to be sufficiently self-contained as to make sense as a block. This the stories do well and are accessible both to casual listeners and to more dedicated Big Finish fans. Several characters return from across the wider universe of Big Finish titles but if you don’t know that Liv Chenka was first in a Seventh Doctor story called Robophobia or that Alex MacQueen’s Master was used in the box set Unit: Dominion it doesn’t matter. Everything you need to follow the stories is explained, though you may need to borrow a sheet of multi-dimensional paper to get all the plot strands in order!