The second series of Big Finish’s critically acclaimed tale of paranormal investigation begins with a sharp turnaround in the fortunes of Department 7. Following the tumultuous church-consuming finale of the first series, Professor Anne Reynolds has secured a boost in her budget and the rehabilitation of her reputation. She’s also succeeded in persuading Tom Crane’s son Adam to commit to working alongside her, promising that she will help him to understand his own nascent psychic abilities. No longer met with exasperated disdain, her boss James Doyle is now willing to assign Reynolds cases that seem to require her team’s unique ability to make sense of the inexplicable and the horrifying.
Series two of The Omega Factor very effectively combines a set of standalone adventures with some important (and very unexpected) developments in the show’s overall story arc. Now properly resourced, Department 7 has the kind of official backing that can open doors, provide passage through police cordons and secure audiences with the great and the good (and, of course, the far from good). This all means that Alan Cox’s Doyle has a far more prominent role in the series, as he takes a more hands-on approach to the direction of the team’s activities.
Together with the conspiracies and dark forces that shape the show’s storylines, it is the warm and thoughtful relationship between the empathic Reynolds and the impetuous Adam Crane that remains key to the show’s appeal. As script editor Matt Fitton suggests: “They both nurture each other… It’s not quite a ‘parent and child’ dynamic, and it’s not a sibling one, it’s something in between. It’s mutual support and trust.” All four scriptwriters working on the second series are careful to maintain that balance between that grounded character dynamic and the unpredictable supernatural worlds that this pair inhabit.
Phil Mulryne’s sharply crafted opener “Somnum Sempiternum” explores the disturbing idea of targeted assassination by astral projection. Camilla Power reprises her role as the unscrupulous Dr. Jane Wyatt, her actions now controlled by the mysterious Dr. Banks; an agent for a wider nefarious network. Events take a darker turn still in Roy Gill’s disturbing and claustrophobic prison story The Changeling, in which Adam goes undercover as an inmate to share a cell with the volatile lifer Alasdair Reiver. The jail scenes make for intense listening, but the most blood-chilling moments come from the prejudice and superstition Anne uncovers in family relationships outside the prison walls.
Louise Jameson’s reflective “Let the Angel Tell Thee” takes the time to explore a potential new romantic entanglement for the solitary Anne in the shape of the debonair Anthony Archer. After the comatose Morag makes a psychic connection with Adam, the ulterior motives of Archer’s exploitation of Anne’s loneliness are exposed. Events ratchet up in Fitton’s relentless finale “Awakening”, in which the scale of the conspiracy that has haunted the series becomes clear and figures that have lurked in the shadows until now are brought into the open.
As was the case with the first series, robust and atmospheric sound design remains a vital component of the show’s identity on audio. This time round Steve Foxon conjures up richly textured and unnerving soundscapes across all four episodes; making consistently well-judged choices when preparing his audio tracks. Foxon’s efforts are complemented by Nick Briggs’s edgy but unobtrusive musical score.
By the close of the second series, the Omega conspiracy has once again taken centre stage, a key nemesis has returned (although this figure remains hidden in plain sight), and Morag’s story has become fully intertwined with that of Department 7. Now a key component of the expanding range of grittier, serious dramas on the Big Finish roster, The Omega Factor’s second series brims with confidence and sets up a whole gamut of tantalising possibilities for future adventures.
THE OMEGA FACTOR - SERIES TWO / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / WRITERS: PHIL MULRYNE, ROY GILL, LOUISE JAMESON, MATT FITTON / STARRING: LOUISE JAMESON, JOHN DORNEY, ALAN COX, NATASHA GERSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW