The new foes in question come in the form of the Kamishi and their Ninja Assassin servants called the Tengobushi, and the way these monsters act and how they impede to their code of honour makes them fascinating new additions. Obviously, they are influenced by Japanese culture, but the fact that they this race beyond the universe and wielding god-like powers and technology that could almost be indistinguishable from magic and sorcery is what elevates them as a major threat, even though there are more layers to them as the story progresses. Less interesting, however, were the generic, stereotypical, money-grabbing business people that are determined to exploit the Kamishi’s technology as a means for maximum profit, but both characters of Felicity Lyme and Peter Latcham were pretty much dull villains that weren’t really developed at all and only just paled in comparison with the core alien threat.
Despite recycling the formula from Extinction by globetrotting again, this feels different as it basically goes from hard-boiled thriller to Hollywood actioner, and because there is so much character development and personal interactions, it makes the whole thing flow seamlessly. Both writers, Andrew Smith and Matt Fitton, perfectly expand upon the characters and their history within the Whoniverse; for example, we uncover little titbits about Osgood’s life before UNIT and how she joined them in the first place, as well as a brief nod to her grandfather from The Dæmons. The close relationship between her and Josh Carter is taken to new depths, and we see more of Kate’s fierce dedication as a leader to UNIT, as well as her determination to doing the right thing no matter what. All of these things are perfectly translated well thanks to some incredible performances with Jemma Redgrave really coming into her own as Kate and Ingrid Oliver completely stealing the show as Osgood, yet James Joyce deserves credit for making Josh Carter more and more compelling.
Whilst not quite as strong or as fresh as Extinction, Shutdown is nevertheless a worthy sequel to what is shaping up to be a great new franchise for Big Finish. The writing is on-point, the character development is strong, the performances are superb, the action is intense and the monsters are dynamic new antagonists. Then again, when you have a conspiracy story involving UNIT going up against alien Ninja Warriors, greatness was bound to ensue.
UNIT: SHUTDOWN / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / AUTHOR: MATT FITTON, ANDREW SMITH / STARRING: JEMMA REDGRAVE, INGRID OLIVER, WARREN BROWN, JAMES JOYCE, ALICE KRIGE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (BIG FINISH), AUGUST 31ST (ELSEWHERE)