This latest volume of the UNIT series brilliantly has the latest incarnation of UNIT, led by Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, go against the Silence, which makes the situation all the more intense and gripping than they have been when going up against threats like the Autons. This brilliantly further establishes the revenge-hungry Silence as a major threat, showing a new side to their powers by having their mind-wiping abilities extend to audio recordings as well, which is a unique, interesting concept. Like in the TV series, they retain their chill factor here, and this perfectly demonstrates that you don’t need to see them visually to feel that eeriness, and even the premise is enough to leave you feeling unsettled. In each part of the story, UNIT ends up having to start from scratch, retrace their footsteps and rediscover the progress they established before, which, even though gets somewhat repetitive, becomes really intriguing to watch considering that none of them are the Doctor.
We even have politics involved, mainly within the second and third parts, and the political topics raised here feels VERY relevant considering what has happened this year. One of the central pawns on the Silence’s plan is a blustering, obnoxious, right-wing idealist without any form of common sense who chose to become involved in politics to only end up being more popular for his own good (does that sound familiar to you?). It’s clear that writers Matt Fitton and John Dorney have been paying close attention to the news and everything about our current political battles, and have clearly seen the only possible conclusion that would emerge in the worst possible scenario (Brexit and President-elect Trump). As always, both Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver are front-and-centre and simply outstanding as Kate and Osgood, yet it’s great to see James Joyce, Warren Brown and Ramon Tikram get much meatier parts in their roles as Captain Josh Carter, Lieutenant Sam Bishop and Colonel Shindi.
Overall, this 4-parter finally gave the Silence the story they deserved and this is arguably their best story yet. Granted, there are plot elements that kind of get repetitive and the last part does go somewhat all over the place, but those complaints aren’t enough to spoil this meaty, chilling affair. The cast was on top form, the politics was handled solidly, the writing was fascinatingly multi-layered and the chill factor was there in spades. This is one you must check out when you are able to.
UNIT: SILENCED / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / WRITERS: MATT FITTON, JOHN DORNEY / PRODUCER: DAVID RICHARDSON / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: JEMMA REDGRAVE, INGRID OLIVER, WARREN BROWN, JAMES JOYCE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (BIG FINISH SITE), JANUARY 31ST 2017 (ELSEWHERE)