Prisoners of Fate certainly has a lot to live up to. It’s not only the last story of the year in the Fifth Doctor’s trilogy of plays for Big Finish but it also address storylines that have been ongoing since 2010 when Nyssa rejoined the TARDIS after many years away from her friends.
And hasn’t Nyssa been through so much in those three years? Avoiding death on a regular basis, adjusting to life back on board the TARDIS, keeping secrets from the Doctor regarding her new family and having her age decreased by several years to give her back her youth that she lost.
But with this series finale, if you will, , that all comes to a head. Nyssa’s past is about to catch up with her and not everything will be able to stay the same.
Certainly with this story, writer Jonathan Morris has been able to pack a lot of emotional character development into the narrative. So much so in fact, that the first episode feels as if the whole adventure is going to be less action and more drama. The TARDIS arrives at the penal colony Valderon where Nyssa’s son Adric is still trying to find a cure for the disease that Nyssa was trying to stop all those years ago before she disappeared: Richter’s Syndrome. What unfolds for the next twenty-five minutes is a ‘drama-of-errors’, if you will. The audience knows that Nyssa is in her correct timeline but her son, having been told tales of her travels when he was a boy, fears that this is an earlier version of Nyssa due to her youthful looks, little does he know she’s just had a bit of work done. Whilst this is an interesting premise in itself, the listener can’t help but hope that the idea is not drawn out for long and thankfully, or skilfully, it’s not.
The first fifty-or-so minutes of Prisoners of Fate starts to revolve around a punishment system where crimes can be foreseen and therefore prevented, a bit like Minority Report but thankfully without Colin Farrell. Of course, Tegan and Turlough are accused of a murder that they’re destined to carry out and it’s up to the Doctor to help exonerate them. But that’s not even half the tale, because by the end of part two, there’s a nice, big twist. The more enlightened of you will start piecing together the clues to this dramatic reveal along the way and by the end of the first half, you think you’ve guessed what’s coming, but Jonathan Morris being Jonathan Morris means that he’s put a twist on his twist, and it’s a belter.
Prisoners of Fate really stands out because of its time paradoxes and sterling performance from Sarah Sutton as Nyssa who occasionally here, brings a tear to the eye. For those of you that don’t like too much wibbly in your wobbly don’t worry, the story is easy to follow and wonderful to digest. Morris takes an idea that’s never been used before and offers a unique perspective on the Doctor’s travels that Doctor Who fans may not have thought of before. This is a solid end to a high quality Fifth Doctor trilogy and a wonderful addition to the Doctor Who mythology during its 50th anniversary.
Another sterling effort by cast and crew alike.
Prisoners of Fate is available from www.bigfinish.com now.