THIS STORY TAKES
"ENEMY OF THE DALEKS"
AND "A DEATH IN THE
CAVAN SCOTT &
BIG FINISH CD#139
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
1999: Leaving her
infant son behind, a
young mother named
LEAVES Bolton, seeking
a better life amid the
lights of London.
2004: Despite the best
efforts of the Doctor,
'Cassie' Schofield dies
on Dartmoor, a vam-
Pirised victim of the
called The Forge.
2021: Thomas Hector
Schofield meets, and
becomes a companion
to, thE Doctor… but
that his alien friend
knew his mother, and
watched her die.
1854: In the Crimean
War, "Hex" takes a
bullet. The Doctor
promises to return
2026: Now, In a London
ravaged by a deadly
For the last year or so, I’ve been hording my monthly Big Finish releases; saving them up a ‘season’ at a time, and then immersing myself fully in a complete trilogy of tales. Of course, the obvious drawback with this method is that I have to wait until the final story in any given trilogy has been released before I can listen to the first one. Normally this is fine -the market is flooded with so many new Doctor Who releases that there’s always something else to keep me occupied. This month, however, it’s a problem. There is no chance in hell that I’m going to wait until late November to learn of Hex’s fate, particularly given the title of October’s release. No chance that I’m going to voluntarily add another two months on to the seven years that I’ve already had to wait for a follow-up to Project: Lazarus. Project: Destiny has jumped the queue.
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s third ‘Forge’ story is extraordinary in that has the same gritty feel as both Project: Twilight and Project: Lazarus which it follows, yet it’s as different from Lazarus as Lazarus was from Twilight. Nothing is recycled or redressed – Project: Destiny is a brand new tale that just happens to be built on the back of some beguiling characters and cumulative continuity.
The main story sees the London of 2026 ravaged by an extra-terrestrial contagion that turns ordinary people into insect creatures under the control of a hive mind. Sir William Abberton, better known as Nimrod, is now head of a public paramilitary organisation, C4, which has been charged with ridding the city of this blight. Picking up straight from where The Angel
of Scutari left off, the still-white TARDIS materialises outside St Gart’s Hospital, Hex still at death’s door with a musket ball in his shoulder courtesy of Brigadier-General Kitchen. But with London evacuated, there’s no-one around to treat Hex’s wound, leaving the Doctor with no choice but to make a deal with the devil in order to save his young friend’s life. Thus the stage is set: Hex convalesces under the care of Nimrod, Ace takes it upon herself to stop
the C4 commandos annihilating anyone showing even the slightest sign of infection, and the Doctor turns to ever more reckless methods to find a cure for the contamination before the perimeter is breached and the planet overrun.
The eeriness of empty London is convincingly done. It put me more in mind of 28 Days Later than it did the opening episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Ken Bentley’s subtle direction and Howard Carter’s understated sound design conspiring to evoke that disquieting feel of emptiness. It doesn’t take long for the volume to be turned up, however, as the haunting hush of the hospital is interspersed with spectacular set piece after spectacular set piece as Ace and Captain Aristedes battle the bugs in the streets. Action of this nature is always difficult to execute in the medium of sound, but here it works a treat. Sophie Aldred and Maggie O’Neill aren’t in sound booths: they’re on the streets armed with pulse canons, squaring off against the Contaminants.
Of course, Scott and Wright’s A-plot isn’t what it’s all about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fast and thrilling, and if Project: Destiny didn’t have any other strings to its bow, I certainly wouldn’t be complaining. However, what makes this such a monumental release – such an event – is the resolution that it brings to the intertwined stories of Nimrod, the Forge, and most importantly “little Tommy” Schofield.
In 2004, the involuntarily vampir-
ised Cassandra Schofield died
inside the Forge at the hands of
Nimrod as the Doctor looked on,
powerless to intervene. Cassie
was survived by a son, Thomas
Hector (“Hex”), who would be
raised by his Grandmother in
Liverpool before becoming a
nurse and moving to London,
where he would eventually meet the seventh Doctor and Ace, with whom he would battle the Cybermen and then travel the stars. All along, the Doctor knew that Hex was “little Tommy”, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell his new friend the truth about who and what his mother was, and how she died right in front of him. And now, the more the Doctor implores Nimrod to remain silent, the more Nimrod delights in twisting the knife. With every ounce of his will concentrated on repelling the alien infection that is threatening to consume his body and his mind, the Time Lord must try and defend himself against his anguished friend’s allegations, desperately trying to prevent the most personal of tragedies as well as a global one.
For Nimrod and the Forge, Project: Destiny is a particularly interesting adventure as from their point of view, the events of the second Project: Lazarus story happened a decade or
so ago, and these events are therefore the farthest into their future that we have ever seen. Accordingly, Stephen Chance is afforded the chance to re-invent Nimrod once again: gone are the anti-heroic bounty hunter of Twilight and the capricious Bond villain of Lazarus, and in their place is a man who is, apparently, on the cusp of redemption; a Knight of the British Empire, determined to purge London “for King and Country”. Yet beneath his albino skin lurks a malevolence that surpasses even that we saw in Lazarus; a cruelty that would even make a Dalek blush. The things that he puts Hex through as this adventure tears towards its scorching climax are too vindictive for words.
Another thing that I love about this script is that, despite everything else that’s going on, the writers still have time to develop interesting new characters and sub-plots. With the events of Lazarus a decade or so past, it isn’t just Nimrod who’s smarting about the destruction of the Forge, but those serving under him. Shameless star Maggie O’Neill’s Captain Aristedes is a woman with a vendetta - every time she sees the Doctor she’s practically spitting venom, and of course he can’t fathom why, as from his perspective he has yet to do the thing that Aristedes loathes him for doing. Yet as the narrative progresses and, largely thanks to Ace, Aristedes’ eyes are opened, she’s not only able to pardon the Doctor’s actions but condone them, eventually proving an unlikely ally.
I don’t want to say too much about the play’s latter half as it is chock full and twists and turns that really shouldn’t be ruined. What I will say though is that both Sylvester McCoy and Philip Olivier weigh in with absolutely incredible performances, particularly the latter who manages to compress a lifetime’s worth of grief and anger into just a few acute scenes. Destiny’s third episode, and particularly its cliffhanger, are agonising in the most gripping of ways, and are sure to leave even the most disparaging of listeners reeling. The Doctor, Nimrod, Hex, a gun and the truth. It couldn’t possibly have ended well.
From there, events escalate,
culminating in a horrific final
showdown that ties together
every loose thread that’s been
dangling ever since Cassie first
made that throwaway mention
of her little boy back in Project:
Twilight. Heartbreaking and exhilarating in the very same breath, this story’s final moments are not to be missed.
And so concludes a staggeringly impressive trilogy of tales. Dark, angsty, and inordinately absorbing, Big Finish’s three Forge plays are not only three of the very best, but three of the most notorious that they’ve ever produced. However, as one trilogy ends, another begins, as in the final scene the Doctor discovers a Time Lord artefact in the Forge’s vault that warrants his immediate attention. But Hex won’t be by his side as he investigates, I’m afraid. Thomas Hector Schofield has left the building. Destination unknown...
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
As the chronometer flies, the events of the second Project: Lazarus story (which resulted in the destruction of the Forge) occurred a decade or so prior to this story. For the Doctor, however, those events take place many years in his personal future. Realising this, the Doctor makes Ace promise not to disclose what she’s learned about his role in the destruction of the Forge to him.
The still-white TARDIS’ internal “theme” used in here is the gothic interior seen on screen in the TV Movie, as confirmed by the explicit reference to the Seal of Rassilon above the doors.
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