Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Dalek War Chapter Three written and directed by Nick Briggs

What’s it about: Kalendorf’s victorious fleet has entered the solar system. But what has happened to Jupiter? Meanwhile, Alby and Suze are being held by enemy Dalek forces. But with the Emperor’s consciousness inhabiting Suze’s mind can Alby ever again trust the woman he loves? And could it be that Kalendorf and the Mentor have stumbled into a Dalek trap? Time may be running out for the human alliance with the Daleks from another universe…

Angel of Mercy: Suze calls Morli brave for attempting to kill her. She knows it is the best thing for everybody but both she and Alby are too scared to pull the trigger. You might be tricked (as I was) into thinking that Suze, Kalendorf and Alby have all been together before but this is the first story where that happens.

Anti Hero: Alby is trying to tentatively find out if Suze is who she says she is and not the Dalek Emperor trying to pretend to be her. Finally there is a moment of intimacy between the two of them (although typically for this pair one of them considers it a kiss goodbye) which helps to sell the relationship much more.

Knight of Velyshaa: The best Kalendorf story yet and the one which reveals how future historians view him as something of a monster. Or a warrior who was prepared to risk everything in order to win his war. At first it would appear that Kalendorf is entirely behind the Mentor’s attack on Emmeron but it soon becomes clear that he is being observed and is saying what she wants to hear. Mirana knows that in order to defeat two factions of Daleks (probably the greatest threat the universe has ever seen) Kalendorf has to be planning something massively dangerous and life threatening and asked not to be told what that plan was. She’d rather follow his orders in absolute ignorance than have her loyalty compromised by whatever insane lark he has up his sleeve. That’s probably for the best because once it is revealed that Kalendorf has had to make a pact with the devil, with the very Daleks from our universe he was fighting in Dalek Empire, even I was surprised. At one point he thought that fighting alongside the alternative Daleks and the Mentor would wipe out his old enemies but the only consequence of that was for the Mentor to get a foothold in their universe. To conquer them world after world in the name of peace and prosperity. Now the lesser of two evils is to team up with the ultimate evil to take down the ultimate peace keeping force. When he finally meets up with Suze under the gaze of his new Dalek allies it appears that Kalendorf is even willing to sacrifice his closest of friends in order to see this thing through.

Standout Performance: This is much more of an ensemble series than many of the other spin off ranges and this week everybody is pretty much at the top of their game. You’ve got Gareth Thomas at his enigmatic best as Kalendorf appears to be playing everybody off against everybody, Sarah Mowat and Mark McDonnell giving the series real heart as star crossed lovers Suze and Alby and the ever impressive Hannah Smith who is revealing more venom by the scene as the softly spoken Mentor.

Great Ideas: The opening is one of the best moments of this series yet as the Mentor soothingly purrs out a message to the people of Emmeron that the government is refusing to adhere to Dalek orders of peace and order and issuing a final warning of obey or suffer the consequences. Its as I feared – these Daleks are no different from ours in their methods but insidiously they hide the fact by pretending to be a peacekeeping force of good in the galaxy. Somehow that’s even more frightening. I love the idea of touching down on a terraformed Jupiter – that’s the sort of visual I would love to see brought to life on TV but perhaps it’s a good thing that this is on audio so my imagination can do most of the work. All you need to do is add in the horribly grotesque Varga plants and suddenly I am swept up into an atmosphere of sixties Dalekmania! They are native to Skaro but I guess the Daleks like to take a few specimens with them (like the Slyther) to guard the planets that they conquer and rape. A hybrid creature of part animal, part plant; the poison from its spines attacks the brains of its victim and rational thought is replaced by an overwhelming desire to kill. Eventually the poison seeps through the system and the victim is turned into a Varga. Its just as horrible a concept today as it was in 1965. Terry Nation might not have been the most subtle of writers but by jove could he think up some imaginative dangers! The Vargas have become a mass psychotic army intent on the destruction of all others – Jupiter was a trap for Kalendorf’s men to be transformed into disgusting, homicidal slaves of the Daleks. The scenes of Mirana and her ally running out of oxygen are surprisingly emotive considering we haven’t spent that much time with either character. It’s the fact that his only consolation before dying is to find out what they have been fighting for all this time – what Kalendorf’s plotting has been leading to. Morli has been snuck into the series almost invisibly as an associate of Alby but suddenly she is spouting anti-Dalek propaganda which under normal circumstances would be a sign of stability but in these uncertain times might disguise another agenda… Morli has been subjected to the mind control procedure created by the Mentor to subjugate the dissident populace of the worlds that they are claiming and she reveals that anybody who it didn’t work on was sent to sleep for a long time.

Audio Landscape: Flies buzzing, a ship landing, jungle atmosphere and the sinister Varga plants, gunfire, the air running out.

Standout Scene: In a moment that really makes you sit up the two characters that have been talking about the events of Dalek War from the future, Siy Tarkov and Saloran Haredew, discuss the likelihood if Kalendorf is really the monster that brought about the ‘great catastrophe.’ Now we know that this series is leading to something spectacular and Kalendorf is right in the heart of it. You’ve sown the seeds now Briggsy, I hope that they yield something truly impressive.

Result: Tightly focused and full of dramatic incident, this is the best instalment of Dalek War so far and it promises and awful lot for the finale. I’ve always said that the Bernice Summerfield range with its 60 minute stories is just about the right length to tell a story without it getting bogged down in too much unnecessary padding by lopping off 10 minutes off its running time this third instalment is all the pacier and more attention grabbing for it. With Alby and Suze snogging on the sidelines it is Kalendorf’s turn to take the limelight and his awesomely dramatic scenes with the Mentor reveal that he had a badass plan in place all along that would frighten even his own people and the consequences of which would be talked about in hushed whispers long into the future. The set pieces are more dramatic than ever (the opening Varga scenes are grippingly realised) and there is a feeling that all the elements of the series are coalescing and gaining momentum to give the last story all the ingredients it needs to blow your head off. With the Angel of Mercy restored to glory and the Mentor furious at Kalendorf’s betrayal all the pieces are in place for a grand face off. Bring it on: 8/10

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