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|By:||David Layton, Los Angeles, United States|
|Date:||Sunday 7 May 2017|
|Rating: || 7|
Though the title Dark Eyes 2 suggests more of the same, another romp through the universe with a smart-mouthed Irish woman being chased by Daleks, the set is nothing of the kind. The Daleks are here, for one of the four episodes, with a cameo return at the end. The smart-mouthed Irish woman is back, but for 3 of the 4 episodes. The structure of this one, though, is an entirely different type of romp from the first. Instead of The Chase being the model for the story, Dark Eyes 2 is structured much more like a New Who season, with an intricate back-and-forth of timey-wimey storytelling. Part 1 The Traitor sees the return of Liv Chenka from Robophobia, now doing her part on a planet under Dalek occupation. The Doctor arrives and at the end seemingly gives in to the Daleks' wishes. Part 2 The White Room takes us to earlier in The Doctor's life, where he meets Molly O'Sullivan again, still taking care of his house, and runs across a time virus and a particularly smarmy physician. The story seemingly has no connection to Part 1. The Doctor and Molly take off and head into Part 3 Time's Horizon. Here is Liv Chenka again, sometime after the events of The Traitor, now on an expedition to the end of the universe. There is not a clear reason for her to be there. She remembers The Doctor and what he did on Nixyce VII, but he has not done those things yet. She no longer trusts The Doctor because of what he has done/has yet to do. Here we meet the villain of the whole thing for the first time - The Eminence. Events in this far future lead The Doctor to take Molly and Liv back to the 1970s for Part 4 Eyes of the Master. Here, the Master is posing as an optometrist giving miracle cures for select patients, but really turning them into potential Infinite Warriors for The Eminence. Or is he? The end of the story takes us back to the beginning where The Doctor takes off for Nixyce VII to do his bit there. We get an open-ended conclusion to set us up for Dark Eyes 3.
Dark Eyes 2, as one can tell, is a kind of grab bag of bits from Dark Eyes 1 and fan-pleasing surprises. It is another chapter in Big Finish's effort to swing Doctor 8 away from traditional Who and into New Who, preparing him for The War Doctor and Doctor 9. Alex Macqueen is great as The Master; I prefer his portrayal to both John Simm's and Michelle Gomez's. His brand of happy, cheeky menace with just a bit of stylish camp seems a logical derivation of the Delgado Master. The Eminence, on the other hand, is one of the most uninteresting villains so far concocted. They/It have/has no convincing rationale for wanting to take over the universe and no desire to do anything else. The whole undead army thing has been done several times already. Compared to The Eminence, Daleks are emotionally deep. The whole combined story suffers a bit from middle-part syndrome, where it seems to work mostly to carry over certain ideas and set up for the rest of the story.