Master (#49)

Big Finish Main Range

Perhaps the way this story unfolds is what makes it so interesting. It’s a story told within a story. Dr. John Smith, the Doctor’s usual pseudonym, is the focus of the story. Then this Dr. Smith has amnesia so he isn’t sure who he is. Dr. Smith believes all life is precious. Without his memory, who is this man? The Master? He has the actor’s voice. So the Doctor is telling a story to an assassin who is going to kill someone in mere moments, should he decide to pull the trigger.

There’s a mystery in Perfugium that’s being spelled out by the characters. And though I’m drawn in, I cannot remember how it ends. Usually I can remember but not in this case. It’s an excellent frame for this story, too. There are just 5 characters in the story, plus the whispering voices. Then the Doctor and Dr. Smith have a philosophical discussion of evil and understanding it, the part of you that understands evil is much like the evil within yourself. To admit that you, too, have some evil within.

The best part of this story is the tale of their childhood, with Torvik the bully. And even better is the revelation on the actual role of each of them in the story. Who is the protector and who is the guilty party? The story told unfolds so naturally and is well written. It’s not a classic because of the ending but it’s still excellent. Jade is death? It’s all about results and the Master is the envoy of death.

Curiously, this story is just as much about the Doctor as it is about the Master. Who is more death’s envoy? The reason this story isn’t a classic is that it gets pretty talky towards the end. It’s all very intriguing, bringing up concepts about who or what is evil and how the decisions the Doctor and the Master made, from childhood onward, affected their entire lives. Great stuff! I cried the first time I listened to it but it wasn’t nearly so tearfilled this time around. But just as effective.

Compared to the series 3 (or is it 4?) Master on television, 2007, this Master is an introverted, sane, questioning man. On TV, he’s a madman at the end of time, at the end of the Time Lords. I rather enjoy this multi-layered, thoughtful, tormented Master better than the one of TV, that’s for sure!

Sylvester McCoy

Writer: Joseph Lidster

Director: Gary Russell

Release: October 2003

Laura Vilensky 2019