MY BIG FINISH JOURNEY PART 17: EMBRACE THE DARKNESS
It has been about two months since I last reviewed a Big Finish audio due to university work and being very busy, but I am back to finish off Paul McGann’s second audio series. Embrace The Darkness was the fourth story in this series and in my mind, it was definitely the best. I looked at some spoiler free reviews of this story before I listened to it and many people just made it out to be quite average and forgettable, but I absolutely loved it and it worked so well on audio form. This could possibly be my favourite Paul McGann audio so far or at least on par with The Sword Of Orion. As I have said many times atmosphere is what makes a Doctor Who story good. Every single one of my favourite episodes, whether its modern who, classic who or Big Finish are very atmospheric. Embrace The Darkness was no different. It was like a horror-sci-fi with clever twists and really good pacing. The characters were great, and the length of each track was perfect. I am actually staggered that hardly any people have listened to Embrace The Darkness because it was such an underrated story.
The first part started off with a crew on a base being attacked by some sort of creature. The lights started to go out and the three crew members couldn’t see what was going on. This was a great start to the story as it immediately showed that we were in for a horror episode, especially when the crew realised there was a creature that they couldn’t see inside the base with them. After this is happening the Doctor and Charley land on a near by rescue ship on there way to rescue the three crew members. The rescue ship is ran by a robot called ROSM. This is one of the only robots in Doctor Who that I actually really like. It’s a huge robot which started off by not trusting the Doctor and Charley thinking they may have been involved with what happened on the base. ROSM tries to kill Charley but she escapes into a life pod and is sent off to the base which is in complete darkness. This reminded me of the episode 42 where Martha is trying to escape the monsters and gets into a life pod and sent into the sun. When Charley lands on this base and sees the crew members there is a huge twist. Instead of the monster taking away the light on the base they took away the crew members eyes. I thought this was a really clever and horrible idea. I was not expecting it and it led to a great cliff-hanger to the first part of the episode. Whilst we didn’t see much of the monsters in this part, as it was mainly focused on the Doctor and ROSM trying to figure out what was going on and the Doctor trying to save charley, it was still a great introduction to the story.
The second part started off with the Doctor and ROSM landing the rescue ship on the base and trying to find Charley and the rest of the crew. By this time, the monster had attacked Charley and taken her eyes. We started to find out a bit more about this monster. It was called a Cimmerian and it had no concept of light or eyes. I loved how it very slowly gave us more information about these creatures. Hallard, one of the crew members goes insane and runs away. The Doctor ends up finding him and realises that something is going very badly wrong. It was a shame Hallard spent most of this story insane because I quite liked his character and would have liked to see more of him as himself. When the Doctor discovers Charley and the other two crewmates, Ferras and Orliensa he found one of the creatures there. ROSM shot the creature with some sort of stun gun and they all boarded the ship. The second part ended with the Doctor realising that his quest to find out what happened in the Cimmerian system may lead to him dying and having his eyes taken from him. The second part of this story was great as the crew and the Cimmerian creatures were a lot more involved in this part.
The third part sees the ROSM robot being taken over by Cimmerian particles which are controlled by the creatures. He is temporarily out of action whilst Hallard is trying to get onto the ship. At this point in this story, we start to learn a bit more about Ferras and Orliensa as the Doctor and Charley go their separate ways to find more of the creatures and one of the crew mates go with each of them. Whilst I would have liked there to be more members of the crew the benefit of having a smaller amount of side cast is that you get to know them more and they are more effective. This is definitely true with Embrace the Darkness. The side cast are used well and have interesting back stories. They also have a purpose as they help the Doctor figure out what is going on. One of the Cimmerian creatures gives Charley back her eyesight however the Doctor has a plan to turn on the artificial suns to get rid of the particles which is taking their eyesight and destroying the ROSM robot. There are so many twists in this story but the biggest was the fact that the Cimmerians were actually good they just wanted to get rid of all light so that the creatures that used to drain and kill them couldn’t find them again. However, the third part ended with a great cliff-hanger. The doctor realises he has turned on all the suns which has attracted the creatures that used to drain and kill the Cimmerians. The third part is definitely the best in my opinion as there are lots of twists and I loved finding out what was going on. As well as this there were also some great action scenes adding to the base under siege atmosphere.
The ending to Embrace The Darkness is mixed. The last past starts off really well with the crew trying to escape on the ship before the creatures come and the Doctor feeling awful for leading the Cimmerians to their death. However, halfway through this last part when The Doctor boards the ship, and the creatures attack the story loses its feet a bit. The creatures board the ship with weapons and the crew run back to the Tardis. The ROSM robot put a force field around the Tardis at the start of the story but now won’t get rid of it as its systems are broken and it is getting confused. The ending is very anticlimactic as the creatures hold the crew to gun point and then there is a big reveal. The creatures attacking them and the Cimmerian creatures are actually the Cimmerian ancestors who are archaeologists. This was a very confusing ending and was a bit of a let down which is why part four is probably the worst part.
Overall, I think Embrace The Darkness is a great horror story that not many people know about. The plot was clever, the atmosphere was great, and all the characters helped make it a really enjoyable story. Its just a shame the ending was so anti climatic and unfulfilling.
I rate Embrace The Darkness an 8/10.
Written by: JACOB MOORE
Hi I’m Jacob and I do reviews and articles on Doctor Who. Thanks for reading my article.