Omega is the start of a three part run of stories featuring old enemies of the Doctor. (It will be followed by Davros and Master. And then will come the first epic story, Zagreus.) But Omega opens with a bit of comedy as Omega and his pal, Tarpov, are going through the motions of laughing maniacally. Omega tells his pal to please keep his laugh shorter as Omega’s should be the longer laugh. And I wondered if this was going to be a spoof? It didn’t sound like they were planning to play it straight, but then with Big Finish, anything is possible. And who am I to complain when I see Caroline Munro’s name on the cover anyway?
Don’t misunderstand: I love a bit of comedy and there are some magnificent lines, including Peter Davison’s Doctor implying that there’s little difference between being a megalomaniac and an American. (Sure maybe I should take offense, but how can I?) I laughed heartily when Sentia (Munro) injects Daland with a needle to which he asks what it was and if she knows who he is, to which she answers both with “a harmless little prick.” And within less than 24 hours of hearing the line, I was able to use: “I’ve always had a disturbing premonition that I would end my life by dying!” But what was the point of it all?
The story opens with someone telling us a story and the Fifth Doctor era music blasts out of our speakers. It soon transpires that the Doctor is on a tour of an area of space where Time Lord hero (monster?) Omega had gone missing millennia before. It’s an area of space that causes madness. The tour is run by Jolly Chronolidays, a company that prefers showing you historical reenactments rather than actually traveling back in time. (No working toilets makes history somewhat unappealing!) This offers the chance for some odd behavior where the actors begin thinking they are from Omega’s time.
The story features a MASSIVE twist at the end of part three that changes everything. It’s a magnificent moment in the drama that had me aching for more. But that makes this challenging to discuss because it impacts everything you’ve heard up until now. The only small clue I can offer is for fans of the classic series to remember what happened when Omega last encountered the Fifth Doctor on television (Arc of Infinity). Other than that, like Creatures of Beauty, I can’t give away much without ruining the entire story, so here are the important takeaways. First, Davison is on his own but sells his performance perfectly. Lately he’s been out-shined by the likes of Nyssa, Peri and Erimem, but this time he nails it and holds my attention for every moment of the story. Second, for fans of Doctor Who lore, there are some great moments with Omega and Rassilon which I loved (but if I’m honest, I sort of remembered there being more of this than there actually was.) I have always wanted more about Rassilon and Omega; I have long suspected there is a great story waiting to be told here. Alas, this story is not it, but at the very least, we get hints… I’ll whet the appetite with this, which won’t spoil anything but might make you want to tune in: Omega’s real name is revealed as is the reason he chose the name Omega. (Well, it was more of a nickname that stuck!) The story ends where it began: a woman telling us a story. And in so doing, we realize we were a part of the narrative the whole time. It’s a strong way to end and keep us engaged in a way that says “maybe I should go back for another listen…”
Overall, the story really becomes interesting on disc two. Too much of the first disc felt like fluff, but when it kicked in, it kicked into high gear and held me rapt until the end. At the end of the day, Omega is played as more of a victim than a monster; a chap who came back to our universe and realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, so maybe he should just go home. It almost felt like Big Finish was planning on giving us more about the man than the monster which is certainly an interesting choice for an audio story named after a villain. But then, that’s Big Finish: always willing to try new things. And I think they are amazing for it!
Oh, and I can’t help but comment on the gorgeous cover art. Pay close attention… you’ll see the style again soon! ML