As the second series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures unfolds, it becomes clear that Big Finish have ceased to look at this new era of the Eighth Doctor as a wacky experiment and instead begin building a whole new lore for their new series, including a stronger backstory for Lucie and development of her character. The greater focus on Lucie is definitely welcome, as unlike Charley she is given less time per story to actually develop as a companion. This next half of the second series of the EDAs demonstrates a turning point in the series, as the more whimsical aspects of the previous stories are lessened in favour of a more mature tone, reflecting the stronger stories towards the tail-end of the series.
2.5 – Grand Theft Cosmos
The Eighth Doctor and Lucie are travelling by train in Sweden in the 19th century, and encounter Karen from Human Resources who has been travelling with the Headhunter, the pair have become a time-travelling art thieves and are attempting to steal a priceless piece of art known as the Black Diamond. Unfortunately, the Doctor identifies the piece as a dangerous extra-terrestrial threat, so he and Lucie work to thwart the Headhunter’s plans and steal the Black Diamond from them. Although this is definitely one of the more comedic audios in the series, it is definitely an exciting ride as the two time-travelling duos face off in a game of intrigue.
Some of the most entertaining scenes in this audio involve the Doctor and Lucie playing spies, as Lucie’s alter-ego that she uses to fraternize with the various people of the time is one of the highlights of the story. The banter between the Headhunter and Karen is also fun, as it is clear that the two are working together and yet do not like each other very much to say the least. Their dynamic is one of the driving forces of this audio, as they make the perfect counter to the Doctor and Lucie’s warm, compassionate friendship.
Grand Theft Cosmos is a fun ride, and is easily one of the best light-hearted audios in the series so far. There is something to be said for an audio that manages to capture the perfect balance of comedic and exciting, and this one does a marvellous of it. Not only does this audio show how close friends the Doctor and Lucie are, but this is another example of Lucie doing an excellent job as an independent undercover operative, proving how far she has come since she joined the TARDIS at the start of the previous series.
2.6 – The Zygon Who Fell to Earth
This audio sees the return of Lucie’s Auntie Pat who previously featured in Horror of Glam Rock, and this time the Doctor and Lucie drop in on her in 1984 and quickly discover that there are Zygons present in the area – but all is not as it seems. Auntie Pat’s new husband Trevor is hiding a big secret, and although the Doctor and Lucie initially assume that Pat is completely ignorant of the events transpiring around her, she later reveals that she in fact knows more than she says. The idea of a Zygon who has ‘gone domestic’ and decided to spend the rest of its life living in the Lake District is fascinating, and a similar idea was later used for the Series 9 two-parter The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion.
As usual, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith are excellent, although Lucie once again comes across as crass by revealing a little too much about Auntie Pat’s future, inferring that she amounts to nothing by the 21st century. It’s a tragic thought that is only briefly dwelled upon in the story, but the implications are particularly dark, especially as she seems to remember the last time Lucie said something anachronistic to her. Auntie Pat becomes a more important character in this story that it first seemed when she made her debut in Horror of Glam Rock, as the influence she had on Lucie’s life becomes more relevant.
Ultimately, the end of this story is probably the biggest turning point in the entire series – whilst Lucie Miller is often used as a comedic character, she is given a very serious situation to deal with in this story and as such her relationship with the Eighth Doctor becomes more complicated for the first time in the series. Sheridan Smith does a great job in this story as Lucie is challenged in a way she has never been before, and needless to say this audio is definitely a memorable listen.
2.7 – Sisters of the Flame
This audio begins the two-part finale with an interesting investigative pair-off – Lucie teams up with Rosto, a Trell policeman who, like all Trell, resembles a giant centipede. He is investigating Lucie’s sudden appearance on a transport ship, after the TARDIS was raided by other Trell and the Doctor and Lucie were separated. As the cover suggests, this audio is primarily focused around Lucie, as she is given some time in the spotlight to have an adventure on her own. Whilst this is going on, Lucie is being pursued by the Sisterhood of Karn, who are attempting to acquire her for as-yet unknown purposes.
Lucie undergoes significant character growth in this story, as she carries the entire story whilst dealing with several forces at once – Straxus makes a return in this audio, as the Time Lords have particular interest in the events taking place and he comments that something is wrong with the universe itself, and all the while the Doctor’s TARDIS is pursued by a planet merchant called Cristophe Zarodnix, who has taken up residence on Karn. Lucie soon learns that the Sisterhood themselves have been pushed from Karn by the Zarodnix corporation, as his company purchased the planet and he has now transformed the world into his own private land.
The Doctor does make a short appearance near the end of this audio, as he learns the truth of the current situation of the Sisterhood of Karn as they deploy their secret weapon – a molecular dispersal chamber, stolen from the Time Lords. Straxus simultaneously reveals to Lucie that Zarodnix is in fact attempting to resurrect the ancient Time Lord Morbius, who fans of Classic Who will know from the TV story The Brain of Morbius. This story is definitely a rollercoaster, and although it seems like there is a lot going on, the plot elements weave together fairly well throughout, ending on a great cliff-hanger.
2.8 – The Vengeance of Morbius
After a huge amount of build-up in Sisters of the Flame, The Vengeance of Morbius jumps straight into the action, tying the lingering plot threads from the end of part one into the highlight of part two, which is Morbius’s resurrection – this entire audio revolves around the return of Morbius, an insane Time Lord who aims to transform Gallifrey into a military power that utilises time travel to ensure its dominance over the universe. The Doctor and Lucie are reunited, and travel to Karn in order to stop Zarodnix from resurrecting Morbius, though they are unfortunately too late – Straxus was stranded on Karn at the end of the previous story, and using his DNA Zarodnix has been able to resurrect Morbius by combining it with DNA recovered from Morbius’s buried remains.
As a series finale, The Vengeance of Morbius definitely delivers – not only is a classic villain brought back in a big way, but the entirety of Gallifrey is threatened by the return of one of their greatest tyrants. Morbius is a sinister threat, as he represents all the malevolence and chaotic potential that Gallifrey possesses. Morbius eventually gains control of Gallifrey, and spends ten years conquering the universe, devastating thousands of worlds on the wake of his intergalactic crusade. Straxus, who has been held prisoner all this time, is being used to feed Morbius’s constantly-decaying life-force. However, that also proves to be Morbius’s greatest weakness.
The second series of the EDAs ends on a strong story, as Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith do an excellent job, as well as Samuel West, who plays Morbius, Kenneth Colley, who plays Zarodnix, and Nikolas Grace, who plays Strax. There are some really compelling elements to this audio, as Morbius presents a very real threat to the fabric of time itself – imagine the Master’s invasion of Earth in Last of the Time Lords but magnified exponentially to cover the entire universe. This story ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, as Lucie is separated from the Doctor and left unaware of his fate. Sheridan Smith puts in an excellent performance as we are left on a devastating ending, as although the universe is saved, the Doctor and Lucie are apart, and the Time Lords return her to her original time and place.