In Review: Big Finish: Susan’s War

Susan knows the Daleks, and she will do her duty... 

Synopsis: Gallifrey needs every Time Lord to fight the Time War. A summons has been issued across the universe to its prodigals. Whatever their skills, the war effort can use them.

Susan’s call-up papers have arrived. Unlike her grandfather, she is willing to join her people’s battle and finally return home.

Susan knows the Daleks, and she will do her duty…

Review: Susan’s War is the follow up to the excellent and poignant Short Trips story “All Hands on Deck” by Eddie Robson. In these four stories, Robson returns, along with Simon Guerrier, Lou Morgan, and Alan Barnes, to allow Susan to travel her chosen path in the increasingly hostile and chaotic universe. Along the way, she gets help from an old friend.

Story

In “Sphere of Influence” by Eddie Robson, Susan is reunited with Ian Chesterton for a diplomatic mission returning them to the Sense Sphere. Robson absolutely captures the Sensorites as listeners know them, while simultaneously adding marvelous world-building to convey an alien culture with depth and nuance. 

That said, the Sensorites should and do take a back seat to the reunion of Susan and Ian. Re-establishing their wonderful dynamic, while acknowledging the passage of the years, is absolutely crucial to grounding the bleak overall Time War narrative in hope.

“The Uncertain Shore” by Simon Guerrier is the story of a world about to fall to Dalek invasion as Susan and her allies search for a spy. However, the plot is less important than the character beats as listeners get portraits of everyday survival as the last days arrive.

“Assets of War” by Lou Morgan is a story of class and species distinctions. Susan is forced to confront how she and other Time Lords are perceived and the damage done. There’s nothing new here. These themes have been tropes in Doctor Who for years now. Morgan freshens the tropes by allowing Susan to find her own voice and own her own views.

“The Shoreditch Intervention” by Alan Barnes reunites Susan with her grandfather in a story with strategic and poignant Easter eggs. As with “Sphere of Influence,” the plot is less important than the character dynamics. Plus, a certain lovely cameo ties everything together.

Acting

The entire cast is great. That said, Carole Ann Ford, William Russell, and Paul McGann are absolute perfection.

It’s hard to believe this box set wasn’t originally planned to follow from “All Hands on Deck.” Ford, Russell, and McGann act so effortlessly and organically that listeners could be fooled into thinking the entire franchise would inevitably tell this story.

Overall

Thank you, Big Finish, for bowing to narrative inertia. I’m looking forward to Susan’s War 2.

9.7
Big Finish: Susan’s War
  • Story
    9.0
  • Performances
    10
  • Audio Production
    10

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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