“Time distortion, psychoactive aliens, parasites from another dimension…this really doesn’t bode well at all.”
“That’s it, isn’t it, for the two of you. Death and blood and empires, and it’s all funny. Forgive me, I don’t get the joke.
Look at you both, laughing and dancing as empires fall…if that’s what a hero is, then I’m glad I’m not one.”
With those lines, we leave Mask of Tragedy for the denouement, Signs and Wonders, this time scripted by Matt Fitton.
As Ace takes Hector to…well, Hex’s old North Counties Liverpudlian homestead in a last ditch attempt to restore the man she used to know, the Doctor runs afoul of a messianic Scouse with the apparent power to manipulate the weather, public electricity and worse.
“I’ve been right across this green and pleasant land. I’ve listened to England’s beating heart…I’m not talking about the cesspits down South, that’s England’s belly and its bowels…I’m talking about the North.”
With his glittering, bands and parties contingent and direct jingoistic-emotional appeals to Northerners in particular, it’s clear that Rufus Stone (Warren Brown) is an image-obsessed, 80’s televangelist inspired huckster.
But what is all this business about the shared nightmares afflicting Britons all across the North? Who are the mysterious “angels” he seems to control? And how does he make the very skies darken and the Earth move at his every command?
“I don’t believe there’s anything these people need to be saved from…except perhaps you…
You could choose any time in human history. You’ll always find war, you’ll always find plague, you’ll always find famine. If you’re ticking boxes for the end of the world, the four horsemen are on permanent rotation.”
Reuniting with Pvt. (now Sgt.) Sally Morgan (Amy Pemberton of House of Blue Fire, last heard in Gods and Monsters and Afterlife) and meeting her friend, apparent life counselor and traveling Vicar Janet Green (Jessica Martin), Ace heads off on an investigation of her own, one that runs her afoul of a very changed military…
“Who are they? I don’t recognize the logo…hang about, what’s the army doing with a logo?”
“They were privatized years ago. Individual units can seek authorization to carry out commercial security work.”
With echoes of Haliburton selling its services out to Monsanto and the glaring red light of the outright militarization of local police, Fitton both provides a nod to disturbing contemporary trends and closes the book on the military career of Sgt. Morgan.
But with Hector taking on the mantle of Rufus’ local “champion” and more than one alien race afflicting the area, can all of our friends old and new find some sort of a happy ending?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes, but to say more would give too much away. Suffice to say a popularly beloved character’s story comes to an end for a second time, and things should satisfy the more warm hearted of listeners this time around.
“There’s a lot of strange stuff been happening…lights in the sky. Wierd weather. Bad dreams. The trains have just stopped running now.”
“You think the world’s ending because British Rail’s kaput?”
Like Afterlife before it, this is essentially little more than a goodbye to Hex…well, Hector, this time, with much Gods and Monsterslike sturm und drang to distract the punters from the central melodrama Signs and Wonders truly revolves around.
As someone with mixed feelings about Hex (and Hector, for that matter), this reviewer is probably not the right person to review such an endeavor. I mean, didn’t we already deal with all this, a few times over, in Angel of Scutari, Gods and Monsters and Afterlife?
But for those who have more investment in the character(s) so memorably given life by Philip Olivier, this may well be the one you’ve been waiting for. Think of it, like the Hector storyline per se, as the sort of benign do-over that can only happen in soap opera and comic books…or apparently, in the ongoing audio adventures of Classic Who.