First up is the bonus episode Kleinâ€™s Story.
For me, as a fan of Colditz (a World War II Big Finish adventure from 2001) and Dr. Elizabeth Klein from day one, this is a story I have been waiting for. We finally get to hear how the events of Kleinâ€™s original timeline bled into the Doctorâ€™s original timeline. Sure we got a glimpse of this before in Colditz, but most of that was the Doctorâ€™s speculation and just tidbits of information he slyly got out of Klein.
Now we get the full story and not only that, we get what was sorely missing in Colditz in the first place, a guest appearance by the Eighth Doctor himself, Paul McGann.
It must be said, that while I have waited for this story and wanted to hear these scenes ever since I first heard Colditz, this particular adventure could have been added into Colditz itself and still made perfect sense. In fact it probably should have been. However, having it as a separate tale all on itâ€™s own, it serves a few purposes. It firstly lets the Doctor know that his speculating was correct. It gives the listener a better understanding of who Klein is. And more importantly it gives the listeners who either havenâ€™t heard Colditz since 2001 or havenâ€™t heard it at all, a recap of what they need to know to be caught up to the Doctor and Kleinâ€™s situations.
Despite serving as a necessary tool for the listener, Kleinâ€™s Story doesnâ€™t suffer one bit. This episode gives Tracey Childs a chance to show us a side we havenâ€™t seen of Dr. Klein before. It gives us the chance to see her Earth, as she believes it should still be. And it gives us the opportunity to finally hear Paul McGann play an alternate version of himself trying to do what is needed to fix his own mistakes. While at the same time we get the fantastic, darker more manipulative Seventh Doctor performance by Sylvester McCoy that makes his Doctor one of the best. Brilliant stuff.
Some times has passed between Kleinâ€™s Story and Survival of the Fittest though. It seems that the Doctor and Klein have found a working relationship with each other, with each character taking on a teaching role of sorts. The Doctor of course is trying to better Klein and get her to see that she can do good things, while Klein is trying to make the Doctor see that he may not be so far removed from her.
Survival of the Fittest gives Klein a real does of reality though. An entire race of alien life is being wiped out and the reasons are not natural, nor do they sit well with either Klein or the Doctor.
Striking up a friendship with this alien race, named the Vrills by the TARDIS team, the duo are prepared to do what it takes to protect them from this threat, known as the Winterlack. But when Klein finds out who the Winterlack are and what they are doing, she quickly learns that her history is not too dissimilar. A good does of reality never hurt anyone.
Greed is a theme in this story and how people can be blinded by it. Even when they learn what they are doing is wrong and can have bad repercussions, sometimes the want or the need outweighs the right thing to do. But can the Doctor get through to everyone and make them see what is right? It is a nice struggle for Sylvester McCoy to portray which is perfectly matched by Tracey Childs and Rupert Wickham â€“ playing Faber, one of the Winterlack â€“ who feel as strongly in their beliefs as the Doctor himself.
This is a great story for a three-part adventure, because while the threat is real and needs to be stopped, the main meat of the story is all in the character interactions. Itâ€™s all in how they learn right from wrong. And while the story ends on a predictable situation, one that this listener was expecting ever since Kleinâ€™s return was announced, it is by no means a let down.
Survival of the Fittest lives up to its name in more ways than one and in many respects the fittest is still to be determined. Part two of this highly anticipated trilogy has set the tone for the final installment and the future never looked so bleak.
But thatâ€™s not all. Not only do we get a these two-in-one adventures in this second part of the Klein Trilogy, but we also get part 15 of the ongoing Companion Chronicles series The Three Companions. Really, with all of this going on in just two CDs or one MP3 download, how can you go wrong?
Survival of the Fittest is available from www.bigfinish.com for Â£14.99 on CD or Â£12.99 for the download.