Persuasion, as the title suggests, is a very gentle Doctor Who story. Kicking off a new trilogy for Sylvester McCoy’s seventh incarnation of the Time Lord, we have in tow the enigmatic-and might-be-dangerous Elizabeth Klein returning to the role of companion. Recruited by the Doctor, she finds herself aboard the TARDIS as a victim of her own curiosity before she’s whisked away to Germany during Hitler’s final days.
But this is no mere “meeting Adolf” story, Persuasion is a tale of beings reaching the end of their lives and the things they’re willing to do when they become self-aware of that fact.
[pullquote align=right]The wonderful character development Klein has been through lets long-term fans really sit back and take stock of how far the lady has come ever since she was introduced to the range over 10 years ago in Colditz[/pullquote]Where writer Jonathan Barnes and indeed the Big Finish team have really struck Doctor Who gold is with the use of the Seventh incarnation as the end of his journey. For many years we’ve enjoyed the regular adventures of the Doctor and Ace or the Doctor and Mel but rarely have we glimpsed the later years of the Seventh Doctor. As mysterious as the John Hurt incarnation, we have little official information as to what he got up to and just how manipulative he became. We’ve had glimpses, yes, but with Persuasion, we’re given a harsh spotlight from Big Finish’s Universe.
For the Doctor we have here knows that the end is coming, there’s no cleverly laid out plan, no last-minute twist in the tale, he knows that his next incarnation is only around the corner and the most interesting element about this, is that he’s scared. Maybe not scared of his death so much, but deeply concerned that his next incarnation won’t be able to handle all the traps and tricks that he’s set up. Or, to put it another way, the Seventh Doctor is shutting up shop and he’s putting all his affairs in order before he does so. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the McCoy incarnation’s transformation that we only glimpsed at the beginning of the TV Movie.
This storyline alone would probably be enough to carry Persuasion on its own but the inclusion of slightly reformed Nazi Elizabeth Klein only proves to sweeten the deal. Their chemistry together is undeniable, partly in thanks to wonderful performances by McCoy and Tracey Childs, but it’s also due to the wonderful character development Klein has been through that lets long-term fans really sit back and take stock of how far the lady has come ever since she was introduced to the range over 10 years ago in Colditz. Her thoughtfulness and inquisitive nature as well as her astounding mind have been manipulated and nurtured by the Seventh Doctor to reach (almost) the antitheses of who she once was, it, quite frankly, leaves the listener a little awed.
From a story point of view, Persuasion serves as a full first act to this new trilogy, the setting may be a one-off but the characters are all set up to play out larger events down the line, this may sound like a cop-out on paper but it works so wonderfully well in this tale, Barnes lets the beginning of this epic play out around the characters as they discover more about each other and like one another less at the same time. Serving as a link to the listener is Klein’s assistant Will Arrowsmith played as a brave if somewhat befuddled young man by Christian Edwards. Hopping aboard the TARDIS after Klein, he finds himself lost in a situation that he prepared for but has little clue as to how to actually deal with. His need for affirmation and explanation work well to keep the listener in check and up to speed with certain events.
Persuasion is a glorious start to the 2013 Seventh Doctor trilogy and is an absolute must have for any Big Finish fan. Hopefully, we can enjoy a few more adventures from the Seventh Doctor’s later years for a long time to come.
Persuasion is available now from www.bigfinish.com .