Hex is dead.
Followers of the Seventh Doctor’s Big Finish adventures were left heartbroken in 2012 when long-term travelling companion Thomas Hector Schofield, the aforementioned Hex, gave his life so that the Doctor and Ace might live in Gods and Monsters . And what an emotional punch it packed. Except…at the end of the story, it is revealed that something of Hex survived and is found to be living out his afterlife playing games with gods. Is his story truly over?
The answer, of course, is no. This is the world of Doctor Who. Death is only absolute if it needs to be and is never the final answer. If you can name one Doctor or companion or old enemy that hasn’t come back to the world of Doctor Who after their death, then you’re probably not remembering them quite right. That’s part of this series’ charm, it’s not the fact that someone can come back from the dead but, more interestingly, how they come back from the dead. That’s where the audience gets invested.
Afterlife by Matt Fitton spends its humble beginnings picking up from the fall. Ace is distraught at the sacrifice that Hex has made and the Doctor, especially in this incarnation, is having great difficulty in comforting and understanding her. McCoy could always play the Doctor as a wonderfully cold and powerful version of the Doctor and in this tale he turns that otherworldliness up to ten. His Doctor tries in vain to comfort Ace whilst knowing full well that it is his own machinations and scheming that have landed them in this terrible coda. Aldred and McCoy shine as they spar verbally with one another and at points it’s difficult to see quite how the Doctor and Ace will move past this series of terrible events.
But sometimes going home can alleviate even the worst of feelings and soon the Doctor and Ace find themselves there. Or, more accurately, find themselves in Hex’s grandmother’s home in Liverpool to explain his death. And whilst emotions run high for all, there is light at the end of the tunnel for some, because Hex is alive. Or at least someone who looks and sounds like him is.
What follows is a marvellous tale of deals with Gods gone wrong and the age-old story of hope being one of the most powerful beliefs a person can have. Thomas Schofield has made a dangerous deal in order to come back to this reality and the price may just be too high, but with the Doctor on hand to help (and deliver a speech at the end of part four that is so powerful it’ll have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up to the attention it deserves) there may just be light at the end of the tunnel for Hex and the afterlife may not have to claim him just yet.
By the end of the adventure, we’re left with a very different version of Schofield than we’re used to, one that may take some getting used to and may cause more harm than good, but it will certainly be interesting to see how this new dynamic amongst the TARDIS crew develops in further stories.
Hex is not dead, but what he has now become could be something far worse and far richer than Big Finish fans could have thought possible for this character.
Afterlife is available on CD or via download now from www.bigfinish.com .