I mention Colditz because while this isn’t a sequel it does involve a returning character from that story. Klein, played by Tracey Childs, is a Nazi scientist from a future where Germany won the war ( with a little forced help from the Doctor). Thankfully the Doctor sorts it all out and the future with Truth, Freedom and Apple Pie wins the day; but Klein ends up trapped here. Cursed not only with living in defeat but also tormented with the memories of the future that was snatched away from her. Stolen by the Doctor. Now she’s face to face with the doctor but revenge may have to wait. Somewhere a thousand tiny wings are waiting and only the Doctor may stand between Klein and a death of a thousand cuts.
The story is set in post WWII Kenya; during the Mau Mau uprising ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mau_Mau_Uprising). On a remote farm a small group of women have taken refuge from the violence that is tearing Kenya apart. But its not the Mau Mau who intrude on their solitude as an injured alien and the Doctor cross their paths. Things then take a turn for the worse; something has injured the Alien, covering him in a thousand tiny cuts. Once the attack happens again,with fatal results, its clear that there is another alien presence lurking. What will get them first, the Mau Mau or something far worse?
Its a very atmospheric setting and the story really evokes the period, right down to the backwards colonial attitude that seems so jarring today. The women all have low opinions of the natives and the story never sugar coats how life was back then. Heck Plan A was to wait for the army to show up and shoot them all. The music and sound work help to drop you back 50 plus years and you almost feel that you’ll get a tan from the hot African sun as it beats down.
Its an engaging story and while it may seem like a typical base under siege the plot has some great twists. The character interaction also elevates this story. Tracy Klein slips back into her smooth but fanatical Nazi with ease and she more than holds her own against the doctor; as they verbally spar over both beliefs and methods. And for once the Doctors are not only challenged but at times shown to be lacking. Its brave of the story to show that the Doctors faith in people is sometimes badly misplaced and its others who suffer.
The only weak spot for me in the story is the eventual monster reveal. The monsters are very unique and quite interesting. Its hard to view them as the scary force that they’ve been built up as though. Their motives are also a wasted opportunity as it would have made more sense if they had a direct Nazi analogy; especially with Klein being such an important part of the story. Its thankfully just a small part of the story as the reveal happens very late on and its not truly that important. It certainly doesn’t diminish the story which makes the most of a great cast, strong atmosphere and brisk pacing.
I’m really looking forward to the next set of tales involving Klein; this story just leaves you wanting more. This is the first companion in a while that not only holds her own against the doctor but also takes the fight right to him. Oh and she wants to kill him after forcing him to recreate her evil Nazi future; she really makes Turlough look like a rank amateur.
4.5/5 They don’t get much better than this.