The beginning of this story is set around C’Rizz as Charley comes into his room and this is very similar to the Doctor and Adric in Earthshock. A lot of this story seems to have a theme relating to Earthshock. The moment when C’Rizz dies was one of the saddest moments that I have ever known in the 101 releases of the Doctor Who range on Big Finish. A large part of that must go to the writer but also must go to the cast. Conrad Westmaas who has often been overlooked in past stories shines through in this one and you get the feeling that for the first time that he was destined to become something more than he was. The moment before he died when he was saying goodbye to Charley and the Doctor was very well delivered by Westmaas and shows what could have been done with the character had there been more stories like this.
Paul McGann was on usual fine form and it was strange to hear him without Lucie as we have just had that since the beginning of 2007. McGann’s best moment came after C’Rizz had died and he was trying to do the usual thing of smiling through an immediate situation as if someone who wasn’t important had died and it backfired spectacularly. McGann was great when he was trying to make up with Charley who had at this point become upset that the Doctor was reacting in such a jolly manner. India Fisher was also very good as Charley because she had bonded quite well since C’Rizz joined the TARDIS crew. The scenes at the beginning of Episode 1 and when C’Rizz dies were moments that the character was written for. The very last scene in the TARDIS when Charley wants to go home because she has had enough was very well written and well acted by McGann and Fisher. It is a nice lead into the December release which apparently sees Charley leave the series in The Girl Who Never Was. Robert Glenister is one of two big names in this story. He appeared in the 1984 Fifth Doctor story The Caves of Androzani and more recently has starred in the BBC drama Hustle. In this story he played Aboresh, this character was a really important and well written character than was played to the max by Glenister. Christopher Villiers also has history in Doctor Who appearing in the 1983 story The Kings Demons. In this story he plays Cacothis who again was a nice strong character. Other cast members who contributed a lot was Natalie Mendoza who plays Lolanthia. Mendoza’s biggest role is in the BBC drama Hotel Babylon. Tony Barton was very good as Straith and Geoff Breton performs well as Phelgreth.
Scott Alan Woodard has written a very good story. With C’Rizz departing it was important they he is given a good story because even if the character wasn’t the most popular one he still deserves a good send off. The plot is a very good one and suits the personal anguish that C’Rizz has had since he joined the series. Woodard has managed to do this with a very dramatic story which has a shocking ending. The directing in this story deserves a mention because it’s the pacing of this story that manages to keep you hooked. Barnaby Edwards is a very good director and it was vital for the success of this story that he stays with that style of directing. There was not a single time during this story that I got bored or lost concentration and that all adds to a great story. Absolution is a fantastic story and is a brilliant ending to the character of C’Rizz who has had some great stories such as his opener The Creed of the Kromon and Faith Stealer, The Next Life and Terror Firma. It’s clear that the writers, producers and directors took great care with this story and it’s a shame that they didn’t do more to make C’Rizz fit in because it always seemed that he was the odd one out and just didn’t quite seem to gel into the stories like most of the companions specially created for the Big Finish range.
I cant quite make my mind up where this story lies in terms of best stories because it has a lot to live up to with Nocturne and Son of the Dragon but it is definitely in the top three and possible near the top of 8th Doctor stories. The thing about 8th Doctor stories is that they can be a bit hit and miss but definitely this story is a hit. Despite the departure of a long(ish) companion it was still a top notch four part story that shows what Big Finish can do when they put everything they have into choosing the right characters, the right story, the right writer, the right director and also the right musician. I’m not much of a C’Rizz fan but I think that they could and perhaps should do a one off story (set before Absolution obviously). If you are a fan of C’Rizz then you will be really upset about his exit but even if your not you’ll still find it sad.