The opening scene was very well done as it was very dramatic and you got the impression that something big was going to happen. Then the action moves to the Doctor and Lucie who land on the spaceship and encounter the crew just before the Wirrn attack. I liked the idea that the Wirrn would infect a human so that they would take in all of the human’s knowledge and that would keep a peace between the two creatures. I thought it was a really good idea because it gives you a mixed feeling because obviously you wouldn’t want anyone to die and get tuned into a Wirrn but then on the other hand if it can guarantee peace then it might be a sacrifice that needs to be made but then again would you be willing to sacrifice yourself? I like the fact that they have kept true to the Wirrn sound and not gone for a 21st Century version. Changing the setting also helped move the story along. To begin with it was or seemed to be on a spaceship but then moved onto the planet. Korista VII was a superbly named planet and what I imagined it to be was to be in some fields in the middle of Asia where there are no people, no roads and very few animals and just the isolation of it all. The cliffhanger is what I didn’t like about this story. This one just seemed to be somewhere for the plot to stop and didn’t really have me gripped and wanting the next episode to come along. I was just thinking ‘Is That It?’ so I was really disappointed which is a shame because the others for this series have been really good.
Paul McGann puts in a superb performance in this story. He really seems to be enjoying playing the role. When he comes up against the Wirrn it isn’t like he is out to kill them or wipe them from existence but he just works out what is going on and finds a peaceful way out of it. Even when he is leaving he has to try and convince Delong not to kill the Wirrn. Sheridan Smith is also very good in this story as she stands up Salway several times throughout the story. In particular I like how she protects Farroll from being killed even though she was slowly turning into the Wirrn. Of all the guest stars the biggest name was obviously Colin Salmon who has appeared in a few James Bond films from 1996 to 2002 and also appeared in the 2008 Doctor Who story Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead. I was expecting him to play a management type character or as it is in the military some sort of general so it was nice that he got to play a lower ranked character. The character of Salway was your typical big man who when the going gets tough actually shirks any attempt to try and fight.
Also in this story is Daniel Anthony who plays Delong. Now Anthony is not someone that I know a lot about however on Wikipedia (the source of all correct knowledge) he plays Clyde Langer in the Spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. I must admit that the character of Delong is the only low point of the story and that is because at the beginning he was the voice of reason but as time progressed he obviously changed which wasn’t a bad thing however when it became clear that things were ok and were going to be fine he still played the untrusting fool. He did slightly redeem himself when he told the Doctor he was going to stay and to try and help peace which I thought was nice. Beth Chalmers is an actress who has appeared in several Big Finish plays over the last few years and can be relied upon to come up with an interesting voice and in this story she plays the Queen and even when the Queen is coming to the end of her life you still get a sense that she has human qualities which help add to the drama. Ian Brooker was very good in this story as Winslet, Brooker can always be relied upon to create a good voice and use in well.
Nicholas Briggs has written and directed this story and when he does both you always get a really strong story. Prime example is The Nowhere Place (2006) which is one of the best stories of the year. What Briggs has done is added something new to what we all new about the species called the Wirrn. With such a short amount of time to tell the story he has managed to keep the plot moving and only having characters that contributed to the story. Jamie Robertson also deserves some credit for staying true to the Wirrn sound and for also creating some truly memorable music which makes you think that he is wasted in audio and should be working on films or something like that.
Overall I think that this story is a very strong story. All the characters were well written and well acted and what was so good about them was that there was that sense they don’t trust each other then that all changed and by the end of it all the better characters. This series is really getting along very well and the new format is working better than I thought. On reflection there is no need why it should be any different because the series one and two stories were 50 minutes and so the only difference with series three is that there are cliffhangers which the eighth Doctor doesn’t get enough of.