For some reason Hex seems to be annoyed that neither the Doctor or Ace mentioned the Daleks at any point of their travels. It seems to me a redundant point because unless you need to know about them then why should you be told. I can’t believe that its taken this long for him to meet the most popular monsters in Doctor Who history. He met the Cybermen in his very first adventure so what took them so long? Hex seems to step up a gear in this story. He doesn’t become the normal Hex by staying in the background and actually stands up for himself. I thought that the characters were all well written as they all showed the weariness of the Dalek War taking its toll on all of them especially Stokes who has encountered them before when she was a child. As the story progresses we get to see Stokes become more and more unbalanced which helps add to the tension of the situation. The secret of what Professor Shimura has been doing was very creative and gives meaning to the title of the story. It was only after the Kiseibya starting screaming for metal that I got the thinking that they were created to destroy the Daleks. In this story we got the classic confrontation between the Doctor and Shimura which helped elevate the character of Shimura from a crazed scientist to almost Davros status. Even the Doctor commented on that in their big scene.
The ending to episode one was a really good cliffhanger. The idea that the Doctor is in a situation where he has to make sure that an atrocity actually happens is totally bizarre. It mirrors the early plot point in the 2006 story No Mans Land where the Doctor and co had to investigate something that had already. Again we are in the position that we don’t know what going to happen but the Doctor does which is a really fun place to be. The Daleks take a back seat throughout the early parts of this story. This enables the characters and the plot to really shine, as the Kisebya get stronger and stronger they target the Daleks not because they have been told to but because they don’t see the Daleks as a true threat but just as lunch. The creation of the Kisebya was another great idea from Big Finish. Their purpose was well used. It took a while for me to work out how they develop. They get injected into muscle or meat and then they feed off that when they are born, soon afterwards they start to feed off metal thus making them more dangerous than the Daleks. With everything going on it isn’t until Part Four that we discover what the atrocity that is supposed to happen and that is an entire race being wiped out and the Doctor being the one to do it. There was a brief moment when Hex questions his time with the Doctor and Ace. This mirrors the mood that Erimem was in towards her last few adventures. I wonder whether this marks the end of Hex’s time in the show. The mood is certainly very down at the end of Part Four, with Hex feeling inept at not being able to help. It was Lieutenant Beth Stokes who had the biggest emotional journey. She starts off as the brave lieutenant and then just breaks down and at one point is willing to sacrifice her life to destroy the Daleks. This is quite a sad moment but you feel that it would be the end of her suffering.
Sylvester McCoy was truly superb in this story. He never put a foot wrong throughout this story and had some memorable scenes with Professor Shimura. Sophie Aldred is very good in this story she becomes the soldier of the group and that is when Aldred really shines. Philip Olivier puts in his strongest performance. Despite the quite ridiculous whine about not being told about the Daleks before they arrive on Bliss he really shone for me. Kate Ashfield who has appeared in such films as Shaun of the Dead stars in this as Lieutenant Beth Stokes who is an emotional mess but to start off with she is a determined woman. It was only a matter before she crumbled under the mental stress that comes with what had happened to her when she was younger. Bindya Solanki makes her second appearance in this series, she previously appeared in the 2005 story The Juggernauts. She plays Sergeant Tahira Khan who actually should really be in charge because she stands and fights when Stokes flees. I found the character to be a nice strong character that served the purpose. I thought the most entertaining character in this story was the character of Professor Toshio Shumura. The guy playing the role was Eiji Kusuhara was very good as the Davros like character. He was great when he started off trying to hide something from Stokes. His sacrifice at the end was totally unexpected but actually made sense because he created the Kiseibya and would do anything to ensure their survival. At no point does he seem remorseful at what he has created and the potential damage that he could cause. He seems genuinely dedicated to destroying the Daleks but anything else is fair game. Jeremy James also put in some good performances as Sistermatic (the robot), the Kiseibya, the male patient and the voice. All the voices were well done but it was the Kiseibya that was the best.
David Bishop has written a brilliant story. All the characters in this story mixed in with each other so well that it’s difficult to imagine the story working without even one of them. The plot never got weak at any point throughout this story. Ken Bentley did another superb job as directing, the pace was non stop and shows why he is such a great director.
I didn’t think that they could get any better than The Magic Mousetrap but they have managed it with this story. Also I think that this is the best Dalek story since Terror Firma in 2005. The last two Dalek stories have been a bit to complicated and in the case of Renaissance of the Daleks even felt a bit flat and empty. There was nothing that I didn’t like about this story and felt that this is the top story of 2009 so far.