This story is the most atmospheric story that I have ever listened to. Don’t listen to this story with the lights out is my advice. The story is set on a world called Perfugium which at first I thought was some sort of English town in the early 20th Century. The first episode starts off very slowly and we met Victor Schaeffer and his wife Jacqueline. Both seem like very wealthy and very important people who seem to view their relationship with John Smith as some sort of care scheme. The character of John Smith is very interesting. We know from the title it is the Master and the very scary voices that we hear suggest it’s the Master and so we are in a unique position of seeing a ‘nice’ Master interact with other people. We learn that the Master has been in Perfugium for 10 years and the beginning of this story sees them celebrate his birthday. He was found deformed and without his memory. There is a b-plot with the investigation by Victor of some deaths with seem to be affecting Victor greatly.
For me it’s the second episode that really shows what a great story this is. It’s the revelation that how the Master got into this position that is what every listener (I imagine) wants to know. We learn that the Doctor made a deal with Death for the Master to live for 10 years as a nice man without any knowledge of his past and of the horrors he inflicted on others. In return the Doctor would travel to Perfugium 10 years after the Master arrived and kill him. There are some wonderful plot twists. The murders that Victor has been investigating turn out to have been committed by Victor himself. It turns out that Death has taken someone else to do an evil deed. Its quite obvious when the revelation comes because Victor shows his more evil side in certain moments of this play and also his resentment for John who has feelings for Jacqueline.
This story really shines when the Doctor and the Master have their scenes together which make this story for me. We learn the specific moment when the Master became evil and it occurred when he killed someone who had bullied him and he just snapped. It’s a simple case of standing up for yourself but in the extreme. The dialogue is perhaps some of the best written by Big Finish. You could hear hours of this stuff and never be bored. Out of the three stories I would say that this story is the best because it was so different from any other story that has come before. Omega and Davros were good stories that dealt very well with the characters finer details but they did feel like Doctor Who stories which isn’t what Master feels like.
Sylvester McCoy and Geoffrey Beevers are simply brilliant and make this story the top adventure that it is. Philip Madoc also deserves some praise as his character was written in a way that was nice and calm but slowly turned into a less likeable more sinister character and Anne Ridler also did a great job as Jacqueline. Joseph Lidster has written a stunning story with great characters and a slightly complicated explanation , there is nothing in this story that is wasted and that is very rare in a Doctor Who story.