Faith Stealer

Are any of you carrying Gods about your person?

The Bordinan’s Assistant

Synopsis

When the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz find their journey through the Interzone interrupted by a nightmarish vision, they are surprised to find the Kro’ka offering the perfect solution.

The Multihaven, a vast array of religions and faiths housed in one harmonious community, appears to offer the perfect sanctuary in which to convalesce. But under the guidance of the charismatic Laan Carder, one religion seems to be gathering disciples at an alarming rate.

With the Doctor and Charley catching glimpses of an old friend and C’rizz on the receiving end of some unorthodox religious practices, their belief, hope and faith are about to be tested to the limit.

Review

The second series of adventures in the Divergent Universe gets off to a strong start.  Faith Stealer gives us some more depth for C’rizz and feels quite fresh, unencumbered largely from the bleak tone of some of the first four stories in the Divergent Universe. I can’t wait for McGann’s Eighth Doctor to get back to the Main Universe, but this was a pleasant enough adventure.

The thing about power is that it’s ever so abuser friendly.

The Eighth Doctor

The main strength of the story is Duff’s presentation of the Multihaven where multiple religions and creeds are able to coexist peacefully.  It’s not an idea that I’ve come across previously and I like the presentation of it here.  It’s a zone that feels authentically lived in, complete with a soundscape with church bells and competing voices attempting to get new followers.  The story treats the various religions like the stock market, as various religions’ followers dwindle to the rising force of the Church of Lucidity.  There are some fun ideas here, like the Church of Serendipity, worshipping the neglectful God Whoops, and the Doctor setting up his own pseudo-religion of the Tourists, which later on manage to gain at least one follower, and the followers of the Paper Drawer.  There are some more sinister aspects too, like the Church of Lucidity essentially carrying out lobotomies on its followers, which is something I wished had been delved into a bit more.  This feels as though it should have happened much earlier in the Divergent Universe’s run as it allows for C’rizz to get some much needed development and would help bed him in to this TARDIS team a bit more. This story helps him come to terms with his grief at the death of L’da, a plot point that seems to have disappeared midway through the arc to return here.

If I had to pick a flaw in this story, I’d say that none of the guest cast are particularly memorable.  We don’t spend enough time with Laan Carder for him to make enough of an impression, and it doesn’t really land with enough of a punch when it is revealed he is nothing more than a manifestation of The Miraculite.  There is no one that really stands out as being irritating, they’re just all a bit bland and it means that the faiths collected in the Multihaven all suffer as a result.  I never really felt that the plan of Carder and the Miraculite ever built up stakes, and besides the death of the Bordinan, nothing much has changed in the grand scheme of things.

The Doctor sounds reinvigorated and McGann sounds enthusiastic, an improvement on the more dour tone he struck towards the end of the first series of the Divergent Universe arc.  He even has some scenes with India Fisher that almost capture the energy of their relationship before Zagreus.  The story actually gives C’rizz something to do, and it’s a little surprising that it has taken this long to get a story that focuses in on his grief after having to kill his partner, L’da.  In this story, we get to see the impact of this which drives him to despair.  It is good to see Conrad Westmaas given something to sink his teeth into.  It’s not something that can be said for India Fisher, even if there are moments where, having separated the Doctor and Charley from C’rizz, the dynamic between the Doctor and Charley feels almost back to how it was in the beginning.  Charley doesn’t really feel as though her character goes anywhere in this story, with a fading mention that her total faith in the TARDIS and by extension, the Doctor, is ultimately a weakness in the concluding part.  I wished and felt that there was more to be done with Charley here, whilst it’s not a bad thing to get a bit more development for C’rizz, but it feels as though Duff didn’t have enough for both of them to do.

Verdict: Faith Stealer is a high point in this very disappointing run of stories. It has interesting ideas and gives C’rizz some much needed focus and development. Unfortunately, beyond the main cast, there are no standout roles and the story struggles a bit with stakes. 7/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Stephen Perring (The Kro’ka), Christian Rodska (Laan Carder), Tessa Shaw (The Bordinan), Jenny Coverak (The Miraculite), Ifan Huw Dafydd (Bishop Parrash), Helen Kirkpatrick (Jebdal), Neil Bett (Director Garfolt), Chris Walter-Evans (The Bordinian’s Assistant), John Dorney (Bakoan/Serendipitist) & Jane Hills (L’da).

Writer: Graham Duff

Director: Gary Russell

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The first story of the second season of the Divergent Universe arc.

Cast Notes

  • Tessa Shaw played a UNIT officer in Spearhead in Space.
  • Ifan Huw Dafydd played Lurnix in the Bernice Summerfield story The Poison Seas.
  • John Dorney is a writer and actor for Big Finish.  He has written stories such as Palindrome, What Just Happened? and Requiem for the Rocket Men and appeared in stories such as Robophobia, Terror of the Sontarans and The Light at the End.

Best Quote

I’m afraid the one true way turned out to be a dead end.

The Eighth Doctor

Previous Eighth Doctor review: The Twilight Kingdom

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