❉ Writer David K Barnes keeps us on our toes every step of the way in the penultimate episode of this series.
Picking up directly from last week’s cliffhanger, we rejoin Cleo, Shawna and Madame Vastra (Doon Mackichan) as they escape from the window of Cleo’s mum’s flat on the tenth storey (which would be the eleventh floor for any of our American readers). The Ghosts continue to pursue the trio, who run from the Powell Estate as fast as they can. When Abby calls Cleo to warn her and Shawna about the ghosts, Cleo tries to tell Abby what’s been going on, but the call ends abruptly as UNIT moves out of their current location.
Cleo takes Vastra and Shawna to Jordan’s flat. Vastra explains that the ‘Ghosts’ aren’t dead but trapped between two planes of existence. Cleo gets another call from her brother, with the realisation that he too has become a ghost and that she is all that is left of her family.
Vastra tells Cleo and Shawna to escape, while she, once again, leaps out of a window in an attempt to distract the Ghosts. Cleo and Shawna run for their lives as the Ghosts surround them. Shawna suggests going underground for safety, but Cleo recalls Abby saying they are appearing all over the world, and Cleo worries this is the end of the world.
As Shawna takes Cleo’s hand as she prepares to die, crying ‘I wish we’d never done this podcast’, UNIT arrives with Abby and a Captain Chopra, which disperses the Ghosts. Vastra summons the ‘Blue Box Files’ girls into the sewers, promising to take them to a safe place and explaining that her information about the Ghosts has come from her ‘oracle’, someone who is a ‘master of space and time’.
Abby apologises for abandoning Cleo and Shawna, and explains that she wanted to be a part of the story, rather than being the one telling it. She explains that Osgood has also gone, and she is forgetting them.
Vastra arrives at her home (now in the sewers rather than her home by St Pauls), reflecting on her late wife Jenny and on humans’ short life span. Vastra takes ‘The Blue Box’ girls to meet her oracle, who is not – as one would reasonably expect – the Doctor, but a foetus-like being floating in a jar, whom Vastra calls ‘Floater’. Floater is 6,000 years old and comes from the realm that the missing humans have been taken to, a realm where humans cannot survive, which is why they have been transformed into Ghosts.
It’s explained that The Doctor made a great error, which Floater witnessed, that every world that the Doctor has visited appears to be falling into the redacted, unsure how it has happened. Vastra declares that the Doctor has inadvertently caused the destruction of the Universe. Floater instructs the podcasters to find the Doctor, the cause of the chaos. Vastra and Floater need the ‘Blue Box Files’ girls to kill the Doctor – the black hole that all human life is being pulled.
Suddenly the redacted noise is heard once again, and none of the group can hear Cleo as she talks to them, and she realises she is being redacted, as she fades from existence, leaving only Shawna and Abby to save the world!
After my worries that the answers to the series would be rushed across the final two episodes, this instalment has proven that my worries were misplaced. Thanks to Vastra, we have been given enough information this week to answer many of our questions, while of course leaving some mysteries to be revealed next week and raising follow-up questions into the bargain.
The double cliffhanger of hearing Vastra, a friend of the Doctor’s, asking the gang to kill the Doctor, immediately followed by Cleo’s redaction, goes to show the genius of series creator Juno Dawson’s creative mind and was beautifully realised by Big Finish writer David K Barnes, who throughout this episode keeps us on our toes every step of the way.
The sound design by David Thomas is once again heightened by the inclusion of sound effects created by the amazing Arlie Adlington, who I recently found out is the mastermind behind the more chilling and creative sounds we here such as the Redacted sound effect and the noise of the ghosts who hunted down our protagonists. I feel like they certainly had fun as they had more creative sounds to help build the world, with the addition of the Ghosts as they pursued Cleo and Abby.
One of my favourite parts of sound design across this series has to be the redacted noise, which for me has become on par with the sound used in Blink to reference a weeping angel’s sudden movement. The moment I started to hear the noise of redaction during the final scene, my heart skipped a beat upon realising that Cleo, our lead character in this series, was about to be removed from our reality. The best sound design, it is often said, is unnoticeable, as you fall into the world it has created, and Arlie Adlington has proven to be a master of the art of creating believable yet sci-fi sounds.
As we wait another week for the final instalment of Redacted, it leaves me feeling sad that we have only one more episode to go before we say goodbye to Cleo, Abby and Shawna. It only feels like yesterday that shortly after the broadcast of Legend of the Sea Devils I rushed upstairs to listen to the first episode, worried I wouldn’t enjoy it (as I worry about most Who media) only to fall in love with it and to ask We Are Cult if they would do me the honour of letting me review it.
❉ ‘Doctor Who: Redacted’ is available to listen for free on BBC Sounds app and transcripts for those who are hard of hearing can be found on the ‘Doctor Who: Redacted’ webpage. Main cast: Cleo Proctor – Charlie Craggs, Abby McPhail – Lois Chimimba, Shawna Thompson – Holly Quin-Ankrah. Written by Juno Dawson. Produced by Ella Watts. Directed by Ella Watts and James Robinson. Executive Producer: James Robinson. A BBC Studios Production for BBC Sounds.
❉ Andrew Creak is a freelancer in TV and Film production based in South Wales. As well as this they are a producer director in their own right through their production company Third Time Lucky Productions. Follow them on Twitter: @AndrewCreak