Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 12/21/17 6:25 pm
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With a fairly explosive first half behind us, the third and penultimate story "The Sky Man" takes things down a notch in terms of action and drama and focuses a bit more on character. With Cole now onboard the Master's TARDIS, his heroism takes hold of him and he asks the Master if he could save a planet from the War himself as apparently Time Lord law prevents the Master from saving any directly. The Master is more than happy to oblige and he and Cole land on a primitive but prosperous agrarian world in danger of being destroyed. While Cole immediately gets down to working on saving the planet and it's people, the Master decides that this isn't his fight and decides to take a quiet little holiday growing grapes and making wine. But as things progress towards the planet's untimely fate, will Cole be able to save the day and how will the Master play a part in that outcome? Unlike the previous two stories, 'Sky Man' is very much Cole's story with the Master almost playing a secondary part in his own story but there still remains a strong focus on him and his influence and manipulations are felt everywhere in the audio even when he's not physically there. Despite the seemingly good intentions at play, you can't help but remain on edge even as not much is going on and this one will keep you on your toes even more so than any of the other stories in this set. It ends up being a very slow burn but it's a shocking, subtle, and a powerfully tense entry that plays with the theme of hope and turns it on its head. It sort of reminds me of 'The Fires of Pompeii' except with a psychotically evil twist to it perfectly suiting our protagonist's nature. Speaking of which despite a much more minimal presence, we get to see the Master at easily his most subtly evil by far which is ironic considering how the previous story did such a great job of building up a potential good side to him. He's not doing anything in terms of scheming or grandiose plans but simply watching for the inevitable to come and letting his darker truths and points of view influence everyone and everything around him like a cancer. This extends to Cole and the Master's relationship as well which is almost one of father and son in a twisted kind of way. It's very sweet but in a very unsettling way as you enjoy it but are still waiting for the inevitable bomb to go off. Derek Jacobi remains fantastic in the role but Jonny Green is really the highlight here portraying the naively moral and stubborn Cole who thinks he has the power to save everyone in a Doctor-ish way. But it's obvious he doesn't have any of the experience or the knowledge to do it as much as he tries which becomes a flaw that really shows in some stronger scenes that really tug at the heart strings. I seriously didn't expect the audio to get quite as serious as it does with some of it's more adult moments and thankfully they are done well enough to where it's all the stronger for it. Once again, it's the smaller details that make this one worthwhile especially as things get darker with each of the inhabitants slowly turning against the pair of travelers. It becomes truly inescapable and heart-breaking by the end as Cole's efforts become more and more bittersweet as doing what it takes to save everyone may mean sacrificing more than it's worth. It's eerily similar to how another popular Who foe ultimately and tragically came into being if you get my meaning and it gets the powerful treatment it deserves. In a set full of amazing stories and highlights, 'Sky Man' feels like a major high mark in almost every way. With great acting, heart-breaking drama, and a malevolent force behind the reins in a surprising way, you really couldn't ask for more in a great Big Finish story. I'll be curious to see if the finale remains as strong as this one as the Master makes a promise in regards to the events in this story that do seem like a lead in for the concluding part. Only time will tell......