Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 4/15/19 1:59 pm
5 out of 6 found this review helpful.
The second story of "Ravenous" 3 is a unique little endeavor that initially throws you right into the deep end. In a surprise move, we don't immediately follow up from 'Deeptime' left off but rather where a previous incarnation of the Eleven, specifically the Nine, was left at the end of the story "Crucible of Souls" from the third 'Doom Coalition' set. With the Clocksmith's TARDIS in hand, he has captured River Song whom he knows is a companion of the Doctor. And now he's gotta catch 'em all in his own special prison which is where everybody else comes in.....
"Companion Piece" is a love letter to all of the Doctor's companions throughout the Whoniverse and not just the Eighth Doctor's though they are the obvious focus. Without the Doctor present to save them this time, it forces them to not only work together but work off of each in fantastic ways that bring out the absolute best of each one. While it's certainly a character piece in every sense of the word, it also has an engaging escape narrative at its core. The premise and soundscape are tense, gripping, and a hell of a lot of fun and there are so many great moments that come out of them that you can't help but smile from ear to ear. Not to mention there are tons of surprises thrown at you right from the beginning especially in the dialogue. If you are a long time fan, some lines are likely to make your jaw drop all the way to the floor and remain there for the entirety story's runtime, some of which you couldn't pay me to spoil.
It's all backed up by one of the best overall casts that we've had in any Who story without the Doctor. River Song is the main force behind what's going on and Alex Kingston gives another great performance in a way that's surprisingly understated given her sometimes overblown role and ego. She's pivotal to the story but not in a way that suffocates what everyone else brings to the table which is an incredible achievement given how much she takes the spotlight sometimes. Nicola Walker and Hattie Morahan are again great as the primary Eight companions in this particular timeframe and we do get some answers behind what happened to them in the previous adventure. It's also great to hear John Heffernan again as the kleptomaniac incarnation of the Eleven with a penchant of torture. He really gets to shine and establish himself as a true villainous force of nature here and he's a great and nasty foil for our heroes to work off of. However, the biggest and perhaps the most anticipated characters in the story are the return of Rakhee Thakrar as Bliss from the 'Time War' series and India Fisher as Charley Pollard aka Eight's first and longest running companion. Thakrar turns out to be the surprise spoke in the wheel especially in regards to her character at this point in continuity and her performance is easily the best I've heard out of her character thus far in any story with her idealistic and positive determination driving her in a completely new and unfamiliar situation. But India Fisher as Charley Pollard is the real MVP mainly because we haven't heard from her character in years and it's so good to hear her voice again. She's still the same character as ever and her unique paradoxical nature turns to be the saving grace that brings everything together in the end.
What's nice though about this story is that each cast member actually gets something important to do and one doesn't feel more important than the other. The script balances them out perfectly in how they interact and how they play into the overall plot and the climax is so much stronger for it as a result. While it does rely a little bit on knowledge of prior continuity to really click, it's not entirely necessary and you can get the gist of things and who these companions are and what they represent just fine without it. I would even argue that this story encourages you to go back and check out more from these characters in other stories if you like them and want to learn more which is another major point in its favor.
I really can't sing this story's praises enough; "Companion Piece" is a must-listen for any Whovian particularly those who have followed all the way through the Eighth Doctor's run up to this point. It's a true tribute to the power that these characters have not just through the Doctor's influence but through their own strength and determination and it's also one of the best stories I've ever heard with these characters in their own right.