It’s time to rejoin the UNIT gang with Kate Stewart and Petronella Osgood in their third Big Finish box set outing, UNIT: Silenced. They’ve battled the Autons and Tengobushi, but how will they manage to defeat an enemy they don’t know they’re fighting? Today, I’ll be reviewing the second story in the box set, Square One.
It’s business as usual at UNIT, and thankfully, Kate Stewart has no immediate threats to concern her. Or so she believes.
But when Sam Bishop returns from leave, he notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Soon he and Osgood are on the trail of an elusive enemy.
Meanwhile, Kenneth LeBlanc and his controversial political movement gather momentum, and one UNIT team member isn’t quite themselves…
We start Square One with a debate about politics. A character who’s not unlike Donald Trump in the slightest being endorsed by the Silence. I suppose that recent events make more sense now. I thought that Big Finish was a good escape from reality, that I could forget about the petty troubles of modern life, but it seems that John Dorney wants me to be flung into reality with a dash of science fiction in Square One. This could be interesting…
One thing that I really have to admit I enjoy is the fact that, in this very instance, there’s the UNIT team trying to find something to do, as well as occasionally having hints of memory that they’re against the Silence. The whole idea that you’re fighting in a war that you can’t remember is a brilliant one, and it gives the opportunity for the writers to pen some absolute comedy gold.
With the reintroduction of Sam, Osgood’s kind of love interest, we get a fresh pair of eyes on the situation; a pair of eyes that haven’t gazed upon the Silence. A pair of eyes that really senses that something is wrong with the UNIT team. I’ve never really taken to Sam as a character, but I have to admit that in Square One he really starts to grow on me.
I have to admit that there are more twists, turns and revelations in this story than I’m used to; normally, I’m one for sensing a curveball before it hits me in the face, but John Dorney really knew how to trick me. Josh Carter might well be under the influence of a certain alien race…
Having UNIT need to rely on external forces is another brilliant move, as it shows that UNIT is really out of it’s depth. If you’re like me, having a set of heroes way out of their comfort zone is when they’re at their best, and their worst. Which ultimately makes the best story. I don’t think I’ve ever said this about any of the UNIT box sets before, but I’m only half way through the second story, and I’m on the edge of my seat.
We meet a character called Derek, who’s a Let’s Player online, and having Osgood and Sam encounter him is utterly brilliant. It’s nice to have a YouTuber represented in these stories, especially as it’s a community I know a lot of my readers are part of, and a community that I’m interested in. It helps ground the stories in modern day too, although I’m sure it’ll age it in a few years.
The idea that the Silence is behind the worlds greatest and most persuasive advertising campaign to get one of their puppets into power is absolutely brilliant. Especially as this story is set in the present day, where advertising and marketing is literally everywhere. The message behind the Silence’s promotional campaign harks back to the events of Day of The Moon, which I love as it ties it into the canon of the show nicely.
During the final scene of Square One, it seems as if Kenneth LeBlanc is suddenly being elevated into a position of power; which could be absolutely disastrous. You just have to hope that Josh being so close to LeBlanc isn’t what you think it is.
Overall, Square One builds on the events in House of Silents and raises the stakes even higher; having Sam back as a fresh pair of eyes was a great move to propel the story forward, and I think it’s safe to say that Square One is very much a character driven piece. Not ever move in a game of Chess can be a checkmate, sometimes you need time to move the pieces to where they need to be; and I have to admit, it was done in an utterly compelling and brilliant way.
Should you want to purchase UNIT: Silenced, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time for either the CD or digital download.