Bernice Summerfield is still trapped in a dying universe with the wrong Doctor. Things have taken a turn for the worse – the Doctor has become President Of The Universe and, it turns out, he’s a controversial choice for the job. While Bernice works to unearth the mythical Apocalypse Clock, the Doctor’s immersed in the murky world of politics and the dark forces that are working against him… Today I’ll be reviewing the final story in the box set, The True Saviour of The Universe.
Bernice finds that time has run out for the Doctor and the universe. Is this really the end of everything? Help is on hand from an unlikely quarter.
The Doctor is under arrest. The Doctor is facing impeachment. The Doctor may not be the ruler of the universe for much longer. Bernice is left alone, without the Doctor, without Mother Superior and without hope. It’s then that aid comes from an unlikely source. Sam Kisgart’s Master.
There’s a lot of parallels between one scene in the early moments in the story which is extremely reminiscent of one of the Sixth Doctor’s greatest scenes. There’s an epic scene with the Doctor, and then we transition to Bernice and the Master in a tearoom. The Unbound Universe is really a universe that loves juxtaposition.
Considering that Kisgart’s Master is on the cover, you’d be surprised at a piece of action that he encounters too. There’s even a moment where the Master has a moment of realisation. He can’t be Bernice’s sidekick, can he?
We learn a little bit about a mysterious hooded figure that seemed to be looming in the background of the past three stories in the box set, but you learn so little that it actually infuriates you even more. You might get a hint of a bit more slightly further down the line, but if anything, it just raises more questions.
I know some people wonder whether they’d get on with the idea of the Unbound Doctor in these releases; and to any of you that are somewhat on the fence about such a venture, I’ll let you in on a little secret. David Warner’s Doctor could well be the most Doctorlike of any Doctor we’ve had. He’s the best bits of every Doctor, from the First Doctor to the Eighth, from War to Twelve, every single aspect of the Doctor’s many personas is present in this incarnation. If you like any version of the Doctor, you’ll love the Unbound Doctor.
The hooded figure gets an incredibly tense yet simple scene with Bernice, and I think it may be one of Professor Summerfield’s greatest moments. The relationship between Bernice and the Unbound Doctor is really put in the limelight here, and it’s a lovely piece of audio to listen to.
Considering that Bernice has taken somewhat of a backseat in this box set, it’s nice that in the last episode she’s really at the fore. Her relationships between both the Doctor and the Master are extremely interesting to hear. Her dynamic with the Master might be one of the most interesting dynamics in Big Finish history. People are complicated beings, aren’t they?
Of course, the Master will always return to his true form, even though there are moments of potential; potential for good, potential for change, potential for something different. We’ve seen it most recently in Series 10, with Missy wanting more and more just to be the Twelfth Doctor’s friend, but it’s great to hear a different Time Lord duo go through a similar yet totally different version of the same thing.
As epic as the final act of The True Saviour of The Universe is, with loud noises and action and whizzbangs galore, yet again the more interesting parts boil down to the key characters at play. The Master and his plan go wrong yet so right for him. His comeuppance and his punishment are both poetically ironic. The Master asked for an angel in Bernice, to stand by his side, and now he has a different kind of angel. Meanwhile the Doctor and Benny seem to have a temporary ‘Happily Ever After’, as the Doctor is still relinquished of his presidency.
The final scene of this release is genuinely tearjerking. The universe is a truly beautiful place, and people are truly incredible. The Doctor and Bernice Summerfield get a great ending, that, let’s be honest, is probably a set up for the next series of adventures featuring the Doctor and the Professor. I for one, can’t wait.
Overall, The True Saviour of The Universe is a brilliant end to a brilliant box set; it covers a lot of ground, answers a lot of questions and ties up a lot of loose ends, yet it still manages to be fun and engaging throughout. It would have been simple to have a lot of exposition dumps in this story, but James Goss manages to trickle information to you at a steady pace. David Warner and Lisa Bowerman are stellar throughout the boxset, and Sam Kisgart is truly a force to be reckoned with when playing the unhinged and Unbound Master. It really seems as if Big Finish are being brilliant non-stop at the minute.
Should you want to purchase The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield 4: The Ruler of The Universe , it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.