UNIT are back this month with four singular stories with some of the most well known enemies of the Doctor, as well as some new foes. Today, I’ll be reviewing the first story in UNIT: Encounters, The Dalek Transaction by Matt Fitton.
When a rogue guerrilla faction offer an alien artefact for auction, Kate Stewart and her team go undercover to the jungles of Central America. But they find that the prize on offer is far deadlier than its owners realise. Captive, desperate and alone. That’s when a Dalek is at its most dangerous.
Ah, UNIT. These series have been rather hit or miss with me, and the opening of The Dalek Transaction was somewhat off-putting, with the extremely strong accents of South America being difficult to understand in places; I actually had to listen to it twice before I managed to adjust and understand what was going on.
It’s not too long though, before we’re back with Kate and Osgood, who seem to be wanting to infiltrate some dodgy collective who are in the business of trading alien artefacts. Seems more like a job for pre-Battle of Canary Wharf Torchwood if you ask me, but times change. There’s also a nice little nod to what it is that Martha Jones might be up to nowadays, maybe alluding to a future box set with Freema Agyman’s involvement?
The idea of UNIT going undercover is a really fun one, with the gang all having new identities and backstories to learn about. I love how Osgood gets so stuck in with the idea of being someone else, even if she’s not too keen on her new name.
It’s around the twenty minute mark before the UNIT team get to meet the alien that they’ve come to visit. An extremely damaged Dalek. An extremely damaged Dalek who, even though they have no weapons, still thinks they’re the most dangerous creature on Earth. The Dalek even rants a bit like a certain current American President…
The most interesting aspect of this story, for me at least, is just how compassionate Osgood is towards the tortured Dalek. The empathy that Osgood feels for it mirrors the empathy that Rose felt in the phenomenal story Dalek, where, even though Osgood knows that the Daleks are an unstoppable force hellbent on unwanted destruction; seeing a single one in pain makes her want to help. Osgood really should have taken the Doctor’s offer to be a companion, she would have been incredible.
Midway through, the story takes another turn, with the Dalek purchased by the UNIT team, they then learn that there might be more Dalek technology in the Central American jungle, and the story feels a bit more like Echoes of War from The Eighth Doctor: Time War box set, which was also penned by Matt Fitton. Matt must really love the ideas of broken Daleks and jungles.
The meat of the action happens when the Dalek, which claims to be a new breed of Dalek Elite class escapes UNIT’s grasp, and this new breed of Dalek mutant seems to be just fine without it’s armour, as it goes about manipulating the jungle, luring people into traps and killing them, somewhat like Predator from the film… Predator.
The conclusion of The Dalek Transaction is rather quick, with there being a nice big explosion and everything just the way it was before… or is it?
Overall, The Dalek Transaction is a fun romp that you’ll probably enjoy if you’re really into the Daleks; there’s something about a lone Dalek that makes them seem much more menacing than when there’s a squadron of them. Like I said earlier, it feels a lot like Dalek, mixed with Echoes of War mixed with Predator, and for some action-lovers, it will be a brilliant start to the box set; for me though, I personally felt like it fell short of what I’ve come to expect from a Matt Fitton script, but that just goes to show how high my standards are for his work.
Should you want to purchase UNIT: Encounters, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD or a £20 download.