story featuring one of the Doctor’s brightest and perkiest travelling
companions, Second Chances is a bleak tale, exploring the consequences
of the Time Lords’ decision to alter Zoe Herriot’s memories of her time
with the second Doctor, following his trial at the end of The War Games. Writer John Dorney revisits the impact such a cruel
and unusual punishment has upon a character whose defining
characteristics were her prodigious computational ability and eidetic
but is unable to fill it, having to rely instead on the questionable
services of “The Company” to help her. Big Finish audios unfold within a
larger arena and there are references to other events involving Zoe and
The Company. Foreknowledge is not necessary however, and the audio can
be enjoyed as a standalone.
Company employee Kim, an expert in memory retrieval, Zoe attempts to
revisit the events of an encounter in the Saturn system involving the
Doctor, Jamie and her younger self, arriving on space station Artemis.
Wendy Padbury provides a good characterisation of the Second Doctor, and
it’s affecting to hear the contrasting portrayals of the bubbly,
enthusiastic younger Zoe as her latter day counterpart narrates her
recollection of events. There’s good support provided by Emily Pithon
as Kim, whose motivations are gradually revealed to be rather more
complex than first appear.
There’s a dark secret
contained at the heart of Apollo Station, Artemis’s twin, which is
unwittingly released to deadly effect: a computer virus with the ability
to spread between computer and human alike. The spread of the
contagion to Artemis is chillingly realised in audio format, with the
growing sense of panic and dread very effectively conveyed. Events are
narrated by the older Zoe in the present tense, lending an authentic
urgency to the doomed attempts to save the station from sharing the same
fate as that met by Apollo.
shift in perspective midway through the story, when it’s revealed that
Apollo Station has only just been destroyed and that the events of Zoe’s
past are in fact playing out during her older persona’s present. Zoe
and Kim set off to prevent the destruction of Artemis Station.
arrive, in the guise of Company agents, in time to see the Doctor,
Jamie and younger Zoe become involved in events. In her increasingly
desperate attempts to alter the course of those events Zoe gradually
comes to realise that Kim is a lot more involved than she first
realised. The central theme of the story, the battle between redemptive
free will against pre-determination, comes to the fore and Zoe’s
options are locked down one by one as we race towards Artemis’s