The second half of Stranded 2 is a mixed bag, but not in there being a difference between the two episodes but instead both episodes being a mix of things I loved and things I … didn’t like as much. Still, was there more good than bad? Let’s find out!
Synopsis (of Episode 3 “Baker Street Irregulars”):
The Doctor takes Zakia and Aisha to see some family history: their grandmother had her own secret life in Baker Street, during World War II. As Tania and Liv try to defuse an unexploded bomb, the sisters face explosive revelations of their own.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Episode 3, “Baker Street Irregulars”, is a fun little story focusing on the Doctor’s neighbours Zakia and Aisha (Avita Jay and Amina Zia) and who our favourite Time Lord takes back to World War II to see their grandmother Nisha (Anjli Mohindra) in action. Apparently she was a secret agent of sorts and was actually sent behind enemy lines to plant explosives on a power plant but thanks to The Doctor’s meddling out of curiosity the plan goes wrong and she gets captured. While she gets interrogated The Doctor and Zakia head over to save her, keeping history on track by finishing her mission in the process. They accomplish this and see Nisha get together with their future grandad for good measure. Meanwhile Tania and Liv, who also took the trip to WWII, deal with a stasis capsule that landed like a bomb and make sure it doesn’t do any damage while working out some trust issues in their relationship. I do love their scenes together, it comes across as very real.
Episode 4 “The Long Way Round” was well written, but also disappointing to me. It’s set in 2050 and Britain has turned into a dystopian nightmare, soon each of The Doctor, Liv, Helen, Tania and Andy get interrogated by a lady named Gemma Houlbrooke (Annabelle Dowler)… and that’s it. There are some very nice scenes of The Curator being all mysterious as per usual while talking to a little girl who ends up being a young Gemma Houlbrooke (Venice Van Someren), and I enjoyed the twist that they weren’t being interrogated by a fascist police of the future but instead a resistance group who think The Doctor is leading the evil government and are hoping killing this Doctor will stop the future from happening. The Doctor convinces her that’s not the case by cleverly writing a letter than Gemma had with her confirming his guilt, revealing that her only evidence was now clearly false. So as per usual, very clever stuff from John Dorney and lots of great dialogue, but it wasn’t all good…
Two things I didn’t like about “Baker Street Irregulars” was Nisha’s interrogation was entirely a look at a Nazi who didn’t want to do bad things but felt pressured to have to, which just felt out of place among all the other stuff going on around it, like they had to not only show people from India having an important role in WWII but also had to show that not all Nazis were bad while also showing strong and independent women from modern times. All good lessons and ideas, but all at once was a bit much, especially when you factor in the ending, where things go full-on soap opera as Aisha admits she is actually Zakia’s mother and she and her mother lied about it to save face. It came out of nowhere and then was dropped because the episode was at its end and they didn’t appear in Episode 4.
Speaking of Episode 4, like I said in the good, while there was plenty to enjoy about halfway through I thought “Oh God, this whole hour is nothing but interrogation tapes, isn’t it?” which was made worse by the fact that I’d figured out the little girl the Curator was talking to was the one interviewing them in the future pretty fast, so there wasn’t any shocking information for the majority of the runtime. It ends with the leader of the evil regime being Robin from the Baker Street House who got upgraded in Episode 1, but again as I mentioned in that review, I knew something like this was coming given what the AI said, so when it was revealed it was more like “Oh, they’ve revealed that already, have they?” I’m looking forward to see where they go with this, and I can’t give it too harsh a score because it was so well written, especially the Curator scenes, but man there was a lot of talking where the main conversation was “I think The Doctor is evil, he is isn’t he?” followed by the other person saying “No.” and us the listeners going “Clearly not…” The title of “The Long Way Round” is more apt than just how Robin got to 2050 as this really was the long way round to revealing a plot-twist…
Well at least this cover having the Curator on it makes sense, but now The Brig doesn’t appear! *shakes fist* stupid single cover for four stories!
“Baker Street Irregulars” features alien tech being mistaken for a fallen bomb in World War II, a plot device used in the Ninth Doctor TV classic “The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances”. There is also call backs to the death of Zakia and Aisha’s relative from the previous box set…
Beyond a few mentions of how Liv and Helen are familiar with regeneration as a concept and a call back or two to the previous half of the boxset, there isn’t much to say about “The Long Way Round”, continuity-wise.
This half of Stranded 2 was a mixed bag. Plenty of fun ideas and well written dialogue, but also lots of unnecessary soapy drama and far too much talking on the same subject where we the listeners already know the answer to (and even more if you figure out the plot twists as fast as I did). Still more good than bad, but I can’t see myself listening to either story again…