Although it started off quite weakly Stranded 3 at least ends on a higher note as its last two episodes, while not without flaws, are much more entertaining. The final episode uses a non-traditional story method which may not be to everyone taste though, so it more than any other story in the box your opinion of it may vary greatly from mine. Want to know more? Well, why not read more to find out!
Synopsis (of Episode 3 “Snow”):
Returning to London in the 2030s, the TARDIS travellers find a sinister elite taking hold.
Baker Street now has just one lonely resident – and what’s more, it is the last place on Earth where snow ever falls.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Episode 4 “What Just Happened?” is the standout of the box. The story is told backwards, starting with the end credits and then the final scene and going from there until it ends with the opening theme. It’s a very odd idea that could easily have gone wrong but given it was a John Dorney script I’m happy to report it was a good listen. Essentially it was The Doctor, Liv, Helen and Andy popping off to the future to finally find the false “Doctor” who leads Divine Intervention and find out how humanity got wiped out. They find a rebel movement and use them to reach the fake Doctor, where the real Doctor and co. finally find out that it was little Robin from Baker Street all along. To their horror he willingly presses a “kill switch” that wipes out humanity and creates the desolate wasteland he himself was so horrified by when he hitched a ride with The Doctor previously. Outraged The Doctor then drops him off in the same wasteland and leaves him in the hell he’d created. Put like that it sounds like a pretty standard Doctor Who fair (apart from a person who still sounds like a child being thousands of years old wiping out humanity anyway) but again the unique delivery method really worked in making it a fun listen. Wasn’t a big story to lead into the final box though, but hey-ho. It was good in a different way.
Episode 3 “Snow” is very heavy on the sentimentality. Everyone arrives in London in 2035 and find out that Ron Winters is the only member of their original household left in Baker Street and that his love, Tony, had died five years prior leaving him frequently depressed. To make things odder snow had stopped falling anywhere on Earth apart from his garden, a mystery that takes The Doctor’s attention away from the whole Divine Intervention / humanity’s future extinction paradox. Meanwhile Liv meets up with Tania, who had been left behind after the two had a squabble, and she ends up dead due to some right-wing thugs, much to Liv’s deep sadness. Unfortunately for the story I didn’t buy it for one second, but there you go. The Doctor reveals the “Snow” is actually an alien substance that Ron picked up back in his UNIT days that is attracted to grief and sorrow and so it soon flies away from Ron and follows Liv. Very on-the-nose poetic licensing going on here! The Doctor informs Liv that due to the paradoxical nature of Earth’s current timeline the future isn’t set in stone and therefore they can still save Tania, who they then meet back up with in 2020. It had some sweet moments and showed a far more human side to Liv than we’re used to, but it wasn’t all good as you’ll see down below!
Nothing new to add to my comments on this cover from the first half. It’s just… not very good.
As mentioned “Snow” had some issues, mainly with the Liv story branch. She and Andy go to a café and once again Stranded 3 decides to drop all subtly and gives us a right-wing racist gang that not only sound like the most evil people in the world but apparently hang around wearing a logo with a red skull on it. Come on guys, treat your audience with a bit more respect, no need to write the message that clearly! To make matters worse Andy didn’t notice anything in the café, nor did he notice he was being followed and then seemed reluctant to defend himself against an attacker. I mean I know he’s comic relief but he’s also a trained policeman, at least make him notice the tail or be ready to help Liv fight him off!
Speaking of Andy “What Just Happened?” seems to imply he dies when a ship he’s on crashes into a space station but once again I don’t buy it for a second. There’s no way they’d kill off a Torchwood TV character on a Doctor Who audio boxset. Still, it will be fun to see how he survived, I guess?
Not a lot to talk about here, beyond strong connections to other Stranded stories, like the whole barren Earth thing from “Dead Time” or the Robin being in charge of Divine Intervention reveal from “The Long Way Round”. Plus Ron potentially bringing the alien snow from his UNIT days is in reference to the story “UNIT Dating” as The Doctor specifically mentions an Ogron Time Loop.
Stranded 3’s final half was an improvement from its first, though “Snow” was still a mixed bag “What Just Happened?” was a fun and unique story. I guess I’ll have to split the scores! While the end of the set didn’t have me as excited to see the final box like some of these three or four box story strands often do, it did at least keep the story going in the right direction. Let’s hope Stranded 4 brings it to a satisfying conclusion!
Episode 3 “Snow”:
Episode 4 “What Just Happened?”: