Big Finish Folly, Part 118 – The Brood of Erys, by Andrew Smith
Yikes! We’re running behind schedule! I blame Christmas, of course. So here’s the overdue latest chapter in the Folly…
When the Tardis is invaded by the initially cute and childlike Drachee, out in the depths of the star system Asphya, it ought to be a simple mission to rescue Flip from their clutches. But before the Doctor can do that, he has to solve the mystery of the newly-arrived Sarra Vanser, who barely knows her own name. Only then can he face the terror of the great living moon Erys…
Midway through this, Flip’s second set of three tales with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor, two things are becoming very apparent – first, that Flip has absolutely no fear of danger. She throws herself into every situation as though she can conquer it through sheer force of will. Thus far, she’s been awfully lucky, to say the least. Microlites, sentient viruses, Napoleonic France… for once a companion is out-brashing Ol’ Sixey himself, and he really isn’t sure how to deal with it. Secondly, from the amount of references and foreshadowing being thrown about in this trilogy, we’ll soon be seeing the return of the Sixth Doctor’s original TV companion, Peri – a post-Mindwarp Peri, no less. This is one thing that Flip definitely isn’t too happy about.
The plot, meanwhile, revolves around the sentient – and extremely fleshy, if the sound effects are to be believed – moon Erys, orbiting the planet Asphya and tormenting the inhabitants of that world. Erys feels threatened by anything and anybody that arrives insystem, sending out the Drachee to capture them and drag them down to the moon’s surface. But the Drachee aren’t quite as subservient as Erys would like to believe, and the newly-arrived Sarra Vanser is here on a mission, even if she doesn’t yet know it herself.
It’s a proper, high-falutin’ Doctor Who concept, this one – a moon with fleshy innards, imp-like villains who aren’t really all that villainous, an alien trying to protect itself from humanity. Everybody is a bit misunderstood; everybody has as much potential to be wrong as much as they are right. The Doctor and Flip are here to highlight those grey areas (as well as being shot off into space and slingshotted back to the moon’s surface, eh Flip?). While the Drachee are excellent fun, tugging at the leash Erys has them on, Erys itself is the big draw here. Brian Shelley gives the moon a suitably epic and echoing voice, instantly becoming one of the Sixth Doctor’s greatest adversaries in the process.
As with many middle-story-in-a-trilogy stories, this is Doctor Who in a sort of holding pattern, setting things up for the final part. On the plus side, it’s self-contained, and actually relies on very little continuity at all, making it one of those perfect tales to just dip into out of chronology. There’s plenty of very loud squishing around as the Doctor and Flip are chased through Erys’s organs, and lots of Gollum-esque fun with the Drachee. Good fun all the way.