(Photo credit: Doctor Who/Big Finish.
Image obtained from: Big Finish Productions)
In Deimos, the Eighth Doctor thought he was only facing the Ice Warriors. But in The Resurrection of Mars, the stakes get much higher, as he not only faces the Monk, but a very old friend, in perhaps one of the greatest Ice Warrior stories ever.
The Resurrection of Mars continues directly where Deimos left off. However, at the same time, it’s also much darker and feels more personal than the first half. Deimos was a fantastic “base under siege” story, don’t get me wrong. But it’s with The Resurrection of Mars that it truly stands out as a Doctor Who story, in several ways.
First, there’s the return of Lucie Miller. Oh, she’s shown up in this season before, notably in The Book of Kells as “Lucianus”. (Although due to voice distortion, we only found out about that at the very end of the story.)
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But this definitely feels bigger. Especially as it’s the first time that she and the Doctor have been together since the ending of Death in Blackpool.
Since this is only five stories later, that may not seem like a long time. But at the same time, the release of The Resurrection of Mars was almost a year after the previous Christmas special. (And a month before the next one, Relative Dimensions, which I’ll be reviewing soon).
Bringing back Lucie after such a hugely dramatic exit was a risk, but it does pay off. It also feels more satisfying than the return of Rose in Series Four. (Of course, since this is a re-listen, knowing how Lucie’s story really ends might just affect my personal judgment of that.)
How Lucie’s return changes everything
No one originally expected Lucie back in this story, either, at least not before they listened to Deimos. While both she and the Monk are right there on the front cover, Big Finish actually used a substitute front cover on their website.
The original cover showed only Ice Lord Slaadek and his warriors. For those who hadn’t been listening to the season, this surprise had been kept under wraps for a good long while. Particularly as Big Finish still used the substitute cover on their website for the story, even after it had been released!
From the start of Resurrection, Lucie’s almost literally thrown right into the middle of things. She arrives at the base on Deimos, just seconds before the Doctor plans on destroying it. We kind of get a reprise from the end of Deimos, but from Lucie’s perspective, this time.
With Lucie’s arrival, everything changes. Not simply in an emotional way, either. In story terms, things get a whole lot worse. The moment he finds out, it stops the Doctor from destroying the base. And that has a domino effect, beginning with everyone resenting him for not taking a single life to save thousands more. And no one resents him more for it than Tamzin.The last time the Eighth Doctor met Lucie was when they said goodbye in Death in Blackpool. Now, they’re finally together again, but has she forgiven him? (Photo credit: Doctor Who/Big Finish.
Image obtained from: bigfinish.com.)
An exploration of morality
What makes The Resurrection of Mars so amazing is that, through a ton of really brilliant and character driven drama, we explore so many points of view when it comes to morality. Not just the Doctor, but also Tamzin, the Monk and even Lucie. It’s a really difficult situation that they’ve all been put in. Hearing everyone’s conflicting views on it makes it truly compelling.
Tamzin’s relationship with the Doctor is shaken at the start of the story. It’s even worse by the end. It’s interesting that she hasn’t known the Doctor for very long, as her faith in him is much weaker than Lucie’s.
It also puts her in a vulnerable position psychologically. A position that the Monk is all too keen to take advantage of.
Speaking of which, the Monk’s appearance in this story is very satisfying. This is probably the most effective he’s been yet as an antagonist. To him, being responsible for the deaths of thousands is an easy choice when it means saving millions.
You get the strong sense that he really believes he’s making the universe better. He doesn’t want to rule it, just make the hard choices that no one else will.
There’s a wonderful moment when the Doctor and the Monk argue over their completely differing viewpoints. The Doctor thinks the Monk is irresponsible and has no idea of the consequences of his actions.
The Monk, meanwhile, thinks its hypocritical of the Doctor to put so many lives at risk just to save his friend. It’s a great debate, and one of the few times where you almost have to wonder if the villain has a point.
The Doctor’s morality
However, it’s how the Doctor is explored that makes this story one of the very best. The Doctor usually has a very strong sense of morality, especially in his Eighth self.
However, his conviction in that is really put to the test here. Especially when some of his choices do lead, even indirectly, to the deaths of many innocent lives.
One of the best scenes has the Doctor explaining to Lucie exactly who he used to be. This is the first time that Eight has talked in depth about Seven, at least on audio. It’s quite a significant moment.
It’s also a great speech, and still one of the best descriptions of regeneration ever written. (Certainly, it’s far better and more satisfying than Ten’s “everything I am dies” speech in The End of Time.)
The Seventh Doctor was so different to his successor: a man with a masterplan who “started doing the maths”, when it came to saving lives. Who to save and who to sacrifice.
Eight being ashamed of the choices he made as Seven cast a new light on almost every major decision he’s made since then. Saving Charley, even when he put the whole of history at risk. Sacrificing himself to ensure history’s survival. Even trying to save the Master, in his very first adventure.
These points aren’t addressed, but the Doctor’s speech on the “value of a single life” make you think about them and other choices he’s made, at least. More than that: it also foreshadows the choices he’ll eventually make as War. Particularly when it comes to ending the Time War.
A brilliant story
It should also be pointed out that his reunion with Lucie is handled perfectly. It’s hugely emotional, and both are glad to see each other, even while Lucie admits that the events of Death in Blackpool are still too raw for her. It’s a pretty fantastic moment, and very satisfying to hear.
The Resurrection of Mars is an absolutely brilliant release, and perhaps one of the greatest Eighth Doctor stories. It packs in a lot in its running time, but it does a great job of fleshing them out beautifully. It changes the relationships and dynamics of virtually all the major characters in the story.
It’s also very effective at focusing on the Doctor and exploring why he is the way he is, at least in this incarnation. Highly recommended listening (along with Deimos, of course) for any Doctor Who fan!
Have you listened to The Resurrection of Mars? Is it one of your favorite Ice Warrior stories? If not, what’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.