Still wandering through the Divergent Universe without the safety of the TARDIS, the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz suspiciously follow the Kro’ka to a place called the Multihaven. A melting pot of multiple religious beliefs, the Multihaven tolerates all of them equally, and dozens of churches have been established there. And any safe haven would be a blessing for C’rizz, plagued by memories of fulfilling his mate’s request for a mercy killing in the Kromon biosphere; the memories have taken on a new intensity of late, at times rendering him almost helpless. The Doctor and Charley leave C’rizz in the care of a peaceful sect of monks while they set out to explore the Multihaven, but while they’re gone, C’rizz’s caretakers themselves wind up on the wrong end of a hostile merger with another religion. The 23rd Church of Lucidianism is gaining new recruits at a rapid rate, even converting long-standing members of other established religions in the Multihaven. The Lucidians’ leader, Lan Carder, has more than just charisma on his side – and the Doctor suspects that the object of the Lucidians’ worship may be an alien force with a sinister agenda.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Stephen Perring (The Kro’Ka), Christian Rodska (Laan Carder), Tessa Shaw (The Bordinan), Jenny Coverack (Miraculite), Ifan Huw Dafydd (Bishop Parrash), Helen Kirkpatrick (Jebdal), Neil Bett (Director Garfolt), Chris Walter-Evans (The Bordinan’s Assistant), John Dorney (Bakoan), Jane Hills (L’Da)
Timeline: between The Twilight Kingdom and The Last
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: It’s fairly clever, this one, but something about it hits me the wrong way. I don’t mind the occasional Doctor Who story with a social agenda – it’s a proud tradition dating back to the early 60s, in fact. But – and admittedly maybe I just misinterpreted the whole thing – Faith Stealer seems to be a bit of an exercise in ejecting the baby with the bathwater. Religion, faith, belief without tangible proof, all of these things are all bad, it would seem, according to the story’s writer. There are few places in the story where any of these ways of thinking get a sympathetic shake, much less a fair one. But perhaps I’m missing the point somehow. Sure, the Doctor in all of his lives has always railed against baseless superstition, con artists who are using the cover of showing people a better way of life, and so on. So the Doctor-as-debunker element of the story tracks just fine, and Paul McGann plays it admirably.
I have a slightly harder time swallowing Charley as a mouthpiece for the writer’s anti-religious bent. Granted, she’s a self-confessed Edwardian adventurer, so she’s bucking the status quo already. But her professed views on the subject matter at hand are almost too modern for someone who’s a product of the 1930s. I could imagine Ace espousing those views. Or Bernice. But Charley? That would seem to be stretching it a bit. And sadly, C’rizz doesn’t seem to fare much better here. I like C’rizz on a conceptual level, but there’s a fundamental problem with the character in that we rarely get to experience his true personality. He’s having his mind influenced in this story, as was also the case with The Twilight Kingdom, to say nothing of The Natural History Of Fear, in which he wasn’t himself at all. I want to hear a story where C’rizz gets to be himself for the whole four episodes. I’m sure Conrad Westmaas is up to it.
The guest cast is outstanding here, with Christian Rodska shining as the sinister Laan Carder, but it must be said that Tessa Shaw steals the show as the Bordinan, the chief administrator of the Multihaven. She lends a world-weary weight to every scene she’s in, and her exit from the story comes far too soon for me. The voice of Miraculite itself is brought to menacing, sibilant life by Jenny Coverack, and on that front I’m almost hoping for a rematch.
It’s a spectacularly well-produced and well-acted story, but I just have a problem with the handling of the subject matter. This could’ve been an excellent story for pointing up the differences between personal faith and organized, man-made (and perhaps, therefore, deeply flawed) relligion, but the writer apparently had different views. I don’t fault him for those views necessarily, but he could’ve been more subtle about putting the characters on a soapbox to deliver them.