In the aftermath of their fateful visit to near-future Manchester, the Doctor and Charley are at odds – the Time Lord doesn’t trust his companion’s story about not remembering her past, and she remains frustratingly tight-lipped. But before they can continue their conversation any further, Charley falls ill, and the Doctor is forced to take her to the TARDIS’ Zero Room to stabilize her. She has contracted some kind of virus, and the Doctor sets the TARDIS on a course for the Amethyst Viral Containment Station, a massive space station devoted to preserving – in complete isolation – samples of every virus known to exist; if the cure for Charley’s illness can be found anywhere, it will be here. But shortly after the time travelers arrive at Amethyst, each of them faces a dilemma. Charley isn’t alone in her own mind, which is now being shared with a chatty being named Mila, who claims that she has been with the Doctor, in noncorporeal form, since his first incarnation. And the Doctor is horrified to discover that two invasion forces are converging on Amethyst: a Dalek strike force seeking ammunition for viral warfare, and a Viyran ship whose crew will stop at nothing to stop the Daleks’ mission. Anyone caught in the crossfire is unlikely to find mercy. And Charley is losing the battle for control of her own mind and body…
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Michael Maloney (Fratalin), Jess Robinson (Mila), Nicholas Briggs (Etheron / Daleks)
Notes: Mila claims to have escaped from the Daleks and fled into the safety of the TARDIS during the events of The Chase, the third Dalek story in Doctor Who’s televised history. She also references events from The Daleks’ Master Plan and Power Of The Daleks.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: The first of a trilogy of stories designed to see off one of Big Finish Productions’ best-loved original-to-audio characters, Patient Zero kicks off by introducing us to a character who out-Charleys Charley.
As obsessive and questionable as it may seem for Charley to be traveling with a previous incarnation of the Doctor, concealing the truth from him the whole time, Mila is even more over-the-edge, having virtually haunted the TARDIS since the first Doctor’s days, and while she clearly loves the TARDIS’ pilot, she has little or no compunction about usurping the corporeal body of his companion. Charley has shown herself to be, perhaps, a little obsessive before in stories like Zagreus and Scherzo; not Glenn-Close-in-Basic Instinct obsessive, but a bit more attached than the average companion. But Mila trumps her on the disturbing scale.
In the meantime, the Doctor is dealing with an interesting three-way conflict between Daleks, Viyrans and an interesting new alien being/species (for once, there’s a thin distinction between the two terms). These Daleks fit in very well with the sixth Doctor’s era: they’re hatching a crazily convoluted scheme involving hijacking the entire Amethyst station through space and time, but they’re also freaking out almost uncharacteristically about the presence of “Patient Zero” – their former test subject, Mila. The fact that the story ends with Mila in possession of Charley’s body is a bit unsettling, but even part four ends on a cliffhanger that takes us directly into the next story. The script is densely packed and the plot is, at times, complicated, but it’s all very interesting and off the usual path, conceptually speaking; in the CD extras, even Colin Baker admits to being intrigued by some of the concepts.
India Fisher has her work cut out for her, portraying Charley and Mila-trying-to-act-like-Charley-but-never-quite-getting-there. Mad props also go to Jess Robinson, who plays Mila before she evicts Charley from her own body, who establishes the character as being dangerously unhinged. A very promising opening stretch for Charley’s extended swan song.