On the planet Bortresoye, a global nuclear war has laid waste to the surface and the planet’s entire population is wiped out. The Doctor, Charley and C’rizz arrive here, driven thorugh the interzone by the Kro’Ka, who delays the Time Lord briefly to haunt him with memories of fallen companions. They seek shelter in a bombed-out building, but it collapses underneath and on top of them, leaving Charley paralyzed from the neck down and the Doctor buried under the rubble. C’rizz goes to get help, but can find only a strangely circumspect being who calls himself Requiem. The Doctor and Charley are found by a survey team and brought to a well-protected underground bunker where the planet’s only survivors are barely managing to stay alive – and earthquake damage to their bunker is slowly whittling down even that population. The ruler of one of Bortresoye’s warring nations, the Lady Excelsior, terrifies her two surviving cabinet ministers with her ability to remain blissfully deluded about the outcome of the war, and her insistence on consorting with a mysterious man named Landscar.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Stephen Perring (The Kro’Ka), Carolyn Jones (Excelsior), Ian Brooker (Minister Voss), Robert Hines (Minister Tralfinial), Richard Derrington (Landscar), Tom Eastwood (Requiem), Jane Hills (Nurse), John Dorney (Make-Up Assistant)
Notes: Kro’Ka tortures the Doctor with visions of two of his fallen comrades. Katarina, a slave girl who joined the first Doctor in the 1965 TV story The Myth Makers, died trying to save the Doctor and Steven in her second story, The Daleks’ Masterplan. Adric was the young mathematical genius who stowed away on the TARDIS when the fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 visited his home planet of Alzarius in Full Circle, and, after seeing the Doctor through his regeneration, died in an attempt to avert a Cybermen strike on Earth in Earthshock. They are two of the only three companions to have died in the original television series (the third, Sara Kingdom, joined and left the series within the 12 episodes of The Daleks’ Masterplan). Roz Forrester, a companion from the New Adventures novels, also met an untimely end in the book “So Vile A Sin”, but was not mentioned here.
Timeline: between Faith Stealer and Caerdroia
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An interesting and fatalistic story, The Last finally addresses a complaint of mine by allowing Conrad Westmaas to take center stage as C’rizz, minus mind control or any other story devices that would have him acting out of character. In only five stories since his introduction, C’rizz has intermittently fallen under some kind of control or possession in three, so this is really the first opportunity since Creed Of The Kromon that he’s had to be himself through the whole story, and it’s a treat. Despite his peaceful nature, we do get to see what makes his blood boil, and his approach to problem solving. I really liked what I heard – hopefully this character will continue beyond the Divergent Universe cycle of stories.
The entire cast was really quite good – The Last is an intense, close-quarters story with some very interesting dialogue – in other words, plenty of opportunities for the actors to strut their stuff. Carolyn Jones’ deluded Excelsior is especially effective, and I have to admit that I liked that character’s role in the proceedings. Hmmmm, a leader surrounded by yes-men who allows herself to buy into the lie that the war hasn’t led to a total disaster? A leader who disposes of cabinet ministers the moment they no longer support that fantasy? What could we be commenting on here? Or perhaps that’s me reading too much into it. Another interesting subtext note concerns a conversation between Charley and Excelsior, in which the Doctor’s companion is quietly delivering a both-barrels criticism of the planet’s delusional ruler and her politics. When Excelsior doesn’t understand Charley’s criticism of her “playing God,” Charley admits that there’s no place for God in the hellhole that Bortresoye has become – which seems like it clashes with Charley’s apparent agnosticism in Faith Stealer, the story immediately preceeding this one.
A nice outing for the current – well, at least until Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper get on the air – TARDIS team.