Traumatized by Hex’s selfless sacrifice of his own life, Ace is boiling over with rage and grief. She cripples the TARDIS until the Doctor agrees to treat Hex’s death as a tragedy on a human scale, complete with a memorial for the one remaining member of Hex’s family. The Doctor can barely face Hex’s grandmother with the news, and even then he isn’t able to divulge what truly happened to Hex. Ace saves a woman from what seems like a mugging, only to discover that a gang war is overrunning Hex’s home town, and that war is being fought with seemingly supernatural weapons far beyond human technology. She also discovers that the other major rival in this gang war is a man who is, at the very least, Hex’s identical twin: Hector Thomas. At Hex’s memorial, the Doctor is relieved to see Sally Morgan in attendance, and she briefs him on the unnatural warfare threatening to consume the city. As the Doctor steps into the fray, he discovers that he is once again playing games against gods…and the stakes are an old friend’s soul.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Amy Pemberton (Sally Morgan), Jean Boht (Hilda Schofield), Mandi Symonds (Lily Finnegan), Jonathan Forbes (Barry Finnegan), Andrew Dickens (D.I. Derek Mortimer)
Notes: Hex died at the end of Gods And Monsters (2012) saving his friends aboard the TARDIS, though that story’s post-end-credits “coda” made it clear that Hex still existed in some (possibly spiritual) form. Private Sally Morgan was introduced in House Of Blue Fire, returning in Black And White and Gods And Monsters; she also appeared in the Companion Chronicles story Project: Nirvana. Hex’s mother, Cassie, encountered the sixth Doctor twice (Project: Twilight, Project: Lazarus).
Timeline: after Gods And Monsters and before Revenge Of The Swarm
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: About as atypical a Big Finish story as one can get, Afterlife starts out as a pure character story with no small amount of melodrama in the wake of Hex’s apparent death, before showing us that Hex is still alive – sort of – and beginning a gradual segue into a story with plenty of actions and plenty of explosions.
It’s unclear how successful the “reboot” of Hex as “Hector Thomas” will be. My first instinct is to occasionally leave the dead… well, dead. It’s difficult to tell what’s planned for him, and it’s hard not to compare this to the “reboot” of other characters in recent genre fare such as Lost and Fringe. Philip Olivier seizes the chance to play a completely different version of Hex, and that side of things – including Ace’s startled and startling reaction to him – is at least fun to listen to. The story also seems to tie off the tale of Sally Morgan and Lysandra Aristedes (the latter mentioned in dialogue only).
The story happening all around Hex v2.0 is fairly fascinating stuff. If you’re not up for the slightly soap-opera-esque family drama surrounding Hex’s death, the gangland war is a surprisingly interesting story. Afterlife has a little something for everyone, but I reserve judgement until the next seventh Doctor trilogy on whether Hex needed to be exhumed or not.