A private expedition from Earth sets out to gain access to the time-looped space parasite Axos, hoping to trap and tame the living space vehicle that once threatened to drain Earth of all life and energy. With Earth now facing a debilitating energy crisis, it is hoped that Axos can be harnessed to transmit energy to Earth from within its time loop. Awakened by the activity in its immediate vicinity, Axos begins making its own plans to regain full strength. “Hijacked” by Thomas Brewster, the TARDIS arrives aboard Axos, and the Doctor is immediately wary of the motivation of the human astronauts trying to revive the being. When not all of the astronauts turn out to be following the same plans, this only serves to intensify the Doctor’s suspicions of them, and Brewster’s ever-changing loyalties make matters even worse. Reawakened, Axos reverses the apparatus designed to bleed its energy off and send it to Earth, instead draning energy from Earth to feed itself. With the unwitting help of the explorers from Earth, and the very willing help of Brewster, will Axos succeed in sucking Earth dry this time?
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Dr. Evelyn Smythe), John Pickard (Thomas Brewster), Bernard Holley (Axos), John Banks (Campbell Irons/Svenni Nilson), Andree Bernard (Joanna Slade), Chook Sibtain (David Brock), Peter Forbes (Craig Swanson), Duncan Wisbey (Philippe Lefevre)
Notes: Irons “bought out the old British Rocket Group” 30 years prior to this adventure, which appears to take place in the 2020s at the earliest. Axos was previously encountered in the 1971 TV story The Claws Of Axos, during the Jon Pertwee era and featuring Roger Delgado as the Master. (That story’s original working title, Vampire In Space, was changed shortly before broadcast, and is worked into dialogue here.) Actor Bernard Holley also provided the voice of Axos in that story, as he does here.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Axos is one of those famous dangling story threads in the Doctor Who universe that no one has ever quite worked out how to pull, at least until now. The Feast Of Axos is a plausible revisitation of the biotech-spacecraft-as-parasite concept, making good use of the organic capabilities of Axos as established in its one television appearance. As often happens with Big Finish’s revival of obscure second and third tier threats from the TV series, the themes built into the original story are very much present in the new iteration. The Claws Of Axos was all about an alien menace that not only physically preyed on humanity’s resources, but also preyed on human hubris and greed.
The “future echoes” from possible various futures are pointed up very early on, and prove to be precisely the kind of escape hatch that one might expect timey-wimey phenomena to be. For the first two episodes, the echoes are a handy red herring, and in the second two episodes, they save everyone’s skin just as handily. Feast takes a strangely paced detour with the third-episode cliffhanger involving a spacewalking Evelyn drifting away from the Doctor and the astronauts, so dazzled by the beauty of the Earth from space that she seems oblivious to the danger she’s in. Evelyn is much better served by the scenes in which she tries to play peacemaker between the Doctor and Brewster; the “drifting away into space” sequence merely makes her seem old and doddery in a way that works against the rest of the character’s history.
Feast falls victim to some of the same structural problems that have dogged other audio revisitations of less-than-obvious returning enemies: the threats in question were so perfectly designed to help the original writers tell one story and make a very specific point, it’s hard to take an enemy like Axos and try to detach it from its first appearance and build a new story around it that doesn’t mirror the original story very closely. It’s still a fun listen, but by the end feels a bit like “more of the same.”