Survivors: 5:3 Angel of Death

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Updated: January 07 2017 18:09


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

Can Abby, Greg and Jenny halt the decimation threatened by the 'angel of death' before it delivers a new dark age?

Survivors - Big Finish - Series 5 - Episode 3 - Angel of Death

 

SUMMARY series five

THE WHITECROSS COMMUNITY is emerging from quarantine, after going into lockdown in the face of the new viral threat (and an outbreak of what appears to be foot-and-mouth disease). Greg is planning a trip north to Westonby, and wants to work on the new electric generator the settlement has been trying to bring to life. Abby and Evelyn continue their own journey, warning settlements of the risks of the new plague, and chasing up leads on the whereabouts of Carol. Abby reaches Westonby and urges them to be cautious and make preparations in case the virus reaches them. She travels to the nearby generator hub to warn engineer Pearl of the danger. Pearl reveals that Westonby's children could have been put at risk of infection, and, after alerting the community, Abby and resident Dylan set off in pursuit of a couple who could spread the disease further. After Greg arrives to assist Pearl, Jenny discover Westonby is filling up with refugees fleeing the infection. They hear rumours of an 'angel of death' who leaves death and destruction in her wake. As the viral infection spins out of control, Jenny and Abby each risk making the ultimate sacrifice for their efforts to help other survive the new plague. When Pearl starts to feel unwell, she urges Greg to help her bring the generator online; a symbol of hope and of civilisation in a country in which both appear to be in mortal threat...

COMMENTARY

BUILDING ON THE momentum of the first two episodes of the series, Simon Clark's intense "Angel of Death" brings together the parallel storylines of Abby and Evelyn and of Greg and Jenny as both pairs try to contain the deadly ministrations of deadly angel. Along the way, Clark delivers some enticing near-misses as Abby comes within a hair's breadth of re-uniting with Greg and Jenny; the return of a vengeful Patrick; and the introduction of some well-drawn and sympathetic new characters, most of whom perish before the story's end.

One of the obvious pleasures for long-term fans of Survivors is that the drama begins at Whitecross, the base of operations in the second of the TV series. The script makes reference to a number of Whitecross residents, including Hubert Goss, Charles Vaughan and doctor Ruth (although there is only a realistic prospect of the voice of the last of this trio ever being heard in the audio series, as neither of the other two characters are the creation of Terry Nation).

Jenny and Greg were able to return to the sanctuary of Whitecross (despite Jenny's anxieties to the contrary)

It transpires that, following the events of "New Blood", Jenny and Greg were able to return to the sanctuary of Whitecross (despite Jenny's anxieties to the contrary), and were given a clean bill of health after spending the required period of time in Jack's quarantine tree house. The community's plight has been made more complicated by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth which required a further period of lockdown to isolate and protect the Whitecross herd. His own experiments with methane-gas-from-muck notwithstanding, Greg is keen to travel to the settlement of Westonby to offer his expertise to their efforts to generate electricity from the same power source. As they set off, they appear hopeful that the outbreak has been contained in the south and that the drive towards greater trade and federation can pick up again; in territories to the north at least.

In contrast, Abby and Evelyn have a much more pessimistic (and realistic) assessment of the threat still posed by the virus, and are continuing in their efforts to spread the word and to track down Carol Baker.

Westonby is depicted as a welcoming and hospitable place; a community that see little value in having formal leaders and which embraces a somewhat chaotic form of direct democracy. Determined to give no ground to Westonby's complacency, Abby Grant insists that they take seriously the need to prepare for the possible arrival of the virus. It is a convincing clash of worldviews (the archness of Abby against the openness of Beatrice), and makes clear why the relaxed culture of the Westonby's community should provide such setting so conducive for the characters of both the joker Dylan and the warm-hearted (and slightly eccentric) Pearl.

In a sympathetic performance, Ekow Quartey voices Dylan in a way that emphasises his emotional intelligence and the aspects of his nature that exists beneath his wise-cracking demeanour. As electrical engineer Pearl Ironsmith, Donna Berlin offers a convincing mix of the flirtatious and the deadly serious. These are both characters who, in different ways, go on to exhibit a sense of bravery and a resilient commitment to others that is not initially apparent.

Plague carrier Carol continues to haunt the story unseen, bringing ruin to everyone she makes contact with

As the spectre of plague carrier Carol continues to haunt the story unseen, bringing ruin to everyone she makes contact with, Clark foregrounds a great deal of action into his episode. Westonby unravels as the plague strikes, and a section of the previously good-humoured turn on Jenny in their suspicion and their fear. Abby and Dylan come under fire, and have to flee for cover, when they set off in pursuit of a potential unwitting pair of plague carriers. There's a great deal of movement in the episode, as characters traverse the countryside, and a sense of characters in motion that Ken Bentley's direction makes good use of.

There is a great deal of poignancy in the episode's storyline, and some richly atmospheric scenes in the closing sequences. With Greg's assistance, the doomed Pearl lives long enough to witness the triumph of her generator returning to life and generating power that (had the plague not struck) could have revolutionised the life of her community. Likewise, Dylan's final moments in the care of Abby see him take in the wonder of the vision of distant electric lights. That a community as decent as reasonable as Westonby should be decimated by the reckless actions of the callous Carol make it all the more imperative that she is caught and the contagion contained. The series' finale will deliver the inevitable showdown with Carol, and address the question of what punishment is appropriate for the scale of criminality for which she is responsible.

REVIEW QUOTES

HE [GREG] COMES ACROSS an engaging and eccentric recluse attempting to harness the methane produced from a plague pit in order to power an engine. Rather clever bit of recycling there, envisaged by Clark.
Michael Seely, We Are Cult

THE FLEDGLING SOCIETY is crumbling before our eyes and this is down to one woman, a woman we know as Carol Baker, a woman known and spoken of in fear as the Angel of Death...
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas

SUCCESS, TRAGEDY, COMPASSION and the complexities of human nature are all wrapped around each other in a knot of plot and character that Clark unties with delicacy and grace.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFiBulletin


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Links

Original TV series (1975-1977)
Survivors remake (2008-2010)