Survivors: 7:1 Journey's End

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Updated: January 05 2019 15:12


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

When Abby follows the 'last' lead that might reunite her with her son Peter, what she finds will rock her to the core

Survivors - Big Finish - Series 7 - Episode 1 - 7:1 Journey's End

 

SUMMARY series seven

AFTER EXHAUSTING ALL but one of the leads on Peter's possible whereabouts, Abby diverts to the village of Demlow in the hope of finding a blacksmith that can re-shoe her horse. There she finds the solitary young woman Sonia Meadows, who has been living in self-sufficient isolation in her old family home. Sonia lives in fear of a group of raiders from a nearby settlement who appear to be kidnapping children. Abby confronts one of the raiding parties and later learns from Sonia that Peter Grant may have been in the village a few months earlier, when a travelling army patrol passed through. Sonia comforted the children and provided them with water before the raiders arrived to take them away. Abby and Sonia travel to the community of Little Tadlow where they discover groups of children held behind locked doors. When they meet with leader Abraham, they learn that the settlement is far from being a children's prison, and is in fact a place of education and of nurture, a sanctuary for young survivors who can find protection and community within its walls. As Abby probes for the truth about Peter, she and Sonia uncover some unexpected and shocking truths about the fate of family members that will overturn long-held certainties...

COMMENTARY

SERIES SEVEN BEGINS by turning attention back to Abby Grant’s relentless search for her missing son Peter. What it delivers is what appears to be a harrowing and heart-wrenching resolution to her quest, which leaves Abby bereft and psychologically broken. What gives the episode such emotional power is that Abby belief about Peter's death is mistaken. Although she is given the news of his demise in 'good faith' and believes she has uncovered the corpse of her son in his shallow grave, the discovery is a case of mistaken identity and of misremembering.

It's an audacious conceit by Big Finish in two senses: first, before the truth emerges, it suggests that the audio drama's designers were willing to reach a definitive (and very downbeat) conclusion to Abby's hunt for Peter; and, second, that the episode 'dares' to end with Abby unaware that her anguish and her distress are unwarranted and that she is punishing herself for a failure that has not occurred.

The episode 'dares' to end with Abby unaware that her anguish and her distress are unwarranted

"Journey's End" is so impressive precisely because of the emotional torment that it puts Abby through, stripping away her confidence and her belief and giving here only the experience of gut-wrenching loss.

What works well, as the story unfolds, is that is that, despite Sonia's understandable suspicions, the community of Little Tadlow is not a settlement shaped by child exploitation, imprisonment and oppression. Rather, it is a place where children and young people are cared for, looked after and given a broad education and preparation for adulthood. Despite Abraham's failing mental capabilities, his motivations and aspirations are clearly laudable ones. What makes Abby's experience of maternal grief all the more poignant is the sense that her evolving connection with Sonia has so many of the dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship.

Katherine Rose Morley puts in an excellent performance as the spirited and personable Sonia, relieved to find a renewed connection first with Abby and then with the man revealed to be her long-lost uncle. Brian Protheroe, as the principled but unravelling Abraham, is also first-rate, especially as he rails in frustration against his declining capabilities. But this episode is pivots on a truly remarkable and emotionally truthful performance by Carolyn Seymour. She invests her portrayal of Abby's anguish with a raw sincerity that will leave many listeners reeling.

Roland Moore's debut script for the series is an extraordinary achievement. Expertly crafted, Moore's characterisation is as finely honed as his dialogue. The fact that the hostile and selfish Garth Warren is the 'public face' of the otherwise benign community is just one of a set of clever story techniques Moore employs.

Abby believes that all her efforts since the onset of The Death have been for naught

At the story concludes, Abby leaves the residents of Little Tadlow behind having had all sense of purpose removed from her travels. She believes that all her efforts since the onset of The Death have been for naught, and that she has failed both herself and her son. The listener is aware that Peter is still alive and at large, but still has no knowledge of his mother's survival from the plague or of her efforts to reunite with him. Despite the episode's (deliberately misdirecting) title, it's clear that Abby's journey in pursuit of her son needs to continue. The personal repercussions of Abby's sense of desolation will loom large in the series' closing episode "Reconnection". Series seven begins with (in the best sense of the word) a very tough listen.

REVIEW QUOTES

IT'S A MOVING tale, and despite the core Abby plot, the other characters are well fleshed out and Katherine Rose Morley impresses as young Sonia, surviving on her own since the death.
Tony Jones, Cultbox

AS AN EMOTIONALLY fractured Abby, Carolyn Seymour delivers a bravura performance
Rich Cross, Starburst

IN A WORLD steeped in death and darkness, writer Roland Moore manages to both surprise and devastate us with two parallel tales about families
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User

CAROLYN SEYMOUR’S PERFORMANCE in this story is a snotty, raw, visceral punch in the face
Tony Fyler, Mass Movement


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Links

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