Updated: January 14 2018 20:56
Jenny and Ruth travel aboard a train brought back into operation by Greg, but their destination will be nothing like they expect
THE TIRELESS EFFORTS of Greg Preston have opened up a a key steam railway route across England; a route that Jenny Richards and Ruth Anderson are now following en route to the community of Retworth. Both women are involved in a barter programme that will see their expertise exchanged for supplies from Retworth's impressive stores. To re-open the line, Greg recruited fellow engineer and train driver Neville who brought the locomotive back into service. As they cleared obstructions on the track, the two men encounter a gruesome sight: a gang torturing victims. They rescue a terrified young woman facing a slow and painful execution, Sylvia Jeffries, who later becomes Neville's partner. The head of the Retworth settlement, a self-assured and single-minded man named Barstow boards the train and persuades Greg to redirect his train to his well-stocked headquarters. Greg is feted as something of a hero at Retworth, but as he learns the truth of the cruelty and brutality of Barstow’s rule he sabotages Barstow’s plans to annexe and enslave other communities by blowing up his locomotive to seal the access train tunnel, hampering Retworth's ability to enforce its will on the outside world. As Jenny and Ruth reach Retworth, to honour the agreement struck by their communities, what will they make of what they find, and what are the motives of their travelling companions Neville and Sylvia?
THE TRIUMPH OF Simon Clark's series seven story "Legacy" is the inventiveness of the structure. Clark sets out to reconnect the timelines of Greg Preston and Jenny Richards and construct a story that can involve both these characters without them meeting up. Not only does he achieve that, but he finds a way to have Greg deliver to Jenny an emotional affirmation of the importance of his relationship with Jenny and his family, and their centrality as a motivation in everything that he set out to do.
As with Roland Moore's "Journey's End", there a strong sense in "Legacy" that, three to four years on from The Death, the situation for survivors in the UK is getting worse rather than better. The exchange deal that Ruth has agreed with Retworth has been brokered because that settlement's warehouses hold resources and materials that are in perilously short supply and that the Whitecross community needs so urgently.
Legacy stockpiles of materials have been amassed by rapacious, power-hungry entrepreneurs like Barstow
The clear implication of these developments is that the drive towards self-sufficiency and sustainability in the lives of British survivors has so far fallen short of what is required. They are still reliant, at least in part, it seems, on the legacy stockpiles of the pre-Death era, which have been amassed by rapacious, power-hungry entrepreneurs like Barstow (who invites comparison with trader Huxley in the first TV series episode "The Future Hour").
Stream trains were a recurring feature of the third TV series of Survivors. Telegenic in their own right, the image of coal-powered, steam-driven pistons driving locomotive engines along reopened train tracks offered a potent visual symbol of the new industrial age that the most prescient survivors were now committed to bringing into being. In "Legacy", the motion of the steam train makes for a satisfyingly rhythmic and percussive audio setting; underpinning the sense of motion and momentum in the story; and providing a convincing and unforced way to connect Greg's and Jenny's journeys to the same destination that occur weeks or months apart.
There are some fantastic, tense action sequences along the way, which McCulloch understandably continues to relish; and some evocatively realised grotesque and grim audio 'images' (particularly in the run-up to the rescue of terrified Sylvia Jeffries, who is facing a horrible death).
Jenny finds herself thrust into an unusual and far from comfortable role
Sound design (credited to both Benji Clifford and Steve Foxon) is particularly effective in "Legacy", not least in the changing 'texture' of dialogue, as speeches move between real-time discussion and taped playback as the timeline of the story flips between the recent past and the present.
Greg's abilities to deliver tangible improvements to the lives of others, and inspire fellow survivors to raise their own sense of ambition, is powerfully reaffirmed in this story. Jenny meanwhile finds herself thrust into an unusual and far from comfortable role: that of rabble-rouser and catalyst for rebellion at Retworth. She is the figure who can call on the symbolism of hope and of freedom that Greg represents to encourage the wavering rebels to rise up and complete the overthrow of the Barstow tyranny.
After all of the febrile action sequences of the rebellion, it is the quiet intimacy of Greg's taped message to Jenny that provides a heartfelt (and far from mawkish) finale: a personal 'legacy' for Jenny to take comfort from, that can exist for her alongside the larger, public figure of Greg as a leader and a trigger for the revival of civilisation and society. It remains unclear what role Greg Preston might play in future Big Finish Survivors adventures but, if this episode marks Greg's endpoint in the audio realm, the storyline of "Legacy" gives his character an impressive and emotionally resonant sign-off.
AS WELL AS celebrating the character of Greg, writer Simon Clark's story also provides plenty of emotional turmoil for Lucy Fleming's Jenny, who is forced to confront her feelings of grief and abandonment
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
HAS A SLIGHTLY Mad Max / steampunk feel as Jenny gets one of her strongest stories as she and Ruth are faced with several difficult decisions.
Tony Jones, Cultbox
IT'S A STORY that manages to eulogise the character [of Greg] without being blind to his flaws
Alasdair Stuart, Sci-Fi Bulletin
JENNY IS THRUST into the unexpected role of rabble-rouser, calling on the inspiring legacy of Greg to encourage a rebellion
Rich Cross, Starburst
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Series nine reviews addedAdded: 13 July 2019
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