Updated: November 26 2015 17:28
The search for Peter leads to Aberystwyth, and a community of women who have cut themselves off from the outside world. But what appears to be a safe haven could be nothing of the sort...
EN ROUTE TO ABERYSTWYTH, Abby, Jackie and Jenny rescue a young woman named Molly being chased by a gang of men. At a rest stop Jenny is injured. When the group reach the women's settlement in the Welsh town, their medical expert Jane tends to her injuries and is able to stabilise and save her pregnancy. Community leader Charlotte holds strong separatist beliefs, insistent that women survivors can only thrive in the absence of men. Molly welcomes the safety and security of the settlement and wants to stay. Charlotte reveals to Molly that she will not tolerate the presence of a male child amongst them, and if necessary will see that it is killed. Torn between her conscience and her desire to stay, Molly finally reveals Charlotte's intentions to Jenny. The group prepare to leave but, as Charlotte has confiscated Abby's gun and the keys to the car, she is not about to let them depart unopposed...
SCRIPTED BY LOUISE JAMESON, Mother's Courage breaks new ground in the history of Survivors by focusing exclusively on female characters (Abby's travelling group and the women-only community near Aberystwyth). The result is an episode as impressive as it is distinctive, and at no point do the story's specifically female-centric perspectives feel forced or in tension with the series' core themes.
What puts the threat of violence towards women in the post-Death world into the sharpest possible relief is the appalling experiences of the young and traumatised Molly (voiced with harrowing conviction by Fiona Sheehan). Molly has endured the appalling experiences of sexual assault at the hands of group of male captors and only makes good her escape with the (initially reluctant) intervention of Abby's group.
Back in the centre of the action, Jenny's pregnancy is put at risk following a fall (although, canonically, the Survivors' literate listener will know that Jenny will carry the baby to term and give birth shortly after arriving at Whitecross). Through a combination of astute writing and inventive audio realisation, the episode's setting becomes richly atmospheric - complete with the sounds of the weather, the ebb and flow of the sea, the gentle singing of the women, and the chilling screeching of waves of rats.
Through a combination of astute writing and inventive audio realisation, the episode's setting becomes richly atmospheric
Across three series of the TV, Survivors presents many different communities' solutions to the challenges of survival, but the methods put forward by Charlotte and her entourage (to reject all associations with men) are genuinely novel. Importantly, while the women's settlement is initially presented as a haven from the barbarism, violence and selfishness of the world outside; its utopian claims soon unravel as, in Louise Jameson's impressive first outing as a Survivors' scriptwriter, the motivations and distorted worldview of the community's leaders are revealed.
It is the damaged Molly's own sense of what is morally right which ultimately ensures that Abby's group can move on from the dead-end of Aberystwyth unharmed. Molly is prepared to sacrifice the hope (however illusory) of safety and sanctuary in the women's community in order to alert Abby and the group to the risk posed to Jenny's baby by Charlotte's dysfunctional ideology.
Amidst the drama of the episode, there is some unforced character development for Abby, who reveals in a quiet moment her sense of guilt at packing her son off to boarding school (even though the apocalyptic consequences of doing so were not forseeable!). After Abby's group depart (with another lead for Peter exhausted) the episode delivers an unexpected coda - as the events of next episode (which happens in parallel with the story depicted here) almost literally collide with the endpoint of Mother's Courage.
Episode two is thoughtful, reflective and insightful, and marked by a central storyline which is as unusual as it is absorbing. However, when evisited in retrospect, after the events which unfold in the closing episode of the series, Aberystwyth will appear to be a far less threatening place than it appears the the travellers at the time!
TO SAY I ENJOYED this episode would be a lie. It's grim and dark and shows the worst of humanity, but appreciate it - oh yes indeed I did. 10/10
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas
MOTHER'S COURAGE FOLLOWS Abby, Jackie and Jenny on their quest to try and find Abby's son, Peter, and leads them to a women's camp, where the determination to build a future without men takes a radical, and dangerous twist
Martijn, Mass Movement
None - at present
The ninth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"There's still great potential here, as the UK begins to emerge from the dark ages of The Death, for more stories set in this uniquely realised dystopia, should sufficient numbers of those who have yet to purchase copies of this extraordinary audio series belatedly recognise the error of their ways. If that doesn't happen, this will remain a stunning finale for what must be celebrated as a consistently compelling audio drama, 5/5"
The eight series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"This latest boxset delivers an impressive mix of large scale, high stakes and small scale, intimate stories which set in motion the events which will come to an explosive conclusion in the final set in this current run of post-apocalyptic dramas, 5/5 " - Cultbox
The seventh series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"At times harrowing, at other moments uplifting, and never anything other than completely riveting listening, this latest series of Survivors audios delivers drama that is simply unmissable. As the series leaves behind the timeline of the TV incarnation of the show, Big Finish's writers, cast and crew are all clearly brimming with fully deserved confidence. The two series of new Survivors audios coming in 2018 could scarcely be a more exciting or (in the best sense of the word) a more unpredictable prospect, 10/10" - Starburst
The sixth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"After five extraordinarily well-received box sets, each of which offered a self-contained and themed collection of four episodes, the sixth series of Survivors audio adventures confidently takes a fresh approach... It's a liberating shift in format and, under the keenly judged direction of Ken Bentley, these scripts make exceptional use of the opportunity to tell diverse, if equally compelling, standalone stories, 10/10" - Starburst
The fifth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"As it explores the highest stakes possible, this develops into the most thrilling and compelling set of stories in Big Finish's Survivors series to date: which, considering the exceptional quality of the drama in the preceding four instalments, is quite some achievement. This is extraordinary, exemplary human drama; by any standard, 10/10" - Starburst
The fourth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"Intelligent, literate and superbly scripted and performed, this is a post-apocalyptic drama of the highest possible calibre. Determined to avoid the predictable tropes of that genre, it invites its listeners to navigate a moral minefield in a way that few other dramas of this type would attempt. This comes recommended without reservation" - Starburst
The third series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
The second series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
A full-length audiobook of Terry Nation's Survivors novel (in CD and download formats) read by Carolyn Seymour.
The first series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
Series nine reviews addedAdded: 13 July 2019
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