Survivors: 8:3 The Lost Boys

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Updated: July 13 2019 10:22


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

Peter Grant has find a way to survive under the tutelage of Robert Malcolm, but survival has come at terrible personal cost

Survivors - Big Finish - Series 8 - Episode 3 - 8:3 The Lost Boys

SUMMARY series eight

IN ROBERT MALCOLM'S community young Peter Grant wields considerable power. But his arrogant and unfeeling manner immediately alienates Ruth, who is visiting patients in the settlement. She learns that the well-resourced community benefits from the backing of a wealthy Scottish benefactor. Craig discovers that his initiation into the group requires him to carry out a series of unconscionable and increasingly violent acts, as Peter demands he interrogate and then fight with a suspected spy. En route to Malcolm's base, Jenny and Abby are taken hostage by a lone attacker, who warns them about the reception awaiting them at the community of 'lost boys' and alerts them to the growing threat posed by forces in Scotland. Away from the public glare, the brutal realities of Robert's merciless ideology is laid bare, as is the true scale of his ambition. While Abby tries to prepare herself, emotionally and psychologically, for a reunion with Peter, he is sent out on a reconnaissance mission to Little Tadlow, to prepare for an upcoming assault. Overcoming their enforced isolation, and learning the ugly truth of Robert's rule, Abby, Jenny and Ruth eventually flee from his settlement, taking the badly injured Craig with them. Can the trio warn Little Tadlow of the danger soon to engulf them, and is the seemingly heartless Peter Grant beyond redemption?

COMMENTARY

IT IS IN episode three The Lost Boys that the long-lost and much sought-after Peter Grant finally makes his appearance. But, when the corroded nature of his character four years on from The Death becomes clear, his arrival becomes anything but a relief, and the sense of foreboding about his possible reunion with his doting mother deepens.

Big Finish's determination to ensure that the narrative of Survivors remains challenging and frequently distressing, means that the reunion of mother and son was never destined to be a simple, joyful affair. Yet there is a heightened sense of the disappointment awaiting Abby Grant, even at the very moment of her victory in tracking down her son, as it is made readily apparent just how distorted and twisted his young psyche has become during the four years of familial solitude he has endured since The Death.

It's a fantastic dramatic premise, and Lisa McMullin's muscular script makes the most of the harrowing scenes of incarceration and bloodshed and the combative personal interactions that together shape the episode (and which define life under Robert's rule). McCullin's characterisation of the deeply-damaged Peter Grant is chillingly convincing.

It is made readily apparent just how distorted and twisted young Peter's psyche has become

Joel James Davison makes an immediate impression as the true toxic nature of Peter's personality is revealed. There is a matter-of-fact naturalism to his peformance, as he reveals the sadistic, callous and malevolent aspects of Peter's character. There are many all-too-plausible real-world examples from all across the globe of 'boy soldiers' in ruthless, self-serving militias in 'failed states', ordered about by teenager 'officers' corrupted by the exercise of unconstrained power. Not all of the 'lost' children of The Death turned to the dark side in it aftermath, but it's not hard to see how seductive the appeal of Robert's pseudo-army - with its promise of adventure, acquisition and advancement - might be to young men and women wandering the country without purpose or support. All the more so for a frightened youngster unable to process his rage at his 'abandonment' and his grief at his loss.

Peter's cruelty is revealed through the horrific 'initiation' ritual that he commands Craig to participate in. Appalled by the position he has inadvertently volunteered for, Craig tries his best to cling on to his essential decency even as events conspire to make that impossible. After surviving the horrors of The Trapping Pit, Craig might have hoped that his worst experience of visceral physical suffering were behind him, but at the callous hands of young master Grant he is forced to endure even worse here. The brutal battle-to-the-death which Grant is the puppet-master for results in some harrowing listening, with great performances enhanced by some suitably tense and claustrophobic sound design.

Peter's unconscionable arrogance is also made plain in his encounters with visiting clinician Ruth. Her offers of expertise and assistance are met with a dismissive sense of entitlement, which Ruth does well to retain her demeanour of professional calm in response to.

The three women engineer their collective escape, taking the desperately wounded Craig along with them

After a tight focus on the brutal realities of life and death in the community Peter Grant now calls home, the latter part of the episode adopts a more action-orientated tempo as Abby, Jenny and Ruth find themselves caught up in events at the settlement in differently unnerving ways, before the three women engineer their collective escape, taking the desperately wounded Craig along with them. It's tense, nerve-jangling stuff, with listeners preparing themselves to hear the sounds of would-be jailor Robert announcing their capture at any minute as they sneak their way out of the compound.

Once outside, Abby again faces an agonizing choice. Should she join the mission to alert Little Tadlow of imminent danger, or prioritise a reunion with her psychologically scarred son the better to avert a wholly avoidable battle? It's a dilemma that incapsulates the tension which so often surfaces in this in unforgiving new world - setting individual hope and desire against collective need. A theme that this latest series of Survivors audios once again drives home so powerfully.

REVIEW QUOTES

PETER IS BOTH terrifying and terrified [and] Joel James Davison hits it out of the park this episode particularly.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFi Bulletin

INDOCTRINATED AND MANIPULATED, [Peter is] rude, self-important and condescending – and that is not just to visitors, such as roving medic Ruth
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User

JOEL JAMES DAVISON gives the standout performance of this story, playing up the indoctrinated coldness of Peter Grant brilliantly against the comparative innocence of George Watkins' portrayal of Craig.
Alex Jones, Blogtor Who


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Links

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