Survivors: 8:4 Village of Dust

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Updated: December 23 2020 09:43


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

The opening battle of what could be a new civil war threatens to overwhelm the hopes for a decent new society

Survivors - Big Finish - Series 8 - Episode 3 - 8:4 Village of Dust

SUMMARY series eight

ON THE EDGE of Little Tadlow, Peter rallies his advance party ahead of their upcoming assault on the village. When Abby and Jenny arrive to warn the settlers, Abby is relieved to find that Sonia has taken over leadership of the community following Abraham's death. The two women convince Sonia to make defensive preparations to protect the children from conscription into Robert's army. Jenny thinks that the community will be forced to take up arms, while Abby hopes to avoid bloodshed by finding Peter and convincing him to reconsider, by reaching out to him as his mother. Abby sneaks into the army camp and finds Peter but, to her distress, he rejects all of her attempts at reconciliation. Returning to the village, final preparations are made to repel the coming attack. When Robert arrives he demands that the residents of Little Tadlow surrender, but they reject his ultimatum and fortify the church, from which they will make their stand. With a final showdown now imminent, the defenders realise how great the risk of defeat now is. They are not yet aware, however, of the identity of all of the forces ranged against them...

COMMENTARY

THE FINALE OF the penultimate series of current Survivors audio dramas is an explosive and upredictable affair, combining the excitement and danger of the Robert Malcolm's siege and assault on Little Tadlow with his emotional agonies that Abby Grant experiences when she is finally reunited with her son.

A return to the Little Tadlow settlement, visited in the series seven opener Journey's End is itself somewhat unexpected, and a welcome surprise. With Abraham having passed away, responsibility for the community and its, mainly young, inhabitants has passed to the impassioned Sonia Meadows (Katherine Rose Morley once again delivers a well-judged and emotionally-literate performance). Despite Sonia's recurring moments of self-doubt, she bravely takes charge of preparations for the defence of her community once Abby and Jenny make plain the mortal threat that Robert's army poses.

Abby remains hopeful of being able to negotiate some kind of peaceful redirection of Robert's mercenary intent

The scenes depicting the settlement's preparations for the upcoming assault are increasingly tense, not least because Sonia's defensive arrangements make clear how far the 'balance of forces' are weighed against her community. There's strong continuity with the changed character dynamic between Abby and Jenny outlined so effectively in opening instalment Bandit Train. Jenny throws herself into task of fortifying Little Tadlow's church and of preparing for what she sees as the near-inevitable fight to come; while Abby, already fully pre-occupied with thoughts of the restitution of Peter, previcates - still hopeful (despite the evidence) of being able to negotiate some kind of peaceful redirection of Robert's mercenary intent.

Joel James Davison makes an impressive, confident debut in The Lost Boys as a dysfunctional, rabble-rousing bully, but there's more emotional range demanded of him her as he pairs up with Carolyn Seymour to deliver the fraught, painful reunion between mother and son. The weight of more than four decades of expectation might intimidate some young actors, but Joel has clearly put any such concerns on one side. He brings a surprising emotional maturity to the challenge of bringing out the psychological hurt and vulnerability which lies beneath Peter's show of aggression and hostility. Seymour is, of course, fantastic: her ability to combine Abby's crushing sense of disappointment and disbelief with her determination not to surrender faith in the essential goodness of her son makes for some electrifying listening.

There are some great plot twists and some unexpected casualties of Robert's merciless assault

Their impossibly tense exchanges are one of the highlights of Roland Moore's super-sharp script, providing an emotional beat amidst the accelerating preparations for battle which surround it. Aided by the efforts of director Bentley and sound designer Clifford, the firefight that finally explodes is thrilling and shocking in equal measure. There are some great plot twists and some unexpected casualties of Robert's merciless assault.

As the dust settles, there's little for Abby and her compatriots to draw strength from, except her hope that she may have found a chink in Peter's armour that she can try to prize open further in the future. Beyond Abby's maternal concerns, the situation looks far more threatening. The battle of Little Tadlow may prove to be just an early skirmish in a new and fast-evolving English Civil War. It seems likely that the ninth and final series of Survivors audios will reveal which of the parties to the conflict will emerge victorious - and the state of the country and its society they are likely to inherit.

As the clouds of war gather, it seems that all necessary preparations are being made to deliver a signature 'big finish'.

REVIEW QUOTES

ABBY FINALLY GETS the reunion she has longed for... [and] Roland Moore’s story certainly does not fail to bring both gravity and intensity to the long awaited moment.
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User

ABBY'S REUNION WITH Peter does not disappoint, and Robert Malcolm is an excellent addition to the band of memorable characters.
Alex Jones, Blogtor Who

THE LOGISTICS OF defending the colonies we've spent eight seasons getting to know comes to the fore and there's a tangible sense of something massive about to break across this fragile world.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFi Bulletin


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Links

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