Following on from the opening episode, The Movellan Manoeuvre, The Dalek Gambit brings the adventures for Counter-Measures to a conclusion, coming full circle with them facing the famous metal-meanies once again. But is this really the final end?
The Counter-Measures team have their work cut out for them here as not only do they have to face the Daleks, they still have a problem with the Movellans and Lady Clare. The Daleks are intent on exterminating the Movellans, the Movellans want to destroy the Daleks and Earth is stuck in the middle.
Both of these stories are best enjoyed listened too together, though you can enjoy them just as much apart. I listened to them back-to-back to get the absolute most out of them, but they do feel very different. John Dorney’s script for Manoeuvre is very much a setup, though it does pose an interesting mystery for the team to solve, while Roland Moore’s The Dalek Gambit feels like the epic conclusion these characters deserved.
I was worried initially that the brilliant characters, Group Captain Gilmore, Allison Williams, Rachael Jensen and Toby Kinsella were going to get lost in the big action sequences that litter the script. Of course, when two established Doctor Who monsters clash, you want there to be big action sequences and The Dalek Gambit certainly delivers but Moore makes sure to give each character a time to shine. Toby blows a Dalek up with its own gun, Allison takes down a load of Movellan’s with an EMP, Gilmore gets to play hero on a Dalek spaceship while Racheal gets much of the emotional heft in the story’s and the range’s conclusion.
Right off the bat, Roland Moore makes sure that we know how high the stakes are. With the Daleks exterminating robotic experts in an attempt to halt the Movellan’s the story picks up on a high. In fact, all the baddies are handled well with Carolyn Seymour’s Lady Clare and Cyril Nri’s Movellan Commander making for a deliciously evil duo as they try to outwit not only the Daleks but the Counter Measures team.
Moore rightly decides to keep the story about the team, rather than the returning villains and with the promise of a character meeting an untimely fate in the blurb, much of the second act is taken up with the listener trying to decide who will bite the dust. Toby Kinsella finds himself in a fire-fight with the army opposite the Daleks and Movellan’s, Allison and Gilmore find themselves prisoners on the Dalek spaceship and Rachael finds herself struggling to defuse a Dalek bomb which will wipe out all life on Earth.
What will no doubt make The Dalek Gambit such a memorable story is its conclusion? The whole cast, Simon Williams, Hugh Ross, Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill make for such a perfect team that its a shame this is going to theoretically be their last outing together. It isn’t hard to like these characters and whether you’ve only seen them in Remembrance of the Daleks or have followed their adventures through Big Finish I can guarantee that you’ve loved them all.
To spoil the ending would be to ruin the story so I won’t talk about the final act of the audio, but Moore makes sure to give us one final twist for one of the characters.
If this is to be the finale for these characters, then it’s a great story to go out on and it seems right that they wrap the series up with another showdown with the Daleks. The cover shows modern-era Daleks, though the story doesn’t tell us when these Daleks come from. I think probably from the Capaldi episode, The Pilot, if they were from the Time-War I think they’d have made more of it.
For me, I don’t think this will be the last we hear from the Counter-Measures team. There is still too much potential for the characters to not turn up in the Doctor Who ranges properly. But for now, everyone involved in the range deserves a round of applause. The fabulous scripts, the constantly brilliant direction from Ken Bentley and the amazing main cast! What a story to go out on!