Review – Big Finish Doctor Who #24: “The Eye of the Scorpion”

This is the next in line of my Big Finish Productions Doctor Who retro-reviews.

#24 – “The Eye of the Scorpion”

From Big Finish’s site:

Egypt is in mourning. Pharaoh, the great God-King, is dead. The future of the Two Kingdoms of Egypt is shrouded in uncertainty as the Council of Priests debates the claim to the throne of Pharaoh’s only heir.

Out in the deserts around Thebes, Egypt’s capital, a warlord chief is assembling an army of mercenaries, waiting for just the right moment to strike at Egypt’s heart.

But not all of Egypt’s enemies are outside the city. What is the secret of the strange box discovered in the desert?

When the TARDIS arrives nearby, it has apparently been hijacked… by the Doctor?

Written By: Iain McLaughlin

Directed By: Gary Russell


Peter Davison (The Doctor); Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown); Caroline Morris (Erimem); Harry Myers (Yanis); Jack Galagher (Fayum); Jonathan Owen (Antranak); Daniel Brennan (Kishik); Stephen Perring (Horemshep); Mark Wright (Slave); Alistair Lock (Priest); Gary Russell (Ebren)

***minor spoilers ahead***

Big Finish introduces the 5th Doctor’s newest companion, Erimem, who in my humble opinion is the only one in the entire lineup I enjoy as much as, perhaps even more than, Charley.  Think of her as one part naïve Disney Princess and one part Xena.  As her adventures get going, you’ll see what I mean.  Trust me, it’s a combo that just works.  It’s also the beginning of an entire line of stories that takes place between Peter Davison’s final two televised adventures, Planet of Fire and The Caves of Androzani.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, turns out there’s more to discover.

Erimem isn’t the only one who gets to shine in this adventure, however.  Peri proves that, even though she’s new to the TARDIS at this point in her timeline, she’s more than just a pretty face.  She thwarts armies of scorpions, offers to concoct antidotes to poisons, and acts as advisor to the up and coming Pharoah.  The “gal pals” dynamic between Peri and Erimem that’s created would have the potential to be distracting and unwanted in lesser hands, but this and subsequent adventures will demonstrate that, in this case, it’s a dynamic that works because of the talent employed at Big Finish.  In fact, that dynamic sometimes has the side effect of leaving the Doctor on the outside, which as we all know, he doesn’t do well if he’s not directly at the forefront.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before they can be a team, trust must be formed, and this is the story that puts that into motion.

Historically speaking, Big Finish again carries the Doctor Who tradition of making the historically-based episodes work on a number of levels.  Everything from Atlantean theory to the identity of the Sphinx is discussed, and the grand finale incorporates a great chariot battle against an opponent that no one in Ancient Egypt could conceive of, let alone know how to fight without the Doctor’s help.  It’s a great standalone adventure as much as it is the introduction of a new companion and a stepping stone to much larger things ahead. 

If in your discovery you decide, as I did, that you’d like to know even more of Erimem’s backstory, it turns out that authors Iain McLaughlin and Claire Bartlett have provided a bonus for you.  As part of the New Worlds line, The Coming of the Queen gives us the story of Erimem before the Doctor whisked her away in the TARDIS.  As a fan of the character, I found it well worth the read.  My only regret is that there’s no audio version.  From the official site:

An extraordinary discovery in the Valley of the Kings leaves historians bemused and asking the question…

…Who was Erimem?

The only daughter of the great Pharaoh Amenhotep II, Princess Erimemushinteperem has lived a comfortable, privileged life safe in Pharaoh’s luxurious palace in Thebes, surrounded by servants, slaves and friends. But her sixteenth year will bring Erimem and her brothers into contact with war, death, treachery, assassins and tragedy, and will lead her to a destiny she had never imagined… or wanted.