UNIT 1.2 – Snake Head

Chaudhry and Dalton, UNIT’s Mulder and Scully, head to the seaside for an old-fashioned monster hunt.

Something’s been chowing down on immigrant workers down on the coast. Does it have something to do with a nearby archaeological dig? Or have they brought their demons with them from the old country? Or is Dalton’s skepticism justified— the deaths could be explained away, and perhaps this isn’t a UNIT matter at all?

Have a trailer.

The immigrant angle makes this a modern take on a formulaic plot (gather clues, craft a battleplan, hunt down the beastie.) The climax features some exciting action/horror. Unfortunately, whereas the last episode bit off more than it could chew, this one has too little story to fill an hour.

It needs more engaging characters to spice up a predictable plot. The Muldur/Scully dynamic is a good idea, but it fizzles halfway through when the Scully figure stops being skeptical. The banter between Dalton and Chaudhry hasn’t quite gelled. And Chaudhry frustrates me. Sometimes she sounds flustered or out of her depth in a way I don’t expect from a stolid UNIT officer, let alone its second-in-command. In this story, she’s not carrying a gun because she’s wearing too little to conceal one— what is she wearing, a g-string?! — and winds up cowering and hyperventilating in fear of the monster. And she’s a top-ranked officer in UNIT? No wonder she was assigned a temp CO! But Dalton’s hot temper and whinging aren’t entirely professional either. They really need Brigadier Winifred Bambera back from retirement.

The guest characters don’t contribute much, since they’re mostly stock types whose few glimmers of personality are irritating. Professor Hendrick is a smug, sexist and racist archaeologist, to the point that for the second half of the story I kept wanting the monster to eat him. Toby Longworth plays yet another snide Eastern European cynic, a trope that’s popped up in so many Big Finishes that I’ve started to think, “there’s that guy again,” even when it’s not Toby or Mark Gatiss doing the honours. The only character who caught my interest was Kevin, a shady-side-of-the-law restaurant owner who’s surprisingly civic-minded.

It’s not a bad story, really, it’s just that there’s so many better Big Finish audios that are more worth listening to.

And I’m still reeling from the reset button at the end of the previous story, which scattered airplane crashes, train derailments, nuclear meltdowns and terrorists attacks all over southern England, but then… whoops, look over there!

Spoilerific Comments

I liked the twist (although it was telegraphed so thoroughly that it wasn’t much of a twist) that the vampire hunter turned out to be a fraud. In yet another loose end that I’m not sure this series will bother to resolve, he simply vanishes.

Chaudhry was right to say that she and Dalton ought to scram before the police arrive. UNIT’s not going to win any PR by helping him escape the authorities, shooting guns on a public beach for no apparent reason, and claiming a mauled man was “mugged” when there’s several witnesses around with flimsy alibis at best. So why did they then hang around long enough to face the cops?

But I’m sure the reset button that cancelled out the death of one of the royals in the last episode will come to the rescue. At least this story acknowledged first contact with the Silurians two episodes back.

I’m also curious why the vampire was muttering about “familia” before it was shot. I felt like the story wanted to give the vampire a backstory beyond man-eating monster, but then… it didn’t?