Any suspense that may have been aroused by the cliff hanger at the end of the previous story is a bit wasted considering the title and cover for this audiobook. That aside it is good to see the Kraals eventually return. The Kraals were created by Terry Nation, and though they were no Daleks they are much better than the Vord. So it is a little surprising that they have never been re-used until now.
The Kraals suffer in two ways in this audio. Firstly they have a lot of similarities to the Sontarans, and the play could easily have featured them instead of the Kraals. This is exacerbated by the casting of Dan Starkey (who plays Strax and numerous other Sontarans) as Marshal Grinmal. This issue is acknowledged by the cast and production crew in the extra features that accompany the play but there is, perhaps, little that can be done about it with no visual reference. Besides, my three year old self believed ‘The Android Invasion’ featured Sontarans.
The second issue with the Kraals, and this exacerbates the first, is that they aren’t really the main focus of the story and there is little to distinguish them as a species within it. This is because the Master and the Kraals’ androids are focussed on instead.
This all leads to a lot of messing around with doubles/android duplicates. Similar tricks were used to greater effect in ‘The Android Invasion’ and other Doctor Who stories. After a while it becomes a bit repetitive and irritating. Even so it is amusing to see the Master become a victim of himself.
As this is a Fourth Doctor story this is the decayed version of the Master seeking to replenish himself somehow as he does in both ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and ‘The Keeper of Traken’. Leela’s response to him and later interaction is one of the best aspects of the story. Similar to her experience with the Daleks two stories previous to this, Leela’s mind is not easily possessed.
The play seems to be unnecessarily generous to the extremely right wing Spindleton. The play endeavours to try and make him a sympathetic figure in its latter stages. This feels a little false, however. Throughout this play and the previous he seems a much more willing participant in the Master’s schemes, hoping to benefit from them, rather than a mesmerised victim. The Spindleton/Simpleton running joke also wears a bit thin.