The third release in Big Finish's second season of Bernice Summerfield audios is The Extinction Event by Lance Parkin, whose novel Just War provided the foundation for the most satisfying of the adaptations that were a part of the first season.
Parkin's story sends Bernice off to an auction (called ‘the Extinction Event’ as all the lots are from destroyed civilisations) in pursuit of the only remaining artefact from the planet Halstad. Also with her is her employer (and Time Lord), Irving Braxiatel, but what should prove to be a simple auction soon turns out to be dangerous as it becomes clear that there is a killer at large.
An interesting aspect of The Extinction Event is how the villains are motivated. Whilst Hulver acts only out of a desire for revenge against those who destroyed his world, he is not the only person to fall into the villainous category for this audio. The theme of destroyed home worlds allows Parkin to make some mischievous allusions to Brax's own heritage (he's referred to as "Lord Cardinal Braxiatel" early in the story) and the (then) current direction of BBC Books’ eighth Doctor adventures under the editorial reign of Brax's
creator, Justin Richards.
Lisa Bowerman benefits from Parkin's script, which allows her to demonstrate well the range of emotions that Benny goes through in this story. For the second time in the season, Bowerman gets to double up by lending her voice to another character too. Miles Richardson's brings the infamous Irving Braxiatel to life, lending a real sense of gravitas, yet at the same time imbuing Braxiatel with a degree of mystique that gives him a slightly sinister edge. Daniel Brennan gets the main action as Hulver, and he delivers a sensitive and considerate performance as the sole survivor of Halstad and Alexis Khan is superb as the slightly obsequious yet darkly motivated Auctioneer Davon. Last but not least, Mark Donovan completes the cast as the Ambassador. Though limited, the character is written in a very humorous way and Donovan shows great expletive timing.
The incidental music by Toby Richards and Emily Baker is very good too; it reflects the pace of the adventure well. The sound design is generally good also, but does have the tendency to sound a bit too theatrical at times.
In all, The Extinction Event is a thoughtful and entertaining drama, alebit somewhat straight-forward. Nevertheless, it's generally considered to be one of the best original Benny audios to date and I certainly wouldn't argue with such sentiments.