Review by FRASIER ARMITAGE
An outstanding pilot episode, exploding with imagination and potential.
“The Bomb” is the first installment in Emily Inkpen’s Dex Legacy audio drama series, set on the planet SP714. It introduces us to the key players in the Dex Legacy and the event which will irrevocably change this world, namely, the testing of a new weapon that’s epic in every sense of the word.
SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers about the first episode of The Dex Legacy. Because the first episode is an introduction, we don’t think the “spoilers” ruin anything for listeners. But if you want to listen “spoiler free,” just jump to “The Bomb” and have a listen.
The first thing that struck me about “The Bomb” is just how deep this world goes. The planet that’s on display here isn’t just for show. There’s a richness and substance to this universe which is more than just Sci-Fi gloss. It feels lived in. It feels real.
As the opening synth track fades, we’re introduced to Nathaniel Dex, who is debating the ethics of munitions manufacture with his henchman, Tristan Krail. The dialogue is rich and filled with intrigue, hinting at a wider world while never straying too far from the familiar. We’re rooted instantly, without any hint of clunky exposition, and the interaction between the characters is fluid and progresses at a smooth pace. There’s enough space to allow room for us to indulge in lines like: “There are more dangers to the human race than pure death and destruction, Tristan. When Devek designed them, he redesigned us, and there is nothing more dangerous to flawed people than the idea of flawless evolution.“
The actors capture the characters right from the first line, drawing us in with skill and verve as the actors breathe life into their characters.
A change of pace soon throws us into battle with the principal characters in the Dex Legacy: Varian, Isra, and Ren Dex. These three teens are the adopted children of Nathaniel Dex and also happen to be genetically enhanced super-soldiers, deadlier than most armies. We’re treated to some fantastic action, and there’s a genuine sense of threat that comes with the battle that ensues.
A wonderful balance is struck between Varian, Isra, and Ren. Each character is different in their own right, and the dynamic between them possesses a peculiar magic. There’s banter, camaraderie, bickering, and rivalry, making it easy to tap into their relationships without feeling like we’re eavesdropping. It’s natural, homely, and beautifully juxtaposes the fact that these characters are three killing machines.
The bomb itself feels like a worthy climax, and the audio effects do a great job of making it feel huge. It’s fitting that we see the explosion through the children’s eyes. They are weapons, just like the bomb, and making them the ones who witness the devastation wrought by the developments of science is a stroke of genius.
Finally, as the synths carry us back to Dex Industries, the characters keep on coming. We’re treated to a final confrontation between the scientist behind the bomb (Osa, who delivers a stellar performance) and the man who engineered “the children” (Devek). This interchange provides the perfect ending, tying together the strands so deftly woven through the episode, so that there’s no shying away from the conflict that’s at the heart of this episode: accountability.
Osa: I was told to create the most scientifically advanced weapon the world has ever seen. I did not sell it and I did not detonate it. When Varian, Isra and Ren go into battle and kill a multitude, do you feel responsible?
Each character deals with issues of accountability in one form or another, whether it’s the wisdom of building an army for hire, the killing of insurgents, the loss of soldiers, or the invention of a country-ending bomb. The episode succeeds in raising questions without dishing out easy answers. And perhaps the most powerful moment in the entire 20-minute runtime is the closing line, delivered with such emotion that it nails the landing, bringing poignancy to the speculation.
Overall, this episode made for an expertly paced, edifying listen, abounding in depth. There’s a lot to relish. Put simply: It’s the bomb.
The Dex Legacy is a full-cast audio drama, written by science fiction author Emily Inkpen and produced by Alt Stories.
1500 years after ancestors from Earth colonized planet SP714, the human population has grown. Countries have divided, risen, fallen and out of the ashes, Dex Island is about to take center stage. Nathaniel Dex, president of Dex Industries and megalomaniacal weapons manufacturer, works with his colleagues to run his company and steer world politics. The destructive power of the products created by Dex Industries is terrifying, but nothing is more dangerous than his three adopted children, newly unleashed upon the world.