Doctor Who review: Wicked Sisters: The Garden of Storms

The Doctor is reunited with two old friends as the worlds of Doctor Who and Graceless cross over in The Garden of Storms – the opening episode of the new Doctor Who box set, Wicked Sisters.

The new Doctor Who box set Wicked Sisters begins with the Fifth Doctor being tasked with a mission to find two sisters. Sisters that, according to the Time Lords, present a very grave threat to the universe, and must be destroyed. There are just two problems: one, these sisters are extremely powerful beings who completely defy the natural laws of the universe, and two, they’re also good friends of the Doctor…

The opening scene of The Garden of Storms does a nice job of catching the listener up on who Abby and Zara areWicked Sisters may be a direct crossover between Doctor Who and Graceless, but listeners certainly won’t feel like they’re missing anything if they haven’t listened to the spin-off. (Which is definitely a good thing, as Graceless is, while a fantastic series in its own right, rather more…adult in tone compared to its parent series.)

Another reason why this series works at being so accessible is that this is the first time that the Doctor has met Abby and Zara since their introduction in The Key 2 Time trilogy, over ten years ago. Naturally, the two sisters have changed a lot since then. In some ways, they’ve matured, but in other ways, they’re far more dangerous. Especially in their attempts to “help” people – no matter what the cost.

Doctor Who

The Fifth Doctor is reunited with Leela and the Graceless twins! (L to R) Ciara Janson, Louise Jameson, Peter Davison, Laura Doddington star in Doctor Who: Wicked Sisters.
Image Courtesy Big Finish Productions

Complex morality

The Garden of Storms feels like a genuine mix of Doctor Who and Graceless, one that both balances and contrasts the different styles of the two series. For example, the story explores a more morally complex situation than you’d usually find in Doctor Who. Every day, thousands of people are sentenced to death, purely because of economics. The Doctor wants to put a stop to it right away, but the sisters aim to take a more long-term approach.

What’s fascinating is how the episode compares those two approaches. It’s pointed out that, while the Doctor regularly saves people, he also rarely hangs around to face the consequences, which probably isn’t the best approach for seeing if you’ve genuinely made a difference. However, even while the sisters try to take a more long-term view, even their methods aren’t without consequences.

Distinctive points of view

Even Leela feels like a great fit for this story. Due to not just the savage society that she was raised in, but also living with the wider view of the Time Lords, her view of the situation is extremely pragmatic, more than anyone else.

Leela may recognize that the society responsible for killing so many innocent lives is far from perfect, but she also knows that she cannot get involved. In short, she contrasts and balances the group well, and shows how strong a four-person team can be in a Doctor Who story if handled right.

Overall, The Garden of Storms is an extremely strong start to Wicked Sisters. It not only works as a great introduction to the world of Graceless, but also includes many of the spin-off’s best elements and fits them into a Doctor Who story extremely well. A very effective opening episode to an interesting crossover.

Have you heard of Graceless? Are you familiar with Abby and Zara? What Doctor Who crossovers can you think of that worked well? Let us know in the comments below.