The Awakening is another two-part story and, as such, presents a comparatively lean adventure. Nevertheless, as a story of an advanced alien probe spawning a devil-like creature, feeding off of “psychic energy” (Doctor Who sure does love its psychic energies), opening a rift into the 17th century and brainwashing a village of war reenactors, it is by no means small, but it does have to rely on a lot of clumsy exposition to push things along.
It’s all a bit wishy-washy, really, with giant faces, psychic projections and ghostly apparitions thrown into a melting pot of bizarre happenings. The imagery and implications are quite dark, admittedly, and the brainwashed Hutchinson is an entertainingly mad villain, but I found it unbelievable how the whole village just went along with his progressively weirder requests. There is an uneasy atmosphere to the proceedings, where you’re not quite sure how serious everybody is being, whether the threats are real or all part of the game.
I think they could have played up the “are we in the past?” angle a bit more, or played into the “mysterious happenings in a quiet village” theme, where everyone is acting strangely. Maybe a longer story would have done that, but then again, there is something to be said of a story that doesn’t drag for the sake of it. There’s sadly not much time to develop Tegan’s character or her relationship with her grandfather, which turns him into just a plot device and a reason for Tegan to go wandering off. Oh well.