Guest contributor Harvey Edwards continues his journey through the official Torchwood continuation from Big Finish with the second instalment of Aliens Among Us
1. “Love Rat” by Christopher Cooper
Following on from the events of Aliens Among Us 1, Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) is now Mayor of Cardiff. This flips everything on its head, and the Sorvix are ever-present in this second volume of the series, literally controlling the city. This boxset features writers who are all new to Torchwood, and starts with Christopher Cooper’s Love Rat.
This is a story very tonally similar to a lot of Torchwood Series 1, and unfortunately it loses some of the maturity that the first boxset had. However, it retains the commentary – this story is really an allegory for the risks that come with sex. It also further explores the character of Ng, played excellently by Alexandria Riley. This story shows where Ng differs from Gwen, and includes a moment that I’m sure will make listeners uncomfortable. Tyler also gets a fair amount of development in this episode and, as before, Jonny Green is brilliant in the role.
Overall, although not as mature as it could have been, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable entry into Torchwood: Aliens Among Us.
2. “A Kill to a View” by Mac Rogers
Mac Rogers’s story introduces Colin, Mr Colchester’s long-suffering husband, as well as re-introducing Bilis Manger, the sinister, mercurial character first met in Torchwood Series 1. Ramon Tikaram plays Colin really well, crafting a genuinely believable character, and his chemistry with Paul Clayton’s Mr Colchester is simply superb.
The plot revolves around how Torchwood interferes with its employees’ home lives. There’s also some incredibly emotive social commentary on why Colin enjoys staying at home so much. However, everything goes wrong when Bilis turns up. Murray Melvin makes a fantastic return to the role, as though he’s never been away, and the character is just as callous as in his original appearance in the Torchwood TV series. This is a consistently strong episode, and the ending will undoubtedly leave listeners excited for what’s next.
3. “Zero Hour” by Janine H. Jones
Janine H Jones’s Zero Hour is paced more slowly than the previous episodes in the series, and revolves around Tyler, and his new friend Hasan, whom he meets at ‘Deliverables’, a new delivery service that seems to be doing strange things to its employees. Now working for Ro-Jedda, this episode shows a different side to Tyler, and it’s clear that he now has a different approach to things.
His chemistry with Hasan, played by Sacha Dhawan, is great, and it functions brilliantly as a follow-on from A Kill to a View, as it highlights the differences between Tyler’s approach to relationships, and Mr Colchester’s, which was explored in detail in the previous episode. However, the episode does drag at times, and the need to fill a whole hour probably didn’t work in this story’s favour. That being said, it’s good at what it sets out to do, and it shows yet more sides to the Sorvix, and their mysterious reasons for arriving on Earth.
4. “The Empty Hand” by Tim Foley
Tim Foley – a writer who would go on to pen some of the most highly acclaimed Torchwood stories for Big Finish – creates a fascinating set-up for his first-ever Torchwood story: what if Andy Davidson killed an innocent refugee? The episode deals with racism, bias in the police force, terrorism, and government control, and it manages to say something about each of those issues exceptionally well.
Tackling so many different real-world scenarios, it would have been easy for the story to go wrong in so many places, yet everything comes together brilliantly. It’s a difficult episode to talk about, as most of the plot details would give away spoilers, but it really is an outstanding story. It also sows the seeds for the final boxset in the series, with some revelations about Jack starting to form. It ends on quite possibly the best cliff-hanger ever, foreshadowing what’s to come for team Torchwood. This is not only one of the best Torchwood stories from Big Finish, but one of the best Torchwood stories ever.
While more inconsistent than the first boxset, this is an excellent continuation of the series, and has two of the best Torchwood stories in A Kill to a View and The Empty Hand. Call-backs to older Torchwood stories blended with a load of fresh, new storylines and continuing the nuanced and well-thought-out social commentary that was present in the first set, and with brilliant performances from the entire cast, this is a must-buy for Torchwood fans.
Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 2 is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com