After Big Finish opened this year’s Torchwood range with Guy Adams‘s epic two-parter Double, Valentine’s Day sees the release of a smaller-scale story, The Last Love Song of Suzie Costello, the first in a trilogy of romance-themed stories in the range. This episode is the first to be written by Rafaella Marcus, and sees the return of Indira Varma as Suzie for the first time since Sync in 2019.
The opening few minutes of this story aren’t the best – everything feels rushed and it seems like the actors are still settling into their roles. However, the premise is interesting: Suzie finds a crashed ship at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Iceland and has to help its captain (Anwir, a human from the future played by James Backway) get the ship out of the water and back to its intended destination. As soon as Suzie reaches the ship, the story picks up dramatically, Varma’s performance feeling more natural and her interplay with Backway being a highlight of this story. Also present is the spaceship’s AI, Orion, played brilliantly by Danielle Kassaraté.
The aforementioned theme of romance is explored by Suzie’s relationship with Anwir. Over the course of several days trying to build a rift manipulator, the pair become close, and we get a rare insight into a softer side of Suzie. Varma gets a chance here to show that her character, despite her outwardly selfish, nihilistic tendencies, does have more vulnerable aspects, although these are all consistent with the Suzie that we know. Marcus seems to really understand the character, and although the dialogue is pacey, director Steven Kavuma ensures that some elements of the story don’t move too quickly, and that there’s enough time to focus on the characters. As said before, Varma’s chemistry with Backway is really where the most enjoyable parts of this episode shine through, and there are several moments along the way that will make listeners reconsider what they’ve heard before – this release will benefit from a second listen.
Blair Mowat‘s score is (as always) excellent, never detracting from the emotional beats of the story, while Shane O’Byrne‘s sound design captures the underwater setting perfectly, ensuring that the location of the story is believable while maintaining an industrial feel on board a spaceship. Of the three stories that Kavuma has directed so far, this one is the strongest yet, and he certainly seems to have settled into the world of Torchwood very well. Likewise, I really hope Rafaella Marcus gets more opportunities to write for Torchwood – especially for Suzie – as she’s nailed this script. Other than the weak opening scene, The Last Love Song of Suzie Costello is a resounding success, and has set a high bar for the next two ‘romance’ stories
The Last Love Song of Suzie Costello is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
Leave a Reply