Torchwood: Aliens Among Us Part 2 – Starring John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Alexandria Riley, Paul Clayton, Kai Owen, Tom Price, Jonny Green, Sam Beart, Murray Melvin, Ramon Tikaram & Rachel Atkins. Written by Christopher Cooper, Mac Rogers, Janine H Jones, Tim Foley & Directed by Scott Handcock – 4xCD / Download (Big Finish)
When Big Finish announced a collaboration of sorts with Russell T. Davies for an official fifth series of Torchwood, fans on social media had a common reaction: “why is it only on audio? Boo hoo licence fee etc.” The answer is, if you give the licence to Big Finish, it leads to fine drama like Aliens Among Us.
If you haven’t listened to Volume One, get it heard. As this set doesn’t give you any kind of ‘previously on’, we need to give you a quick recap. An alien is now the Mayor of Cardiff. (The more things change…) Gwen’s possessed by an alien and her mother’s dead. The young man Jonny Steele, previously hoping to join Torchwood, is now working for the alien mayor. Caught up? Good.
Of the four episodes offered here, A Kill to a View and The Empty Hand were the most memorable. So much so that we had to look up the synopses of the other two; we also only listened to one a week, to drag out the experience for longer. This might have had something to do with it.
For old-school Torchwood fans, look who’s turned up – it’s only bloody Bilis Manger! It’s a part that Murray Melvin is able to step back into with ease, bringing all of the amiable charm that made him one of the best characters of the first TV series. He was long overdue for a return; thank god we’ve not seen the last of him.
Then there’s ever-lovable PC Andy, who is caught up in a scheme to stir up resentment against Cardiff’s police. It’s a cracking episode, marrying modern concerns about the treatment of refugees with shades of the old Star Trek episode Wolf in the Fold, although Andy wasn’t possessed by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. No word yet on whether Gwen’s suffered that fate, though.
Speaking of Gwen’s possession, that’s one of the few storylines that, for our money, isn’t really working at the moment. It’s been introduced a bit too early (for necessary reasons) but it’s now been left to languish between boxsets, clearly because they’re waiting until the climax. Proper Gwen has been saying things along the lines of “I’m going to fight my way out and come for you” for around five episodes now, which makes it feel like it’s treading water.
But this is a low point in an otherwise enjoyable boxset. As we’ve found with pretty much every Big Finish Torchwood release, the quality is generally better than the TV series; certainly The Empty Hand is a lot more potent than much of what that had to offer. But the high point of the lot is the overall cliffhanger. Good god that was a bombshell. It’s a good way to set things up going forward and is an example of a plot twist that still maintains excitement and intrigue after being spoiled. We can’t wait to find out how Torchwood’s official fifth season ends. Scott Varnham