In Review: Big Finish: Torchwood: Ex Machina

This review contains spoilers.

Synopsis: Ianto Jones is Torchwood. Ianto Jones is the defender of a deserted city, a lone crusader who keeps the empty streets safe.

One day he meets one of the few survivors. She needs his help – because she’s being chased by a darkness. A darkness which says it loves her.

Review: This review contains spoilers.

Torchwood: Ex Machina by Alfie Shaw put a different spin on a science fiction staple. Shaw gave listeners a tale with added weight in the current era.

The Story

According to the Extra Interviews, Torchwood: Ex Machina was the first Torchwood audio recorded during Lockdown. That gave a story about the nearly deserted Cardiff a meta-level eeriness that caused me (not for the first time during this pandemic) to mourn the loss of allegory.

At the strictly structural level, there was very little new here. Ianto was alone except for a few others. I was pleased that one of those others was Myfanwy. Although, I was sorry Torchwood never learned to communicate with her properly, as she probably remembered all the Not-Food that was suddenly missing when no one else could.

The newish element in the story wasn’t the effect but the cause. Abigail Forehill and the part she played in events were teased out beautifully. In the process, Ianto became a foil for her, and listeners were treated to some marvelous foreshadowing and fan service. 

For its part, The Absence was a great addition to Torchwood mythology. It represented one of those instances when the lack of world-building was a strength in the overall storytelling. We don’t learn how it first arrived — only what its arrival meant. Hopefully, we’ll get an origin for The Absence in a Short Trip story, narrated by Jacob Dudman as the relevant Doctor.

The Acting

Speaking of Jacob Dudman, he had a small but pivotal role in the story that allowed him to exercise some different vocal muscles. Dudman was joined by an equally excellent supporting cast. That said, the story was effectively a two-hander between Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto and Laura Aikman as Abigail. Shaw’s material gave them both a great deal to play over the course of 50 minutes.

Overall

Thanks, again, Big Finish for another top notch Torchwood entry. I’m looking forward to the Owen and Andy team up next month.

You can purchase Torchwood: Ex Machina here.

9.5
Big Finish: Torchwood: Ex Machina
  • Story
    8.5
  • Performances
    10
  • Audio Production
    10

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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