Avid listeners of Big Finish’s Torchwood series will recall that for the fourth episode of the first season, we revisited the briefly-seen Yvonne Hartman with the divisive but really rather good One Rule. For the fourth episode of the second, we get to spend more time with another character who didn’t last too long in the televised series – Suzie Costello.
When Suzie wakes to find Cardiff frozen in time, it’s quickly obvious that it isn’t going to be the best of days for her. Soon enough, she’s on the run from attacking aliens with Alex, the only other person not frozen, and the questions keep adding up – why are they being hunted? Just how sarcastic can one robot be? And can Suzie make it third time lucky to make it to the end of an episode alive?
Being as Moving Target is set before the start of the first televised series of Torchwood, that last part may be an easy prediction – but that’s unusual in a wonderfully twisty tale that revels in skewing off in different directions to the norm.
Like the aforementioned Yvonne, Suzie is one of the, er, shall we say “less morally upright” characters Torchwood has counted on its staff, and writer Guy Adams takes full advantage to delve into Suzie’s head. As the only person able to protect Alex, and without any backup from her team, it clearly isn’t a natural or comfortable situation for Suzie and her more typical cold self-interest, but the deepening of her character is believable. That is testament both to Guy Adams’ sharp script and Indira Varma’s performance; it beggars belief that it’s been 10 years since we’ve seen her as she apparently effortlessly inhabits Suzie from the outset.
Nathan Barley‘s Nicholas Burns is also fantastic as the robot referee with a special line in snark (someone has clearly been playing way too much Portal 2!), and although Alex can get close to annoyingly whiny at times Naomi McDonald keeps her in audience sympathy.
There was always something particularly brilliant about Torchwood that set it aside from other shows in the way it could deal with the darkest of themes in a way that could be frequently hilarious without ever undermining the seriousness of its subject matter, and Guy Adams has encapsulated that perfectly here. At times, Moving Target is laugh-out-loud funny, but it can turn on a dime and have the rug away from under your feet before you’ve had time to wipe your eyes.
The second series of Big Finish Torchwood keeps on going from strength to strength, and Moving Target gives a fresh angle on an engagingly complex and morally interesting character. It’s a great direction to see and opens up lots of future possibilities, could there even be an opportunity for a story with Oswald Danes? If anyone could rise to that kind of challenge, it’s going to be this Big Finish team!
Torchwood: Moving Target is available now from BigFinish.com