Big Finish: Torchwood 2.5 – Broken

Jack and Ianto, and some alone time at last? Well, not quite as you’d expect…

BF TW 205 Broken

A criticism levelled at the first televised series of Torchwood was how Ianto seemed to recover his very British stiff upper lip so quickly after some very traumatic events early on, and got more integrated into the team despite the betrayals around Cyber-girlfriend Lisa. It all felt a bit of a leap – and in jumps Big Finish to tell what was happening behind the screen. Pull up a pew, I’ll get the pints in…

 

It’s obvious early on that Broken is taking a slightly different approach to an already varied Torchwood series, and this is a very psychological episode that really builds Ianto’s character in ways that reflect for all of his televised and audio appearances to date (and hopefully more to come). Picking up immediately after the events of Cyberwoman and weaving in and out of the next several TV stories, we join Ianto as he stumbles into a pub alone, distraught and with noone to talk to. In his cathartic conversations with barmaid Mandy, Ianto tries to come to terms with the loss of his girlfriend and his place in work, but life as a member of Torchwood never leaves anyone time to breathe and take stock…

The brilliant aspect of Broken is how it manages to balance its tone brilliantly, and writer Joseph Lidster elicits raw emotion superbly yet without the story becoming maudlin thanks to light touches that feel completely in line with the characters. That it can flip from heartbreaking to laugh-out-loud funny so quickly but without feeling cheap is testament to a real and deep understanding of the personalities and natural dialogue.

Both Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman clearly relish the material and as strong as Melanie Walters’ Mandy is, Ianto and Jack are electric here. The development is not just for Ianto either, as we get signs of the more angry Jack from the early Torchwood stories and what helps mellow him.

The multitalented Scott Handcock (directing, helming the post-credits interview and providing handy reminders when sloppy reviewers use the wrong names on Twitter 😉 ) helps Broken jump out of the speakers and there’s a slightly different style to other episodes yet it feels additive rather than out of place. This is aided by excellent sound design by Steve Foxon, and Blair Mowat’s extension of the Torchwood musical landscape is as impressive as ever.

It may not be a story for everyone, and it isn’t one that progresses the overarching threads like The Committee so much, but Broken is a stunning character piece that manages the rare feat of adding depth to previous stories that allows them to be revisited in new ways without any rewriting of history. Coffee fans, don’t miss it!

Torchwood: Broken is available now from BigFinish.com

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