A Mother’s Son

Posted in Audio by - June 23, 2019
A Mother’s Son

Released June 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As the God Among Us saga begins to draw to a close with Alexandria Riley’s “A Mother’s Son” opening the third and final set of stories, Cardiff has been devastated by the inadvertent tsunami that resulted from Torchwood’s furtive efforts to stop the Committee’s most nefarious plan yet. With only a wall to commemorate the incredible number of missing or dead while countless others have taken refuge in survivor camps, the city is awash in a bevy of emotions as the hope for help, answers, and normality continues to diminish day by day. With an inquiry set up to find out the truth, Torchwood finds itself at risk of being exposed and blamed for the atrocities at hand.

Squarely featuring the grieving mother Bethan who is so desperately clinging to the shred of hope that she may find her missing son, “A Mother’s Son” is the type of story that could only realistically feature in this type of audio release format, introducing the audience to the current state of affairs in Cardiff while giving only brief updates on many of the Torchwood regulars whom she comes across in her search. Unsurprisingly, this type of narrative is wholly dependent on its de facto lead, and Mina Anwar gives a monumental performance that powerfully conveys the complex combination of diminishing yet persistent hope, simmering and intensifying frustration, and above all unyielding and undeniable guilt that courses throughout Bethan at all times. Her son is everything to her, and something as simple as an uncharged phone made her miss his final call for help and has naturally resulted in her determined search to discover as much as she can, a search that leads her to look into the seemingly-important names of Torchwood and Yvonne Hartman. Furthering this fierce determination is an understandable inability to not look backwards, and finding Orr and her amazing abilities to become whoever an individual most desires and to pick up on the emotions swirling within proves to be an opportunity she cannot resist, one that she cannot help but share to assist others grieving as well in a process that unwittingly exposes Orr while making clear the price she incurs.

Playing Ng who was first introduced to Torchwood while assuming the identity of Gwen Cooper in Aliens Among Us, Alexandria Riley has an implicit knowledge of how the many figures within the organisation act both under normal circumstances and when their backs are against the wall with any of a multitude of pressures closing in on them. Given Yvonne’s history with both Jack and Andy, it’s no surprise that both should cast somewhat wary suspicions at her, suspicions that Bethan adds to through her own attempts to get questions about Torchwood asked at official meetings that are suddenly forgotten just as universally as the specifics that important individuals throughout Cardiff have forgotten about when and how they were given information about the impending tsunami. The water crisis facing Cardiff is all too real, but it also presents Yvonne with the perfect opportunity to furtively put her own secretive plan in action, a plan that looks to protect Torchwood despite its innocence but that cannot stand up to one determined individual given the slightest nudge. Yvonne will be Yvonne while trusting herself above all others right until the very end, and how she and Torchwood in general will function in such a limited capacity with the DRC that is preparing something much worse gaining such a foothold in Cardiff will be a fascinating aspect to explore in the remaining stories.

“A Mother’s Son” is a powerful episode that succinctly sets up this season’s final run of stories. Torchwood has never been afraid of exploring the personal impact of the larger events playing out in its world, and Riley offers one of the most intimate and impactful explorations yet as the eyes of one suffering individual take centre stage. Much like Torchwood as an organisation, Bethan is undoubtedly well-intentioned but certainly not flawless, and it’s that precise distinction that makes not only this story but this franchise such a success on every level. Not every story needs to significantly progress the overall arc, and while some may yearn for a more dynamic feature that does just that while focusing on the regulars more directly, the development of the necessary background information confronting the city through Bethan’s own turmoil and her many quick interactions makes this an essential and unique instalment that is wholly engrossing at all times.

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