Changes Everything

Posted in Audio by - May 20, 2018
Changes Everything

Released August 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Although the final televised episode of Torchwood aired in 2011, time has been kind to the series and its fans, especially with Big Finish’s acquisition of the license that has resulted in a multitude of stellar standalone stories and box sets in a very short time period. However, Aliens Among Us represents something altogether more unique, the official fifth series created with input from original creator Russell T Davies that picks up the story following the dramatic events of Miracle Day as Jack and Gwen struggle rebuild Torchwood in Cardiff alongside a brand new cast of characters.

Cardiff is a much different and darker city rife with hate crimes and attacks against innocent refugees as Aliens Among Us begins with James Goss’s ‘Changes Everything.’ Disgraced journalist Tyler Steele has arrived to investigate, hoping for a fresh start and to get his name out as a legitimate reporter once more by exposing the truth behind the Red Doors movement, the outsourcing contractor 3Sol, and the very reason for the intensifying racism and hatred in the city. When Torchwood must spring into action to save his life and expose him to the alien side of the city he never knew existed because of the informatio nhe must have that has been deemed important enough to kill to prevent getting out, he soon comes to realise that this organisation is the second chance for which he’s been searching for so long.

Understandably and even wisely, Goss borrows several elements from the Torchwood premiere ‘Everything Changes’ to deliver a soft reboot of the series while fleshing out the new and returning cast in this regrettably topical story. Jonny Green makes an instant impact as Tyler Steele, a smug man befitting of his profession who soon learns that his brash self-assuredness that he understands the world and how to navigate its many channels is wholly less deserved than he could have ever believed. It’s a bold choice to introduce a character who doesn’t quite share that implicit morality and willingness to believe that fans have come to expect from Torchwood’s members as the series progressed, but Tyler does show an innate desire to do the right thing beneath his arrogance that ensures he remains a sympathetic figure even as he initially scoffs at the idea of Torchwood and later fails his impromptu examination spectacularly to be rejected from an organisation that now views the loss of innocent lives as unacceptable.

Gwen takes on the role of Jack from her own first day on the job, and Jack gives a profoundly powerful speech about the current state of Cardiff while rescinding Tyler’s job offer that delve into the more nuanced and responsible side of the character that will hopefully continue to come to forefront after everything that Torchwood and he have lost, suggesting that the organisation will no longer be issuing second chances regardless of potential or merit. However, this opening instalment is truly a time for the new characters to shine, and joining Tyler is the more seasoned civil servant Mr Colchester who has been installed to help with the official rebuilding process while ensuring that the rift activity remains monitored and Cardiff as a whole remains safe. The two share a particularly explosive scene in which Tyler attacks Colchester for assumedly conservative views, and actor Paul Clayton’s dry and immediate delivery of the fact that his character must leave to pick up his Muslim husband is the perfect introduction and background piece to accentuate this engaging character who is already so important to Torchwood as a whole.

Goss had the rather unenviable task of tying old and new together while remaining perfectly accessible and true to spirit and tone of everything that has come before, and he has somehow managed to succeed while delivering an incredibly strong story in its own right that effortlessly veers from comedy to horror while incorporating very topical concerns and fears. It’s only one episode in, but if the characterisation, tension, performances, direction, and sound design can continue to hit these highs now that the introductory work is done, Aliens Among Us could be among the franchise’s very best.

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