Corpse Day

Posted in Website by - May 17, 2018
Corpse Day

Released May 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

In the original two televised series of Torchwood, few storylines carried as much dramatic impact as the death and unique restoration of Owen that left him an undying corpse deprived of even life’s simplest pleasures. Although this didn’t necessarily get the time or exploration that it deserves to reach its fullest potential, it provided a distinct contrast to the bombastic energy and charisma of the likewise-immortal Captain Jack and allowed Burn Gorman to deliver some truly impressive and satisfyingly deep material. In the fifteenth release of Big Finish’s Torchwood audio monthly range, Gorman finally reprises his role as Owen Harper during this darker time period in James Goss’s ‘Corpse Day’ when Owen is teamed with PC Andy Davidson on the one day of the year when the local police get help on dead cases from Torchwood.

There may not a be pair of characters so diametrically distinct than Owen and Andy, but their contrasting outlooks on life are used to remarkable effect to highlight the true danger and horror of the dark situation in which they soon find themselves when exploring a series of missing women. Quickly progressing from its traditional buddy cop shtick, Owen has lost a great deal of his emotions since dying, and he now strives to live vicariously through the actions of others, exemplified at first by having Andy eat a large meal in front of him but leading to trouble later on as an innocuous search for dog food leads to some of the most shocking and disturbing events in Torchwood’s long history in the cellar of the depraved Glynn.

The Weevils have been a long-standing part of this franchise even if a tremendous amount is still unknown about them, but this fascinating look at a depraved man and a single Weevil taken out of its traditional herd environment and darkness certainly pulls no punches when delving directly into the darkness of its own events. Glynn has been abducting women outside of clubs and trapping them as his so-called daughters in his home, using them as food or for mates to the Weevil whom he has dotingnly raised since childhood even after it accidentally killed his wife. This latter aspect comes as a particularly shocking surprise given Glynn’s central prominence in this cult-like group and the assumptions that are played up surrounding that and the many failed pregnancies, and Nigel Betts is superb throughout in showcasing a complex man battling the conflicting feelings of love, loneliness, and anger as the outside world comes crashing into his own vision of the future based upon such horror and sadness in his past.

One of the more interesting suggestions is that the Weevil is just as much a victim of Glynn’s abuse as the women are and that the Weevil has actually come to act as a protector of the captives. The backgroudn behind this lone Weevil paints the crature as something of a surprisingly sympathetic figure, but unfortunately ‘Corpse Day’ does not even attempt to explore the fallout of the physical and emotional trauma that these very human women have been subjected to while trapped in this home even within this context. There is the rather uplifting sentiment that life of any kind is sacred when Owen is forced to help deliver the first live hybrid baby that has made it to term, but the decision to simply leave the Weevil and these women to their own devices without reporting anything to anyone at the end of the story is a disservice to the very dark places that this story goes and the more moral outlook of Andy that never really enters into the equation to add even more impactful emotional resonance. As a whole, though, ‘Corpse Day’ is expertly tense and claustrophobic as it explores the true monstrosity that humanity can become in the most misguided or circumstances, and the strong direction and wonderful performances by Burn Gorman and Tom Price illustrate the gruesome horror that Torchwood is perfectly able to bring to life in the right hands.

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