Expectant

Posted in Audio by - December 28, 2019
Expectant

Released December 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

To conclude the 2019 run of Torchwood monthly audio adventures, Captain Jack Harkness finds himself tasked with a most unexpected mission in Xanna Eve Chown’s ‘Expectant.’ With the Empress of the fragile Yalnix Empire unable to trust any of her court to grow the next Ruler amidst continuing attacks from the Vad, Jack has been chosen to fulfill this duty, and an enemy battlefleet has followed him to Cardiff.

The premise for ‘Expectant’ is absurd by its very nature, and the script certainly leans into that element while sprinkling in a measure of genuine emotion and reflection for balance. This, of course, allows John Barrowman to let loose with a bombastic performance as Jack succumbs to a bevy of hormones and experiences all of the expected pregnancy touchstones. The plot and Jack’s mood swings are both riotous and unpredictable, and Aaron Anthony provides the perfect second half to the leading double act as the increasingly exasperated midwife Jonty. Jack is anything but a responsible parent on the best of days even when in control of his emotions, and the increasingly dangerous risks he takes by still undertaking missions and attempting to evade detection while protecting the unborn child- his interactions with Weevils and even UNIT particular highlight scenes- easily carry the plot through to its touching conclusion with the genuine but complex relationship of Jack and Ianto once more reaffirmed.

Unfortunately, the fascinating backdrop of the tenuous alliance of worlds forming the Yalnix Empire is hardly touched upon beyond its cursory introduction to provide Jack the impetus for carrying this important child, proving to be a missed opportunity for another unique and more grounded plot element. The eternal battle between the Yalnax and the Vad and the consequences of continuing on when complete knowledge of the original situation has been lost is likewise only peripherally addressed to tease at a far deeper story that may have unfolded outside of this particular Torchwood context. At the very least, ‘Expectant’ does allow Jack the rare opportunity to express his immense grief stemming from the losses of Tosh and Owen while confronting his own immortality and the guilt he carries as a result, and Barrowman absolutely rises to the occasion with a gravitas that ably channels the true breadth of loss that Jack has experienced throughout his many years.

Overall, though, ‘Expectant’ is a fairly safe release, fittingly tapping into the preposterous with moments of pantomime audacity to bring its core concept to life but running the gamut of expected pregnancy plot points with little innovation beyond that which Jack himself and the dangerous threat pursuing him entail. There are moments of genuine emotion and resonance, but this is very much a release for those who enjoy the more light-hearted shades of this audio universe that is often far darker than its televised roots ever dared go. Still, with strong performances across the board and the expected stellar direction and sound design, ‘Expectant’ breezes by with plenty of laughs along the way, providing a uniquely enjoyable- though not necessarily the most memorable- experience with which to end the year.

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