Forgotten Lives

Posted in Audio by - May 03, 2018
Forgotten Lives

Released November 2015
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

‘The Conspiracy’ and ‘Fall to Earth’ took a step back in time to offer both Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones their respective chances to shine while the mystery behind the nefarious Committee developed. For the third release in Big Finish’s Torchwood range, ‘Forgotten Lives,’ writer Emma Reeves showcases Gwen and Rhys four years after the Miracle with their lives returned to normal as they raise their daughter and try to stay on top of household chores. Jack has been missing from the world and their lives for some time, but a phone call late one night that draws them to an isolated part of North Wales reveals a startling connection between their past and the Bryn Offa Nursing Home that proves that Torchwood never really goes away.

Gwen, of course, provided the initial identification figure for the audience as she concurrently discovered the truth behind Torchwood, and Rhys soon followed suit first as someone still living in the dark and eventually as the everyman who remained unafraid of pointing out the absurdity of some of the situations in which they found themselves. Even as Gwen came to choose Rhys over Torchwood, it was abundantly clear just how much she loved the adrenaline rush, danger, and wonder of her covert job, and the apparent reappearance of Jack’s mind inside of the nursing home resident Mr Griffith along with the inevitable danger that follows in Jack’s wake certainly reignite her desire to take charge and save those around her, especially when her daughter and husband are threatened and the stakes become all too personal. After years away from the roles, both Eve Myles and Kai Owens recapture their characters and their relationship to magnificent effect and effortlessly drive the narrative forward with immense emotion and nuance.

It’s great to see that this Torchwood series isn’t necessarily concerned with telling one chronologically cohesive tale and is instead willing to jump around in time to focus on the specific characters at particular times that best suit an individual story while still having the option of tying into the overall greater narrative arc that has been established. While in this case the revelation that the Committee was responsible for the Miracle which then inspired the Three Families does feel more like a forced retcon than a natural development given the time elapsed since that event, it does still serve to prove just how powerful and secretive the Committee remains and does lend a sense of cohesion between the televised and Big Finish audio eras. With the Evolved the only species so far able to resist the Committee, they have launched a benevolent invasion of Earth in which the mind-swapping basis of their society that ensures everyone treats everyone else fairly because anyone could be anyone else in the morning will be forced upon human society to bring about overall betterment.

Owen absolutely deserves plaudits for his ability to remain believable as another character as the plot requires, but the crux of the story comes down to Philip Bond’s Griffith who claims to be Jack returned after so long. It’s fair to say that Bond’s mannerisms are nothing like Barrowman’s even if the accent varies and is understandably different, a fact that will undoubtedly be detracting for some; nonetheless, the premise of the consciousness of the very vein Jack being within this elderly man is used to magnificent effect both to set up the mystery regarding the veracity of Griffith’s claims and to delve quite profoundly and directly into the process of dementia and its effects on individuals both afflicted and not. And although the pacing does lag in the middle sessions and the voicing for Anwen detracts from the impact of her involvement, ‘Forgotten Lives’ evokes a range of emotions and ensures that nobody involved comes out unscathed, highlighting the very best of humanity in Sean Carlsen’s Gary along the way. It’s certainly not perfect, and following the magnificent ‘Fall to Earth’ was always going to be a difficult task, but it’s immensely interesting in concept and refuses to take the obvious and expected path at any point.

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