Herald of the Dawn

Posted in Audio by - May 24, 2018
Herald of the Dawn

Released February 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Story arcs and compelling new ideas are second nature to Big Finish at this point, but Aliens Among Us has represented something wholly unique and impressive even by the company’s own standards. Following the events of Miracle Day, Torchwood found itself in something of a limbo state, existing in spin-off media with intriguing stories that further developed certain characters and situations but rarely touching upon the broken and unsteady state of the organisation following that final televised adventure. However, with input from original series creator Russell T Davies, this interlinked series of twelve adventures signifies that the spirit of Torchwood Three is very much alive, struggling to do right with limited finances and material and with a penchant for improvisation. Adeptly introducing new team members and exploring both old and new alike in both expected and unexpected circumstances as the alien Sorvix mount a silent invasion and the very worst of humanity continues to boil over in the streets of Cardiff, the saga of Aliens Among Us has been a consistently enjoyable and well-measured ride that comes to a resounding close with ‘Herald of the Dawn’ by James Goss.

As the end of the world approaches, Goss has a tremendous amount of characters and storylines to balance and progress in ‘Herald of the Dawn,’ and it’s a testament to his talents that the entire narrative unfolds as seamlessly as it does without ever feeling rushed. Yvonne Hartman is unquestionably the head of Torchwood and unafraid of lethally going after loose ends, and it’s clear that she still has far more grandiose plans as she visits mayor Ro-Jedda and brazenly gloats about how Jack was just a few days ago the head of the Red Doors group and of Torchwood, positioned to take control of the city for the himself but now reduced to nothing thanks to her intervention. The Prime Minister has given her permission to formalise a sort of partnership with Ro-Jedda as the head of the Sorvix following the practical demonstration of the influx of cash during her time in Cardiff and the unique ideas for combatting other social blemishes that she has trialed to varying extents in earlier stories. Ro-Jedda has been used somewhat sparingly throughout the latter half of the series, but Rachel Atkins continues to imbue her with a cool danger and level-headedness that makes the prospect of her alliance with the equally conniving Yvonne all the more frightening and real.

Jack has been relatively absent from recent stories since his character and furtive nature were directly called into question as Yvonne usurped his position, but it should come as no surprise that he has not totally abandoned all of his ideals in favour of a rogue terrorist group. Instead, by becoming a de facto leader for them thanks to his charisma and intelligence, he has been able to put in place a long con that will see them captured and taken down before their biggest strike yet as Orr and he gain the confidence of one Inspector Bernstein. Orr trying to understand the complexity of Jack and his motivations is another standout moment, but Jack’s plan fails with disastrous consequences again because of Yvonne’s self-assured meddling, leaving him only to call in a warning as he rushes to save Gwen, and the explosion of City Hall is sure to be a lasting testament to the series of good intentions gone wrong as Torchwood continues into the future.

However, that future will seemingly be without Gwen who has come to realise while trapped within her own body just how strong she is and how much better than Torchwood she actually is. Nobody truly recognised what had happened to her, and she knows that she deserves to live a better life not consumed by Torchwood even though she so dearly loves it and all that it represents. The ultimate resolution of the Ng storyline is somewhat underwhelmingly quick and easy given the long buildup, but the final scene in which Eve Myles returns triumphant and announces her departure is pitch perfect and a fine send-off- at least for now- for the beloved characters of Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams who have been at the heart of the franchise from the bery beginning.

On the other end of the spectrum, newcomer Orr takes centre stage as the chants of God coming continue to swell. While it’s unclear exactly what has happened and what Orr’s role in the future will be, her intense reaction to the complete devotion and belief around her thrusts the character into entirely new territory, and the religion that Ro-Jedda and her Sorvix fled seemingly finding them once more should create an intriguing storyline to continue to explore in future stories. By itself that’s an exciting prospect given the high quality of Aliens Among Us as a whole and the immense character arcs that have already been introduced and explored, but it’s also something of a letdown that so many plot threads are left dangling at the end of this set of twelves stories. It’s a minor sticking point, but subtitling this official fifth series implies a self-contained arc like Torchwood’s own Children of Earth or Miracle Day rather than a springboard for future seasons as well. Nonetheless, while the finale is not so much a finale as such except seemingly for Gwen, Aliens Among Us expertly explores the strengths and weaknesses of its leads and continues to its very end to create a gritty but dynamic world of ongoing turmoil that should form a strong foundation for whatever course Big Finish chooses to pursue.

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