Poker Face

Posted in Audio by - May 23, 2018
Poker Face

Released February 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Aliens Among Us has proven on countless occasions already that it is entirely unafraid of taking risks as it boldly continues events beyond Miracle Day without ignoring any of the drama and fallout from those many chapters that remain somewhat divisive to this day. With a new team fully established and developed and Cardiff under siege from threats both entirely alien and devastatingly human, the final set of four stories beginning with Tim Foley’s ‘Poker Face’ promises to further amplify the ambition and scope and to daringly deliver once more on the proclamation that the twenty-first century is when everything changes.

The Red Doors terrorist movement was initially created as a fiction, but fiction has bred reality and its plots to purge Cardiff of extraterrestrials have become increasingly violent. At the same time, Jack’s secrecy and unwillingness to partake in open discussion has slowly been driving a wedge between the Torchwood team members, and the surprising return of Yvonne Hartman represents an enviable alternative leadership model with a proven history of success and results. It goes without saying that her leadership is far from flawless and certainly comes with its own list of issues and resulting deaths, but she represents all that is needed currently- a new direction disparate from Jack that brings with it the orderliness and stability that Colchester has been trying to instil all along.

Tracy-Ann Oberman has reprised her famed role from Doctor Who on multiple occasions for Big Finish already, and she effortlessly brings the same resolve and easy charisma to this alternate version of Yvonne that still makes it completely understandable why people are so willing to listen to her and accede to her suggestions and desires. She is cunning and able to think several steps ahead of even the most accomplished strategists and conspiracy theorists, and the elaborate ploy she uses to blow wide open Jack’s secret involvement and appointment within Red Doors is executed to perfection. At the same time, however, Yvonne knows exactly the right words to say to each individual to play upon his or her emotions and paranoia to ensure that events play out exactly as she needs. Given that Yvonne spends so much time confined in a cell here, this is arguably the character’s strongest outing yet and proves undeniably how powerful she can be in any given circumstance.

It’s a testament to the author in particular that the return of Yvonne does not completely outshine the internal and interpersonal conflict of Torchwood’s usual members and instead only further serves to accentuate the drama by demonstrating just how truly broken this team currently is. Everyone involved is on peak form with very emotional performances that only enhance the tension as change within the organisation becomes more and more imminent and evident, and the journey from Jack insisting that Yvonne must not be trusted at the start to Jack insisting that Yvonne has framed him by skewing events and taking others out of context is superb. Indeed, as Jack’s Red Doors association becomes clear, the thought given to whether the ends justify the means and if Torchwood could ever function under such a pretext is deftly handled and strikes at the very core of the crossroads that the group now faces.

With the twelve stories of Aliens Among Us being released in three sets of four stories, each part has become something of a mini-series within a larger framework, and ‘Poker Face’ represents a stunning start to this final quartet of stories that ties together so much background drama stemming from previous stories with a bold twist that will assuredly have huge ramifications going forward. The return of Yvonne could not possibly have been predicted before the previous set’s cliffhanger ending, but she instils herself into this fragile team in a way that only she could and represents the perfect ambiguous force to spur the team’s fractures and the overall story onward.

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