Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue

Posted in Audio by - November 24, 2020
Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue

Released November 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

From the start of Torchwood, Rhys and Ianto in many ways represented the moral- if ultimately flawed- backbone of the universe in which this furtive organization operates, the former providing an outsider’s perspective while not necessarily knowing the full truth and the latter operating from within its ranks. Yet because of their very different lifestyles and positions, the two rarely shared any scenes together on screen, and Tim Foley looks to rectify that narrative gap when an uninvited Ianto is the only one to show up to Rhys’s planned lads’ night of barbecue, beer, and banter in “Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue.”

The cover and title may suggest that this is something of a more light-hearted romp, but although Foley does easily and often insert more comedic moments to lighten the tone, the overall result is a very nuanced and weighty piece that touches on such aspects as toxic masculinity, suicide, depression, loneliness, and the accepted norm of men not talking about their feelings that are unfortunately all too common in today’s society and even more prevalent as COVID-19 continues its unrelenting spread. And although not each of these topics is necessarily explored in equal depth, simply mentioning topics that so often go unstated gives the unfolding events an added emphasis that makes Rhys’s eventual dedication to improving his own interpersonal relationships all that much more profound and resonant.

Of course, Rhys and Ianto are incredibly different people, and Kai Owen and Gareth David-Lloyd excellently play off of each other to drive home the characters’ very different backgrounds and mannerisms in order to allow a burgeoning mutual understanding and connection to develop. With even basic communication and dress styles so vastly different, there is plenty to dissect and discuss, and the journey the two go on simply because of where Rhys finds himself at this point in time as a part of Gwen’s life is natural and initially fraught with plenty of preconceptions and misgivings. Unsurprisingly a self-titled excellent barbecue ends up being anything but in the Torchwood universe, but the rift’s latest unexpected local effect and the resulting sense of despair and hope prove to be the perfect vehicles through which these two franchise stalwarts can genuine develop alongside one another. Yes, the bubble effect does at times seem like it wants to be part of something much bigger with another threat lying in wait, but this is another case of less is more that makes the most of what essentially becomes a two-hander.

“Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue” is very much Rhys’s story, and the subversion of expectations that this narrative accomplishes is genuinely surprising and sure to last with listeners long after the end theme plays. With the titular barbecue serving as something of a metaphor for 2020 as a whole on a global and personal level, this story’s timeliness and willingness to discuss difficult topics make it one of the more understated yet most powerful character pieces the range has offered in some time. Even with a bigger threat seemingly waiting to burst forth that never comes, this is a story that is sure to appease fans of the series as a whole and of Rhys and Ianto as individuals, and it’s another success for this range that is well and truly at the top of its game with meaningfully developing its beloved longstanding characters ever further.

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