Serenity

Posted in Audio by - July 15, 2019
Serenity

Released July 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Though not officially billed as a commemorative release, the early arrival of ‘Serenity’ coincides with the tenth anniversary of Ianto Jones’s tragic death on Torchwood which has continued to resonate so profoundly with fans after all this time. Reuniting Gareth David-Lloyd with John Barrowman, writer James Moran continues his Cell 114 narrative introduced in ‘Sleeper’ as Ianto and Jack go undercover as a happily married couple in Serenity Plaza, the most exclusive gated community in Wales where their biggest problem just may be confronting the problems of normal everyday life.

There’s something undeniably intriguing about part of the Torchwood team infiltrating suburbia to uncover part of an alien conspiracy, but as they use the convenience of a weekly barbeque to slowly but surely search the neighbourhood’s houses for traces of alien technology, the story is all the more successful because of just how begrudgingly Ianto fits into this life. Despite his best attempts to show disdain for this world in which he must always plaster a smile on his face, he can’t help but become wholly invested in the rules for the monthly best kept garden contest and in preparing food for the weekly gatherings that always seems to go to waste because of the strict dietary requirements and allergies of his peers. He demands that the toilet seat be kept down because it looks nicer, and he can’t help but constantly tidy and organize even if he wishes Jack would help out a little more.

With Ianto filling something of a Stepford wife role as Ifan, the interplay and relationship between Jack- who chose the cover name of Ken because of it meaning handsome- and him are superbly written and performed. It’s incredibly easy to imagine these two living together in wedded sometimes-bliss, bickering over small details and poking fun at each other both in the presence of their neighbours and when alone. Torchwood doesn’t always have time to slow down its narratives to this extent to allow relationships to truly breathe and develop, and although ‘Serenity’ is a one-off in concept, it’s all the stronger for doing so and proves just how much genuine emotion was at the foundation of this particular relationship that was cut all too short on television.

Fortunately, as Jack and Ianto go through the list of neighbours and try to determine who the most likely sleeper agent is, the actual Cell 114 menace is brought to life quite well. Upon activation, the members do sound somewhat more wooden and emotionless than necessary, but the very real danger to the planet that they pose as well as their chilling observation that humanity will be the ultimate downfall of Earth even if they fail are eerily effective and culminate in one of the most grueling decisions Jack has ever faced. Jack isn’t always confronted with emotionally tumultuous decisions that carry such weight, but Barrowman excels in bringing out a much less confident and even scared version of his beloved and bravado-laced character that complements the material perfectly.

With a nice homage to The Truman Show to open and a neighbourhood filled with cheesy stereotypes and innuendo-laced dialogue that even Jack finds impressive, ‘Serenity’ is able to blend the comedy stemming from this surreal version of suburbia and the tougher characters trapped within it along with genuine horror and complex emotions, taking what at first seems like a superficial tale aimed at solely allowing Jack and Ianto to be together and morphing into something wholly more daring and resonant along the way.

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