Sync

Posted in Audio by - May 27, 2019
Sync

Released May 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

In a monthly series that has crafted some of the finest double acts within the long history of Doctor Who and its spin-offs, Big Finish’s Torchwood now brings together two of the most beguiling and morally questionable figures of the post-2005 relaunch, Susie Costello and Margaret Blaine of the Slitheen, in Lisa McMullin’s ‘Sync.’ When a spaceship crashes outside of Cardiff, it seems like the perfect opportunity for Margaret to attempt an escape from Earth and for Susie to further her own furtive technological agenda, but an alien device bonds them together and they must soon face not only each other but also the imminent destruction of most of the Western Hemisphere.

‘Sync’ is admittedly extremely light on plot as Susie and Margaret look to break their forced bond while trying to find the pilot of the crashed ship, but it excels with developing a sort of dark humour bolstered by genuine tension as the true nature of these characters shines. Despite their inherently different upbringings, the two are more alike than they would dare admit, and their inability to trust and willingness to betray even each other create a unique dynamic that is both self-serving and destructive to ensure that interpersonal drama is just as present as the oncoming missiles locked onto their location. Each is always looking for the upper hand no matter the cost with neither afraid to kill to obtain it, and though Susie must rely more on the element of surprise in contrast to Margaret’s more refined force and hunter instincts, the genuine feeling that neither is completely safe works extremely well to further strengthen what ultimately is a very straightforward story.

Given how divisive the Slitheen were during their initial televised appearance for skewing towards a younger audience, Margaret transitions exceedingly well to the darker tones of Torchwood that accentuate the lurking strength and brutality of her race while allowing her to retain a certain degree of humanity that even her harsh upbringing as a hunter cannot temper. In fact, a standout sequence is Margaret hunting Susie in the dark while regaling her with stories of how those in her family are brought into life and taught to survive from the very start. Her senses are far keener than any human’s, and the Slitheen have rarely been presented so seriously and with such profound impact with the sound affects indicating the true form emerging perfectly incorporated to maximise impact. Indira Varma and Annette Badland have a spectacular chemistry together that captures the heightened nuances of this relationship built upon mistrust, and their shared moments of respite allow further development while an eventual bond that transcends the physical band forms. It’s perhaps unsurprising that these two should form a mutual respect for each other given their pasts and their continued sense of loneliness and unwelcomeness in society, but the fast-paced and dangerous journey they go on to reach that state is a thrilling one that is sure to maintain attention from beginning to end.

‘Sync’ slots in perfectly between ‘World War Three’ and ‘Boom Town’ from Margaret’s perspective, and her blunt discussion about her being the result when nobody shows interest in local elections despite the pressing need for change at the local level gives a sense of resounding immediacy to affairs. This is a much more subtle and calculating character as would develop alongside the Ninth Doctor, and the shades of grey within which she operates wonderfully complements Susie’s own decisions and the path she is already walking down with its known consequences. ‘Sync’ highlights the unlikeliest of duos while traversing a bevy of continuity, but it’s another strong outing for this Torchwood series that continues to excel with the unexpected.

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