The Conspiracy

Posted in Audio by - May 02, 2018
The Conspiracy

Released September 2015
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Four years after Torchwood concluded its televised run with the tenth episode of the Miracle Day saga, Captain Jack Harkness and his intrepid Torchwood Three team tasked with securing alien technology and protecting Great Britain from extraterrestrial threat return with Big Finish rewinding the clock in a series of tales with one of the core characters in focus at a time. Fittingly, the charismatic Captain Jack features in this premiere ‘The Committee’ by David Llewellyn, following his suspicions about the so-called Committee when the renowned news reporter turned conspiracy theorist George Wilson begins speaking publicly about this group of alien lizards who have for so long staged disasters and killed people to guide humanity without ever arousing suspicion. His claims are outrageous, but Jack knows that the Committee has arrived.

There’s no denying that John Barrowman is an incredibly talented and versatile actor who demands attention whenever he’s on screen, but the audio medium truly allows the raw power and nuance of his performance as Harkness to shine. Torchwood keeps appraised of all of the conspiracy theorists, and Jack duly pays a visit to George Wilson when he makes an appearance in Cardiff to see just what he knows and how he came upon this otherwise secretive information. Given just how seriously and convincingly John Sessions plays the role no matter how outlandish Wilson’s claims become which never seem to deter Jack’s interest, an immense amount of weight is added to the production that makes the ultimate truth behind the character all the more satisfying and surprising.

‘The Conspiracy’ is very much an introductory story to the furtive and nefarious Committee, and so many questions remained unanswered about these figures guiding and acting from the shadows just out of sight by the time Jack meets yet another untimely demise. With suggestions that its members have been present for hundreds or even thousands of years, their ultimate aims remain somewhat shrouded, but the notion that they have been guiding population growth and technology to finally allow a means of total destruction or at least severe population control is a truly frightening one that adds a significantly sinister and subtly menacing edge to this powerful group that most alien species don’t manage to achieve beyond their more overt forms of danger. With Committee members in every walk of life guiding specific events as needed, the revelation that Wilson made it all up is wisely delivered bluntly and brutally for maximum effect, confusing Jack and the audience given everything he has gotten right about this group throughout the story. This is a great bluff of sorts for the plot that temporarily tosses aside all known assumptions, making the even more sinister familial involvement even more impactful given its ramifications. Torchwood works best when there is an external threat for its members to work against, and the Committee that has a particular grudge against Jack given his past lies to them off of Earth certainly seems to be amounting to a tremendous threat that should provide a fitting recurrent menace for this audio series with its leads isolated.

Torchwood took a while to find its footing and strike a balance between its more adult themes and its immense imagination while exploring this secretive organisation that flaunts its existence quite publicly, but ‘The Conspiracy’ seems to indicate that Big Finish has learned from what did and did not work on television to offer a suitably strong introduction that remains true to the very core of the franchise, making the most of its small cast to deliver a surprisingly deep and twisting narrative with very intimate consequences in the real world that successfully puts so much in motion for future stories.

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