The Torchwood Archive

Posted in Audio by - November 01, 2016
The Torchwood Archive

Released October 2016
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The Torchwood Archive provides a complete history of the institute from its founding in 1879, a record stored at the very edge of the British Empire on a forgotten asteroid in the centre of a great war. Jeremiah Henderson is the first visitor in many centuries and is hoping to learn something very important, but the ghosts of Torchwood are waiting as the franchise celebrates its tenth anniversary in grand fashion by bringing together well-known, forgotten, and background characters to finally shed light on the ever-lasting war between Torchwood and the mysterious Committee.

The Torchwood Archive is composed of a lengthy series of vignettes intended to slowly give Jeremiah the answers he is searching for regarding Torchwood, the Committee, and Object One. Fittingly beginning with Jack to whom Queen Victoria gives Object One to dispose of because of the bad luck and danger that follows it so closely first in Russia and now closer at home, Jack has instead taken the object back to Wales and plans to use it for his own gain. Not doing much with it for the next ten years as he navigates a monarch change and continues to make a name for himself, he realises that he must finally fulfill his duty when Cardiff becomes subject to a mutative plague, throwing it into the rift in 1914 when, of course, nothing bad ever happened. Flashing forward to 2004, Suzie Costello under Jack’s instruction calls Yvonne Hartman after uncovering Object One once more in an isolated Welsh artificial doll factory that ties in so closely with ‘Uncanny Valley.’ In the suspicious town where nobody enters or leaves and where everyone works 9am to 5pm sharp and then goes home to watch Welsh television with no exception, the factory is producing duplicates of the ordinary townspeople, and Suzie has no qualms about burning it down and later getting the nicknamed bad penny out of Wales.

Jack then becomes the recipient of a phone call as a woman claims to be working for the Committee and making them vessels to inhabit on Earth, struggling to perfect the arms to her bosses’ likings. She has been promised a spot in the lifeboat when the apocalypse comes, and she would rather take her springer spaniel as a plus-one than any other human, but she soon learns that the promise of a safe escape is a lie and that all of humanity is doomed. As the Russian equivalent of Torchwood struggles with the reality of five powerful men being told by their- unknown to the men- artificial girlfriends to bid on super weapons to help the Committee’s profit, Tosh features in a segment where she has managed to reverse the bad luck of Object One into good luck. Owen has kissed her and a war in Africa has ended just because she heard about it, but she implicitly understands that nobody should have that kind of power, sending it to another dimension much to the dismay of her unsuspecting drinking partner. On the last day of the twentieth century, Torchwood Three’s leader Alex Hopkins sees everything change. He has been offered the chance to spy for the Committee that he has no knowledge of, and a strange being warns him that the Committee was there at Torchwood’s beginning and will be there at its end as it now begins to awaken. Alex is sure none of his team is working for the Committee, but he gives in to temptation and opens up the mysterious locket given to him earlier in order to prove the being wrong. Seeing the invasions, government deals, and how everything gets out of hand as the events of Children of Earth and Miracle Day are referenced, he finds his name added to the dreaded Red List of Torchwood’s worst.

As the second episode begins, crucial backstory is finally given to Jeremiah, a man who unknowingly came to be in possession of Object One on his honeymoon when tasked with destroying the Torchwood Archive that is now in enemy space. Unfortunately, his new wife tried on the locket without knowing what it was, and Jeremiah’s only course of action when she becomes overtaken by an agent of their ages-old enemy is to shoot her dead. The scene is brief, but it’s dramatic in its effect and Richie Campbell does well to explain how his character came to be where he is. Through PC Andy’s visual interface, Jeremiah continues his quest for knowledge, first seeing Archie cataloguing thousands of artefacts Torchwood has acquired as he tries to stay abreast of the ever-changing technology through human ingenuity as well and then coming to understand that the relationship between Torchwood and the Committee is not always straightforward as Norton Folgate in the 1950s reveals himself to be in league with Torchwood’s enemies as he tries to drug and deceive his way into possession of Object One for himself.

As Jack is sent the locket in 1924 after raiding Torchwood India’s artefacts as an act of revenge and much later as Ianto comes to be in possession of it to give to Lisa after Yvonne originally orders it destroyed, its nickname of the bad penny proves to be wholly earned. With the Committee learning that humans are easy to manipulate and control but impossible to fight and defeat because of their changing emotions, they are instead looking to replace humanity and relaunch the planet. Gwen learns while investigating the conspiracy theory behind the death of conspiracy theorist George Wilson from ‘The Conspiracy’ that the Committee are faceless and bodiless and have the ability to overtake certain individuals as her life quickly becomes threatened. Rhys knows just like Jeremiah that Torchwood can take everything, getting a person hooked but never asking what that person actually needs, and Jeremiah proves smart enough to realise that Object One is simply a nickname for an object, the Torchwood computer at the heart of the Archive being the true first object that has been present through all of the stories steering events.

Taking on the voice of Queen Victoria, the memory core finally reveals the truth behind Torchwood and the Committee, bringing closure to the intriguing and long-standing mystery underlying the Big Finish Torchwood audios to this point. Torchwood is Earth’s ultimate defense, but any defense needs a threat to prove its worth, and so Victoria was complicit with the Czar of the time in creating the Committee out of a random group of aliens it banded together with their leaders to present a challenge to Earth. As time progressed, that alliance grew too strong and began attacking other planets as well, explaining to the Czar that it was simply testing strategies and accidentally conquering worlds that it would then run benignly and profitably to avoid the embarrassment of handing control back to the original planets’ denizens. The Committee inauspiciously gave Object One to the Czar who promptly gifted it to Victoria, but the locket beneath its shield of bad luck is actually a key to the pocket universe in which the Committee’s original bodies are kept. More shockingly, the computer gets played at its own game with a surprising alliance that heralds the end of Torchwood and the return of the Committee with a stunning conclusion to a blisteringly fast history lesson. The Torchwood Archive understandably does not have time to delve too deeply into any of its characters even as its vignettes hint in several instances at what is ultimately to occur, but it successfully matches its anniversary ambition with exciting vignettes featuring almost everyone from Torchwood’s history in some capacity to first close and then kick into overdrive the enigma and threat of the Committee, bolsterd by superb direction and acting on all fronts.

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