Posted in Audio by - July 02, 2023

Released June 2023


Three urban explorers determined to uncover the dark secrets beneath Cardiff find their way into the Torchwood Hub in ‘Cuckoo’ by Tim Foley. Bilis Manger is there as well, however, and he has his own plans for how this particular evening will unfold.

In this Among Us series that has purposefully featured a very fragmented and weakened Torchwood with its members isolated across the globe and little overarching narrative to directly speak of, the decision to feature none of those characters is certainly an odd one. Fortunately, Bilis Manger is such an intriguing and ultimately beguiling character that his presence more than compensates for that fact in this bottle episode that expertly highlights his implicit danger and cruelty. Murray Melvin naturally has an unassuming visage and voice, and his ability to tonally imbue such utter menace into his words as Bilis shows time and time again that he will go to any lengths to achieve his aims continues to present a wholly formidable threat for Torchwood no matter its current state. Indeed, how the titular ‘cuckoo’ ties into affairs as he seeks to better comprehend and interact with this organization currently through its chosen appearance and sound of Ianto is particularly brutal and more than supports his feelings about and reactions to the many atypical associations with time and death that its previous members have had.

Of course, ‘Cuckoo’ is dependent on its trio of urban explorers to succeed in any meaningful capacity, and Nathaniel Curtis, Cecelia Appiah, and Henry Nott quickly make these three wholly dynamic and understandable characters. While this excursion underground seems fairly straightforward at first with fame and online prominence at least partially guiding motivations, the long walks and eventual dangers slowly bring out discussions about broken relationships and coping mechanisms, unfortunate professional circumstances and attempts to find success in other fields, and even the darker influence individuals can hold over someone for so long. Although the grisly fates awaiting these individuals suggest that there will be little to no references to this episode in the future as Torchwood secures a pyrrhic victory of sorts, the spirit of Torchwood remains strong in a most unexpected fashion while highlighting the range of morality and decency present within these three. Even the invisible lift is quite wonderfully and unexpectedly incorporated here, and as with so many of Torchwood’s stronger offerings, the Hub becomes a living character of sorts by itself.

Even with Ianto’s fate sealed long ago, there is little denying his enduring importance to the spirit of this franchise, and so it’s only natural that Foley would want to find a means of incorporating him in this modern context and that the hologram interface would choose his trusting face to provide a guiding influence to work around Bilis. This obviously requires a less emotional and more straightforward performance from Gareth David-Lloyd than is typical, but he capably anchors the past to the present here while teasing out courageous impulses and promising a strong legacy in light of needed sacrifice. While there’s also an intriguing tease of what this new Torchwood team could look like, ‘Cuckoo’ finds its greatest success with the study of Bilis and its everyday characters within these heightened circumstances. Unfortunately, this is yet another story that appears to provide little forward momentum for any arc that Among Us might be building, and while that could retroactively be amended based on revelations in future stories, this more disparate approach to storytelling continues to allow magnificently entertaining stories by themselves that at least to this point are shying away from capitalizing on the interlinked structure that continuing adventures under this narrative banner should be allowing much more overtly. ‘Cuckoo’ is Torchwood-lite at a time when it should be Torchwood-heavy, but the end result is nontheless utterly brilliant.

  • Release Date: 6/2023
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