Double Part Two

Posted in Audio by - January 30, 2023
Double Part Two

Released January 2023


In a Torchwood range that has never shied away from experimenting with its storytelling, Guy Adams presented one of the boldest entries yet in the first instalment of ‘Double’ released earlier this month. Featuring a wholly new cast of characters with an intense focus on Roberta Craven as part of Torchwood during the as-yet unexplored time of the 1970s oil crisis, part one proved to be a fascinating character study that effortlessly brought in the unique threat that the Autons present alongside a government more than willing to entertain offers from any and all sides. As the second part begins and the Autons continue to spread their influence, Roberta has seemingly switched sides once again, and her efforts will be key to any peace or war that may result.

Bluntly, ‘Double Part Two’ is not a Torchwood story in any respect other than Roberta saying that she is part of the organisation that is so good at killing aliens. Instead, Adams amplifies her characterization all the more to provide one of the most intimate and engrossing bits of development Big Finish has ever featured. Roberta admits that she is wired differently than others and has a unique perspective about the world and people around her, but she also struggles with her mental health and is racked with guilt that manifests as a literal ghost that serves as something of a conscience with whom she can converse. She is acutely focused on her surroundings and questions the identities and facts being presented to her at every turn, a trait made all the more prominent in this world filled with Auton duplicates, and she is absolutely determined to do what she knows is right as she tries to fight through all of the noise filling her mind by work, alcohol, or any other means she can find. Louise Jameson gives an incredibly raw and brutally emotional performance as she explores the undoubted strengths and hardly shrouded fragility and shortcomings of Roberta in equal measure to keep her character from falling too far into the dark, and there is little question that she could capably headline an iteration of Torchwood at this point in history by the time the closing credits roll. The writing and acting for Roberta are absolutely superb and by themselves make ‘Double’ a must-listen.

Fortunately, the remainder of the story capably stands alongside the characterization of Roberta, and Omari Douglas is beguiling as a version of Neal who has changed so incredibly much since the events of the first half. No longer a man struggling to comprehend what is happening around him, Neal here confidently shoulders crucial dialogue to further the plot and- perhaps even more importantly- to delve into the workings of the Nestene Consciousness and the strata of Autons beneath it. With the confidence and charisma of Douglas as Neal travels alongside Roberta, the nuances of Auton duplication and the frightening prospect of just how much of the original subject may remain within are quite openly discussed with the results making the Autons perhaps even more terrifying than the Cybermen and their conversion process given the element of unknown identity that can result. With negotiations for lower barrel prices bringing in figures from around the globe, it’s clear that the Autons already have a wide-reaching sphere of influence here, and the uncertainty about who is truly who and what side anyone may be on and what lengths they may go to in order to achieve their aims is a fascinating hook for this Torchwood story that is unusually dependent on governmental and international affairs.

‘Double’ is filled with high intrigue and even higher stakes, and the intensified emotional state of Roberta as the filter through which these events are seen gives it a level of intimacy and personal drama that few stories manage to achieve. The final twist is telegraphed quite early through rather introspective discussions, but its eventual arrival is nonetheless fully impactful and boldly sets a new trajectory for this version of Torchwood with Roberta at the helm should any further adventures be commissioned. Again, this is a Torchwood story in name only since Roberta as presented here could realistically be anyone with knowledge of the Autons and since the organization as a whole does not feature in any capacity which does leave a certain void at the core, but this monumental character piece that makes the most of the unique properties of the Auton threat is truly a testament to the worlds of Doctor Who and Big Finish as a whole.

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