Posted in Audio by - January 20, 2024

Released January 2024


Finding it safest to at least temporarily travel without Gwen and Anwen following the harrowing events of Children of Earth, Rhys has found work while trying to keep his head low in a small Welsh town in ‘Poppet’ by Lauren Mooney and Stewart Pringle. A small child has disappeared, however, and as Rhys does his best to help the distressed mother Catherine, he finds that something is horribly wrong in the old cottage she calls home.

Understandably, the characterization of Rhys that the arrival of Anwen has created rarely features in any prominent capacity in Big Finish’s audios, and while Anwen is absent here for somewhat nebulous reasons that themselves become vital to the plot given the resulting mystery surrounding Rhys as a person, the child gone missing absolutely brings forth his parental instincts and his innate need to comfort and help the grieving mother in any way he can. To his credit, he finds it odd that there are no search parties, flyers, or other overt attempts being made to help find David given the actions he know he would take in similar circumstances, and he’s quick to spur Catherine on to do more, knowing from Gwen that locals often remember more than they think once something or someone jogs their memories. However, while Catherine’s husband is pleasant enough to Rhys and appreciative of the kindness he has shown, Rhys’s visit to their home hardly reveals the typical visuals of a home with a young child, causing him to question everything he has been told as well as himself given the conflicting information and visuals he has obtained.

Sadly, ‘Poppet’ can’t quite sustain its intense mystery that continues to challenge preconceptions and established facts without making Rhys an inconsistent character that mirrors the inconsistencies of life within the cottage. For as firm as he is in his determination to help Catherine initially, he is just as willing to believe another story that goes against hers, dropping his investigations and desire to help altogether while drawing the ire of employer Maia who can’t believe what she is hearing and who bluntly discusses just how gullible he must be. Indeed, as everything he thinks he knows about this situation seems to change on a constant basis, the relationship that develops between Rhys and Maia ends up forming a strong foundation for ‘Poppet’ even as Rhys’s unstated past causes tension when nerves begin to fray; Kai Owen and Arbel Jones show a shared empathy and kindness within their characters as Rhys comes to learn more of the fanciful and deadly aspects of the spiritual world through Maia as he encounters apotropaic markings and a poppet while Samhain and the end of the harvest season near.

‘Poppet’ is paced perfectly and continues to amplify its unnerving and haunting atmosphere perfectly as events become all the more bizarre. Mooney and Pringle revel in ambiguity as Rhys tries to understand each new fact presented, and Emily Burnett as Catherine, Scott Arthur as husband Alex, and Sion Tudor Owen as next-door neighbour Mr Collins are each pitch perfect in their respective roles that are each so uniquely dynamic here. Indeed, if Rhys had been written to stay true to his gut instincts and his convictions given everything he has seen while even tangentially associated with Torchwood, ‘Poppet’ could have been a perfect story that would have benefitted from Rhys showing an even more intense sense of urgency to uncover the truth that nobody could deter him from finding. Nonetheless, this is a chillingly effective opener to 2024’s Big Finish Torchwood offerings that expertly blends folklore, supernatural elements, and genuine emotion to make the most of its setting and core cast of characters.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.