Submission

Posted in Audio by - January 30, 2022
Submission

Aired 12 July 2011

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After blowing a hole in the Severn Bridge while chasing aliens down the M4, Torchwood tracks the sound of a strange noise to the depths of the Mariana Trench in Ryan Scott’s ‘Submission.’ Ianto calls an old flame from Torchwood London, marine geologist Carlie Roberts, and she contacts her own sources within the US government to get them aboard the USS Calvin that is heading toward their desired destination and their chance to board the only submarine built to withstand the pressures they will encounter. More than the unknowns of life on Earth are waiting for their arrival, however.

Scott does seem to realize that the foundational logic for ‘Submission’ is suspect, but simply mentioning that this mission is better suited for the global reach of UNIT than the Cardiff branch of Torchwood with no specialists doesn’t forgive the fact and already suggests that this is simply a convenient excuse to get this team outside of its jurisdiction to where the author wants them to be. Unfortunately, their liaison is wholly unbelievable in any capacity, and while it is refreshing to see Carlie cut through Jack’s overbearing and flirtatious personality, she spends far too much time simply stating that there is so much that has yet to be explored here and far too little adding anything meaningful to script beyond background exposition.

In fairness, in a story that very much tries to bring the dynamic and relationship between Jack and Ianto to the forefront, Carlie’s own history alongside Ianto when he was Lisa is an intriguing catalyst for discussions that are had, but the implied parallels between Jack and the alien creature who both unwittingly swim in essential immortality amidst mortals with whom they must eventually part company are far more intriguing than what is directly spoken. Unfortunately, this is a script in which every person very directly states everything that he or she is seeing and thinking, and that overreliance on overly descriptive dialogue takes away any opportunity for the story to organically develop. Some description is, of course, necessary for any story, and bluntly injecting scientific facts to flesh out the Trench surrounding this mission is certainly a forgivable necessity here, but the drama itself unfolds too matter-of-factly as the hunger of the alien ostensibly looking for another companion after so long becomes known.

‘Submission’ fairly effectively brings its evocative environment to life with its sound design, although the limitations of the submarine naturally mean that the environment as a whole cannot be realized beyond wondering if perhaps life on Earth could have emanated from here given the many mysteries it still holds. However, given where the narrative of Torchwood went with the Children of Earth series, the focus on the deepening relationship between Jack and Ianto and how each accepts what that entails given Jack’s lifespan serves as a much stronger narrative anchor here while also retroactively foreshadowing what is to come. John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd both give really strong performances during these more introspective and emotional moments; it’s just a shame that these brief moments of greatness are buried in a script filled with such an excess of utterly formulaic and derivative speech. Unfortunately, ‘Submission’ is a significant step down in the storytelling of this audio series, and the dialogue that is so often forced and unnatural as well as a clunky supporting performance far overshadow the much more intriguing characterization and alien parallels that briefly manage to appear.

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