Posted in Website by - August 28, 2022

Released August 2022


Uncertain if her brief time in Torchwood has been real or a consequence of her mental illness, Tosh finds herself heavily medicated as a resident of a psychiatric facility in Alexander Stewart’s ‘Suckers.’ Her new roommate, Shireen Afzal, has been in worse facilities before, however, and the two form an unlikely alliance as Tosh’s wild claims of an alien infiltration here prove to be only the tip of the iceberg.

Naturally, it takes time for Shireen to accept Tosh’s claims in any capacity, the obvious influence of medications along with their intended purpose within these particular confines intimating that there is no basis in fact, but Naoko Mori and Emma Kaler quickly develop a strong chemistry that guides these two women deeper into the mysteries of this facility and the pervasive bias and mistreatment that has been reported within this field. Linda Armstrong as the head nurse, Felicia Haynes, puts on a saccharine façade to ensure each that everything is just as it should be as they undergo their recommended treatments, but even as Tosh experiences setback after setback attempting to recall and communicate with Torchwood within the strict rules here, she continues to push ever forward in a true testament to the character’s resolve even at this more fragile time in her life. And while there is a very genuine and predatory alien threat that is used very effectively, this is a rare instance in which the real-world issues are far more chilling, the discovery that patients of colour are treated much more harshly, medicated at higher amounts, and sent to solitary confinement- culminating in a higher date overall- speaking to the horrors of institutional injustices that are still far too common.

Of course, as the references to Suzie further confirm that ‘Suckers’ is set at a time early in Tosh’s Torchwood career when the scars of her recent imprisonment and the incredible emotions that led to that are all too fresh in her mind. Tosh is still highly vulnerable and not quite ready to assert herself even when she implicitly knows that she is correct regardless of the circumstances in which she finds herself and the gaslighting within it, and Mori expertly brings out that reticence and reservation with conviction. And while it could have been an easy out to simply portray this facility as the worst of a broken and irredeemable system, due credit must be given to the character of Steffan Blayney as played by Dylan Jones, his brilliant interactions with Tosh and Shireen a needed reminder that this truly is a system with peoples’ best interests at heart. He is rightfully appalled by what he has seen and been asked to do, and while he may be unable to directly confront his superiors, he finds his own ways to facilitate the women’s investigations and to provide the required optimism and empathy in a location as devoid of those emotions as it is people.

While it is unfortunate that Felicia ultimately escapes to continue her malevolent ways, the resolution highlights the ingenuity and determination that Tosh would continue to develop as Torchwood progressed on screen. Tosh is quite rightly shaken by what she uncovers and experiences here, and the real-world terrors complement the alien ones to deliver a wonderfully grim and resonant Big Finish debut offering from Stewart.

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