The Red List

Posted in Audio by - November 21, 2021
The Red List

Released November 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

In James Goss’s ‘The Red List,’ a country is falling apart, and both Torchwood and A Charitable Earth have come to help. Unfortunately, both Ace and Mr Colchester find themselves trapped in a quarantine hotel in the middle of an invasion, the world reliant upon what they can see and do without leaving their rooms.

Naturally, the quarantine situation references protocols that have been put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 while positing what governments may do after testing such powers and also delving into the frequently-publicized individual mindset that one’s own convenience and personal freedom is more important than the common good. This backdrop does lend a certain degree of immediacy to affairs that is instantly relatable, but fortunately the discussions are relatively brief so as not to feel intrusive and overbearing. Rather, they are simply a means of introducing Ace and Mr Colchester to the Torchwood main range audience and to each other, with both arriving at this locale under the control of El Presidente for very different reasons. In fact, Ace makes no secret of the fact that she detests how Torchwood goes about its business as well as its original mandate to hunt down the Doctor, and while it isn’t quite stated why Colchester somewhat disapproves of charities compared to his own methods, this dichotomy leads to an intriguing underlying friction that the two must overcome to solve the underlying mystery hidden in plain sight, an element that gives way to a growing respect and trust which Sophie Aldred and Paul Clayton play up wonderfully.

The unspecified Latin American backdrop is relatively underused since all of the action takes place in a nondescript hotel with Xavier the only serviceman seen, but it does create an inherent element of danger that serves the story well. Indeed, an English language propaganda channel is all that Ace and Colchester have to go on as an unknown number of days pass them by, their furtive chats on balconies and later in each other’s rooms the only sort of connection to anything else otherwise available to them. However, with fleeting sightings in reflections, messages in Colchester’s provided Bible and on Ace’s bedside table, and mysterious cabinets and insects all hinting at something more nefarious occurring than what they know, it’s Xavier who provides something of a stabilizing element here as he answers all of Colchester’s many complaints and even provides an impetus for Colchester to continue his typical way of Torchwood thinking. Manuel Pacific is wonderful in this role that manages to keep the two leads confined without truly revealing anything of consequence, and although the resolution is horribly rushed without adequately explaining the truth of the copies and intended thought processes, the setup and sense of mystery is thoroughly intriguing throughout.

It does seem as though ‘The Red List’ is setting the scene for either a direct sequel or for another story to at least pick up the plot elements introduced at the end within another context, and though that does prevent it from ending with any sort of resonance, the story as a whole is a fitting means of providing insight into two fascinating characters faced with a most unique problem and the most unassuming of clues.

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