War Chest

Posted in Audio by - May 26, 2022
War Chest

Released May 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

‘War Chest’ marks writer Rossa McPhillips’s Torchwood debut and tells a story quite distinct from even the incredibly wide range of stories and styles this audio series has featured to this point. A nefarious group known only as the Dow Cohort has discovered Torchwood’s massive depository of alien artefacts known as the Antebellum, and the few who have broken in with Tosh as their hostage now have just one hour to steal Torchwood’s greatest secret.

Tosh is a fascinating character who- for whatever reason- just hasn’t received the same type of attention and exploration as the rest of the original Torchwood cast. With well over a year having passed since the last monthly audio to feature Tosh, ‘War Chest’ carries with it the burden of anticipation, a burden that the incredibly energetic performance from Naoko Mori certainly helps to meet. Unfortunately, a fairly straightforward heist is hardly the most exciting setting even if it does ultimately show both the quick-thinking and forward-thinking nature of Tosh in the process. Indeed, this is a story in which each of the supporting characters is more or less a completely known quantity by the midway point, and while there are some nice twists along the way as the clock runs out and defenses mount that culminate in an exciting final few minutes in which all truths are revealed, the story feels far too long for the amount of plot contained and spends quite a bit of time repeating variations on a theme to fill its time.

Still, there is always a definite tension throughout, and the gun-loving Vernon and the jealous Nisha who could have been Tosh in another life are suitable foils for Tosh to play against within these heightened circumstances even if the line delivery infrequently feels just a bit off for some reason. However, it’s Homer Todiwala’s Ed who quickly becomes the standout supporting character, and his journey with and chemistry with Tosh are easily the highlights of this release as the very best of Tosh shines through from the very start. Strangely, what some may consider the very worst of Tosh also comes to light by the story’s end, and a fairly brutal callousness with which she acts here has little anywhere else in any story to support this as a legitimate piece of characterization no matter the situation in which she finds herself. There’s never any doubt that she is the most intelligent and practical person in the room even as others try to outsmart her, but her seemingly overeager willingness to let another die even in the name of protecting Torchwood seems wholly out of character with the desperate compassion she normally displays.

As a result, ‘War Chest’ as a whole is something of an unexpected and uneven experience. The blurb for this realease gives little away which works to the story’s advantage, but stellar pacing and sound design along with strong performances from Mori and Todiwala can’t quite overcome a fairly traditional and repetitive plot filled with rough characterization. It’s refreshing to see that the great secrets at the core of the Antebellum are not simply weapons of mass destruction as might be expected, but this isn’t quite the story that Tosh deserves and, indeed, feels like a story that could just as easily be from any other franchise that has had some Torchwood elements inserted.

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