In a series that continues to offer plenty of surprises as it jumps about the Torchwood timeline, this month’s pairing of Ianto Jones and Captain Jack Harkness doubtless tops many a fan’s wish list.
Possibly the most underdeveloped character onscreen, yet heavily tied to events from the Doctor Who universe, Ianto appeared first as little more than an impeccably dressed coffee boy.
A survivor of ‘Doomsday’, where Cyberman and Dalek forces clashed in the skies above London, he fled to Cardiff and joined Jack Harkness’ operation while concealing his partially Cyber-converted girlfriend Lisa in the basement of the hub.
It is in aftermath of that revelation where Joseph Lidster, writer of Season 2’s ‘A Day in the Death’, chooses to begin his tale. Mired in grief and confusion at Jack’s murderous but necessary killing of Lisa, Ianto finds wise counsel across the bar of a local pub; maintaining Torchwood’s secrets but at the same time telling the tale of his nightmare boss and distant colleagues.
The story deftly threads its way through further events of that first season, from the visceral horror of the cannibals in ‘Countrycide’ to Jack’s summary justice on Tosh’s alien girlfriend in ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’, and granting Ianto the space to react in a terrifically flawed and human manner.
Of course, there is another agenda at work too, one which brings Jack through the door of The Ferret and it spins the tale in a surprising and pleasing direction.
While John Barrowman is at his exuberant best, Jack is on the back foot as this is principally Ianto’s story and Gareth David Lloyd is certainly put through his paces; from vulnerable and emotional at the start, through to vengeful at the denouement.
Mandy Aibiston gives able support as Melaine, the spirited landlady to whom Ianto unburdens and it was great to hear her take Jack to task.
Torchwood‘s first season on television was wildly uneven at times, finding its feet in a more adult environment, and the costume design of the ‘Cyberwoman’ was a distraction to an otherwise shocking and emotional story idea.
We are thrilled that this audio drama has been able to return to Ianto and help make him sense of that tragedy and the journey which ultimately lead to the start of his relationship with Jack.
Released in July 2016 by Big Finish.
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