Reunited from May 2017’s dark, disturbing and deeply funny ‘Corpse Day’, the latest Torchwood monthly release features Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) and PC Andy Davidson (Tom Price) working undercover.
The story begins with Owen delivering a fatal cancer diagnosis to a prison inmate. Andy is on the case too, as a prison warden, with the pair hoping that Owen’s patient, the notorious child killer Megwyn Jones (Siân Phillips), will finally reveal the location of her victims’ bodies before she dies.
When Megwyn agrees to return to the place where the bodies are buried, the home where she took in troubled children, the pair accompany her. So too do a Police Inspector who has been integral to the case across the years and a representative of the victim’s families – hoping to find some peace.
Given its similarities to the darkest of real-life tragedies, James Goss’ tale feels like one of the most disturbing this series has attempted. While the subject matter is bleak indeed, it is handled sensitivity and without ever being glib. That said, there is humour in the darkest of places and the story finds it in odd coupling of Owen and Andy, as well as the unfolding situation.
Director Scott Handcock elicits terrific performances from the regulars. Tom Price once again raises PC Andy above the level of comic relief, to become an everyman we can identify with. Meanwhile, Burn Gorman adds further shades to the often blunt and unlikable Owen Harper we saw on-screen. Remarkably, this is still only Burn Gorman’s fourth audio outing and the character still feels as though it has much potential for development, though his situation throughout Series 2 is addressed.
Naturally, the star here is (Dame) Siân Phillips, who brings tremendous depth to Megwyn. It is a performance which kept us guessing throughout; having never admitted guilt for her crimes, Owen tries to see the good in Megwyn while Andy remains aghast at her actions, now and then. There is something in the character which put us in mind of Bill Pullman’s Oswald Danes from Torchwood: Miracle Day – detestable but thrillingly watchable too. Credit must also be given to both Ian Saynor as Colbourne, the policeman who has made a career of the case and brings his personal priorities to the investigation.
While it could not be further in tone from last month’s ‘Serenity’, proving the enduring scope of the series, ‘The Hope’ is another terrific entry in the Torchwood roster. While perhaps not for the faint-hearted, this is a darkly compelling and emotive story, cleverly told.
Torchwood: The Hope is available to buy from www.BigFinish.com on both CD and download.