Broken is the latest Torchwood release from Big Finish. It’s taken almost to the end of the second series to get to the point where Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones are back together again and it really has been worth the wait.
Writer Joseph Lidster continues the dark tone from the last Big Finish episode of Torchwood. But where Moving Target reflected Suzie Costello’s ambivalence and malevolence, Broken brings a fitting reflection of the very dark souls of Ianto Jones and his boss, the immortal Jack Harkness.
Lidster, who wrote the Torchwood TV episode A Day In The Death, is clearly a huge fan of the show and in Broken he very cleverly interweaves this tale with events from the Torchwood TV series (who among us doesn’t shudder at the mere thought of Countrycide?) and with the events of the fan-favourite Doctor Who episode Doomsday, which by coincidence, celebrates its 10 year anniversary this month.
So where does Broken fit in this tapestry of Torchwood events? Over a series of conversations with Mandy, the welcoming and sympathetic barmaid at The Ferret pub, Ianto recounts his devastation at losing everything that made his life in London during the Battle of Canary Wharf (TV: Doctor Who – Doomsday) and his isolation and loneliness following his move to Cardiff.
Told in flashbacks, we see Jack through Ianto’s eyes. And this Jack isn’t a pretty sight. Behind the sensual swagger and the recklessness, what Ianto sees in his new boss is a monster. Of course, Ianto can’t tell Mandy the barmaid the truth about his job, but he does reveal some of the horrifying acts that Jack has committed, including his murder of Ianto’s girlfriend, Lisa (or what was left of her following a failed Cyberman conversion) (TV: Cyberwoman) and the killing of Tosh’s alien girlfriend, Mary (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts).
As events unfold, Joseph Lidster gives us the tale that television didn’t – how Ianto and Jack made the transition from tea boy and Torchwood boss, to…what? Partners? Lovers? At this point it isn’t clear what this fragile, fledgling coming-together might become. And in true Torchwood tradition, nothing is quite as simple or as straightforward as you may imagine it is.
Jack is much too complex a character to be simply labelled a monster, and Ianto is so much more than the office admin who makes the coffee and files the paperwork. Even The Ferret is much more than just Ianto’s local.
In Fall To Earth, his last Big Finish outing, Ianto was thrust into the role of hero while asking what “little people” are capable of. In Broken, we have once again a reluctant hero, taking on events in the face of an almost unbearable darkness of his own. But where Moving Target’s adventure had a bleak ending, Broken has bleakness running throughout. And yet, despite being witness to the heavy weight of his own life and even knowing Ianto’s eventual fate, Broken does contain a faint glimmer of hope. Hope for Ianto. For Jack. And for the broken world they live in.
If Moving Target just missed out on top marks, Broken most definitely gets top marks. Dark, unsettling and completely compelling. Just like its two main men.
Blogtor Rating 10/10
Whenever Ianto Jones has a tough day at work, he has somewhere he can hide. And, for Ianto Jones, it’s always a tough day at work.
His girlfriend is dead, his colleagues don’t trust him, and his boss… his boss is something else. With no friends in the world, and his life in danger every day, is it any wonder that at night, Ianto Jones goes to the pub?
Ianto’s local becomes somewhere where he feels safe. Safe from his demons, safe from his life, safe from Torchwood. Until one evening, Captain Jack Harkness walks into a bar….
Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners
Written By: Joseph Lidster
Directed By: Scott Handcock
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Melanie Walters (Mandy Aibiston), Eiry Thomas (Glenda), Ross Ford (The Saviour)
Produced by James Goss
Script edited by Steve Tribe
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs