Moving Target, the latest Torchwood release from Big Finish is a tale that’s as dark and malevolent as its main protagonist, the very much alive Suzie Costello (Indira Varma).
Over two series of the excellent new Torchwood adventures from Big Finish, we’ve become used to re-acquainting ourselves with much loved characters as they pair up with local humans and tackle alien menaces. While Moving Target fits some of this bill, it’s most definitely its own beast in other ways. For a start, it would take an extremely generous heart to describe Suzie Costello as “much loved”.
Set in late 2006 (and pre-dating series 1 of the Torchwood TV series) Suzie wakes to a world apparently frozen in time. Rain remains mid-fall. A man hangs in the air having fallen from his bike; time frozen before he has hit the ground. Everyone and everything is unmoving, apart from Suzie. And a young woman called Alex (Naomi McDonald) who Suzie quickly encounters.
Suzie and Alex have very different responses to time being frozen – Suzie sees a threat, while Alex sees opportunities. As the pair set off for the Torchwood Hub, it quickly becomes clear that Alex is the prey for an intergalactic hunting party. While Suzie and Alex fight off a marauding alien hunter, the robotic Referee for the hunt (Nicolas Burns) dispatches a series of further hunters to go in for the kill and the stakes increase with each one that Suzie and Alex see off.
Where other Torchwood adventures have been exciting and rompy, Moving Target has a dark tone of its own. The seemingly endless number of hunters available to try to kill Suzie and Alex brings its own sense of despair and the question of “How can this possibly end?” permeates throughout.
Like the character of Suzie, this tale has a sense of genuine nastiness and danger. Nicolas Burns as The Referee manages to simultaneously ooze boredom and interest, indifference and malice. The Referee’s knowledge of Suzie and Alex’s futures and his casual disdain towards them is both appalling and chilling.
As the interminable hunt continues, the two women at the centre of it form a delicate, tenuous connection. Alex, the prey, has an engaging will to live and Suzie, the “local threat”, needs to save the world. Their needs converge enough for them to work together in the face of a stream of merciless foes. But how can it possibly end?
Moving Target is a tale of Suzie Costello, and writer Guy Adams has given a fittingly cold and pitiless story for her return to Torchwood. If the twenty-first century is when everything changes, then Moving Target is when the new Torchwood gets really interesting. This is what Torchwood does best – dark and definitely adult drama, quite removed from the parent show that spawned it. It’s not quite 10/10, but it is certainly one of the best of the Big Finish Torchwood adventures.
Blogtor rating 9/10
Suzie Costello would never describe herself as a hero. Not even if she were the last woman on Earth. Turns out, she’s the second last woman on Earth, and that’ll just have to do.
With the Earth frozen in time, Suzie becomes locked in a battle to save the planet and the life of Alex, the last woman alive. Hunted by alien warriors, and, with every hour that doesn’t pass, the stakes are only getting higher.
Suzie Costello would never describe herself as a hero. But she would say she’s someone who always makes the right choices. Wouldn’t she?
Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners
Written By: Guy Adams
Directed By: Scott Handcock
Indira Varma (Suzie Costello), Naomi McDonald (Alex), Nicholas Burns (The Referee)
Producer: James Goss
Script Editor: Steve Tribe