Big Finish reunites Jack and Ianto for the first time since Torchwood’s return in Audio Drama format. Are you ready to return to the Hub?
The Big Finish Solicit for this adventure reads:
“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…. ”
When it comes to something as universally loved as the bond that forms between Jack and Ianto it’s hard to say if that’s a thing you should fiddle with much. Do you err on the side of caution or boldly forge forward in the name of expansion and further character development? Thankfully for Torchwood fans Joseph Lidster brings us the latter.
This story is exactly the kind of tale that I love best from Big Finish. They do a delightful job of finding those little gaps in time that we never really thought too hard about but if we had they might bug us a little. Once they find these gaps they fill the gaps with a story that ultimately doesn’t change the cannon that we’ve grown to love so much as they fill it in and give us further evidence to support what it was that we already enjoyed.
This tale serves to give us Ianto’s development from the almost fearful and overly proper receptionist, that we were introduced to, into the courageous, passionate and downright heroic Torchwood Legend that we get to know by the end of TV’s Series 3.
Unfortunately for something like this to work it had to rely heavily on callbacks which probably hurts the story’s ability to stand on its own without prior knowledge but it’s written carefully, and it’s paced in such a way that you have time to catch up even if you weren’t completely up to speed on what has been going on. That said, you’re going to be better served by this story if you know your Torchwood TV lore.
Even though this story features Jack Harkness, and make no mistake John Barrowman is used to great effect in this tale, this is clearly a Ianto Jones story and it is a harrowing and heartbreaking one at that.
At the risk of repeating myself I so love it when Big Finish picks up the pieces of what some might consider a plot hole and they make something new and delightful out of it. This story takes what could have been considered a broken timeline with a surprising leap in character personality and they somehow fix that brokenness by demonstrating just how broken it was while breaking that character even further. To top it off they title it “Broken” and risk being very on the nose by making sure the phrase “I am Broken” is uttered. So with something THAT “broken” it’s incredible just how solidly it all works to reel us in, how completely it mesmerizes us, and helps us empathize with a man who has lost everything and yet needs to carry on, by the time that very on the nose phrase is uttered, we are ready to hear it and we know it to be true.
The threat that ultimately gives us resolution might seem inconsequential but they manage to give us emotional hooks into what could easily have been a disposable conflict which still would have been serviceable. Instead they give us a reason to be outraged right along side our heroes.
I greatly enjoyed this story, I think it has incredible replay value, a rich narrative impressively contained in a single hour, and I hope upon hope that we continue to get even more stories like it.
I’m giving this story 5 out of 5 stars.
I mentioned that with something like the relationship between Ianto and Jack they could really have been playing with fire to monkey around with such a fan favorite romance. Handled poorly I might have a very different opinion… Is there another story or relationship that you think could be improved or utterly ruined by additional exploration? If so you can let me know in the comments below or by shooting me a tweet! @jessekiefer I want to hear from YOU!