With a now familiar, and relentless, pursuit of perfection, Big Finish has released another superb Torchwood release in the form of Broken. Stand up Joe Lidster and take a well-deserved bow for this tale of Ianto Jones and his early relationship with Jack Harkness.
Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman in one release — is there room for any more? Step forward Mandy the barmaid…
Ianto is not enjoying his job, to be fair he’s not exactly enjoying his life either. His girlfriend just got killed (in Cyberwoman) and he needs an escape. Enter the local pub with friendly barmaid Mandy Aibiston (Melanie Walters). Who more needs a shoulder to cry on than Ianto as his work turns from bad to even worse while he lives through the events of the first few episodes of Torchwood series 1. As time progresses we learn more and more of the natural effects of witnessing alien horror on the human mind, and Ianto’s attempts to find a coping strategy at the bottom of a bottle. (Update: We even get an oblique appearance by the [spoiler]Scorchies[/spoiler] – Big Finish has mentioned this so I’ve updated this review)
As he gets to known Mandy he tells of his relationship with his boss who he hates but is always trying to impress. When things can’t get any worse, guess who walks into pub but Jack Harkness himself? Events come to a head as we learn of Ianto’s inner anger, hidden depths, fractured relationship with his family and how far he is prepared to go to punish Jack and ultimately himself.
We all know how their relationship progresses, this is its fiery birth.
As ever, Scott Handcock performs his usual magic in directing and allowing Ianto to the star despite the presence of Captain Jack. John Barrowman is a presence but never a lead and other characters are immediate in their impact. This is an all but entirely faultless piece of storytelling and a powerful performance by Gareth. Highly recommended, as ever.