We’re back in alien-infested Cardiff for another boxset of in the new era of Torchwood with Aliens Among Us Part 2. Just to remind, there are new aliens (Ng and Orr), new members of the team (Colchester in particular), we still have Gwen, Rhys, Sgt Andy and Captain Jack, along with others such as Tyler and the alien leader, mayor of Cardiff Ro-Jedda. We get some organic expansion, but this set is really about developing the story.
Aliens still among us
The first story, Love Rat by Christopher Cooper is the most explicit Torchwood story so far, and for me it was unnecessary. I don’t mind the adult content, I do feel the TV show indulged itself for an episode or two until it settled down, but this was too far in my view.
The story is a new plague, and a chance to Jack and Tyler to reacquaint themselves, and Gwen gets drawn deeper into events than she ever expected to, as another line got crossed between characters. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but this story does push the boundaries around. Objections aside, it’s well written and performed and brings the new world of Torchwood back with a bang. Literally.
Another new writer, Mac Rogers, gets to introduce us to Colchester’s husband Colin (the excellent Ramon TIkaram) and gives us more insight into Colchester (Paul Clayton) in A Kill to a View. It is likely to be more remembered as the return of Bilis Manger (Murray Melvin). It’s a great story, with every character well-drawn and presented. There’s real threat and a resolution with plenty of shades of grey.
Across the set it’s possibly the best piece of direction by Scott Handcock, though not to suggest any flaws in the other stories.
Janine H Jones has a chance to impress with her writing, and impress she does. Tyler (Jonny Green) is in the middle of things, with support from Gwen. He’s driven by an almost satyric desire for a delivery guy and the tale soon becomes a parody of the world of sat navs, Deliveroo and smart assistants. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a deeper plot for control of the rift and dominance in Cardiff as well as some very, very dark moments indeed.
Humanity comes off poorly from a moral / ethical perspective, as Janine takes greed, homelessness, unemployment and self-deception to weave a very believable yet awful story.
Another new name, Tim Foley has the joy of ending the set, and Captain Jack seems to have gone AWOL in The Empty Hand, Sgt Andy is the focus as we explore racial tension and cover-up, while Andy needs to clear his name, his crime to callously shoot a refugee on CCTV. The Torchwood team (sans Jack) struggle to free him, and it will take Mr Colchester, Gwen and Orr to set things back on course, but not before a showdown with Jack.
The ending comes from nowhere, and can’t be discussed without spoiling the reveal. Suffice it to say roll on Part 3!
Putting my criticisms to one side, it’s a good set and as it’s a series, doesn’t need to do everything, I would have like more from Orr who was excellent in the first set, and while Ng is ever-present, what is the backstory here, what the motivation? I feel we need some details sooner that later.
Gwen is also in the middle of her own mystery, again more please. Jack is being Jack, and his arrogance must be hiding something. Has he gone too far? It’s not beyond belief.
As to the final twist, brilliant. I don’t know how it will be engineered into the continuity, but brilliant. February’s Part 3 can’t come soon enough,