Torchwood – “Broken”

Torchwood – Release # 11
Written by: Joseph Lidster
Directed by: Scott Handcock
Performed by: John Barrowman, Gareth David-Lloyd & Melanie Walters
Duration: 70 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-78575-215-5
Chronology Placement: Cardiff, 2007 (takes place in-between Season One episodes “Cyberwoman” and “They Keep Killing Suzie”)

Synopsis: 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…

Taking place in the immediate aftermath of Ianto’s betrayal in the Season One episode “Cyberwoman”, “Broken” charts the ‘behind-the-scenes’ character development that occurred throughout the subsequent televised episodes, which saw Ianto move away from being an outcast of the team into becoming a valued member and Jack’s lover. Ianto definitely gets less of the spotlight in Season One compared to his fellow Torchwood agents, and this story addresses that and delves into the character’s motivations and feelings against the backdrop of televised episodes such as “Small Worlds”, “Countrycide” and “Greeks Bearing Gifts”. It is an extremely satisfying narrative technique, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get a glimpse of the events occurring ‘off-screen’ and seeing Ianto’s reactions to the traumatic events that regularly befalls the team.

Joseph Lidster’s script is extremely raw and honest, and Gareth David-Lloyd delivers a stunning performance as a depressed and isolated Ianto. It is powerful and eerily relatable to the audience, despite Ianto’s unconventional work atmosphere. Lidster taps into that recognisable feeling of being alone and unable to regain trust after a betrayal, allowing David-Lloyd to really get to grips with the character. Despite being performed ten years after Season One actually aired, David-Lloyd manages to step back into the shoes of Ianto at that specific time and place to convey the desperation and sense of worthlessness that the character felt then. Lidster’s script feels extremely authentic to the period of the show too, slotting “Broken” into the events of Season One effortlessly through the use of Easter Egg references.

While David-Lloyd handles most of the emotional drama in this adventure, John Barrowman delivers a nuanced performance as Season One Jack. Here we have a Jack that maintains a distance with his team, seeming aloof and insincere at times, yet when it matters he comes through. Lidster’s script slowly develops the fractured relationship between the two – dealing with Ianto’s complex feelings for his boss, who just happened to murder his girlfriend. It feels wholly believable that Ianto would through himself into work, attempting to gain praise and acceptance from his seemingly uncaring boss. Lidster doesn’t judge the relationship between Ianto and Jack, but depicts them as a pair of broken people seeking solace in each other’s arms. What initially begins as a fling eventually develops into one of the defining relationships in Torchwood, until it was cruelly cut short in “Children of Earth”.

Of all the Torchwood monthly audio releases so far, “Broken” has the closest ties to the television series itself as it weaves between the episodes to provide stronger character development for Ianto. While the previous stories have been fun additions to the Torchwood universe, “Broken” feels utterly essential for fans of the series, providing them with a missing episode that enriches the original viewing experience of the series. I couldn’t imagine watching Season One of Torchwood again without including “Broken” in the rotation as a mini-episode.

Perfectly scripted with some of the most realistic depictions of grief and depression I’ve ever heard on an audio drama, “Broken” rectifies one of the missed opportunities from the original run of Torchwood and gives Ianto the chance to grieve and grow as a character. Fans of ‘Janto’ will absolutely adore this episode, whilst fans of strong character drama with a hint of science-fiction will be equally as enthralled by “Broken”. Definitely a contender for the best Torchwood audio release so far!

Score – ★★★★★

Torchwood: Broken is available direct from Big Finish on physical CD or digital download. It can also be found on Amazon UK in the physical CD format.

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