Saturday, 30 April 2016

TORCHWOOD: ZONE 10

I was really sad when Toshiko was killed off at the end of Torchwood series 2 – she was my favourite character and I thought that she had a lot more to offer than we were shown on screen. Tosh was intelligent and resourceful and a perfect character to be revisited by Big Finish, and boy is she revisited here.
Freed from the confines of the Hub and being overshadowed by Jack, Gwen and Owen – Toshiko has been doing some investigating of her own, she has been investigating something called “The Pulse” – a radio signal that has been baffling scientists for over 40 years, back in the Cold War days the Russians blamed the Americans for it and vice versa but no one has been able to decipher it – until now…
Toshiko goes solo here following up on research in to the Pulse that she has been trying to decipher for years, because Toshiko has finally deciphered it, and it is a message for her spoken in Russian.
The message leads Toshiko to Russia, to an uneasy alliance with Maxim Ivanov (Krystian Godlewski) of the KVI – the Russian equivalent of Torchwood and to the frozen wasteland that houses the mysterious Zone 10. This is a very difficult story to review without giving out major spoilers – however it is fair enough to say that Zone 10 is a restricted area for a reason, it is the wasteland left after a short and cataclysmic war between the KVI and the mysterious “Committee” – the shadowy villains that have been a linking theme through many of the Torchwood releases and that an innocent survivor has been caught up in the aftermath of this war a lady called Anna Volokova (Ella Garland).
As with the rest of the releases in the Torchwood range much has been done to flesh out the main character – Naoko Mori slips back in to the role of Toshiko like she has never been away, bringing a more confident side to the character that was never really allowed to flower in the TV show. Toshiko seems driven by her curiosity and need for knowledge, willing to take great risks and go in to danger to satisfy her need to know – not reckless just driven by the truth and her need to know it. Maxim Ivanov is a no nonsense Russian agent who accompanies Toshiko on her journey to Zone 10, he is a hard edged agent and he know more about Zone 10 and the machinations of the Committee than he first lets on. The most interesting character though is Anna Volokova – she is in many ways the key to the mystery of the Pulse and of Zone 10 and is a fountain of information about the Committee.
This is as completely different from last months release as it is possible to be, last months was a light-hearted romp, this is a serious gripping drama – it has a claustrophobic intense feeling all the way through and as a listener I felt that perhaps Toshiko had stumbled into something way over her head and that it is sometimes better to let sleeping dogs lie, because in her pursuit of knowledge Toshiko may have inadvertently kicked a hornets nest and I have a feeling that the swarm is coming for Torchwood very soon. Tightly directed, grippingly written this is a play that completely sucks the listener in to its world, and it is a dangerous world where humanity are the unwitting playthings of the Committee. Bleak, intense and intriguing, another fab release. 9/10.