God Among Us 2 continues Big Finish’s ongoing post-TV adventures for Torchwood — the so-called “Series Six”. As always it contains four stories, each of which stands alone, but across them the masterplan slowly advances.
In terms of individual stories, this is probably the strongest Torchwood post-TV box set yet. Each adventure here is strong and successful and enjoyable. The set begins with Flight 405, featuring the return of Norton Folgate, who previously bedevilled Andy in Ghost Mission and Goodbye Piccadilly and Captain Jack and Ianto in Outbreak. He still has his own agenda, and this time he ropes Yvonne and Andy into helping him rescue a dangerous weapon from an aeroplane time-looped in Cardiff airspace. Yvonne and Norton bouncing off each other is about as fun as you might expect, and it’s a story that blends the humour with some time travel creepiness as well as genuine feelings from Norton.
The second story, Hostile Environment, follows up on what’s happened to Tyler since his last workplace exploded in Aliens Among Us 3. Every set seems to have a Tyler-focused story, and these put him through the wringer more often than not; Zero Hour was a highlight of Aliens Among Us 2, for example. Hostile Environment is the darkest yet, with Tyler homeless and forced to desperate lengths to survive. Every now and again we get a Torchwood story that’s just bleak, and Hostile Environment is one of those, but it reveals new sides to Tyler. It’s compulsive listening even if unrelenting.
Another Man’s Shoes shows how successful the new Torchwood has been in establishing its characters, much moreso than the TV show I’d argue. (I know it has its fans, but I’m not really one outside of Children of Earth.) It’s a classic bodyswap episode: Yvonne and Andy switch bodies, Norton and Tyler, and Jack and Colchester. It is absolutely amazing. The writing is hilarious; the actors nail each other completely; and the story is full of genuine insight into these people. Who is Yvonne when she lacks her innate authority? Who is Jack when forced to commit? Who is Norton when let loose in a time of sexual freedom? Who is Tyler when forced to watch his amorality from the outside? Tim Foley’s script is brilliant, and this story had me laughing constantly.
The last story brings several threads to a conclusion. It’s an epic, action-packed finale — even though there’s four more episodes of God Among Us to come! Every character gets a key part to play and reveals something about themselves. The stakes are high, and I can’t wait to hear what happens next.
The weird thing about this set is that while I enjoyed each individual episode, I have some reservations about the overall direction of the story. One is that the range seems to have abandoned its “Series Six” conceit, as this set features key roles for Norton Folgate and the Committee, two concepts that originated in the spin-offs. Aliens Among Us felt plausibly like something Russell T Davies might have done on screen after Miracle Day if production had returned to the UK, but there’s no way a sixth television series would have suddenly chucked in a character from the audios, or suddenly added a big bad from them. It breaks the illusion that these stories are a “continuation” in that sense. It also kind of jars that the Committee is back, having been totally absent from this particular stream of Torchwood audios. (Why were the Sorvix dropped so abruptly, anyway?)
The second problem I have is that the range seems to struggle to balance all its various components, which sometimes gives short shrift to the characters. Ng is a key player in this set, but I don’t think enough work was done to establish why the team would want her, or why she would want them, or how she relates to the others. Or, where she got a name from in-story! And Orr is almost unmentioned in this set — why does no-one even seem worried about them being gone?
Still, I’m willing to extend a lot of trust to a range of such consistently good quality as this one. I hope that God Among Us 3 answers my objections, and is every bit as good as this set.
God Among Us 2 (by Lou Morgan, Ash Darby, Tim Foley, David Llewellyn; starring John Barrowman, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Paul Clayton, Alexandria Riley, Jonny Green, Tom Price) was released by Big Finish Productions in February 2019.