God Among Us 2 ended with apocalyptic events for Torchwood specifically and Cardiff in general; God Among 3 opens up some months later, with Cardiff struggling to recover on its own. (The UK government sure does seem to abandon Cardiff at the drop of a hat in these audios, between this and Outbreak and I’m sure others I am forgetting.)
The result is some very different Torchwood stories, but ones that maintain the high episode quality of this series. A Mother’s Son is the debut of “Ng” actress Alexandria Riley as a scripter, following a mother trying to figure out what happened to her son and to this city, focusing on “truth and reconciliation”-style accountability talks that seem to go nowhere. It’s a strong example of the outsider-to-Torchwood genre these audios seem to periodically do, and in particular there’s a really great montage. (I know that sounds daft, but it’s the kind of thing that really takes advantage of the audio medium — which many of Big Finish’s Doctor Who ranges, seemingly following a remit of having to sound like a TV episode at all costs, rarely do.) Mina Anwar has become something of a regular in Scott Handcock-directed stories in recent years, but she totally kills in her role here, probably the best thing she’s ever done in the Doctor Who realm.
I also really liked Day Zero by Tim Foley, where things become desperate over water supplies in Cardiff, and the finale, James Goss’s Thoughts and Prayers, is solid, even if I think it struggles to pull together all the threads from the last 24 episodes in a satisfying way.
The real standout of the set is ScrapeJane, which sends Mr Colchester and Ng on the trail of an urban myth. Probably any summary wouldn’t do it justice, because what makes it work is the character stuff, the humour, the little touches. Mr Colchester has long been my favourite “new Torchwood” character, and this is one of his best-ever stories, exploring what it means to him to have been resurrected, and this is the first time since the climax of Aliens Among Us that I feel like I’ve had a handle on who Ng is and what she wants. It’s really sharp stuff, and I hope we hear more from Robin Bell at Big Finish. (It also features a fun reappearance from the hosts of Cardiff Unknown, an in-universe podcast.)
The real weakness of the set is the same one I mentioned in my review of God Among Us 2. The introduction of the Committee into and the dismissal of the Sorvix from this storyline (even if it does focus a lot on the Sorvix God) feel like a big, unearned swerve. It means the climax of this sequence of six box sets depends on an element not foreshadowed for the first four of them, and as I said there, it also breaks the “Series Six” conceit. I feel like there was the potential for more commentary and depth in the Sorvix/refugee storyline than we ultimately got. The way character elements kind of get forgotten jars, too; I get the limitations of the audio format and budgeting, but it feels weird when main characters disappear for big chunks of the narrative.
But it’s the characters that make this sing, and have made me love this new version of Torchwood. Paul Clayton as Colchester, of course, but I also really love to hate and then love to love Jonny Green as Tyler Steele. Samantha Béart has been excellent as Orr, if underutilised; you always believe they really are an ultra-empathetic alien. Jacqueline King was inspired casting as God, and Ramon Tikaram endearing as Colin. John Barrowman is who he is and always will be, but of the TV cast, I feel like Big Finish has done the most for Tom Price’s Andy Davidson and Tracy-Ann Oberman’s Yvonne Hartman, both of whom were effective on screen but have become fully realised human beings on audio. God Among Us gives them all something great to do, every one of them.
And I hope we get to hear more of them! God Among Us 3 wraps up the ongoing Torchwood continuation range for now, but it ends with a hook for a follow-up. However, it was released in June 2019, and over a year later, a “Series Seven” for Torchwood hasn’t even been announced. This range has its rough elements, but on the whole it’s one of the best things Big Finish do, and I hope it continues for a long while yet.
(In the interim, though, where’s my main range Colchester story?)
God Among Us 3 (by Alexandria Riley, Robin Bell, Tim Foley, James Goss; starring John Barrowman, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Paul Clayton, Alexandria Riley, Jonny Green, Samantha Béart, Tom Price) was released by Big Finish Productions in June 2019.