It seems only fitting (and a total coincidence) that during our LGBT Month, in association with the lovely people at EpicWho would also be the month we get a Torchwood release featuring the power couple of Torchwood, Jack and Ianto. Is Broken broken, or will it help to fix you?
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…
I have to congratulate Joseph Lidster, if I’m being honest, there’s a large number of things that I’d have to congratulate him on, but in this instance, I want to congratulate him on writing what is possibly the shortest pre-titles scene ever. It’s probably no longer than about thirty seconds long, but it sets up everything so well and so efficiently. So, congratulations Joseph!
We start the story with some brutally harsh and heartbreaking flashbacks to the event of Cyberwoman from Series 1 of Torchwood. I forgot just how much that episode tugs at your heartstrings. God I love Ianto.
Ianto shows from the off just how British he is; he’s seemingly broken after the death of Lisa, and so he’s decided to go to the pub for a shoulder to cry on and a whiskey to help numb the pain. Now, I personally don’t drink, but I know that a lot of British people would see this as the best way to deal with any large amount of stress. He also apologises a hell of a lot. Even though he’s Welsh, he’s so British.
There’s a scene that reminded me just how under appreciated Ianto was in the first series of Torchwood; he was just the tea boy in the eyes of the team, and it’s really upsetting that someone as lovely as Ianto could be treated that way. They do say that nice guys finish last. Also in this scene, we see just how little Jack seemingly feels towards Ianto. I really need to rewatch Torchwood soon. We even get a bit of a Weevil in Broken. I miss Weevils!
It seems as if Broken is split into two, Ianto in the pub, confessing all to the barmaid, Mandy, and his adventures with Jack. Mandy is like all barmaids too, she’s a beacon of knowledge, compassion and good advice, even if it’s not necessarily what Ianto wants to hear.
What I adore about the Torchwood range from Big Finish is that every single story, no matter what the situation the character is in, seems to focus more on the character than the action. I feel like it compliments the TV show beautifully; you want big explosions? Watch Torchwood. You want to really get to know the characters intimately and fall in love with them all over again? Listen to Torchwood from Big Finish. Broken is no exception. We learn a lot about Ianto’s past with Torchwood in Canary Wharf; we learn about how he and Lisa got together, we even get a mention of Yvonne.
Joseph Lidster really has the tenacity and confidence to highlight some really delicate issues in Broken; not only does he give us the insight into Ianto as he’s at his most fragile, there’s even allusions to the events of Countrycide and how it affected him too. I think Joseph Lidster has really given a great insight into how people deal with grief and loss and trauma, and how in our Western culture, it’s expected that the males are supposed to suppress these emotions. Sometimes you have to let it all out.
Considering it’s normally Captain Jack who normally gives out harsh words to people, I have to admit I loved it when Mandy gave him a good telling off for how he treats Ianto. If you’ve not heard Broken yet, imagine Jackie Tyler telling the Ninth Doctor to ‘Stitch this mate’ and you won’t be far off. It’s obvious that Mandy really cares for Ianto, and that she only has his best interests at heart; and, unfortunately for Jack, sometimes the truth hurts.
Within the last twenty minutes, we get a total curveball in the form of the Saviour, a being that knows all about the Rift. The Saviour appears to be a being that is way too good to be true. Luckily, Jack comes to save Ianto from the Saviour. If there was one thing that I would have liked, it was for the revelation as to the Saviour’s true identity to have been given later in the story; or the introduction of the Saviour to have been earlier. Either way, I think it was just too short of a time between being introduced to the Saviour and getting to know the truth.
Even though Ianto goes through a hell of a lot in Broken, I think the moment that affects him the most is near the end when his mum gives him a call. When you initially think about all these characters, such as Jack, Gwen and Ianto, you would think that having had experiences with terrifying aliens, you’d become somewhat hardened to reality; but that’s not the case at all. If anything, I think Joseph Lidster has managed to prove that all of these experiences don’t toughen you up, instead they make you all the more fragile.
Broken might just be the bleakest Torchwood to date, it’s maybe also the best Torchwood to date. Torchwood is not Doctor Who, nor should it be. If Broken proves anything, it’s that Torchwood can push boundaries and be dark, and depressing, and honest. Broken goes to show the raw emotions that we as humans often try to overlook. I know people often come to the Whoniverse for light relief, but Broken is a way of showing us the painful truth that is reality.
Should you want to purchase Broken, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £9.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.