Today is a sad day. It marks the final release of the second series of Torchwood from Big Finish. Next month will be the first one in a year that hasn’t had a Torchwood release. Sure, we have Outbreak coming in November, but that seems an absolute age away! For now though, we’ll have to be content with the twelve Torchwood tales we have; the latest of which being Made You Look by Guy Adams.
“It stalks you. It whispers. It wants you to turn around. It wants you to look. But if you do… If you see it…”
Talmouth is a lonely seaside town. No-one has heard from it for days. No-one who goes in comes out. Something has happened to Talmouth. Has it been taken over by aliens? Or is it something far, far worse?
Gwen Cooper’s come to Talmouth to find out. What’s happened has to be seen to be believed. But by the time you’ve seen it, you’re already dead.
Guy Adams gets Torchwood; there’s absolutely no denying that fact. Having written the brilliant More Than This and Moving Target, it’s clear that he understands how to make Torchwood work. The pre-titles of Made You Look is a masterclass of how to build suspense and introduce a new setting in a show. In just around a minute, you’re already asking questions and yearning for answers. Dammit Guy, you know what you’re doing.
As soon as we’re properly introduced to the voice of Darkness, played by Matthew Gravelle, it’s obvious that this is going to be a proper scary Torchwood story; something I don’t think we’ve really seen in Big Finish’s two series.
Whilst Gwen begins to investigate the seemingly deserted seaside town of Talmouth, we hear that Rhys is wary of Gwen being there on her own; isn’t Rhys a great husband? Of course, with Gwen being as stubborn as Gwen, she insists that she doesn’t stay on the phone as it would be ‘silly’, I can’t say I blame her; even though we know that decision is probably going to be catastrophic later.
It quickly becomes apparent that something fishy is going on in Talmouth, and not just the name of the best chip shop in Talmouth, The Codfather; it seems as if the whole town has been abandoned.
Now, I don’t normally recommend how or where you listen to your Big Finish; as usually it’s a delight regardless, but in this case, I think that it’d be much better if you listened to Made You Look through a set of headphones or through a stereo system as Steve Foxton’s sound design is brilliantly utilised to make Darkness’ voice all the more ominous and terrifying.
The concept behind Darkness is rather brilliant and explained in a way that didn’t really require the normal type of expositional scene. Basically, imagine a Weeping Angel, a creature that if you stop looking at, will kill you; now flip it, if you see Darkness three times, you will die. How brilliant is that? Personally, I’ve always thought that being told not to do something makes you want to do the thing more, regardless of what the thing actually is, and with the way that Darkness seemingly eggs you on; it’s almost impossible to resist.
Once Gwen meets James, an alcoholic that is running away from the voice, they become an unlikely duo and Gwen learns just how quickly Darkness can strike. A whole town in three days. I must admit that whilst I in no way endorse alcoholism, I do have a soft spot for James; he seems like a man who’s trying to make the best out of a bad situation, and when you’re homeless, having a town to yourself quickly becomes a luxury.
Unfortunately for Gwen, it’s not long before she’s back to being alone. It doesn’t last long though, as Darkness decides to keep her company. And torments her.
I know this is an incredibly long shot, but if anyone has ever played the game Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture (available on PS4 and Steam), I’d say that the two premises are rather similar. If you haven’t played the game either, I recommend that you do.
It turns out that Gwen isn’t the only person left in Talmouth, there’s also Mrs. Rhodes, the landlady of the local B&B, who is blind; which is lucky for Mrs. Rhodes, as it means she won’t be able to ever see Darkness. There’s a brilliant little scene where Gwen tries to persuade Mrs. Rhodes to go with her to a place of safety, out of Talmouth, and Mrs. Rhodes is insistent that she can’t go because she’s got work to do. I love this scene because it just goes to show how the Welsh love just getting on with what the need to do and they don’t want to cause a fuss.
Gwen and Mrs. Rhodes begin an awfully spooky game of cat and mouse with Darkness, who is always taunting Gwen and is relentlessly trying to hunt her down. There’s a beautiful conversation between the two women where Gwen realises just how extraordinary the situation sounds to someone who doesn’t live a Torchwood life, and how insane everything sounded to her when she first started working for them. It’s the juxtaposition of these small, personal and intimate moments with the bloodcurdling horror and chills you get with Darkness that makes this story work so well. You can never be at ease with this story, and I love it.
Later in the story, it seems as if Darkness is more of a psychologically based villain than I anticipated, the way he acts is quite like House from The Doctor’s Wife in the way it can manipulate space to slowly send you mad. The acts that Darkness plants in Gwen’s head of Mrs. Rhodes are so eerie and unsettling, that you really do get the impression that you’re listening to a really disturbing horror.
Darkness is one of the greatest villains that Big Finish has added to its arsenal; it’s up there with the Rocket Men and Alex Macqueen’s Master. I hope that Darkness pops up in other Whoniverse stories, as otherwise Big Finish would be wasting a great opportunity.
Guy Adams could have given us a happy ending to the second series of Torchwood from Big Finish. Guy Adams decided not to though. The ending is harsh and horrible and sick and twisted. This is the type of ending Torchwood deserves, and I can guarantee it is one that will set the fandom ablaze. Well done Guy Adams, you’ve done it yet again.
If you’ve been waiting a year for a proper scary Torchwood story from Big Finish; one that utilises the medium of audio perfectly and makes you constantly feel on edge, then Made You Look is by far the story that you’ve been looking for. A story that doesn’t answer all of the questions is rare, but in this case, I think you enjoy the story more not knowing
Should you want to purchase Made You Look, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £9.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.