Torchwood: Outbreak- Incubation Review


For those who aren’t in the know, the Torchwood box set, Torchwood Outbreak, released today from Big Finish, is split into three episodes, each documenting a stage of the aforementioned Outbreak, there’s IncubationProdromal and Invasion. Today, I’ll be reviewing the first part from this box set, Incubation.

“First they know you, then you love, then you kill…”
Incubation – Prodromal – Invasion
A medical trial’s gone terribly wrong, and one of the test subjects is loose on the streets of Cardiff. Within hours a virus is raging out of control and the bodies start piling up.
The Government scrambles to control the outbreak, but isn’t too keen on anyone finding out the dark history of the virus. Captain Jack Harkness has encountered the infection before and knows that something alien is hiding inside it.
With the city sealed off and murderous mobs rampaging through the streets, Torchwood has to save something even more important than the human race.

in·cu·ba·tion (ĭn’kyə-bā’shən, ĭng’-)

  1. The act of incubating or the state of being incubated.
  2. The maintenance of controlled environmental conditions for the purpose of favouring the growth or development of microbial or tissue cultures.
  3. The development of an infection from the time the pathogen enters the body until signs or symptoms first appear.

Don’t you love it when you start with a murder? That’s exactly what the pre-title sequence to Incubation focusses on; a man who’s seemingly committed a murder without his knowledge demanding to speak to Torchwood. Poor PC Andy.

Of course, it’s not long before we’re also reintroduced to the silly side of Torchwood, with Captain Jack riding a space octopus in front of Gwen and Ianto (yes, they’re back together. Actually, properly back together too, not just holograms in The Torchwood Archive). This is Big Finish and Torchwood arguably at their finest.

It’s not long either until we’re given some information about where the outbreak of whatever it is, might be originating from. I have to say that there’s a real feel from the outset that Torchwood Outbreak is going to be somewhere in between Children of Earth and Miracle Day in terms of pacing, themes and tone. I know that Miracle Day isn’t the most loved Torchwood, but having that scale on audio, whilst focusing on Cardiff has the potential to be a real treat. Plus, Outbreak has Ianto, Miracle Day doesn’t. 1-0 to Outbreak.

We learn some more information about the outbreak, from a man who’s seemingly infected by whatever it is. The character really reminded me of Clem McDonald from Children of Earth, in the sense that they’re more savvy to what’s happening than most.

One thing that I’ve learnt is that Captain Jack has a very dark past on Earth, something that’s been brought up in Torchwood many times, especially Children of Earth and Miracle Day. Should Big Finish’s new series The Lives of Captain Jack be renewed for a second series, I’d love to have a series that just focusses on the mistakes he made in the past, and his more than questionable behaviour. I know that a lot of people would rather have happy Jack stories, but there are two sides to every coin. Especially every immortal coin.

Seen as Jack seemingly knows what’s going on and what the cause is, it’s not too long before Cardiff is quarantined and everyone becomes more and more odd. Now, I’ve been to Cardiff, albeit only the once, and I can confirm that the Welsh aren’t a people I need to regress. They’re full on at the best of times (in the best way possible, I love you Cardiffians!)

This might seem like a bit of a tangent, but you know how the word yawn makes people yawn? Whether it’s hearing someone yawn, hearing someone say the word yawn, or even reading the word yawn over and over again, the word yawn makes yawning infectious. Chances are, you’re trying your best not to yawn now. Just do it though, it’s going to happen. Succumb to the yawn. Well, the same thing goes for itching, and I’m not sure it was planned or not, but the same thing happens with the word itch/itching. You see or hear the word itching and you can’t help but itch. If using this to make the listener itch was intentional, it was an absolutely genius move to make you feel as if you too have been infected by whatever it is. Try and stop itching, I dare you.

I still don’t understand why PC Andy is yet to be indoctrinated into Torchwood, because he’s arguably becoming one my favourite characters, especially due to Big Finish’s Torchwood stories. (It also helps that in Ghost Mission he had Norton by his side, I can’t wait for Big Finish to do a Norton solo story, please make it so!)

The ending of Incubation really sets up all the pieces on the metaphorical chessboard, getting people where they need to be for the second act. Cardiff is in lockdown, the Torchwood team are in one hell of a pickle and more and more people are going mad. Mass hysteria is on it’s way, and it seems that it’s just up to the Torchwood trio to try and sort it out.

Overall, Incubation is a great first part of this three part story, it introduces the characters nicely once again, sets up the themes and delivers some absolutely corking shocks that you wouldn’t expect from the first part of a three part story. It’s an absolute delight to hear Jack, Gwen and Ianto together again, along with a great ensemble cast. I personally can’t wait for Prodromal tomorrow.



Should you want to purchase Torchwood Outbreak, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time for either the CD or digital download.


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