Torchwood: Outbreak- Prodromal Review

Torchwood

For those who aren’t in the know, the Torchwood box set, Torchwood Outbreak, was released yesterday 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 second part from this box set, Prodromal.

Synopsis
“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.

Definition
pro·dro·mal
noun.
Relating to or denoting the period between the appearance of initial symptoms and the full development of a rash or fever.

Review
It seems that the Torchwood team is still up a certain creek without a paddle. This is when, in my opinion, Torchwood is at it’s best; when everyone in Torchwood is unsure what they have to do to save the day.

We join PC Andy in the back of an ambulance after his… incident during Incubation. We also get to hear exactly what I said in yesterdays review about yawning and itching (Sorry!) and I have to say, I’m rather pleased with myself. I think that the events of Outbreak has really cemented PC Andy as proper Torchwood material. I love PC Andy. He’s such an underestimated and meek badass.

Cardiff quickly becomes a quarantine zone, and understandably, the people of Cardiff aren’t too happy with the news. Surprisingly though, there’s one person who’s desperate to get into the quarantine zone, a certain Rhys Williams. God I love Rhys too. A story where PC Andy and Rhys are made to work together would be absolutely awesome.

One thing that is spoilery but I have to talk about is the fact that my favourite Big Finish original member of Torchwood is back. Norton! Bloody love Norton, both in Ghost Mission and The Torchwood Archive. I can’t wait for him to get a solo adventure. Norton is such a nuanced character, with lots of development potential. I’m tempted to rename this website NortonLovers.com.

I absolutely love Ianto’s seemingly undying love towards Jack, he’s more than willing to risk his own life to try and makes Jack’s suffering lesser than it already is. What a great definition of love. Even through Jack’s seeming hallucinations, Ianto is trying his best to make sure he’s as safe as possible. Speaking of Ianto, he also comes up with arguably the best slogan for Torchwood ever; “Torchwood: Touching stuff we shouldn’t since 1879”. Sums Torchwood up pretty well I think.

There’s a great scene between Ianto and Norton (don’t ask how, it’s very timey-wimey for Torchwood) which helps move the plot forward in a very entertaining way; especially with what you know if you’ve listened to The Torchwood Archive, you realise you’re never quite sure whether you should trust what Norton Folgate says or claims to know.

We get an expositional scene that was really well crafted, especially with Samuel Barnett’s performance as Norton, learning a lot about the Good Thinking Programme. (If that doesn’t sound sinister, I don’t know what does.) We also get to see a somewhat darker side of Ianto that we rarely get to see flashes of. Even though Ianto is arguably the most calm and collected of the Torchwood team, you can tell that if he was pushed over the edge, he’d be a true force to be reckoned with.

Something that I didn’t expect to get in the middle of a global epidemic epic story (is it global if it’s confined to Cardiff? I suppose not) is a beautiful tender scene between Jack and Ianto, albeit with Norton playing the self-confessed part of gooseberry, even if the scene doesn’t last too long. Then the mood changes very rapidly…

The conclusion and cliffhanger of Prodromal is somewhat underwhelming, and doesn’t really add any sense of dread or drama, which is a shame, as the stakes don’t seem too high in the run up to the last part of Outbreak, Invasion. Still can’t wait to hear it though.

Overall, Prodromal focusses mainly on Jack and Ianto’s relationship, Jack’s struggle with the infection, and throws in another queen into this game of chess in the guise of Norton Folgate, who I assume will have a role in the final act of this story. Prodromal is really a character piece, a great study into the emotional side of the infection, whilst trickling more information to the listener about how and what the infection actually is. All I hope is that a lot of these loose ends are tied up in Invasion, a review of which will be live tomorrow.

Rating

92%

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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