Here we are then, the official Series 5 of Torchwood, named Aliens Among Us is released. Well, partly released, this box set is one of three of the epic Aliens Among Us saga, and today I’ll be reviewing the first story of the series, Changes Everything.
Tyler Steele has washed up in Cardiff looking for a fresh start. A disgraced journalist, he’s looking into the Red Doors movement – are they really behind the terrorist attacks on immigrants? Who is stirring up the racism and hatred in the city, and what does outsourcing contractor 3Sol have to do with it? Tyler finds out that Torchwood – a secret organisation that everyone thought long gone – is back in business. Tyler realises that this is the second chance he’s been looking for, and he’ll do anything to be a part of it.
So, here we go. Back to the beginning, back to where it all started. Torchwood in Cardiff with an established team and a newcomer. You may be reminded of the first ever episode of Torchwood, Everything Changes, and Changes Everything is not only a clever play on words in the title, but in the format of the first episode.
We start the story with Tyler, the newcomer, being somewhat interrogated by Gwen Cooper, and the parallels between this and Gwen’s origin is really interesting to hear; it’s familiar, but different. Much like this new Torchwood in Series Five. The official fifth series of Torchwood. I love this.
I never realised it whilst listening to the previous Torchwood releases on Big Finish, but it seems that their language is somewhat mild by Torchwood standards; there’s not too much swearing and the stories, on occasion, have been somewhat family friendly. That is certainly not the case with Changes Everything, Gwen is swearing like a trooper and unashamedly so; this is the kickass Gwen I remember, and I’m glad to have her back.
Once Tyler is introduced to the Torchwood base, both he and the listener is introduced to Mr. Colchester, an older gentleman who has seemingly joined the Torchwood team in between the events of Miracle Day and the beginning of Aliens Among Us. It’s nice for there to be a more senior member of Torchwood, especially considering the most senior and elderly member of the team is, y’know, an immortal.
It’s nice that the rift gets a bit of love in this story too; as it makes you really feel as if you’re back to the good old days. I often wondered why the Doctor stopped needing the rift energy, but, as long as Torchwood gives it some love, I’m happy enough.
The parallels between Gwen’s indoctrination into Torchwood in Everything Changes and Tyler’s in Changes Everything seems to be similar enough to remind you, but different enough to feel refreshing and new. Oh, and Tyler clearly uses Grindr. Gwen just has Rhys.
Jack’s introduction into the story is brilliantly 2017 and very Jack, and Tyler’s introduction to Jack is very different to Gwen’s. To be honest, I can’t imagine it working back in 2006; it’s great how modern Torchwood always feels.
Considering this is only the first episode of a twelve part series, there are events in Changes Everything that feel so seismic and cataclysmic that it leaves you wondering how the stakes can possibly get any higher in the next eleven hours.
There’s a great scene between Tyler and Colchester around midway through the story that is so brilliantly and bluntly written; having these two new characters interact with one another really gives us a sense of who they are and what role they’ll play in the future. James Goss has managed to subvert a lot of expectation in this scene, and Tyler is thrown completely off-guard by some of Colchester’s revelations.
It’s interesting that Jack’s Vortex Manipulator is back up and running; and I’d be really intrigued to know how, after everything that happened in Miracle Day, Jack managed to get his Vortex Manipulator working. He really should have spent his time renovating Torchwood Cardiff.
The final minutes of Changes Everything is yet another personal moment, this time between Tyler and Jack; and it’s infuriating and beautiful and honest and raw and passionate and I love it. The ending doesn’t seem to be the one you expect, and if you’re expecting the unexpected, you’ll still be surprised. Oh, and wait until after the credits.
I think it’s safe to say from this story alone that this is what Torchwood is and always should be. Changes Everything is funny, dark, grim, hopeful, sexy, epic, personal, gay and so very Cardiff. To any naysayers who say that Aliens Among Us isn’t the fifth series of Torchwood because it’s on audio; it’s safe to say that you are sorely mistaken. Torchwood is well and truly back.
Should you want to purchase Aliens Among Us 1, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £28 on CD or £25 for a digital download for a limited time.