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 fourth story of the series, Superiority Complex.
Poverty and homelessness are on the rise in Cardiff. The streets are full of the desperate and the dispossessed. So, of course, it’s the right time to open a 7-star luxury, all-inclusive hotel. And, naturally, the hotel is for aliens only. As the humans stand outside the gates and look hungrily in, there’s one thing that makes them smile. Someone is murdering the guests.
Before listening to this story, I have to admit that I’m slightly apprehensive. Tonally, it has to feel epic enough to essentially be a finale, as it’s the final story in this box set; but it also have to end on a cliffhanger to make us want to purchase and listen to Aliens Among Us 2, due out in October. AK Benedict is a brilliant writer, but it’s going to be interesting to see how she’s going to pull this off without having a superiority complex! (See what I did there? That’s what, in the business, we call a ‘terrible pun’.)
The start of this episode is so wacky and odd that, if you’d not listened to the previous episodes, you’d be extremely confused. The opening four minutes are lacking anything that screams Torchwood. It’s a bold move, but one that works really well. I want to stay at this hotel. I think…
…On second thoughts, just listened a bit more, and I take that back. Soup isn’t really my thing.
It’s not too long before the Torchwood team and Tyler learn about the goings on at the swankiest hotel in Cardiff, and they just have to investigate. Mr Colchester and Gwen are dispatched to the front line, to see first hand what atrocities have occurred, and yet again, Mr Colchester has been written and performed superbly.
Sometimes, a great storyteller will put a familiar character into an unfamiliar role or setting and your imagination will go wild. AK Benedict manages to do exactly that in Superiority Complex with Jack. He’s tackling a new profession and I can see him excelling at it if he decided that his Torchwood career wasn’t for him. All I can say is, no matter where he’d work as this profession, business would boom.
I think it’s safe to say that, even though Aliens Among Us is told entirely through audio, that Superiority Complex is by far the most graphic and gruesome of the box set. It’s when Big Finish pushes the boundaries like this that they really come into their own. When Big Finish breaks new ground, you know it’s going to be exciting.
What I absolutely adore about Torchwood is that humanity is not always the innocent party; in fact, I’d go as far as to saying that in Aliens Among Us, that neither the humans nor the Sorvix are entirely black or white. Just like the real world, the world of Torchwood is many, many shades of grey. These moral dilemmas are going to really propel into a really interesting story in the subsequent box sets.
My favourite scene in Superiority Complex (and trust me, the title is extremely clever) is probably the scene between Orr and the true owner of the hotel; for me, the action and the excitement is great, but the smaller scenes between two or three characters are the ones that really pulls at the heartstrings and make these stories memorable.
The first conclusion to Superiority Complex is classic Torchwood, with Jack making yet another sacrifice. It’s a good job he’s like he is, otherwise the ending would have been totally different. I know people knock Miracle Day, but making Jack mortal, even when the rest of the world was immortal, really raised the stakes.
The second conclusion really makes you consider your alligiences and that of the characters; not everything is as it seems, or is it? Nothing like waiting till October to find out.
Overall, Superiority Complex is an action packed yet emotional episode that ends the first box set. At the beginning of this review, I said how I was unsure of whether it’d work, and AK Benedict has truly knocked it out of the park. The pacing was great, the characters were well written and performed and I wish I had a TARDIS to zip off to October now.
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.