And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain. We’ve been going on this epic adventure in the fifth series of Torchwood, Aliens Among Us since August of last year, and now the series’ third box set means it’s the end of this particular adventure for this new Torchwood team. Today, I’ll be reviewing the penultimate episode in this box set, Escape Room by Helen Goldwyn.
Gwen Cooper, Rhys Williams, and the Colchester-Prices go to try out an escape room. They’ve heard a lot about them. Especially this one. People keep going into the game and not coming out. But Torchwood will be fine. After all – partners can trust each other. Can’t they?
Who would have thought that a Torchwood release would open with the Doctor Who theme? I honestly didn’t, but, in the context that it’s in, I must admit it’s a nice little nod to the show that could easily be described as Torchwood’s parent. Even though Torchwood is way more grown up. That’s another article for another day.
Gwen, Rhys, Mr. Colchester, and his partner, Colin is taking part in an Escape Room, not by choice though. It seems that this Yvonne’s idea of a team building exercise. A team building exercise that she’s not taking part in. Everything seems a bit off right from the start, and when the title of the release is Escape Room, you know that there’s going to be more than meets the eye.
Somehow, this little quartet gets separated into two pairs, Gwen and Colin, and Rhys and Mr. Colchester. It’s great to hear these couples split up and forced to work with one another. I have to admit, Rhys and Mr. Colchester is a great pairing, especially when put into these scenes of duality that work alongside the ones with Gwen and Colin.
There’s some really interesting goings on in this release, and Helen Goldwyn’s script, combined with the ominous music from Blair Mowat manages to push some of the relationships in Escape Room to the absolute limit, and other relationships become just utterly and completely heartbreaking.
What I love about this script is that Mr. Colchester is written to be incredibly endearing towards Rhys, and it’s a side of Mr. Colchester that we haven’t really heard too much of throughout Aliens Among Us. His compassion, knowledge, and selflessness is proof of how a character can develop throughout a series, and if you compare this Mr. Colchester to that of the Mr. Colchester we met in Changes Everything, the difference would be night and day.
Considering how insular this episode feels, it truly seems as if there’s going to be devastating consequences; the ripples of the splash that Escape Room causes are going to be felt for a hell of a long time I imagine. This really is 48 minutes of character studies by placing all of the characters in hell. Multiple times.
The conclusion of Escape Room is really unnerving, and we get to see a side of Gwen that we’ve never really seen before. Hell hath no fury like a women scorned. Personally, I wish that the ending was ever so slightly longer, as it would have been nice to see just how far it would be acceptable to push Gwen’s character; especially considering the listener knows what’s really going on with her life.
Overall, Escape Room is truly the psychological thriller that I think Aliens Among Us needed; there are some scenes that are so intense in action, yet there are others that are quieter and just as impactful. Helen Goldwyn has managed to craft a script that is all about duality, in many forms. There’s themes of sacrifice, religion, devotion, faith in the unknown, selfishness and selflessness, all woven together in an extremely entertaining 48 minutes. With themes of duality, there’s undoubtedly also going to be parallels, and if you really think about it, there’s plenty of parallels in this release too. What Escape Room lacks in aliens, violence, sex and gore, it makes up for in intelligence and critical thinking.
I’ve never said this before in a review, but I feel like this release could easily be analysed at an academic level, that’s how much this script manages to pack into such a short time frame. There’s a few instances in Big Finish’s past where I’ve wished for more time in a release, but somehow my yearning for more Escape Room is different. We’re yet to truly understand the events, and I’ll be honest, a part of me really wants Herald of The Dawn to provide us with some answers, but another part hopes this mystery lingers beyond this series. If there was an extra ten minutes in this release, set in the middle, with another challenge for the couples to overcome, I would not complain in the slightest. I reckon hearing some more of Helen’s sadistic traps would be enthralling, but then again, I fear that too much would spoil it. What I’m trying to say, in a convoluted way, is that whilst I want more Escape Room antics, I completely understand that Helen Goldwyn was walking a very fine line, between just enough and too much, and I’m glad that she played it this way.
Should you want to purchase Aliens Among Us 3, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £28 on CD or £25 for a digital download for a limited time.