Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.
And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the next chapter of the exciting Torchwood continuation, “Aliens Among Us”. Read the talk. Enjoy it. Beware the spoilers after the “read more” tag. Take five packages. Take three packages. Leave a comment. Maybe look up our thoughts on the first boxset. Take seven packages.
TIBERE: It’s still impossible to fully know where the narrative of Aliens Among Us is headed, although we know have some serious clues, and we still can’t pass a definitive judgement on the project as a whole – but as a set of Torchwood stories, this is some absolutely terrific stuff, picking off from the last boxset and expanding the characters in fascinating ways, allowing for some really strong standalones stories.
SCRIBBLES: It’s somewhat frustrating, not having the whole picture. There’s wonderful stories in this set, there truly are. The climax in particular is a favorite of mine from the series so far. But there’s also a slight feeling of a holding pattern, certain beats being held off until the end. Some of that works wonderfully, particularly the end of set cliffhanger. But other aspects don’t, particularly the Gwen plot, being revisited but put on hold with motion. And similarly, a few characters don’t get as much to do in these episodes. On the whole, of course, this is tremendously worth a recommendation. It’s Big Finish doing Torchwood, when isn’t that worth a go? And here it’s with a raw dedication to political fury meaning that elevates the weakest of stories here, all while staying true to the themes at the core of the show from the beginning. Aliens Among Us 2 isn’t quite new ground here, but there is much to enjoy, and some exciting build toward the payoff of the range.
TIBERE: I must admit, I rather enjoy the teasing. It can be a problem sometimes, and we’re certainly going to discuss those, but overall, I’m enjoying the sense of mystery the range is working towards – and the omnipresence of little clues, mysteries and continuity call-backs make it an incredibly intriguing and rewarding object of analysis. It’s not perfect – some characters get a bit sidelined, chiefly Orr, and not all the thematic deep dives land – but it’s unique, challenging and political. Actually – I might take that back a bit. It’s not all that “unique”. That might be the greatest flaw of these stories: while I do really like them, I must say I prefered the first set – because it was carrying a bit of fresh air, presented itself as a reinvention above all things, introducing new characters and problems to deal with. Here, we tread more conventional ground, and while I wouldn’t say the range is playing safe – I mean, that finale! – it certainly does lean a lot more in nostalgia and the classic brand of James Goss-inspired metatextual commentary than in a new bold direction. Still, for what it is, it’s pretty damn fantastic, and if the final set does stick the landing, this will go down as an unmitigated success.