Review by Jacob Licklider
Sargasso is my first foray into Big Finish’s Torchwood range and aptly it is a story told from the perspective of the often audience surrogate Rhys Williams. Kai Owen on Torchwood was always; in my opinion, an under-utilised character until the Children of Earth miniseries; so it is fitting that Big Finish gives the character time to shine. Sargasso is also the final release in the “Torchwood vs. Monsters” miniseries, pairing the Torchwood characters with monsters from Doctor Who, this time being the Nestene Consciousness. The Nestene Consciousness is a villain which has been under-utilised on audio, only featuring in the first UNIT box set and a single Eighth Doctor Adventure. Even on television, they have never been used to comment fully on the danger of plastics and pollutions; something rectified here. Christopher Cooper’s script uses the setting of a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean surrounded by plastic pollution. Cooper uses the isolated setting to full effect, creating a horror story with the Autons.
The Autons themselves don’t appear much in the audio, instead the Nestene just uses the masses of plastic waste to suffocate its victims. When the Autons do appear, they are used in an homage to films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing, taking on the identities of characters leaving Sargasso open for a sequel. One hour is perhaps too limiting for Christopher Cooper’s ideas as the audio ends on a definite cliffhanger leaving the possibility of a large scale Auton and Nestene invasion of Earth a real threat. Cooper does effectively use a small cast of characters to give depth to each of the Nestene ‘victims’. The issue with this particular alien on audio is their lack of speech, but Cooper uses that to effectively pull off (for lack of a better term) jump scares as the plastic creatures slowly pick off the crew of the ship. Bonus points can be given to Cooper for not including Sargasso in any of the arcs which Torchwood has featured, making it a good first time listen for those (like myself) without experience in the range outside of the standard adult content warning. Overall, Sargasso is a good little horror story that only suffers through the limitation of the one hour format leaving the listener wanting more. 8/10.
Download/buy here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/torchwood-sargasso-1714