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5. Uncanny Valley

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Reviewed By: RyanOM1991Review Date: 2/6/16 9:01 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Thoughtful, cutting and disturbing.

Uncanny Valley picks up where The Conspiracy left off. Jack Harkness is still on the trail of The Committee. His investigations have led him to a castle in rainy Wales owned by multi-millionaire arms contractor Neil Redmond.

While it seemed he was finding his feet again as the character, John Barrowman has clearly settled back into the role of Jack Harkness. There is no doubt that this is the same character we left 4 and a half years ago. His charisma shines throughout his scenes and provides some much needed optimism to the story to balance the dark storyline.

Although it's his face on the cover, Barrowman really has the supporting role as the majority of the story is told in flashback from the point of view of Neil Redmond, played by the talented Steven Cree.

Portrayed as a lost and broken man after a car accident, Redmond is given a raw and gritty portrayal by Steven Cree. His story of a man that his peak who plunges to the darkest depths is made all the more effective by the actor'so performance. What could easily have been a smug and unlikeable protagonist is given energy and likability through Cree's naturalistic performance.

Without wanting to divulge spoilers, Cree also performs another role - that of NJ. While Cree's performance as Redmond uses naturalism to give the character a heart, flaws and soul, his performance as NJ is completely different. Cold, clinical and unsettling, the character evolves from naive and innocent to more complex and almost sadistic. The words that the character speaks are somehow rendered meaningless through their clinical tones, which is inherent to the character's chilling nature.

Although the story starts off as a typical Torchwood episode, it becomes far more involving and unsettling half way through, as it tackles some original and uncomfortable themes. It gets increasingly difficult to listen to (in a good way) but very rewarding. Redmond's fate has undoubtedly left him with some troubling issues, which makes the twisted relationship that develops with NJ unnervingly believable. The culmination of their relationship towards the end becomes even more disturbing, but was always inevitable.

It's hard to say that this is enjoyable as it's a challenging and disturbing listen, but it's highly recommended. Steven Cree has given a powerhouse dual performance, while the upbeat and charismatic support of John Barrowman provides a welcome counterpoint to the disturbing nature of the story.

It would be difficult to argue that this isn't the strongest installment yet, and it's hard to see how this can be topped. But I'll look forward to finding out.