Friday, February 22, 2008

Torchwood - The Cardiff Copout

Leave me be and let me rest in peace,
Let me get some sleep
Let me take my love and bury it
In a hole six foot deep
I can lay my body down but I can't
Find my sweet release
So let me rest in peace?
Why won't you let me rest in peace?

At the end of the previous episode, Reset, I decided to leave the cliffhanger finale unspoiled. I niavely assumed this situation would not instantly be resolved in the next episode - more fool me. After all, this episode is written by Matt Jones and we all know how well HE can resolve a cliffhanger. If you recall that doozy with the Devil rising out of the Satan Pit, the Ood closing in around the humans and Kroptor itself plunging right into the black hole? Well, the resolution had the Devil actually not coming out of the Pit at all, the humans running away, and Kroptor instantly returning to orbit.

So, with a heavy heart I watched the pre-credit sequence. Last week, Torchwood went up against the Pharm and destroyed the Cardiff branch, only for the resident mad corrupt scientist bastard to pull a gun on the Hub team. Rather than let Jack take a bullet, Owen decides to reason with the loony (odd how in another show that sentance would be applauded) and gets shot through the heart. He falls to the ground and dies in seconds.

Well, I took that on the chin.

This is OWEN people. Out of all of Torchwood Three he did manage to overcome being such a total ugly asshole by at least being an interesting ugly asshole beserker. I do not mourn his death, and considering he spent the latter half of the first series trying to kill himself doesn't really break me down in tears. I mean, I was impressed they killed him off in the middle of the series.

But the next episode was called Dead Man Walking.

Hey, Private, do you think this episode will have Owen magically brought back to life?


The scene opens with Martha about to perform an autopsy on Owen when Jack rushes in and tells them not to touch the body until he returns from the secretive unknown mission he's about to undergo. Yeah, well, fine, let's watch Owen go bright green and start to stink up the place. And, seriously, I boggle at the sight of Gwen, Tosh and Ianto eagerly watching Martha get out the scary surgical stuff... like hacksaws. I mean, get real! They REALLY want to see his corpse get cut open?! Jesus...

Jack pops by Creepy Little Girl Casino for a tarot reading and we get some painful product placement in the form of Torchwood tarot cards, with Jack as a knight in shining armor. I would have gone for spiked leather bondage gear myself. Anyway, the psychic girl knows what Jack is looking for despite the fact it's a very stupid idea and he should really know better than that.

Jack has decided that Owen deserves to return to life... in exactly the way no one else in this entire show has ever merited another chance... becuase he knows a few passwords! Thus, Jack has decided to search for the OTHER resurrection gauntlet, the exact same one we had no reason to believe ever existed, let alone would be on Earth in this dimension. Unfortunately, it's burried under a church full of Weevils. Well. Fancy that. There's more than one of them. Wow.

Jack immediately rescues the glove, which has been neatly dug up and left under a shrine of toy dolls and flags. Yeah, Weevils do stuff like that apparently. Returning to the Hub, everyone tells Jack he's going to be utterly nuts if he thinks he can bring Owen back to life with a glove - even if it worked, as Suzie demonstrated, it just kills the wearer. I dunno which depresses me more - one of the worst eps is confirmed as canon or the fact Jack is being so monumentally stupid in the first place. When confronted by the fact he will be lucky to restore Owen for two minutes, Jack backs down somewhat: now he's just going to use it to say goodbye to Owen, rather that pervert the course of nature itself. Well, Jack does his best John Edwards impressions and summons Owen back to life - and he predictably starts screaming hysterically that by the ass crack of the infinite he just got shot and is now in the autopsy room! And then even HE has a go at Jack for the incredible stupid glove business JUST FOR A FUCKING PASSWORD!

With less than thirty seconds left, Owen tells Gwen to piss off, listens in shock as Tosh reveals her love for his rigor-mortised form, and Ianto doesn't get a word in edgeways. Owen then tells everyone at home that Suzie wasn't bullshitting, there IS no afterlife, just darkness. Well, obviously only the GOOD go to heaven, since Eugene Jones (no relation to Ianto, Martha or Harriet) managed it without any fuss. Hah! Owen is damned! Na-nah-na-nah-nah!

What do you mean, I'm irreverant? You think he's not going to be back to normal at the start of next week? I want to know why they're wasting one of the two Martha episodes left, that's far more important! Is it karma for her professionalism last week that Miss Jones needs to be audience identification figure and get some basic info on the gloves conveyed to the audience, all the niggling little details they didn't bother to explain in Everything Changes or They Keep Killing Suzie. "It's glove, it's magic, it's evil!" was all RTD said about it and no one else gave a shit. I wonder why?

Anyway. Owen's dead. Everyone cries. Violins play. Doesn't have as much impact the second time, does it? Especially when it turns out... Owen is still walking, talking and cracking unfunny homophobic abuse. Yes, Owen is now a zombie, so bar a change of makeup application, you can stop concentrating. Is Owen draining Jack's life force? ...who cares? As Abbadon discovered, old Cap'n Jack has more than enough to spare! Meanwhile, Martha is slightly grossed out by Zombie Owen's necophilia gags and decision to start acting like an even bigger arsehole than ever - insulting, mocking and flirting with everything with a pulse. Cue more necrophilia gags. Martha gives him a teleport bracelet to occupy him and then ignores the bastard, presumably crossing the Torchwood gang off the invitation list. And after the way he treats Tosh, I'm surprised they don't throw him in the cells.

Meanwhile, the discard glove... starts to move. Creepy. Well, this IS Matt Jones, he does have some strengths... (haha, Matt, just joking. Fluid Links sucked though, I want my money back). Jones also gets points for remembering that there's this extra character played by Kai Owens called... Rick something... Rhys! That's it! Oh, and he's betrothed to Gwen! Might be worth mentioning him, eh? And so Gwen rings up her boytoy in the middle of the night to... actually we miss that. Let's assume she doesn't just sob mindlessly but actually tells Rhys that her pal got shot dead and is now a zombie. Truth in the relationship, people, otherwise you end up like an Oxford graduate prostituting yourself for absinthe.

Zombie Owen decides to do the party piece 'of something in the darkness' (jeez, didn't we establish that it was Abbadon?) and then finds himself briefly sucked into oblivion. Gosh, this reminds me of the last series of Angel, which started with Spike brought back from the dead, only to be a ghost irregularly being yanked into hell... But Torchwood wouldn't rip off Angel, would they? What the fuck am I on about? I'm surprised they haven't ripped off the rest of that series and have a regular die and transform into a monster played by the same actor. Owen with blue hair, leather and contact lenses? Nah, Amy Acker has the hips for it, but I doubt Burn Gorman has the lips for it. Oh wait, Martha's announcing Zombie Owen is starting to mutate into a new creature. What a coincidence!

As soon as Zombie Owen is alone for five seconds he is haunted by an invisible whispering voice which makes his eyes go funny and speaking in tongues. Uh... Matt? Some new material WOULD be nice here? Even the violin music is the same! The beings known as Torchwood Fans may not have seen The Satan Pit, but I have, and this ripoff doesn't even have Gabriel Woolfe to do the voice! Owen then magically escapes the hub... and enters a trippy 'static pose as the world spins around you' sequence like Carys the Nympho of Death, pausing in his LSD journey to have a pint (and as Martha points out, no good can come of a corpse drinking) where he is tormented by a bunch of teenage girls dressed as angels and an anime grim reaper, and Owen realizes that no amount of viagra can help him now his heart no longer beats.

Martha finally takes her gloves off and points out that Jack is running his organization with the same professionalism as Operation Delta - as she says, they have the power to bring the dead BACK TO LIFE but Torchwood never trusted UNIT enough to mention it! Deaths caused by Torchwood and the glove? Five. Deaths caused by UNIT and the glove? None. Confronted with the fact, once again, they are not the best people to decide how alien technology is used... Jack changes the subject and tries to hunt down a member of his team before they slaughter innocents. Once again.

Damnit, I hope Martha gets the Sontarans to nuke the Hub. I mean, it can only do the world good, right?

Jack finds Zombie Owen, unfortunately Zombie Owen is an incredibly annoyed unkillable zombie and a bit of a fight happens. They then get arrested and their claims of Torchwood fall on deaf ears - presumably EVERY perp in Cardiff tries to pass themselves off as a member of the Empire's Xenophobe Division... Jack and Owen get stuck in a cell as Zombie Owen starts to break wind violently and vomit Exorcist-style the beer he drank. Coz corpses do that. Jack, rather surprisingly, dubs this excremental display "the most disgusting thing ever", which makes him seem like a bit of a prude... but then the two immortals are soon chatting about how Jack's ex Marcel Proust was a tad immature. It's getting so Jack seems to have slept with everyone the Doctor has ever namedropped which is a tad disturbing in a stalker like way, when you think about it. Soon they escape from the station only for around two hundred Weevils to attack from all sides - it's amazing they never managed to convince an army of Cybermen, but can do an army of Weevils, no hassle... and just where DO Weevils get their clothes from?

As our "heroes" flee into Cardiff Carpark (well, there SEEMS to be just the one) the Weevils switch to Maximum Hitchcock Mode, and start multiplying off camera. All seems lost when Zombie Owen turns freaky again and all the Weevils prostrate themselves before him - and back at the Hub, the girls get out the Molenski Univarious thingamabob that opens doors, reprograms computers, scans books and also translates alien languages. Hell, that single prop is more use than the entire gang! But they soon discover that Zombie Owen's fevered mutterings are a quote from the Grim Reaper as he released the Black Death on the world.



This means there were Weevils AND Terileptils running around in 1666. Was Richard Mace banging Jack?

Let us move on.

As Tosh points out "Are we really going to act on something Gwen has googled?!" Why they can't read books, like they do in Buffy, I dunno. But apparently some legend from the 15th century suggests that the Resurrection Glove can summon Death itself, the King of the Weevils! I... I can't cope with this. Matt, what is it with you confronting the archetypes of supernatural horror with some blaise sci fi heroes? First Satan, now Death, and didn't Chris Boucher beat you first? Still, you've cancelled out his time fissures with the Rift, why not do the same with the Fendahl... and guess what? When Death walked Cardiff, he needed thirteen souls for his own nefarious purposes... just like the Fendahl... and a human was transformed into a host creature for Death... just like the Fendahl... but was mysteriously stopped at the last minute... like the Fendahl...

However, Owen is not prepared to let Boucher be ripped off any more and has Martha embalm him before he can turn into Thanatos the Big-Mouthed. But before they can inject him full of more chemicals than Kieth Richards, the glove comes to life and goes Evil Dead II on Martha! This leads to the surreal sight of six grown adults reacting in terror to a glove as Ianto wields a hockey stick... I'm sorry, it was done better with The Young Ones and Vyvyan's sock. This is just silly. And then it does the Auton-groping-Rose face-hugging thing on Martha and...


Smegging hell. Is there some kind of rule that every DW character in TW must either a) be completely out of character or b) suffer hideous humiliation? Since the most edgy thing Martha has done is mention Owen "having a pee", it seems she's doomed to the latter. Less than twelve hours after she was impregnated by a giant alien wasp which then tried to rip its way out via her belly button, she has now been withered to state of David Tennant as Gandalf!


Why not Ianto - who bar checking a stopwatch, opening a safe and holding a hockey stick has said and done NOTHING this week? Or Tosh? Or Gwen, that would be interesting! But no, Martha is the one that suffers and any Who viewers watching will now for certain dub Torchwood and everything it stands for as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the intuitive revelation comes".

Meantime Owen's shot the glove and started screaming before angry tics burst out of his nipples. Whatever. Gwen and Tosh don't seem particularly interested either. Suddenly Own belches up a skeletal form of smoke and... this all turns out to be a nightmare by Jack... who has dozed off in the SUV... outside hospital, where everyone is rushing to save Martha. Including Owen, who is no longer turning into a monster. What the hell?!

No explanation is forthcoming as Jack announces that Death is stalking the hospital they are in (wow, just like that Buffy episode) which is surrounded by Weevils, just as Gwen reiterates the 'thirteen deaths stopped by faith' questions just in case any viewers were confused by the sudden change in plot. I know I was. And now the name Torchwood has power as the hospital evacuations as Smoky Skeleton Dude causes ward after ward to flatline and turn to rotting corpses... just like the Fendahl.

Just to emphasize this, IT IS ALL TORCHWOOD'S FAULT! Thank God they weren't so stupid enough to have Jack's monologue bigging up the organization... oh wait. They did. Fuckwits.

IANTO: I've searched for the phrase "I shall walk the Earth and my hunger will know no bounds" but I keep getting redirected to Weight Watchers.

Owen and Tosh manage to, for the first time in Torchwood, save a child from certain death (course he's got lukemia... pity they shut down the Pharm or they could have cured him with Reset, but, oh yes, only Torchwood are allowed to make decisions for other people). Then we get yet ANOTHER rant from Gwen were she reveals Death has claimed twelve lives and need but one more and this is bad! WE KNOW, GWEN, SO SHUT UP! Hell, just give him Jack, it normally works... and while this is a better plot than End of Days, it's still a whacking great monster out of the darkness killing thousands because the Hub gang are a bunch of IRRESPONSIBLE BASTARDS! Finally, even Tosh concedes, "We don't know what we're dealing with!" Bit late in the day, Sato!

Ianto reveals that Death was stopped by the one it piggy-backed into the mortal realm, so ergo Owen will be the one to stop it as he has "nothing to lose". So Owen automatically tries to convince the child Jamie that he has nothing to live for and must stop death... you fucking coward, Owen! Oh, wait, Owen was just giving him a pep talk. Coz it sure came across like "Do the decent thing, Jamie! Save us all!"

And so Owen has a girly fistfight with a CGI skeleton.

Jason and the Argonauts, this ain't. The basic idea is that Death has a limited time on Earth before he dissolves, and needs thirteen living bodies. So Owen traps Death in one part of the hospital and delays him until he dissolves, since Owen is already dead and cannot be consumed. Seems a sensible plan, but Jack and Gwen rush in to help THE ZOMBIE by providing DEATH with two fresh bodies.


By sheer luck, they arrive just in time to see Death turn to dust. And Martha is back to normal (wow, completely sidelined in her second episode, smart!) and scares the shit out of Ianto. At least Owen has the guts to apologize to Martha for nearly killing her and confront Jack over all the deaths that are directly his fault. Martha reveals that Zombie Owen has a limited lifespan and could kark out in thirty years or thirty minutes. Owen devotes what time he has left to trying to make amends for the massacre... wow, all the other deaths you cause didn't count? Arrogant zombie son of a bitch.

Jack reminds the audience at home... should there be one... that Death isn't really dead, since you know, everyone's still mortal. He does this in the creepiest, spookiest way possible, specifically to freak out Toshiko, and the episode ends with us wondering why in the name of sweet onion chutney this organization should be shut down completely and Jack sent to do community service as a stripper?

Don't get me wrong, this was a good episode, but it's clear Matt Jones, like the others this series, can't stand the Hub or those who work there. If, at the end of this, you have ANY faith in the gang to save humanity, then you, you are a cool, a sad and a fimpleton! And why did the Weevils worship Death?

I wouldn't mind if I thought it would ever be explained.

Next week... the horror of Richard Briers! Owen is sacked. But then brought back as their field agent, what with his lack of mortality, morality or body heat. No sign of Martha - they probably forgot she was supposed to be in it.


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

What.. the fuck?

And I thought the last episode, what with it's Martha taking the piss out of the gang, sounded hilarious.

Incidentally, have you noticed that the bit in Greeks Bearing Gifts where they see the UNIT cordon on the scene and say "Oh, looks like the amateurs got here first..." is becoming more and more ironic?

Youth of Australia said...

I can only assume Jack applied for UNIT and was chucked out after he slept with the whole regiment, and has been bitter about it ever since.

No - other - explanation - exists.

This is a good episode, but I swear Matt Jones wrote it with a post it on the monitor saying THESE PEOPLE ARE RETARDS WHO WILL DESTROY CIVILIZATION BY ACCIDENT.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

It sounds like the show has done a bit of a 180 in terms of tone...

Or the writers looked back at what they wrote in the first season and said "Christ, there's no way people are going to buy these guys as saviours of the human race..."

Youth of Australia said...

It sounds like the show has done a bit of a 180 in terms of tone...
Or the writers looked back at what they wrote in the first season and said "Christ, there's no way people are going to buy these guys as saviours of the human race..."

Yup. Not since "Sleeper" have the gang been shown in any way whatsoever capable of defending Cardiff let alone humanity.

It's very much like Torchwood in AOG - they are the ones that cause the chaos and scavange what's left over afterwards.

Cameron Mason said...

After all, this episode is written by Matt Jones and we all know how well HE can resolve a cliffhanger.

Was the cliffhanger all that was left of Matt's work after RTD did the rewrite?

They REALLY want to see his corpse get cut open?! Jesus...

Normally I wouldn't, but in Owen's case I'd make an exception...


Youth of Australia said...

Well, judging from this ep, most of Impossible Planet was his work.

And the scenes in the Pit.

James Marsters said...

I'm James Masters, you've stolen my song for the Buffy-Musical "Ones More With Feeling" :(

Youth of Australia said...


1) I did not steal it. I merely quoted the lyrics. At no point do I claim sole ownership of the lyrics, music etc. which remain the property of Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. I have gained absolutely no commercial gain from its use, and indeed use to emphasize how much intellectual theft is carried out by Torchwood as a series.

2) You're James Masters, are you? Or James MARSTERS? I would have thought you'd be, I dunno, busier than hang around blogs, or at least have your own blogger ID.

3) It's not James Marsters' song, it's Joss Whedon's. Just because he sang it doesn't give him exclusive access, or it wouldn't have been released on CD, iTunes, Youtube etc. He also sang Walk Through The Fire and Where Do We Go From Here. Are they all "his" songs too?

4) Since James Marsters has BEEN in three episodes of Torchwood, I would have thought someone quoting a song he once song in relation to an episode about the walking and heartbroken dead yet not featuring Marsters himself suitably ironic. This is, after all, a guy who can quip about quantumn mechanics in casual conversation

So. Since I find it rather hard to believe the awesome William the Bloody and Braniac would get his own name wrong while skulking around the bloggosphere, I am disinclined to remove the lyrics, comprehende?

I quoted the Rocky Horror Show as well, but Richard O'Brien has yet to post here accusing me of stealing The Time Warp...

If you really are concerned about the Musical's lyrics, I suggest you take it up with this fellow.