So near yet so far...
Chris Chibnall palpably gave up script editing this. There are just too, too many moments that needed fixing and you can tell. Apart from anything else, the basic plot of "Rhys finally works out the truth" SHOULD have been at the end of Countrycide. But instead they leave it until now, with all previous times being retconned by drug or time rift, and we're left with the unbelievable, contemptible premise that Rhys being quite happy with the idea that Gwen was in "special ops" when even OLD LADIES ON THE STREET know about Torchwood.
Basically, Meat contradicts the rest of Torchwood and Doctor Who about five billion times and I can feel the script editor's enthusiasm bleed. For example, the oft thorny idea of alien life - the first mention has Rhys dismiss the idea of aliens in Cardiff, as if aliens are like terrorists and thus unlikely to be in the most boring city ever (let's skip the spate of serial killers, cannibals, disappearances, giant fairies killing people, and that fucking huge stone demons) and we might just let that pass. But then the baddies of the episode realize that the giant whale-like slug they've been turning into burgers while it regrows MIGHT NOT BE FROM EARTH!
WHAT THE FUCK?!? What the hell did they think it was? Unlike even the insane Estate Agent of Doom, they don't even have some whacked out theory to explain. As Tosh points out - did they think it was from Earth? The baddies at this point seem to find the huge whale like slug suddenly terrifying and run away. And then the episode ends with Rhys marvelling at the idea of universal life... FOR FUCK'S SAKE! Did anyone miss the Prime Minister of Great Britian saying "Yes! Aliens exist! I shall now kill the American President with them!"
ARGGRHJHHH! It's not even consistent any more!
Worse are the Torchwood team who are the same bunch of amoral, self-important free-loading scum we despised in series one. Then they're kind of nice. Then they're scum again. The attempts to paper over the cracks lead to "smash your head against the table" moments like Owen constantly giving Tosh the cold shoulder after THREE WHOLE EPISODES of him trying to get into her pants! The first time, you can see it being played like Owen doesn't want to show such matters in front of the others, but then he's treating her worse than he did in the first series, sneering at "Catholic but Grateful!"
Jack too comes across badly... one minute, he's the utter rude bastard and dictator we all hate, the next he's stepped straight out of The Empty Child and trying to seduce everything he sees. When Rhys quite accurate steps right in Jack's face and calls him a completely fucking stupid moron who should not be in charge of anything anywhere anywhen, Jack stares at him and replies, "You know, I'm finding this quite homoerotic." The scene where he flirts with Rhys's shy, dumpy and unattractive secretary and even going so far as to grope her ass has the character being the most fun in a while. But then he becomes a bleeding heart substitute Doctor as he tries to communicate with the whale slug. OK, it's a wild animal in pain, I get that, but Jack is WAY to involved for a guy who used Weevils as live bait and his dismissive attitude to human life...
DAMN IT! If they all just stayed in one mode for a story, I might cope. I've come to the conclusion that the writers for this series are deliberately trying to ruin it and the pre production can't cope...
The predictable ending comes when the gang tell Gwen to retcon Rhys. As if she hasn't done that before. And we're supposed to believe that Rhys will wake up with an arm in the sling and not be in any confusion whatsoever? GET REAL! Thankfully, after Rhys totally lets loose in his best "YOA loses it over Sparacus" impression about Gwen's lies, Gwen does the same with Jack. Frankly, why in the name of fuck are they allowed to rewrite people's memories? Is it going to do ANYONE any good hiding how big the universe is and how important Cardiff is?
Gwen rounds it off by telling off Jack, Tosh, Owen and Ianto for being the total shits they are, with their superiority complexes, nihilistic dismissal of life and the fact they're all a bunch of incompetent losers. And, a quick score to show...
Everything Changes: Torchwood causes a spate of serial killings, gets a porter murdered; Gwen is saved.
Day One: Torchwood looses the Sex Monster twice, killing around thirty or so men; Carys is saved.
Ghost Machine: Gwen stabs an old man; no one saved.
Cyberwoman: Torchwood's Cyberwoman kills two people; no one saved.
Small Worlds: Torchwood fails to stop the fairies murder three people and steal a little girl; no one saved.
Countrycide: Torchwood defeats cannibals with zero casualties (well, after they find out about it anyway)
Gifts Bearing Greeks: Jack murders Mary; Tosh saves a family when not on duty.
They Keep Killing Suzie: Torchwood causes another killing spree, then let Suzie murder an old man with cancer; Gwen is saved.
Random Shoes: Torchwood ignore Eugene and he gets killed; Gwen is saved.
Out of Time: Torchwood let the old guy and Diane kill themselves; the teenage girl is saved.
Combat: Torchwood let a guy get eaten; Owen is saved against his will.
Captain Jack Harkness: no one saved, no one technically in danger.
End of Days: according to the website, when Torchwood released Abbadon, all those people he killed stayed dead; Rhys is saved.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Cardiff is saved, no casualties.
Sleeper: Torchwood stop the Sleeper cell with minimum casualties; no one is saved.
To The Last Man: Torchwood sacrifice Tommy.
So, as you can see the number of "sad endings" is ridiculously high. And yet the whale slug thing's death is supposed to hit as hard as "for once Torchwood fails". Uh, no, actually. These guys barely win. Ever.
And confronted with this fact, Jack loses it. I mean, I thought he was going to punch Gwen's lights out as the ungrateful bitch brags about how damn wonderful her life with Rhys is against how pathetic everyone else is.
But he doesn't.
Meat, as an episode, isn't that bad. The plot, dialogue - particularly Ianto, who now speaks entirely in rather funny one liners including his brilliant "We could release a single," following Tosh babbling about how they could use the slug to "Feed the World!" - is good, the acting decent...
But all in all, it's a plot that should have happened in 2006 not now, and seems to have been filmed based on alternate drafts of the scripts. Thankfully, the next epispode - which seems to feature the return of Grey, and also some Farscape style transformations as Owen becomes a computer geek, Ianto a gun-totting psychopath, and Jack reveals his true self - looks better.
It looks, however, like Torchwood 2 is just as inconsistent and badly thought out as Torchwood 1.