I approach the latest episode of Torchwood, Something Borrowed, with a complete lack of enthusiasm and borderline disinterest. Perhaps it's down the fact that the entire plot was spelled out in the trailer, and wasn't enthralling to start with. Gwen has to marry Rhys the same day she is impregnated by alien shapeshifting monsters who plan to ruin the wedding.
Who cares? I mean, really, if Gwen dies, why should it matter to me? She's been completely sidelined of late, and it's not like they're ACTUALLY going to kill her, is it? Even if they did, they'd just bring her back to life. The only difference is that Gwen will actually be married at the end of the episode, and frankly it could have happened ages ago for all the difference it makes. Rhys has had the truth of Torchwood revealed and then ignored by the script writers. He could, therefore, have found out at the very start of the show for all it mattered, and would have made Gwen seem less of a heartless bitch.
Perhaps it's the departure of Martha that gets me down, since we now have the Hub gang unequivacally labelled reckless amoral scum and no one bar Rhys to tell them to buck their ideas up. Since two members of the gang are now immortal, are we supposed to suddenly panic over the fate of the remaining three. Gwen and Tosh have been established as selfish, deluded bitches (in fairness Tosh only in the previous episode), and Ianto, well, who cares?
This series has finally beaten any compassion or interest I have left. It's gone. All gone. I can't even summon up spite that this is a show whose last 'hilarious' comedy episode involved a woman raping and murdering men en masse. This week Gwen gets, effectively raped and forced to carry the rapists' baby. But, you see, this is funny! Cause it's a wedding and stuff! Huh? Aren't you laughing? See, Jack and the other's witty quips are jokes, not being callous arseholes you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire... even when Gwen is utterly traumatized to the point of catatonia, her pals are making lame oneliners about her, the heart of their gang. Oh well, at least we know it's nothing personal and they treat EVERYONE like this.
And I haven't actually watched the episode yet! This is entirely from the trailer! And after four episodes of "dark, angsty serious" episodes (which manage to live up to the label), we suddenly turn on a dime into some Carry On Getting Me To The Church On Time. For god's sake, BBCWales, play to your strengths! Either make the thing a comedy or make it serious, don't keep flipping the light switch like you do with Doctor Who, because Doctor Who has different characters and situations every week. This is supposed to be one big narrative, but the story teller's been called away and got Rove fucking McManus to try and take over.
Oh, well, let's see how much the episode manages to differ from the Buffy and Angel episodes it clearly is ripping off, at last count:
Everything Changes: The Initiative/Welcome to the Hellmouth
Day One: Lonely Hearts
Ghost Machine: Happy Anniversary
Small Worlds: Blind Eyes (I think that's the title)
Greeks Bearing Gifts: Earshot
They Keep Killing Suzie: This Year's Girl
Random Shoes: The Zeppo
Out of Time: Tomorrow
Combat: The Ring
Captain Jack Harkness: Have You Now Or Ever Been/What Needs To Be Done (the one in the submarine)
End of Days: Graduation Day
KKBB: School Hard
Sleeper: Beauty and the Beast
To The Last Man: the Holtz episodes
Meat: Doublemeat Palace
Adam: the Dawn episodes
Dead Man Walking: Killed by Death
A Day in the Death: the Spike is a Ghost episodes
Something Borrowed: Expecting/Hell's Bells
OK, now that's off my chest. To the plot.
Gwen's Hen's Night involves a bunch of desperate housewives in cowboy hats at a noisy club yodelling "Here Comes The Bride", drowning out the cacophony with the noise it makes. It comes as no surprise whatsoever that Gwen would rather be hunting down carnivorous shape changers in the gents of Cardiff railway stations rather than be stuck with her "longterm friends of the week"... which indeed she did, two hours earlier. The shape shifter, who by an AMAZING COINCIDENCE, turns nasty in the EXACT same way vampires show their true faces in Buffy! You know, just in case an iota of non-Whedon plagiarizm might have found its way into the plot. Proving once again why Martha and the Doctor have disowned Jack's little gang, Gwen immediately opens fire on the alien rather than even TRYING to talk to it.
Something Borrowed is by Phil Ford, whose SJA episodes were definitely enjoyable and he's certainly proved worthy of the main series. His Torchwood story is ostensibly a comedy, and manages a decent balance of understated sight gags (Rhys and his best man waking up on the couch handcuffed and wordlessly untangling themselves), bedroom farce, puns and the like. The real failure, however, is that the whole thing is so meanspirited - and deliberately so. Ford has clearly concluded he hates everyone in Torchwood bar Rhys (who is clearly the Martha-style moral voice) and Ianto (whose sheer blandness saves him).
Jack is a cruel, hypocritical, jeering manipulator who really reaches a new level when, after Rhys loses it at him for getting his wife-to-be knocked up, sweetly tells him "Oh, and congratulations", and openly flirts with Gwen. In the inevitable "Stop the wedding scene!" Jack clearly likes the fact everyone assumes that Gwen has been having an affair with him. Of course, he drugs everyone at the church and tries to do the same to Gwen and Rhys, insisting he is the judge of who and what should remember (I'm waiting for an explanation for how amnesia somehow creates false memories as required). The final dialogue free scene implies that Jack, bitter about one of his weddings back in the 20th century, actually wanted to ruin Gwen's. Maybe I'm being harsh on that, but since he pretends to be clueless about the whole ceremony, he's obviously lying.
Owen doesn't get much to do except moan about how screwed up he is and try to get monsters to eat him. With his decaying body no longer able to use both arms properly, it looks like it won't be long before he resembles Davros, albeit a Davros whose good hand will be the one you never see. Nevertheless he is seen enjoying shooting Jack through the chest repeatedly. It's a measure of how much the character has been rehabilitated that he comes across as mildly annoying.
Tosh.... Christ. After having her 'sympathetic facade' questioned, we now discover... Owen was right. She's as bad as the rest of them. When the best man politely asks her a few question, she Chatham-style shows off her science knowledge, accusing the guy of being a nauseating, impotent loser desperate for sex. Then she beats him up (he's not an alien monster or anything, or even acting suspciously) and when they are tied up, she tries to crush his balls because he is "annoying" with those reasonable "what the hell is going on?!" questions. She even slags off Owen behind his back, and is shown to be 'interested in him' solely out of pity.
Ianto gets a few witty quips, including an interesting dialogue free moment where he is accused of being a transvestite when he pops into a shop to by a wedding dress from a friend. His expression makes it hard to tell if he's offended, confused, or turned on by the idea. Nevertheless, he spends the whole day bitching about having to deal with boring stuff about weddings, dubbing himself "the Wedding Fiary".
And Gwen. Dear God, Gwen. The heart but no brains. At all. I dare say the horror of what happened to her with the impregnation and that is to balance out what a stupid fucking bitch she is the rest of the episode. When Owen tells her to postpone the wedding while Torchwood perform a backdoor abortion, Gwen refuses on the grounds she's humiliated Rhys enough. This is kind of laudable, until Rhys points out a) he really doesn't mind messing up the wedding as long as she's safe b) he doesn't blame her and c) what the hell are they supposed to tell people? Nevertheless, Gwen insists on going ahead and is thus solely responsible for the bloodshed that follows. Her plan for dealing with her relatives is agonizing - she pretends she 'forgot' to tell anyone, and will later claim she 'lost the baby', despite the heartache it will no doubt occur. Worse, she then tries it on with Jack. In front of Rhys. I tell you, anyone who thinks Rose was cruel to Mickey should she this - it's criminal.
So, I quit this review. Next week's, by PJ Hammond, looks very interesting. Bar the idea of a visual media acting as a window to another world (in this case an old film rather than photographs), it seems a completely new tale of a sinister circus at midnight, lead by the guy Terry Molloy insists has replaced him Davros. The apparent lack of Gwen only increases my enthusiasm.
I won't end with a plea for RTD to cancel the series. Just get rid of the characters. Even the newbie writers despise them!