Sunday, March 23, 2008

Torchwood - The Untold Origin... um... Told!

Caught the fever, heard the tune
Thought I loved her, hung my heart on the moon!
Started howling, made no sense
Thought my friends would rush to my defence
In the middle, in the middle, in the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I've pawned my rings,
I've done all the dumb things!
I melted wax to to fix my wings!
I've done all the dumb things!

Yeah, I threw my heart into the ring!
I've done all the dumb things
Well, I thought that I just had to sing,
I've done all those dumb things...

No real reason for the lyrics bar the fact it's Paul Kelly (c'mon, what more reason is needed?!) and if any song would be chosen for a career retrospective of Torchwood Three, it'd be this one!

Gosh, the new eps of Torchwood are coming out faster and faster, aren't they? In what seems to be a deliberate move to get the series out of the way before the next season of Doctor Who starts (like how they gave a double bill episode so as clear the decks for The Runaway Bride and Invasion of the Bane), every episode of Torchwood has the next episode played later that night on digital TV, and now there's more than three episodes a week - Something Borrowed, Adrift and Fragments in the space of three days! That's like an episode per day! Do you realize this time next week Torchwood 2 will have finished and Doctor/Donna action will take complete and utter control of my flu-ridden excuse of a mind?!

So. The true history of Torchwood. How did Jack get caught up in an organization that celebrates all the worst aspects of humanity - greed, selfishness, bullying, mindless patriotism - and was it Torchwood that killed off our "out-of-bounds kinda guy's" enthusiasm for life? Was Ianto monosexual beforehand? Was Tosh working for them in Aliens of London? Will Owen's past life match AT ALL with what we know? Is Suzie in it?

After all, the books have kept very clear of telling tales of how they all met. Of course, the books had the decency to explain WHY they all stayed in the job, and it wasn't for the pay (...do they GET paid?) or even particularly for the company. Tosh stays, unsurprisingly, because she's got nowhere else to go - at least nowhere worthy of her expertise. Owen stays out of genuine desire to learn about alien life and the knowledge Torchwood is the only place he can even discuss ideas - plus the fact, he too fits badly into modern life. Ianto remains a spectral figure throughout the books, with no vision into how he thinks, to the point he might as well be a benevolent coffee-making ghost haunting the Hub (which is more than he got on TV in the first season). Gwen stays not out of lust for Jack, or curiosity about the universe or - surprisingly - desire to protect humanity. Jack ideally diagnoses her desire to stay is simply about power: she can cross the barricades, she doesn't have to answer to authorities, she has a freedom she's always wanted.

Mind you, Jack's motivation in the books always charmed me. He spouts more metaphors and parables than the narrator of Monkey Magic, a wisecracking philosopher who cares deeply about everyone but rarely shows it. He runs Torchwood as a kind of filter, preventing alien tech and such from affecting the lives of ordinary people, allowing humanity to develop at its own pace. No bullshit about arming itself against the future or even not trusting proper authorities - Jack believes that giving people all the answers is the wrong way to go about things, no matter who the people are or what they might do with the answers. Plus, Torchwood allows him to enjoy the exotic life of 21st century humanity he marvels at.

Yeah, I liked the books more than the TV show.

Enough diagressions. On with the plot. As I said in the last review, an episode like this should have been the second one. Ah, some will say, but this gives us mystery and doesn't reveal all the answers and crap like that. Perhaps, but the fact is, niether Owen, Tosh, Ianto nor Suzie were interesting or enjoyable enough for us to wing the first series. We don't know how or even if they tick, and our only point of reference was the increasingly unsympathetic Gwen. Revealing the deep dark secrets of the characters only really works when you think you know them inside out allready. What do we know about Ianto? He loved Lisa, he shags Jack, he's anally retentive and he was present in Doctor Who in a background scene we never saw. That's it. Part of the reason Cyberwoman was rubbish was it hinged on the reveal of a character whose only characteristic was to order pizza. There was nothing to undermine with this shocking truth.

So, Fragments...

Gwen's story (aka, the framing plot):
After Adrift, as they've all clearly decided they don't trust Gwen with firearms or situations which require, you know, being sane and sensible. Thus the rest of the team head out to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere where Tosh detects several alien life signals - which, they find out to their weary disgust are not actually aliens per se but big silver techno bombs, one for each of them.

Boom!

Oh well, one of them was indestructible, one of them suicidal and the other two didn't have lives to lose, so there are worse things to worry about as they are scattered in the rubble like that Press Gang episode, The Rest of My Life, only not as emotionally effecting because you KNOW they'll all survive and deep down wouldn't care if they didn't.

Gwen was actually not even on teleport, but crashed out at her place after a violent cathartic sex session with Rhys which has left her flat looking like a bomb hit it (oh the irony) with them lying in different directions on the bed... cue Bill and Ted shouting "69, DUDES!!!"... and only discovers the events of the precredit sequence when she gets a voicemail from Ianto ("Uh, we've been blown up...") and she and Rhys rush to rescue Jack from the rubble. This leads to revelation Gwen still hasn't told Rhys about Jack's immortality, which is irritating yet at the same time completely believable.

Jack is rather ungrateful and indeed furious that Rhys is present - but then again, it's easier for Jack to have a go at Rhys than at Gwen, so maybe he's transferring his fury at the fact Gwen was at home nursing her nervous breakdown when she should have been at the Hub? They soon find Tosh buried under rubble, screaming insanely for some reason, and the knowledge Gwen has come to rescue her does not fill her with confidence, to the point Rhys is asked to stay and look after her instead while Gwen works with Jack to uncover Owen and Ianto - the latter with a dislocated shoulder and the former trapped under a guillotine-like arrangement of shattered window frames. CC remembers that Owen is Zombie Owen, so we're left with the possibility that Burn Gorman will end up like the headless zombie in Idle Hands. Which could work.

But that doesn't happen since Gwen, ignoring all his pleas, crudely wrenches him free in the nick of time. Like Tosh, his expression is clearly "ah, so THAT'S how things can possibly get worse" when Gwen turns up. However, the gang have survived - though Tosh is pretty beaten up with busted ribs and arms. The group escape the crumbling ruins of the warehouse...


Jack's story:
Jack flashes back "1,392" deaths back to when he had massive sideburns and was routinely killed by being stabbed through the stomach with broken beer bottles (no doubt his chat up lines really weren't working). After one such night out, he returns to life in a back alley with the distinctly Hitchhiker's line "Oh, no, not again!" to find two rather stern-looking women in petticoats and dressed glaring at him. These silent women promptly beat the shit out of him and suffocate him in such a way, Jack is rightly confused in assuming this is an incredibly kinky sex session. Indeed, he revives to find himself tied to a chair, electrodes on his chest by the still silent bondage freaks, and is still cracking jokes and acting like the guy we see in Doctor Who. The ruthless women torture Jack with the clear intention of killing him, but Jack is more pissed off than really worried... until he realizes the ladies are in possession of technology they really shouldn't have. Jack's confidence slips even further when he realizes the ladies aren't just interested in his immortality, but the fact he's been getting drunk and bitching about how the Doctor abandoned him on the Gamestation.

I'll repeat that, they mention THE DOCTOR. In Torchwood.

No fannying about with "right kind of" or "mutual friends", but THE DOCTOR. It's like CC has finally decided that their attempts to be coy about the main character is a stupid waste of time - these aren't unliscenced fan vids (well, maybe in terms of quality) but they are legally allowed to do so, it's reasonable to do so, and The Sarah Jane Adventures didn't explode when Sarah mentioned him a couple of times. So, another baffling constraint to the show is flung away!

Anyway, Jack learns the dungeon he is in is Torchwood Cardiff and the woman rant with evangelical fever, shouting "Torchwood was created to combat the threat of the Doctor and other phantasmagoria!" with the kind of deranged screams that I haven't heard since Blake's 7: Assassin. Totally in tune with me, Jack can't keep a straight face and bursts out laughing at their pompous military-lesbo-propaganda. However, Jack realizes he needs a job to tide him over till the Doctor turns up and Torchwood Cardiff needs a big strong man to help them catch Blowfish people who are loitering round the place (the same dudes from KKBB).

However, in what seems to the space of one scene Jack has become the rule-enforcing, stick-in-the-mud we know and loathe, as he drags in the Blowfish dude and beats him up - because he's an alien and you know, aliens on Earth prior to the 21st century is a bad thing (the Blowfish is actually just like Jack and his crimes no more serious than not paying for his meals). He's already growling, "I am Torchwood" like anyone is supposed to be impressed. But Jack is horrified when his psycho bitch colleagues simply shoot the Blowfish through the head after he tells them it's just a wild teenager coping with being marooned on Earth.

Seriously, these girls are punch-them-in-the-face kinky lunatics as they get a thrill out of shrieking "HE WAS A THREAT TO THE EMPIRE!" and try to blackmail him into becoming their bitch/gofer/assassin/their thighs, as they're actually militant lesbians and need no dangly male flesh to control their lusts. Jack tells them that they are sick and strides out of the crude 1870s Hub, and heads for the nearest pub to spend his paycheck on booze.

There, Jack meets Creepy Little Psychic Tarot-Card Reading Girl from Dead Man Walking (OK... so SHE is immortal and unaging as well?) who predicts that the Doctor will arrive in Cardiff in the 21st century and in the meantime her Captain Jack In Nights Armor trading card says Jack should rejoin Torchwood.

Which he does. Wuss.

We then get a kind of 1870s action montage - but instead of our heroes racing from computer to computer and checking slides and print outs... we get the Psycho Sisters writing a letter and pinning a photo to a file, as they create an identity for Jack, and generally do vague MIB-style initiation stuff, with his official job being to locate the Doctor and "deal with" him.

The montage dumps up at New Year's Eve 1999, where after some BBCWales news footage of the millennium revels, Jack returns to the Hub (now more like the way we remember, but crucially lacking the Max Smart overlapping security doors) and finds his Boss at the Hub has found some wierd pocket-watch-like medallion of alien origins which has given him a vision of humanity's future in the next century.

So he's gone round and shot the entire Torchwood Team - bar Jack, of course, who can't die - in mercy to spare them from the "storm" that is coming. The Boss then announces that Torchwood is corrupt and cannot be ready for the changes that will occur in the 21st century. Then he blows his own brains out, leaving the horrified Jack in charge of the Hub and a pile of corpses.

For what it's worth, this seems to be the "nail in the coffin" for happy funtime Jack and also gives him the utterly pointless catchphrase he and the Doctor took the piss out of in The Last of the Time Lords. CC's clearly trying to justify its use, and Jack's use of it, when it clearly means nothing beyond, maybe, the events of Army of Ghosts/Doomsday...

All in all, this ministory is pretty good and isn't particularly earth-shattering. It could have been made in series one except, well, the mythology of Jack living for a century on Earth hadn't been established yet. More proof that 'past Torchwood' stories are more interesting than the ones in the present.


Tosh's story:
Five years before now... which would be, what, five from 2009? Call it 2004. The surprisingly-young-looking Tosh is even MORE meek and nerdy than before, working late in an MOD office and not brave enough to raise her voice above a defensive whisper to her boss (who is actually worried she works too hard). But Tosh is up to something, hacking into her boss's computer and then fleeing the office and breaking into the basement via a Mission: Impossible style dodge-the-camera trick. Inside is a vault filled of showbags marked For Your Eyes Only, and Tosh steals a particular parcel, shoves it up her jumper, and flees - barely saying hello to the friendly security guard as she does so. Guess her insularity is self-imposed, cos the people in this office are clearly a lot nicer and friendlier than the Hub gang. Even Ianto seems snide in comparison.

At home, Tosh unfolds her prize - a blueprint which one montage later she has built what seems to be a kind of crude human-designed sonic screwdriver (well, it looks more like a laser one but she needs to download "sonic frequencies" into it). With the toy in her bag, she heads downtown and we discover her spy work is entirely by blackmail - an ugly old Supernanny grandma has Tosh's mum prisoner and doesn't intend to hold to the deal now Tosh has proven her technical ability and spy stuff. Could this horsey bint be working for Torchwood?

The bitch turns the sonic screwdriver on Tosh and her mum, intending to blow their brains with noise and sadistically waving ear phones in front of them, but just out of reach... then a bunch of red beret soldiers (UNIT? Do they have red beret nowadays? Yep, it's UNIT.) burst in and save the day! Well, they put cuffs on the bad guys as well as the Satos, and Tosh is shoved into some red pyjamas and flung into a cell without even knowing if her mum is all right. A disembodied voice then gives Tosh a spiel stolen from B7: Space Fall ("you have no rights of your own"), and she is left in the bare cell without even a bed or toilet facilities in a five-second V for Vendetta homage... made all the more disturbing because, you know, UNIT supposed to = good guys? This might be why Torchwood have such a downer on the organization (beyond the fact the "amateurs" are clearly their superiors in every suspect). Finally, the emotionally broken, long-haired and no-longer-quite-so-pristine Tosh is ordered to her feet by said disembodied voice for "inspection"...

...and Captain Jack Harkness is outside her cell, and takes her out for cup of tea and cheerfully tells her he's drugged her mother and wiped her memory. Tosh is rightly horrified as such retconning activities, and Jack, it has to be said, comes across as a bit of psycho here as he grins a feral grin and announces he is "no one". Jack explains that with the whole War on Terror business, Tosh is being made an example for her industrial espionage, blackmail or no blackmail. However, Jack points out that the plans for the sonic screwdriver were shelved in that vault because they don't work, so the fact Tosh build a working version shows she is very clever indeed. Jack therefore offers her a dangerous job with him and ergo gets her out of a UNIT jail scott free - although she's unlikely to actually see her parents again, she'll be allowed to send postcards.

I wonder if Mike Yates ever had to put up with that situation? On second thoughts, don't go there, I can easily visualize why pretty boy Yates vanished from Who after Planet of the Spiders...

Hmmm. I get the feeling this was invented off the top of CC's head, and it's a pity they didn't use some footage from Aliens of London. I mean... why not? Shame. Damn shame.


Ianto's Story:
21 months ago... call that a year and 9 months... call it 2007. Captain Jack is wrestling with a very ferocious Weevil in a park at night when a guy called Jones Ianto Jones arrives and saves him. While Ianto ponders at the fact the huge wound the Weevil left in Jack's throat has vanished, Jack is worried that some passer by can identify the monster they fought as a Weevil. After some surprisingly blatant flirting from Ianto, Jack heads off with the unconscious alien, leaving Ianto in the park.

The next day, Jack leaves the Hub via the office exit (expectedly not the tourist place we're used to) and finds Ianto standing outside with a cup of coffee, waiting for him. Calmly, Jack accepts the coffee - but if we're to be disturbed by what seems to be stalking, Jack isn't. He's already checked out Ianto and knows he's a casual, drifter sort of guy till he joined Torchwood and now (being post-Doomsday) is out of a job and wants a new one with Jack, but apparently there are no vacancies. With the destruction of Torchwood London, Jack's "reformation" has kicked up a gear and, bar scavenging the ruins of Canary Wharf for loot the public shouldn't be allowed, he wants nothing more to do with the old regime. And that includes Ianto, his post-traumatic stress syndrome and his willingness to do anything for less than minimum wage.

"You're not my responsibility!" Jack tells Ianto, and stalks off down the bay. "There's no job for you here and there never will be."

That night, Jack is in his SUV giving instructions to Tosh, Owen and Suzie (odd how Suzie doesn't actually appear but is only mentioned...) when Ianto, now in his suit, stands in front of the SUV in a scene which really suggests he's a stalking nutter. I'd say his determination to get a job in the Hub is so he can shove Lisa in the basement... but the idea that Lisa is back at his place and has been for the months between Doomsday and now is ridiculous. Isn't it? And didn't KKBB (and CC) consider Series 1 a bad dream?

Jack firmly makes it clear he isn't interested in Ianto in any way... until Ianto explains he was offering his services to capture a pterodactyl. After some good-natured bitching at what a shabby operation Torchwood Three is and how in the 51st century people generate pheremones instead of aftershave, before engaging a bit of fan wish fulfillment:

Invasion of the Dinosaurs done with decent CGI!!!!

Yes, even down to the sound effects of the pterodactyl in the warehouse! You can hear Pertwee's crushed velvet shuffling in horror as you marvel that, actually, the CGI is rubbish and no way does that flying dinosaur look in any way real. At least the puppets in Who were solid 3D objects... which becomes obvious as Jack tries to RIDE the damn thing and makes a disturbing suggestion he was living Doug McClure style following the events of Earthshock...

Well, suffice it to say after some dark chocolate and some industrial sedatives, Myfanwy becomes the Torchwood guard dog while Jack finally bows to Ianto's offers of building maintence, receptionist, butler, dry cleaner, personal assistant and coffee maker... by getting him to do all of it.

A nice entertaining, witty and clever sequence with some running gags. The only downer is it is impossible to reconcile with Season 1. And CC of all people must have known it. Ergo, Season 1 = not canon.

And I can so live with that.


Owen's Story:
4 years ealier... so... 2005? Gosh, time flies. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

This is going to be like that episode of Drawn Together Babies, as each of the main characters suffers a horrible experience that leaves them the way we saw them in the first episode - such as learning racism, abandoning English as a language, discovering several perverted sexual practices, and being mutated into a hideous form of anti life...

I say this in the prediction since after three seconds we see a cheerful, joking and happy Owen with some blonde woman working out an invite list for their wedding. Well, THAT is bound to go well and, I think will contradict Another Life, where Owen's suicidal cynicism comes after his longterm girlfriend becomes alien fodder. I wouldn't mind contradicting the books, except, well, is this the best you can do? This is like that rubbish story The Hand of Davros where we find out that Davros was really a nice guy until a nerve gas attack killed his girlfriend and turned him into a cripple... how lame! Much better was Davros, when we find out he was ALWAYS a total bastard who actually had his girlfriend executed as a traitor long before he was crippled, and THAT put his bastardness in sharp relief! Why not simply have Owen a jerk from the start?

I haven't even WATCHED Owen's story yet, so let's see what happens. Hmm. After one scene establishing this, it turns out that Owen's girl is not the brightest tool in the drawer. I'm talking so forgetful and easily confused she should have a T-shirt with "I'VE GOT A BRAIN DISORDER, ASK ME HOW!" and after an attempt to make a cup of tea goes nowhere, she bursts into tears. Wow. Marital bliss created and destroyed in under two minutes and we still don't even know her NAME!

Well, a little later we discover that girl's name is Kate and she is a medical marvel - the youngest suffer of Alzhiemer's and Owen, despite talking it over his competent black doctor friend, still wants to marry her and is in absolute denial about his bride's condition, before collapsing into sobs down to the exhausting business of living with a woman who's fine one minute and a complete stranger the next. Pity this scene comes so late in Owen's TV life, as he really looks insincere and unconvincing trying to hold back the tears. Maybe that's why they made him such an unfeeling bastard: Burn Gorman couldn't convince as a SNAG.

More tests are done for Katie, but let's just say my hopes are not high that she will be cured, there'll be a white wedding or anything like that. Guess why? Well, anyway, Katie seems to be suffering from an unknown type of brain tumor and, for some reason that escapes me, I'm assuming it's alien in origin! But, on the good size, a tumor can be removed relatively easily. The bad news is Katie has completely forgotten who Owen is.

So, the operation goes ahead with Owen jump-cutting around the waiting room like a Raston Warrior Robot on speed. Or Toshiko as she explored her cell (which is probably happening around this time - maybe that editing trick is symptomatic of some greater cosmic event? The return of the Doctor? OK, OK, I'll shut up), when suddenly there is a flash from inside the operating theatre. A certain Captain Jack arrives, but it seems to late - all the surgeons lie dead on the floor, frozen in place. And, out of Katie's exposed brain an evil worm is writhing... (seriously, this is a gross sequence. do not watch before dinner)

Jack quietly explains that an alien was incubating in Katie's brain and when they operated, it defensively released toxic gas which killed everyone - including Katie. Owen begins to freak out, suddenly the twitchy desperadoe we've known so well over the last twenty five episodes. Jack reacts to this by effortlessly chloroforming Owen unconscious, an action he really should have repeated more often.

Owen wakes up in a hospital bed, assumed by all and sundry to be a looney and, like Gwen in Everything Changes, finds that there is no evidence of any sort that Jack and Torchwood were ever there. (This is pre-Doomsday, post-millennium, so Jack hasn't really 'reformed' his operation yet... and once again this makes their actions in Series 1 look like they've fallen into bad habits, or more likely CC is making double sure of the retcon and Series 1 isn't canon). Anyway, Owen's wild claims that his dead fiancee had an alien in her brain lead the hospital to giving him "three months rest and recuperation". Basically, they fire him for being a loony.

And, like episode four of Jekyll, Dark Owen is unleashed. He still cries unconvincingly though.

As Owen tends the grave of his beloved, he sees Jack looming ominously on the edge of the graveyard - so Owen runs over to him and beats the shit out of Jack screaming a number of variations on "YOU COULDA SAVED HER!!" But Owen can't bring himself to snap Jack's muscular neck and they calm down. (This would really explain Owen's issues with Jack in Series 1... if it were still canon). Jack has clearly prepared a speech to get Owen to work for him, claiming he needs a purpose in his life and that returning to his old job would be soul destroying. He needs a medic as part of 'rebuilding' Torchwood and Owen's obsessive personality and credentials, plus a healthy dollop of guit on both sides makes Owen perfect for the job. However, even after seeing a squid growing out of his wife-to-be's brain, he don't believe in aliens.

(Remember, 2005, it was credible for alien skeptics to exist in Cardiff back then.)

One trip to the Hub later, this whole dating business is RUINED since Jack has the Doctor's hand on the table! Which means, post Sycorax, people should know about aliens and... just... GAH! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!! I assume it's a prop screw up or something, or maybe Owen's memory is unreliable (he is, after all dead and very slowly decomposing), but gah! Stupid!

Anyway, that's his story. It contradicts all the info we had before, like in Cyberwoman when Owen was from Torchwood London like Ianto and Suzie, but hell, CC's contradicted all that. In fact, he only seems to put in a mention of Suzie so those strange individuals who enjoyed series one won't complain, since they seem to love such plot holes. IT'S DRAMA!!! But, with Owen, there wasn't much to work on. Adapting Another Life would have been easier than coming up with something new, which is pretty much what he did.

The weakest of the origin stories, but, frankly, better then Gwen's.


Gwen's Story (reprise):
Torchwood have survived - odd how the zombie was the one with no injuries whatsoever and the only person killed was the one who can come back to life - but as they emerge from the bombsite, questions need answering (and these are questions supposed to be asked, not me picking holes in the plot):

Who put the bombs there? Why did they appear as alien life signs? Was it an assassination attempt on the gang? Why didn't work? Why wasn't there a bomb for Gwen? Who did it? And where has the SUV gone?

Jack's time agent wrist thing beeps as it has done but once before (in KKBB when Spike left a voice message), and reveals... Spike. Leaving another voice message. Well, as Torchwood continuity goes, this is hardcore personified (see my rant on the Doctor's Hand). And since Spike isn't in the credits ANYWHERE, this should be a pretty big surprise...

"Ooh, deja vu! Or did I say that already? Hey, team - course there might be a few less of you by now - I don't know if you like my little gift, coz you can't die. You live all that life, all that time, but you can't spare any for me... Oh, say hi to the family." And the hologram of Spike uses his own wrist thing to create a hologram of a dude in handcuffs. "Been a while since you've seen your brother, eh Jack? OK, here's what's gonna happen: everything you love - everything you treasure - will die. I'm going to tear your world apart, "Captain Jack Harkness", piece by piece, starting now. Maybe now you'll want to spend some time with me?"

Suffice it James Marsters manages to make that rather hoky speech apocalyptic and terrifying by using the Keith Allan/Phillip Madoc 'evil whispers' method, but Chris Chibnall has managed the impossible. The absolute impossible. He's made me want to watch the season finale of Torchwood. And not out of a sheer, get-it-over-with-where's-the-TARDIS? way he did last time round. I want to see the next episode NOW.

It's something Doctor Who manages effortlessly on its cliffhangers, but even new improved Torchwood never left me urgently wanting more before. One episode a week was quite enough for me. Unlike say, Robin Hood. Or Black Books. But... yeah.

Shit, man, you've managed to turn this series around. Not only did you achieve it, you bothered to attempt it. I dunno what freaky happenings occured between End of Days and 42, but plenty of other writers could use it. And, you know, an actual cliffhanger that builds of the events of more than the episode immediately previous! They're actually expecting us to remember episode one! They're giving us THAT much credit!

So, Fragments ends on a high, ladies and gents. With a cliffhanger like this, no wonder CC decided to fill the rest of the episode with non-plot flashbacks and continue to ensure that this series is the first one to be properly worth locking in as canon. There's a bit of a pothole entitled Meat, but it seems that everything else has been smoothed over. The pointless creepy girl in Dead Man Walking? Tosh's spiralling insularity? Why libido-on-heat Owen is so nervous around girls he cares about? Gwen's intense pychosis, which almost but not quite sorts out the main plot of Something Borrowed? Grey? All stamped down firmly in this episode, but I don't buy for a moment that these problems were deliberately put there so CC could get a chance to explain them. This has damage limitation ALL over it, but for once they managed to duck BEFORE the shit hits the fan. Mind you, the Sleeper Cell thing has been left hanging but they DO have a third season to work with...

For the first time, I can't wait for the next episode - and typically it'll be three times as long before I see it. Seriously, this could be one of my favorites. And I didn't have any last series...

Next week... actually, week AFTER next because the bastards are waiting for the other channels to catchup: Well. Pretty much what Spike said. Machine gunning policemen. Weevils set loose. The Hub blowing up. Nukes in Cardiff. Jack buried. The Grim Reaper and his Homies. PC Andy freaking out. Owen trapped with the Hoix from Love & Monsters. Gwen - of all people - left in charge. And a return appearance so utterly incredible I am CONVINCED it's a trick. "Is this how it all ends?"

It could work out fine, but, well, let's just say if ANYONE tries to do the "skeptical about Torchwood/aliens/wierdness in Cardiff" stuff after this, I'm afraid said person should be fed to Ian Levine...

9 comments:

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Hmm... the idea that Jack hand-picked the current Torchwood squad seems a bit credibility-stretching. Or shows an incredible lapse of judgement on his part.

As for the backstories...

Jack: The idea of the original Torchwood being run by insane, homicidally maniacal lesbos is both horrifying and stupefying - for the sake of my own insanity I'll asume that that's the reason why Cardiff Torchwood is so fucked up.

Not a bad retcon revealing that the 'twenty-first century is when it all changes' crap comes from a gibbering lunatic, though.

Tosh: Erm... I guess it explains a bit about her awkward character. And, as you say, the unreasonable grudge against UNIT. But, again as you pointed out, why ignore Aliens of London?! Has it been dealt with by TW at all?

I'm wondering if the woman working in Albion is just meant to be Tosh's sister or something, seeing as they seem to be completely unconnected characters. (Like Gwyneth and Gwen...)

Owen: Yeah. Whatever.

Ianto: Well, in terms of fitting into the series, that sounds utterly retarded. BUT because established canon in TW is so lame I couldn't give a fuck, it comes down to a matter of whether it's something I'd like to watch. And that sounds like genuinely good entertainment. Funny, too.

Also, apparently the reason why Ianto was pretty underused in S1, is because they weren't sure if he was going to be a regular. Even though he was going to be in Cyberwoman. To put that another way, not only would they have had a big 'event story' for the character of tea-boy we don't even know, he would have left at the end of the story.

What the hell were they thinking?

As for Suzie, they originally wanted her to appear in Season 2 (I'm guessing for this episode) but Indira Varma was working in America at the time on a medical drama called 3lbs (?) According to Wikipedia, it was cancelled after two weeks. So... good career choices there, Indi.

I can't believe the series is over because I haven't seen a single episode of it yet.

Youth of Australia said...

Hmm... the idea that Jack hand-picked the current Torchwood squad seems a bit credibility-stretching. Or shows an incredible lapse of judgement on his part.

Well, according to this, he was left with literally no one else to help him at the start of 2000. Presumably Torchood 1 gave him a new staff, but he got rid of them all save Suzie, then over the course of 2004-2007 recruited Tosh, Owen, Ianto and Gwen. And it's clear he used the last four out of pity and/or guilt.

Jack: The idea of the original Torchwood being run by insane, homicidally maniacal lesbos is both horrifying and stupefying - for the sake of my own insanity I'll asume that that's the reason why Cardiff Torchwood is so fucked up.
Ah, and I stress this is Torchwood Cardiff, which consisted of only two people, these Soolin wannabes. But, yeah, they were messed up even before Jack arrived.

Not a bad retcon revealing that the 'twenty-first century is when it all changes' crap comes from a gibbering lunatic, though.
Yeah, I think it's CC trying to get his own back at RTD's pisstake.

Tosh: Erm... I guess it explains a bit about her awkward character. And, as you say, the unreasonable grudge against UNIT. But, again as you pointed out, why ignore Aliens of London?! Has it been dealt with by TW at all?
Not once.

I admit it would be kinda difficult, since apparently there's some kind of embargo on using DW footage in TW, but it would be nice to know why Tosh - a former UNIT prisoner - would be hired to act as a doctor by UNIT. Mind you, this explains why Tosh was the resident medic until Owen joined...

I'm wondering if the woman working in Albion is just meant to be Tosh's sister or something, seeing as they seem to be completely unconnected characters. (Like Gwyneth and Gwen...)
Could be. I still think Gwyneth being reincarnated as Gwen can work.

Owen: Yeah. Whatever.
Pretty much. The books version is better - he was always a bastard, but a lot more emotionally stable.

Ianto: Well, in terms of fitting into the series, that sounds utterly retarded. BUT because established canon in TW is so lame I couldn't give a fuck, it comes down to a matter of whether it's something I'd like to watch. And that sounds like genuinely good entertainment. Funny, too.
It was. Is. Will be. And if Torchwood canon consists only of this season, makes perfect sense.

Also, apparently the reason why Ianto was pretty underused in S1, is because they weren't sure if he was going to be a regular. Even though he was going to be in Cyberwoman. To put that another way, not only would they have had a big 'event story' for the character of tea-boy we don't even know, he would have left at the end of the story.
Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. So all that stuff from RTD screaming "BEST SCENE EVER! Ianto comes back and cleans up some pizza boxes! OH THAT SO WORKS FOR ME!" was just bollocks for Torchwood Confidential?

I never would have guessed. ;)

What the hell were they thinking?
*shrugs*

As for Suzie, they originally wanted her to appear in Season 2 (I'm guessing for this episode) but Indira Varma was working in America at the time on a medical drama called 3lbs (?) According to Wikipedia, it was cancelled after two weeks. So... good career choices there, Indi.
Will she shoot herself in the head again after this?

I can't believe the series is over because I haven't seen a single episode of it yet.
Well, I'm on for the March 30 thing, so I can give you a disc full of TW goodness...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

And it's clear he used the last four out of pity and/or guilt.

That makes a LOT of sense.

Ah, and I stress this is Torchwood Cardiff, which consisted of only two people, these Soolin wannabes. But, yeah, they were messed up even before Jack arrived.

So.... there's something about the Welsh in this series isn't there? Really something weird about the Welsh...

Mind you, this explains why Tosh was the resident medic until Owen joined...

Yeah... but I'm curious about how her medical knowledge seems to have vanished in TW and she's instead a computer expert. It's bothered me from the first episode. Is she a master hacker AND a capable surgeon?

Could be. I still think Gwyneth being reincarnated as Gwen can work.

I just assumed that that was what happened seeing as they have the same name.

Will she shoot herself in the head again after this?

Hey-OHHH!

Hopefully not, as I kinda liked the actress. It's sad to see yet another Brit get chewed up and spat out by the US networks... I'm just hoping it doesn't happen to Lucy Griffiths...

Well, I'm on for the March 30 thing, so I can give you a disc full of TW goodness...

OOOH! Wasn't sure if I'd be going myself until that. On a TAFE trip to the State Library the day before, so it means two trips to Sydney in a row... I think I can handle it.

Youth of Australia said...

That makes a LOT of sense.
Tosh - he had to give her a job, because that was the only way she could get out of jail
Owen - he apologizes for not getting to the hospital sooner, and thus ruins his life totally
Ianto - pity
Gwen - guilt about Suzie

So.... there's something about the Welsh in this series isn't there? Really something weird about the Welsh...
I really used to get bugged by screaming "RACIST!" when, in The Web of Fear, the Doctor calls a guy "YOU STUPID WELSH IMBECILE!" after he disobeys orders and allows the Great Intelligence to escape.

But it seems that everyone involved in the series saw that moment and vowed "In Doctor Who, the Welsh are morons no one likes - every - last - one".

Yeah... but I'm curious about how her medical knowledge seems to have vanished in TW and she's instead a computer expert. It's bothered me from the first episode. Is she a master hacker AND a capable surgeon?
I dare say she'd be good at first aid (in this ep she diagnozes her injuries and Owen doesn't argue with her) and autopsy stuff. However, I really get the impression Jack was looking for an excuse to give Owen a job. It's quite possible part of Tosh's training was in medical stuff and she "sufficed" for a year or so.

I just assumed that that was what happened seeing as they have the same name.
RTD's excuse is, "Huh? Those names are similar? What?!" which is just... LAME!

Hey-OHHH!
Hopefully not, as I kinda liked the actress. It's sad to see yet another Brit get chewed up and spat out by the US networks... I'm just hoping it doesn't happen to Lucy Griffiths...

Ah. Imagine if Marion was spat out into Cardiff by the rift. She could tell everyone to grow up, resist Jack's advances AND demonstrate that medieval gentry have better dental care than 21st Century secret ops.

OOOH! Wasn't sure if I'd be going myself until that. On a TAFE trip to the State Library the day before, so it means two trips to Sydney in a row... I think I can handle it.
Cool.

Work out if there's anything else I might have for you... hmmm.

Got the latest Murray Gold albums, lots of missing episode sountracks, most of Star Cops, a Torchwood novel exclusive on audio called "Hidden", and BBV's shortlived "Oh, fuck the BBC noticed us!" series of stories with the Professor and Ace, K9 and the Mistress, the Rani, Nicholas Briggs, and, of course, the evil Cyberons...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I really used to get bugged by screaming "RACIST!" when, in The Web of Fear, the Doctor calls a guy "YOU STUPID WELSH IMBECILE!" after he disobeys orders and allows the Great Intelligence to escape.

Wow, didn't know about that bit.

RTD's excuse is, "Huh? Those names are similar? What?!" which is just... LAME!

... yeah. I buy that, mate.

Ah. Imagine if Marion was spat out into Cardiff by the rift. She could tell everyone to grow up, resist Jack's advances AND demonstrate that medieval gentry have better dental care than 21st Century secret ops.

That'd be Jack gone for a whole episode.

And me for that matter, of course.

Got the latest Murray Gold albums, lots of missing episode sountracks, most of Star Cops, a Torchwood novel exclusive on audio called "Hidden", and BBV's shortlived "Oh, fuck the BBC noticed us!" series of stories with the Professor and Ace, K9 and the Mistress, the Rani, Nicholas Briggs, and, of course, the evil Cyberons...

Erm, wow, that should be plenty.

I was trying to work out if I had anything for you... but it seems not.

I've got a heap of MST3Ks and Run, Fatboy, Run along with some American Dad!s that maybe, just maybe, haven't been shown here yet.

Oh, wait, that's right - I was going to lend you my Sharpe DVDs. Oh, and the rest of The Goodies on VHS. That should be plenty...

Youth of Australia said...

Wow, didn't know about that bit.
Well, it often gets ignored that said Welsh dude has been more annoying than Vicki Pollard and even the Brig (or Colonel as he was back then) was sick to death of the bastard, and the fact the Doctor was trying to solve a situation HE caused (the whole Yeti thing is the GI's revenge), and thus understandably lashes out at the useless idiot who's made the whole thing a waste of time...

... yeah. I buy that, mate.
I assume that was a plot twist on the table that was quickly abandoned when everyone guessed it.

That'd be Jack gone for a whole episode.
And me for that matter, of course.

Probably Tosh too...

Erm, wow, that should be plenty.
For the record, the missing stories I have are: Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, Galaxy Four, The Dalek Masterplan, The Mythmakers, a video recon of The Massacre, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The Highlanders, The Underwater Menace, The Moonbase, The Faceless Ones, The Enemy of the World, Fury from the Deep, The Wheel in Space, The Space Pirates.

I was trying to work out if I had anything for you... but it seems not.
Unending love and support, man.

I've got a heap of MST3Ks and Run, Fatboy, Run along with some American Dad!s that maybe, just maybe, haven't been shown here yet.
Is RFBR the one with Simon Pegg?

Oh, wait, that's right - I was going to lend you my Sharpe DVDs. Oh, and the rest of The Goodies on VHS. That should be plenty...
More than enough! :D

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I assume that was a plot twist on the table that was quickly abandoned when everyone guessed it.

Good thing that didn't happen to YANA.


Seriously, how were rumours out about that in 2005?

Probably Tosh too...

...is she lesbian now?

Heh, just remembered the lead-up to Torchwood where RTD said "Oh, yeah, EVERYONE will be bisexual. ISN'T THAT GREAT?!"

My enthusiasm was pretty non-existant.

Is RFBR the one with Simon Pegg?

THE VERY SAME! Also has Dylan Moran, who predictably steals the show utterly.

More than enough! :D

You know me. If there is no equality in our transactions I cannot salve my conscience...

Youth of Australia said...

Good thing that didn't happen to YANA.
More proof RTD's heart was never in Torchwood - he throws an unused script at the production team, refuses to get involved further, then spends 2007 having the main characters jeer at how crap it was...

Seriously, how were rumours out about that in 2005?
About a third less than when he publically said, "Hey, everyone, The Face of Boe has a message four words long for the Doctor! WHAT COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE?!"

...is she lesbian now?
You missed Greeks Bearing Gifts?

Heh, just remembered the lead-up to Torchwood where RTD said "Oh, yeah, EVERYONE will be bisexual. ISN'T THAT GREAT?!"
My enthusiasm was pretty non-existant.


Well, they're not. Owen's been portrayed as absolutely straight. In the first episode, it's actually played like Owen's surprised the guy wants to shag him, and his "Taxi!" is frankly that of a terrified man - maybe BG thought the spray wasn't supposed to do that?

Apart from that, Gwen's shown no interest in women when not under drugged influence. And, as you prove, Tosh's bissexuality was a one-off. Basically only Jack and Ianto are shown as interested in such things.

THE VERY SAME! Also has Dylan Moran, who predictably steals the show utterly.
Ah! Perfect!

You know me. If there is no equality in our transactions I cannot salve my conscience...
Surely music will soothe the troubled beast?

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL