Wye aye man!
Wye aye man! Wye aye man!
I don't have a hell of a lot to say about Asylum... mainly as I probably set it all when I reviewed Adrift. While the title might conjure tales of Loony Bins and escaped psychos, the story is another "poor sod gets sucked through the rift and spat out in contemporary Cardiff" with lashings of "PC Andy shows Torchwood what utter assholes they are" and Gwen doing her parents proud to be the biggest prick ever. It's like the author wanted to do an "If *I* Had Written" on Adrift, and lose Gwen's mental breakdown and the dude from the Goonies.
The Torchwood gang are back in the UK (that includes Wales, right?) and they are utterly bored shitless. So much in fact, it is starting to resemble an episode of Nightingales as we find Jack idly throwing knives into a wall and idly wishing for a revolving woman to improve his skill. Gwen seems to the be the only one who wants to do the guardians-of-humanity shite and is thus spending all her time trying to get the computers to work for her, but since she is barely on the same evolutionary rung as Toshiko, has to talk to Mr. Paperclip a lot ("Hmm, it looks like you're trying to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow - would you like some help?"). Most damning of all is Ianto, who has got a social life and leaves his two loser mates at the Hub while he's off doing whatever foul and disgusting things someone like Ianto would enjoy.
Meanwhile, a strange teenage girl who talks like one of the Fugees from Children of Men (with a Welsh accent, natch) washes ashore with a funky kind of laser gun which even PC Andy works out is anachronistic technology. I was impressed at the realization that even after the events of the last season, Andy still is in the dark about the Rift and Torchwood's role in it. I assumed he was up with details like that, but no, he was never told anything apart from the fact Gwen is off her rocker; he's intelligently come up with the idea that Cardiff is overlapping parrallel universes that leave wierd shit behind. This, coupled with some understandable xenophobia after the Dalek tour of Splott, shows the author clearly paid attention to the character of PC Andy - certainly more than Jack, who is the feckless sex-mad idiot he is in the parent series. Marvel as he decides to test out alien technology in the front seat of a moving vehicle just to stave off boredom, cause a catastrophe, accept no blame and then nick a motorbike telling Ianto to get his pale ass into the bitch's seat...
Torchwood doesn't come out of this story looking very good, as you can imagine. Gwen may be sane this time round, but she's still the smug, selfish bint with a superiority complex it's so easy to hate as she mocks Andy for his culture shock and then tries to ignore him when he copes and deals with things better than she did. Jack spends most of the adventure wanting to retcon Andy... and it's not hard to see why. Like Rhys, he is smarter than the self-appointed defenders of Earth, and points out how bloody sick and hypocritical they can be when dealing with... just about anyone really.
The titular girl (who's name I have totally forgotten) is from the year 2067 which we find out is reassuringly NOT a post-nuclear-apocalyptic wasteland, but not a particularly nice place either: everything's rationed, Blade-Runner-esque, and aliens have assimilated into humanity (which I think might be a tie-in to Snowglobe 7, the Tenth Doctor and Martha novel, but I can't swear to it). Even her weapon of mass destruction is simply the evolution of mobile phone, a universal technological interface that for some reason sounds like a GI Joe noiseblaster backpack (surely I'm not the only one to know of them? The action figures with backpacks that made suitable noises like lasers, machine gunfire, grenades blowing?).
Anyway, said girl has been deeply traumatized by her past life even BEFORE falling through the rift and being hunted down like a dog by Torchwood, so when Captain Jack aims a loaded gun at her head things can't just get better. I zoned out a bit at the end, but basically Gwen suggests the girl retcon her pain away (exactly the way that the mum in Adrift was NOT allowed), and the girl reveals she was saved from a lynch mob by Torchwood 2067 who sent her back in time in the first place. Hmm, I wonder who the mysterious man who saved her was?
Jack insists the girl be retconned so she doesn't blab about the future and alter history, only for Ianto to point out what a fucking hypocrite his Time Agent boyfriend is being. Jack's pathetic no-fist defense is, "I'm much more responsible these days!" which seems to imply he spent the last two centuries telling everyone next week's lottery numbers and only recent shut his pretty mouth for once. Gwen too thinks that Jack's talking out of his arse, since any strong-arm anti-alien actions done here and now will change the future she's from anyway and fuck up history twice as bad.
"So what, we open the doors to the universe and spread the love?" sneers Jack. "Come ON!!"
You know, I'm really beginning to wonder if the author "gets" Jack in any way, shape or form.
As Gwen and Ianto suggest a new, more friendly version of Torchwood (which seems to be the intention of Future Torchwood), Jack spits the dummy and rants that HE is sole ruler of the organization and HIS WORD IS FINAL AND ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE WILL BE RETCONNED AND ZERE VILL BE NO MORE TOUCHY-FEELY CRAP, MEIN FUHRER!!!!
Gwen and Ianto ignore him and decide to help the non-mind-wiped Andy set up a new identity for the girl in 2009 Cardiff, leaving Jack humiliated. Is some kind of fresh xenophobia brought on by fighting the Daleks again? Does the author think this is season one Jack? Did the script just END at that point and John Barrowman decided to improv with the worst bit of characterization since Martha J's "I've seen the Moon Landings, Mr. Doomed-to-Die-In-Obscurity!" rant in Blink?
I have no idea. Worryingly, I don't think anyone else does.
Next: with mere hours until Children of Earth, can I hear and review the next story before The Dead Line? Or will the fact it's by Phil Ford stuff it all up?