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31 March 2020

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

1.11: Combat

We kick this episode off with a fast cat and mouse chase, between Captain Jack and a Weevil through the streets of Cardiff. Captain Jack getting a little ahead of himself, thinks he’s trapped the Weevil, until it evades his capture. I love Jack’s response of  how bad things always happen when he gives the Torchwood team time off.

 

Gwen and Rhys are on what is supposed to be a romantic date, well, Rhys wants it to be a romantic date. Gwen is heavily distracted by the world of Torchwood and you can see in her face the normality of  how Rhys doesn’t interest her anymore. Gwen doesn’t exactly cover this up very well, as Jack comes racing along, chasing the Weevil down the street. Captain Jack trying to apologise for ruining the dinner, isn’t convincing Rhys at all that this is worthwhile interrupting. Rhys. In a brutish manner, he orders Gwen to sit down. I think Gwen responds in the only way she could in this situation by telling him “Don’t ever speak to me that way again.” It’s the pinnacle moment, showing how difficult life is to balance with the world of Torchwood.

 

This episode is very much about Owens’ suffering from his first real love that we’ve seen. We see the mental impacts which time travel has on someone and the lengths people will go to if they’re desperate to get back to their own time. This is something which Owen has difficulty grasping, as we find him getting into a bar fight after a jealous boyfriend sees him being comforted by the bar worker. However, even taking down the guys in the bar doesn’t improve his mood as he quickly hangs up on a phone call from Torchwood.

 

Gwen tries to reconcile her problematic relationship, by calling Rhys and leaving a few messages. It’s a sombre moment as he nearly goes to grab the phone, seemingly to forgive her as he’s always done, only to grab it and delete her messages. Captain Jack asks Gwen not to let her life drift apart, as it’s the quality he likes in her. This scene suggests that Jack is still feeling the loss of Estelle from ‘Small Worlds’ and his connection to life and death from being immortal. But does Jack have the right to suggest this?

 

Gwen’s normality in Torchwood itself comes crashing down as Owen in his very charming and unique way tells her she’s boring and doesn’t want to continue this affair. His manner still suits him, but his approach to relationships and love has vastly changed over the few stories we’ve got to know Owen. Quite rightly so, Gwen calls him a wanker before driving off. Owen’s face is one of despair and loss as to what he wants in life.

 

However, this is something we’re forgetting. Oh yes, a Weevil that’s been captured by random people with a white van. The Torchwood team go to investigate the problem as a huge amount of people seem to be turning up to hospital with Weevil wounds. Tosh and Jack investigate an old warehouse in search of the missing one, when a ringtone sends me straight back to 2006 (Crazy Frog if anyone sadly remembers that) informing Jack to not continue in his pursuit. Of course, he doesn’t pay attention to this and threatens them in the true Liam Neeson style of Taken.

 

In true Torchwood style, you need a gimmicky cover story to track down these criminals by making Owen a jellied eel salesman. With the cover story in place, they send out Owen to meet Mark Lynch, the man who owns the warehouse where the Weevil was last sighted. This is when the whole narrative becomes a loose plot based around ‘Fight Club’.

 

Mark takes quite a liking to Owen after they go to the same bar at the beginning of the episode and have another fight all over again. You’d think having a fight in front of a businessman that he would be put off from letting anyone near your business, however this seems to do the opposite. Mark invites Owen back to his house, which you think is going to end up as a one night stand, however with Mark’s interrogating approach, you realise he’s seeing how much rage there is in Owen and wanting him to find what Mark believes is his true self. Or is it we find Marks’ true self? 

 

There’s a real class divide with the rich feeling they’ve accomplished everything in life but feeling nothing for it. And that’s where the Weevils come in. Owen breaks into one of the locked rooms in Mark’s apartment, with a Weevil chained up. Mark trying to establish some kind of twisted dominance, punches the Weevil as if a punch bag, to the huge disgust of Owen. Mark claims the Weevils are the future of the human race and this is where just a glimmer of hope seems to come back to Owen, as you can see this is not what he thinks the future will be like.

 

Meanwhile Gwen and Rhys are in a middle of standoff in a very tense atmosphere, as Gwen finally confesses, she’s been having an affair with Owen. It’s a hard scene to watch as you can see in Rhys’s face the complete betrayal of someone he thought he knew and loved, but Torchwood has changed all of that.  It also shows how much Gwen has changed as a person, as she now drugs Rhys into forgetting about the whole confession, something previously Gwen would never have dreamt doing.

 

The final conflict is Owen facing the weevil in the cage. Owen lets the tension of his life envelope him as he closes his eyes and exhales, all the thought and loss he’s had. He is one with the weevil for that moment, as he knows he’s going to lose his life. It’s a brutal scene, as Gwen and Jack try to save Owen from being ripped apart. In this moment, Jack knows he’s losing the unity of his team.

 

Combat, is a downright decent and solid “Torchwood” story. It’s got some brilliant character development from Owen, showing his more emotional side. This is alongside Captain Jack’s almost heartless approach to the aliens he encounters, as he faces conflict with his team over respecting the Weevils in a surprising twist, in a story written by none other than, Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from “Doctor Who”. 


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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