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21 January 2020

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

1.3: Ghost Machine

We encounter the Torchwood team in an epic chase through Cardiff, but chasing who?

 

Gwen nearly catching the suspect through Cardiff market (where they make very nice Welsh Cakes by the way) unfortunately only grabs his coat as he runs off. Gwen thinking she failed, repeatedly apologises, while a happy Tosh shouts in her ear she’s got it. But what has Gwen discovered?

 

The opening sequence creates a fantastic juxtaposition. After an adrenaline filled chase, Gwen finds a unique piece of alien tech - changing the pace of the story entirely. Pressing its button, Gwen is unknowingly transported to, we assume, WW II. We see a young boy leaving the train station wearing a name tag, looking lost and calling for help. However in the same instance, Gwen is thrown back into the present… Looking around shocked, she utters “I’ve seen a ghost.”

 

This is the first episode which has grabbed my attention straight from the off. This episode starts to focus around Owen, which again seems to show the themes of the series that everyone has a story dedicated to them. Gwen and Owen seek out who the boy from Gwen's apparition is. They later discover via a phonebook, (which a sarcastic Owen holds in his hands), it's a Mr Tom Erasmus Flanagan. They visit the now elderly Tom and realise the alien technology was showing them a real person's past, not a fictional vision.

 

The stand out line for this episode has to be when they are trying to track down the original suspect Bernie Harris, who stole the alien tech: 'Splot' 'Splot?' 'I believe estate agents call it Splough…’. 

 

Its the brilliant comedic element that Torchwood is perfect for. The down to Earth part when they use their detective skills to find him, establishes the normal everyday aspect of working in Torchwood. This is a complete contrast to their other counterpart flying around the universe in a TARDIS.

 

As the Torchwood team have no luck ‘catching them killers then’ (Hot Fuzz reference for anyone there), Owen quickly stops in his tracks as they walk under a bridge and the Quantum Transducer activates. The whole world seems quieter and colder. Unknown to Owen, he has been transported back to the 1960's, where he unwillingly watches the rape and murder of Lizzie Lewis, coldly carried out by Ed Morgan. Owen can't move or bring himself to take action. It really does become an uncomfortable moment to watch, leaving Owen in tears as the Quantum Transducer brings him back to the present. This harrowing scene becomes the key driving force for Owen to get justice for Lizzie.

 

Posing as a Police Officer, Owen tracks down Ed Morgan to his house, which leads to an intense battle of wits. Owen describing the incident to Ed in such detail, makes us as the audience feel as insecure as Ed. The heart beat sound and the close up shots, creates the sense of panic, claustrophobia and guilt, as he’s finally been found out. It’s a fantastic scene between the characters, to which both Burn Gorman and Gareth Thomas (yes Blake’s 7), make the scene teeth clenching.

 

The Torchwood team finally track down Bernie Harris, but in a intriguing plot twist, it is revealed that there are in fact TWO parts to the Quantum Transduce; one to show you the past, the other to show you the future. Bernie, afraid of the alien tech, sees his death. Having earlier blackmailed Ed Morgan he becomes afraid of what's to come. Gwen on the other hand touches the future side of the QT, and sees herself with blood on her hands - but who's? All this builds up to be a true murder mystery tale with a side of time travel, which is what Torchwood is perfect at playing.

 

We have reached the final confrontation. Ed Morgan is about to be held to account by Owen Harper. Morgan has the knife, as previously seen in Gwen's future vision - he is ready to kill anyone before his terrible murderous secret out. It's another fantastic show of Gareth Thomas's acting as he builds up the intensity as the situation escalates. The agoraphobia is making him panic and not think rationally or logically. This is on the edge of the seat viewing. Captain Jack quickly pounces on him, while Owen takes the knife. Owen almost takes on the role of vigilante in this episode, taking justice into his own hands and fighting for the late Lizzie Lewis. Owen holds the knife to Ed's face - can he do it? He quickly realises that actually, he is the better man, and doesn't act. Sound familiar? Unfortunately this is where the ending slightly lets it down. Ed runs towards Gwen to hug her for helping him, to ultimately stab himself. Why was Gwen holding the knife pointed outwards so that someone could get stabbed? I feel the resolution is a slight let down, as it would have been nice to see Ed finally show redemption for his actions. However the final scene of Captain Jack easing the pain of Gwen accidentally killing Ed is really sympathetic and full of wonder, straight out of Tomb of the Cybermen style with the Doctor and Victoria.

 

Helen Raynor has created a diverse, atmospheric and witty script. Overall I think this has been the strongest episode so far next to ‘Everything Changes'.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

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