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4 February 2020

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

1.5: Small Worlds

Grab the tissues everyone, this is an emotional ride. 

 

We are greeted by the adorable character of Estelle Cole, played by Eve Pearce, as she explores the hidden and enchanted world of fairies. It's a classic opening to a Brother’s Grimm.

 

Estelle starts taking pictures on her film camera of these seemingly harmless looking creatures until she starts walking away, satisfied with her discover; however the creatures turn into evil demons ready for the kill… Cue title sequence. (I can safely say this is the first Torchwood episode that has gripped me straight from the off.) 

 

The camera pans through Torchwood until we see a sleeping and very shirtless Captain Jack, which is a shot definitely for the men, ladies and anyone in-between. We’re thrown back in time to what appears to be a nightmare with Jack seeing his army platoon on a train, dead,with flower petals in their mouths. A disturbed Captain Jack quickly leaps out of bed from the nightmare, prepared not to sleep for the rest of the night. However he finds a petal on his desk. Was this a dream?

Small Worlds offers an array of themes here, but the most interesting has to be the exploration of Captain Jack’s past. This is the first time we’ve had real hints and stories about Jack’s history, and the troubles that he’s been so good at covering up so far.

Murray Gold’s music creates a dream like world as if we’re living in a childhood fairytale, thus creating the perfect introduction to Jasmine Pierce, a primary school girl waiting for her parents who are late picking her up. In a sharp turn of events and a harsh cue from Gold’s music, a disturbing man watches her from afar. Jasmine continues to walk from school on her own, as the predatory man creeps behind her in his car, but is she alone? The camera cuts to a green eyed perspective as the man tries to grab Jasmine, until a strong wind whirls around the paedophile who gets his comeuppance as his face smashes against his car. He runs away in terror as Jasmine watches in glee and skips away. Not a way I would react if someone tried to grab me or having an unknown entity save the day. It creates a divide of are these creatures the good or the bad guys?

Torchwood really brings that grey area into the world that is so typically written as black and white. However there is justice when the paedophile man starts coughing up petals and water, as he runs through Cardiff Market wanting to be arrested by a police officer nearby. It’s a true body horror moment that makes for an uncomfortable watch. Are these creatures forcing him to repent or filling him with pure terror as they have taken guardianship of Jasmine. As Gwen quotes ‘One persons’ good, could be somebody else’s evil’.

Meanwhile, Jack and Gwen attend a talk about the legend of Fairies – hosted by none other than Estelle. Gwen, seemingly very unconvinced by the whole situation, dismisses the theme of fairies existing and questions whether Estelle’s either making it up or has a really distorted view on the world. That is until Gwen starts to notice Jack and Estelle getting very close, hinting at a past intimacy. As they turn up to Estelle’s house, Gwen notices a man who looks very similar to Captain Jack, however Jack is adamant it’s his father. It’s a great twist on the norm here, for the audience who know the picture is our Jack – it’s good to see it play the other way around, with Gwen using her detective powers to work out it’s not Jack. It’s a very similar style to ‘Columbo’ where we know who the murderer is before the story is introduced.

The main part I love about this story, is the relationship between Jack and Estelle. It feels that there is such a strong bond between them, as if they’d been married for years. It’s a nice moment to see Captain Jack as we’ve never really seen him before. It’s a softer approach to his character, exploring his long term relationships during the war. It’s a love that seems could last forever.

Elsewhere Jasmine appears to be forming a stronger bond with the fairies everyday, as her parents become increasingly more and more worried about her relationship with her friends and staying out in the garden. As we see into Jasmine’s home life, it becomes more apparent that her stepdad Roy is seemingly despondent and uninterested in poor Jasmine. Dismissing her left, right and centre, which contributes to family conflict and Jasmine’s increasing feeling of loneliness, this is the fairies time to strike everyone down.

The first attack starts off with the typical Torchwood style alien murder mystery, as the paedophile finally gets his comeuppance as he’s attacked in his empty prison cell by the Fairies, in much the same way as previously seen – he chokes to death on flower petals. However, the fairies don’t stop there.

We come to the changing of the equilibrium in one of the most emotional sides of Torchwood so far. The death of Estelle. The fairies in their chance to get their chosen one, Jasmine, will try anything to make sure the Torchwood team and especially Captain Jack, from stopping their plans. Estelle is so brutally taken away from us and it easily becomes one of the most heartbreaking deaths. I will not be afraid to admit I cried my heart out. It shows how incredible Peter J. Hammond’s writing is, to create such a bond with a character in the first 20 minutes of the show. John Barrowman equally makes it such a heart breaking moment as he holds her in his arms one last time, before kissing her on the forehead as he leaves. It creates a truly upsetting moment as Captain Jack will never be able to reveal his secret of who he actually was. (Damn you Murray Gold and your stunning music to this scene) - a scene that will be the pinnacle moment which reveals how Torchwood was such a fantastic show and pushed those boundaries like never before.

Captain Jack now has to make an impossible choice, a theme that is regularly brought up in Doctor Who. Torchwood has the same flexibility in its story telling, being able to confront the horrific demons of the past, as Jack knows the fairies need a chosen one or they’ll destroy the world. How do you make that decision when the chosen one is a child?

The final showdown between the fairies and the Torchwood team ends up in Jasmine’s garden, as her stepdad is brutally killed by the fairies shoving petals down his throat. Jasmine’s mum in complete distress, looks upon Captain Jack for the reassurance that the Doctor would show. However, unlike the Doctor, where some impossible choices are taken from him, Captain Jack faces them.

We approach the forest where it all started and a struggling Jasmine wants to join the fairies in eternal life, but in a shocking turn of events Jack lets her go. The second crying moment ensues. Jasmine’s mum watches in horror as her little girl runs away and disappears as if she never existed. This is a heartbreaking moment, in which Jasmine’s mum blames Jack for the loss of her family and is also the moment Captain Jack realises he had no choice, no matter how broken he would feel afterwards. It’s a true testament again to the relationship between Captain Jack and his team, that would so easily have created a TARDIS team to separate. (Damn you Murray Gold again and your stunning music). 

 

Small Worlds is real horror story and a great theme for a true Grimm’s Fairy Tale. The only criticism I have is the CGI of the fairies do somewhat let some of the scenes down. For me, I would have love to have seen the fairies still looking small and innocent but with razor sharp teeth, rather than a full sized, green alien style. It just creates a juxtaposition that no matter how innocent something appears, there’s something always deceptive underneath its appearance.

Captain Jack’s love for Estelle and the guilt he felt for letting Jasmine go, is one of the most powerful performances we’ve had in the series so far. (Ok Gareth David-Lloyd did give a hell of a performance is ‘Cyberwoman’). This episode has been a true testament of stunning performances from the supporting cast, as well as the main team. 


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

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