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11 February 2020

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

1.6: Countrycide

The pre-title sequence is a scenario that has been lifted straight out of a typical slasher style film, with a poor unfortunate woman being dragged out of her car with blood curdling screams by a mysterious figure… Torchwood has diverged into the world of horror. 

 

Jack and co start investigating recent disappearances in the area. Owen begins to complain about being outside the city, making a quite delightful bit of banter between Gwen and Owen;  Gwen takes great joy in Owen’s disdain of the outdoors. The team feel as if they’re a proper family unit going on their first outing together, with the kids bickering in the back. With night approaching, the team set up camp in the middle of the field. With everyone circled around, Gwen gets the team to recall their most recent kisses with people. It all starts off as fun and games when Tosh mentions her kiss with Owen at Christmas. However it’s quickly turned as Owen mocks her for not being as promiscuous as the rest of the team. Captain Jack quickly steers the conversation by asking if non alien lifeforms count, followed by Owen’s smug response referencing his and Gwen’s make out session whist being chased by the Cyberwomen. It all seems to being going so well, until the mood shifts as Ianto mentions his last kiss was with in fact, his now deceased girlfriend Lisa. Oops. 

 

Avoiding the now awkward situation, Owen and Gwen go away to search for firewood, or that’s what Gwen thinks. As they walk through the forest, Gwen, who is understandably annoyed about Owen mentioning their kiss – is grabbed by him and pushed against a tree. In a heat of passion, Owen describes how great they’d be together. As they almost lock lips, they see a shadowy figure in the distance. It was a scene I was slightly worried about, as Owen leans closer and closer towards Gwen – leaving almost no space between their lips as they whisper their plans on how to catch the mysterious person. It’s a very sexually charged scene which depicts the whole theme of Series One in general. It's a great moment of passionate tension which quickly juxtaposes to the horror they’re about to endure.

As they give chase, they stumble across a body in the forest, however; this is no ordinary body. The whole of the flesh has been stripped back to the bone. Sorry for anyone who doesn’t like gore, this is not the episode for you. The contrast between the scenes depict the characteristic of Torchwood’s themes. One moment it’s horny passion and then the next, body horror. It's a technique that gives the show it's uniqueness for story telling. The Torchwood team have been rumbled, as they hear the Torchwoodmobile drive away. Thankfully, Ianto is able to track the vehicle and follows the car for 4 miles where it appears to have stopped. Said the spider to the fly...

 

We join the team as they encounter a rather abandoned looking village, something straight out of ‘Village of the Damned’. The environment has all the 'horror film' hallmarks of a place you really shouldn’t visit. The setup feels almost claustrophobic as they are very much cut off from the outside world. The intercutting with a POV shot, makes the scene feel uncomfortable as they’re being watched from the inside. 

 

The Torchwood team foolishly split up to find the Torchwoodmobile (have they not seen an episode of Scooby Doo?) and to check out the pub for any ideas as to what’s going on in the area. Gwen very quickly discovers another body carved exactly the same as the one she and Owen found previously in the woods, and a mysterious noise echos from the distance. As Gwen and Jack give chase, Gwen is dramatically shot in the stomach with a shotgun. Who or what can weald a shotgun and create such horrors to humans? Typically here, the camera would go to a close up of the situation, however in a more interesting editing choice – the audience is taken through a long POV shot, almost as if we’re an animal watching its prey. It’s this 1st person perspective that really makes for carnal viewing, and adds to the intrigue of the story. Thankfully Doctor Owen is on hand to take care of Gwen’s wound, which in the spirit of Torchwood, makes even that a sexy scene between Gwen and Owen.


Meanwhile, if that wasn’t enough, Ianto and Tosh are kidnapped and locked away in what appears to be a dark cellar. A blood covered fridge catches their eyes as Tosh anxiously opens it up to discover why they’ve been captured; they’re going to be the main course. The suspense leads up to the horror across Ianto’s face as he quickly closes the door with an echoed bang. Their fate has been sealed. The story is very plot heavy; not a scene goes by that doesn’t expand the characters, or the unravelling situation that they find themselves in.

 

There is a huge amount of plot that happens within this story, however it never detracts from developing the characters of the whole team, such as Jack’s concern over Gwen and the unity between Ianto and Tosh when they’re captured by the cannibals! In a shocking plot twist, it transpires that the villains are actually humans.. cannibals. This is the first time we’ve had a villain who isn’t an alien, which we the audience wrongly assume. It’s a horror/slasher film lover’s dream. In true Torchwood style, Captain Jack comes to save the day by driving a tractor through the main barn doors and shooting the place up in slow motion. I don’t think we could get anymore 2006 with that dramatic moment.

 

Owen Teale (Ewan) and Maxine Evans (Helen) give fantastic and down right skin-crawling performances as a couple who, along with the rest of the village it seems, take part in a ‘harvest’ once a decade, on unsuspecting tourists. The line, ‘because it made me happy’, as Gwen confronts Ewan about the horrors they’ve committed, is spine tingling. As he sits there with a grin like a Cheshire Cat, with no remorse or care, it’s an image that will haunt my dreams forever. It really makes for uncomfortable, disturbing viewing.

 

However, I love the contrast in the final scene as Gwen narrates how she could have had a normal life, having kids and staying with Rhys, but Torchwood has set her on a new path. It’s just that moment when you think she’s talking to herself or to us as the audience, until Owen appears in the reflection of the window, showing her how her life is changing. She’s not the same woman we saw at the beginning of the series. She’s seen things that nobody else could comprehend and wants to take comfort in someone that does. Is Owen and the Torchwood team the right choice? We’ll have to wait and see...


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

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