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10 March 2020

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

1.9: Random Shoes

This episode starts off with a very different style by the narration of a man called Eugene Jones (Paul Checquer) as he describes the effect of different scientific forces and how life can really run away with you. As the camera pans down from the sky, feeling like we’re descending from Heaven, we see a helpless Eugene laying on a country road before getting up and running over to the Torchwood team, acting as if they have been best friends for years. Everything appears to be quite happy and normal, until we see the dead body of Eugene on the side of the road. But how can he both be alive and dead at the same time? Is he a ghost? A projection? Something the Torchwood team or more specifically Gwen, wishes to find out.

 

The other members of Torchwood dismiss the whole event as a typical RTA and as Owen says “No alien involvement” so he’s not particularly interested in the situation whatsoever. It’s an interesting take on narrative for an episode that’s 3/4 of the way through the series, as we have a very Torchwood team light story.

 

Random Shoes’ revolves heavily around flashbacks to previous events in Eugene’s life, as we see a younger version of himself in school losing at a Math’s quiz competition against another school. The narration from Eugene makes it clear that he feels all the bad mistakes that have happened in his life originated from this one moment. Eugene freezes as can’t answer the questions he knows, showing huge disappointment in his father who is eagerly taping the show. However this is Torchwood, it’s never as simple as losing a maths quiz and having a resolution of a story revolve around that. No, one of Eugene’s teachers takes pity on him and decides to show his collection of weird and wonderful scientific discoveries, as he takes out an unusual looking memento of an alien eye. 

 

This is where Eugene’s world is really turned around. The alien eye becomes an obsession, as it’s something that distracts him from ‘real world’ situations, such as his dad running away from the family. The scene is so perfectly composed; we hear the parents screaming at each other in the background, as Eugene is distracted by looking at the planets on his bedroom wall. The audio includes screaming and slowly mixes with David Bowie’s Starman, as Eugene narrates the wonder of the universe and how he wants to get the eye back to the original owner. It’s a fabulous juxtaposition of reality and fantasy and how it impacted Eugene’s decisions, up until his death. You could call this episode the ‘Love & Monsters version’ of Torchwood. The parallels between this scene and Elton running around his room to ELO, are just uncanny.

 

We establish how Eugene knows Torchwood, as we cut to a flashback of him meeting the team with only Gwen acknowledging his presence. It all just seems a very normal encounter as Eugene just appears to be a very eager nerd who wants to help out Torchwood and get some answers about this alien eye. He’s a very hopeful person and one who always wants to meet the alien owner. LINDA awaiting for the Doctor anyone? The theme of the narrative is played as very light hearted but  with the subject of Eugene being dead, it does hold over your head like a great stormy cloud waiting for the conflict to occur on this theme.

 

Gwen takes the whole situation under her own belt, as she has a ‘feeling’ that the whole death of Eugene is more than just a RTA. There’s a really emotional moment when Eugene is starting to come to terms as to how his death is making an impact on his family and friends, as he stares through the window to see his mum crying her heart out and yet he can do nothing about it. The accompaniment to the montage of 'Hope there's someone’ by Antony and the Johnsons, really makes it a heartbreaking moment and you really feel as if you’re in his shoes, experiencing his pain.

 

Eugene, throughout the episode, is talking to himself quite happily as no one can hear him. That is until Gwen decides to carry on her investigation work without the team and winds up at Eugene’s local cafe and Gwen orders Eugene’s typical lunch of, ham, egg and chips. It almost feels like it’s breaking the fourth wall down, as we the audience, relate to him as he narrates his life to us. She also responds to Eugene’s apology relating to the £34 charge for a DVD rental, from what appears to be one of the most stereotypical 2006 fashion styles I’ve ever seen in my life. The shop owner is a huge creep. however, Gwen completely keeps her cool in the situation to help get the clues she needs to find out why Eugene died.

 

What makes ‘Random Shoes’ so unique in its story, is it seems to be so mundane. Eugene appears to have led a pretty solitary life, only speaking to a few people in the office where he worked and obsessing over an alien eye and artefacts with a few mates. The story also revolves around the themes of mental illness as many of his friends asked if he committed suicide. It’s a hard hitting subject which really contrasts with the style of Eugene’s upbeat narration. Eugene’s tone in the narration quickly shifts as he realises once the investigation is over, that is it, but what will happen to him?

 

Gwen discovers the eye that Eugene has been so obsessed with is actually a Dogon Sixth Eye, which allows people to reflect on their past. You could say Eugene has been reflecting on his past pretty well. It’s a rollercoaster ride of his friends trust, as they try to swindle their own friend out of £15,000, when Eugene tried to sell the eye on eBay, as well as finding out his dad didn’t run away to America but to a MOT garage in Cardiff. The build up of emotions his final moments, is really touching, as the story comes full circle when Eugene runs away with the eye after swallowing it to keep it safe, after his friends tried to steal it and accidentally runs into the path of an oncoming car.

 

‘Not the biggest turn out you could hope for.’ is the view Eugene takes on his future life, the life he wouldn’t get to live; however he’s always grateful for what he has, and how his death created a bond between his dad and his mum again, when Gwen finally makes the phone call announcing Eugene’s death. Is this the resolution that sets him free from the eye’s influence? Not quite. We come to the final scene of the story, with Gwen walking away from Eugene’s family’s house and nearly getting hit by a car herself, however Eugene somehow manages to manifests himself into existing again and pushing her to safety. The whole family and the Torchwood team watch in shock until Eugene quickly starts ascending into they sky as if he’s finally going to heaven to rest. If anything, this is a nice if not slightly weird conclusion to the story. Was it him saving Gwen that made him finally free, or fixing all his past mistakes giving Eugene peace at last?

 

There are some questions that are left unanswered such as, who was trying to buy the eye? How was his soul or consciousness trapped in the eye? The story tried its best, even if certain aspects seem a little clunky for my taste.

 

The last narrative line is, live your best life, and that is a pretty upbeat motto for Torchwood by far.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

Comments (1) -

PEDRO FERREIRA United Kingdom
3/11/2020 7:16:47 PM #

Best episode of Torchwood by far.

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3/23/2020 11:33:56 PM #

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