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21 July 2020

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

2.8: A Day In The Death

A Day in the Death is a very solid story about what I’m calling the how Owen is coping with being dead saga. This episode heavily surrounds the character development of Owen, from being the arrogant man we saw in series 1, to a more understanding but still problematic character in the way he now has to come to terms with being dead.


The story delves into the world of death and the problems that surround life and how those two should intertwine. The great way in which this story is depicted, is because it’s from the narrative view point of Owen, as he sits next to Maggie, a woman who is about to take her own life. But what’s Owen doing there? Was he there first or was he there to help Maggie? 


We experience this story as a historical event, so whatever happens as the story progresses, Owen will always end up on the rooftop. It’s quite worrying to see his character stripped of his Torchwood duties as Jack is worried about Owen’s more fragile personality and physical state. Again in a retaliative response, Owen gives up everything that makes him seem human; his food, booze, aftershave and even the loo roll. He throws it all away as if he’s giving up all his material possessions and facing the harsh reality that he won’t be able to enjoy life the way he does anymore. The music progresses to a repetitive tune as he faces these facts. Owen not taking this very well, lashes out at Tosh yet again, as she pops over with a pizza, just to make sure Owen is ok.


Owen finally giving in, heads towards Cardiff Bay, runs and jumps into the bay to try and drown himself. However, he suddenly opens his eyes and pulls himself out as he realises he can’t drown if he can’t breathe. Captain Jack, conveniently in the same area at the time it happened, watches Owen as he pulls himself out of the bay and queries for how long will this keep going? 


The whole theme of Owen being dead, heavily impacts the story, as millionaire alien artefact collector Parker (played by the wonderful Richard Briers) has a device that’s going to blow up the whole of Cardiff. Again, we have the typical Torchwood Mcguffin, as this alien device must be stopped. Owen is the only man who can stop Parker using the device, but he has to get through the heat sensors in the house without being detected. Owen and Parker have quite a nice but short bonding session over the themes of death and the resemblances it has with being alive. Being in a dark room, all alone, it all seems to be working well until Parker has his fourth and final heart attack, dying in front of Owen. To Owen’s horror, he can’t give him CPR as he doesn’t breathe and therefore can’t save Parker.


So this appears to be why Owen is on top of the roof with Maggie. It also turns out that the alien device is called the Pulse and it isn’t actually a nasty bomb but a message from beyond the stars, from aliens Torchwood haven’t met. Owen uses this symbolic moment to help Maggie, who we later find out is trying to kill herself as her husband died on their wedding day. It’s symbolic of a message of hope for the both of them, to carry on living and reflect on their past, which they’ve both done in this story.


What this story does so well, is it finally gives Owen some kind of resolution. He accepts the fact that he is now dead, because to be fair, for how long could the woe is me storyline play out before the audience themselves find the repetitiveness of the themes uninteresting. The major flaw for me, is not a reflection on this specific episode, but  the overall issues of Martha returning. Unfortunately, I feel for the past three episodes she was in, her character was heavily underused as it played under the Owen accepting death story arc. I wish we had one more episode with Martha after this, to establish her relationship with the Torchwood team, as Jack says she can come back at any point.


With the Torchwood team back to their usual antics, where will this take the final few episodes of the series? Only time will tell.

Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 



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