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11 August 2020

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

2.10: From Out Of The Rain

From Out Of The Rain feels like a true Torchwood episode once again. This time around, we’ve left behind the very heavily character driven stories which we’ve had recently. It was nice for the series to step into the weird and wonderful themes of horror once again. With this episode written by Peter Hammond who wrote the amazing Small Worlds, it was no surprise that it was very reminiscent to series one.

 

The start of the episode builds up the creepily dramatic flare with the Ghostmaker, a stereotypical showman with his top hat and big moustache, welcoming all people into his circus. It’s a true classic horror in the way it is filmed, feeling as if you’re someone wondering around the circus, as everyone looks towards the camera. The Ghostmaker hands a girl a ticket to the circus when all of a sudden, the whole circus disappears, leaving only the girls mother behind. This story feels like it could be straight out of a Sarah Jane Adventure series.

 

In true Torchwood style, they are already on the case, as Ianto finds some rift disturbance at an old cinema he used to go to as a kid. As they watch the film believed to be old footage of Cardiff, the Ghostmaker mysteriously appears, gesturing to the audience to come up to the screen. The themes of the circus living within the film is a truly horrifying concept, as it suggests the possibility of the circus performers eternal life. In a shocking twist, it turns out that Jack went undercover to find out what these circus performers were up to 80 years ago, when many people went missing when the circus came to town. This would have been an amazing path to take to delve into Jack’s history once more as he tries to cover up who originally sent him. That would have been the moment to develop Jack’s character just a little more, but unfortunately was missed.

 

What’s nice about this story, is it’s very heavily lead by Ianto as he seeks to find out who these people are and why they’re taking the souls and the very essence of their being. It really gives Ianto a leadership side which we haven’t seen previously in stories. If we wanted to go down the more character driven route as with Owen previously, this would have been Ianto’s time to shine.

 

Another missed opportunity was with the Ghostmaker and Pearl. The idea of these two going around capturing life essences from people is great, but the threat of the whole situation seemed incredibly mild in comparison to other events the Torchwood team have endured. What would have been amazing, was if the circus had already re established itself travelling around the country and everyone started to disappear again; it would have created more of a deadly impact for the team to sort out. However, the resolution to this episode is a quick finale as if they were running out of time for the episode. 

 

The Torchwood team quickly work out the only way they can stop the night travellers from taking the life of any more people, is to destroy the film they were living in. It’s a great concept, but it would have been more amazing if the team had to work this out in a last minute escapade. It’s never really explained why the circus people are doing what they are doing - they just seem to appear and not do all that much. What would have been amazing is if they turned out to be some kind of alien water vampire, or was that the plot of “Waters of Mars” I’m thinking about? Instead, we get a very speedy, Jack saves the day again ending, which has become a repetitive problem throughout Torchwood as a series.

 

Overall From Out of the Rain had a great concept that could have been helped with maybe this being a two part story. There are so many opportunities to establish character and plot, however it was all very rushed to fill the 40 minute time frame. There is a great little twist at the end of the episode. Just as Jack is about the put the flask away that captured the souls for the circus performers, a boy and his dad find another film canister with the same logo as the flask has on it. Has Jack really defeated the night travellers?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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28 July 2020

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

2.9: Something Borrowed

We start the episode with a flash back scene to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where Gwen announces her engagement to Rhys. It was about time we finally faced the family of Rhys and Gwen, as keeping their lives and Torchwood separate couldn’t last much longer.

 

The best way I can describe this episode, is a more adult version of “The Wedding of Sara, out to kill Gwen who has been impregnated by a murderous shape-shifting alien - pure Torchwood. It’s a great way to make fun of soap opera style weddings which always end in some kind of disaster but with a sci-fi element to it. Gwen wanting the marriage to take place no matter what, really shows a strength of character and the love between Rhys and Gwen.

 

I do have to mention the issues of Gwen’s relationship with Owen, as again the affair from series 1 is never brought up, even at the key moment when Gwen has to be honest with Rhys about getting married because she loves him. What makes the situation even more awkward is in fact that Owen is there at the wedding with the pair of them. I do feel hugely sorry for Rhys in the series, as his character gives so much love and dedication, even to the point of marrying someone who is pregnant with an alien. He’s given no kind of redemption story arc for everything that has happened without his knowledge. This has been a problematic theme throughout Torchwood, but I’ve come to terms  with the fact that it’s something that will never now be resolved.

 

This episode reinforces the Torchwood cheesy storylines we’ve come to know and love. The shape-shifting alien mum out to kill Gwen, almost feels as if it was toned down in respect of the blood and gore which would fit in well with a “Sarah Jane Adventures” story line. To have the shape-shifting alien hide in between their relatives and even taking the form of Rhys’s mum, does create a somewhat comical effect as in a lot of Scooby-Doo style chase scenes that would work perfectly with the “Doctor Who” episode “Love and Monsters.” Again the problems are very quickly resolved with the Singularity Scalpel as it zaps away the alien baby before the mum can tear open Gwen’s stomach to get to it. The Singularity Scalpel is becoming as common as the sonic screwdriver from “Doctor Who.”

 

A lovely final moment for the relationship between Jack and Gwen is when Jack finally takes out the shape-shifter and he picks her up as a trophy. Realising that Rhys is there, Jack places her on the ground and puts Rhys and Gwen’s hands together saying “The hero always gets the girl.” Again it’s the final resolution that is needed for their relationship now that Gwen is committed to Rhys and loves him, so he should be the man with whom she celebrates her victories.

 

It does start to feel that Torchwood has found a truly good balance between the gore, sex and violence from its previous series. This is very prominent with Phil Ford’s writing, as he creates some fantastic one liners throughout the episode - “That’s what I love about Torchwood. By day, you’re chasing the scum of the universe, come midnight, you’re the wedding fairy.” It’s a wonderful send off, as the Torchwood team retcon the entire wedding so nobody will remember the event thats happened. That will be fun to explain when the wedding photos are finally developed. 

 

We finish the episode with a touching scene of Jack looking through all his past photos, which appear to date back to the late 1800’s. One is of what appears to be a wedding photo, as Jack softly smiles, reminiscing about his past life and why he feels so comfortable letting Gwen marry while she’s working in Torchwood. It’s a nice send off to the episode as the camera pulls back, and the world is right once again. 


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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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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14 July 2020

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

2.7: Dead Man Walking

The themes of this storyline, compare very closely to the ‘Doctor Who’ episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”.

 

From the  experience of the dramatic cliffhanger concerning Owen’s death in “Reset”, I was ready for the emotional impact of losing another Torchwood member. Even with Owen’s problematic traits, the other Torchwood members have a strong connection with him. You feel grief on their behalf, that is until Captain Jack comes running through the door claiming he has a way to save Owen.

 

The character I do feel most sorry for in this whole story is Martha. I was hugely excited as we finally had the chance to see her use her skills as a UNIT doctor to help the Torchwood team grow and develop into an awesome team. However, she’s sidelined in Owen’s story and then turned into an old woman by the resurrection glove. 

 

I do like the way Ianto has a sassy joke about there being another resurrection glove, as they usually come in pairs. It’s a throw back to series one where they tried to bring Suzie back and are now using the same technique with Owen. Miraculously Owen is back, and again he stays alive after the 30 seconds -  but what energy is keeping him alive? It turns out it literally is Death itself that is keeping Owen alive, using him as a portal to get through to earth to take it over again. The event leads to quite a dramatic cliffhanger style event, which is very oddly cut away from as Death goes to attack everyone; suddenly we’re in the hospital to look after Martha? I am assuming there must have been a scene to tie these together, but it leads to a somewhat abrupt and very confusing episode that feels very clunky in its story telling. 

 

The themes of death have been a recurring aspect from series one, as you can’t have a main character who is immortal without addressing the consequences of cheating death. In terms of Owen, he’s not like Jack. All his bodily functions have stopped working, leading to a somewhat revolting scene as he throws up beer in a police cell as he can’t digest the alcohol. It’s a really weirdly comical scene for the tone of the episode which is meant to be quite sombre with Owen trying to take everything in about being alive again. Its conflicting themes, tend to leave the scenes in this episode somewhat jarring and pardon the pun, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

 

Unfortunately for me, the character of Owen hasn’t been that likeable, so it’s been really tough trying to feel sorry for him as the episode progresses. I found this especially in the scene when he emotionally hugs Gwen. It reminds me of the time Gwen drugged Rhys for cheating on him with Owen and eventually leads to no real consequences for either of those actions. It is also the case for Tosh who finally confesses her love for Owen, something which is cruelly dismissed by Owen. Again she is sidelined for the rest of the story.  

 

I really wanted to like this story as series two of Torchwood has made a vast improvement with its story telling over the last couple of episodes. There are some elements to this story which are very quickly glossed over or too easily resolved. This is where we come to the hugely clunky part of the story, the fight between Owen and Death. So Death needs 13 souls to transfer his energy to the Earth and live permanently there. So the resolution to the story? Owen, in a very awkward wrestling match, throws Death around for a bit as he’s a man with nothing to lose, quite literally as he’s not alive and somehow that defeats Death once again. There’s no real explanation to anything that has happened in this story, not even a throw away line of some techno-babble. The only thing that continues with the series arc, is there is something to the darkness of death that is coming. Does Jack know what it is and has he seen it himself?

 

How long will the Torchwood team be able to keep Owen safe or will this end up being a tale like the film “Death Becomes Her”? Only time will tell.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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7 July 2020

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

2.6: Reset

We start the episode with a mysterious VIP visitor who Jack is very excited to see and who would Jack be most excited about? Well it had to be Martha Jones played by the wonderful, Freema Agyeman.

 

What’s amazing about this episode is that you can feel and see the love and friendship Martha and Jack have from their time travelling with the Doctor. It’s the kind of chemistry you get when you see a friend to whom you haven’t spoken for a long time, and when you finally meet, it’s just as if hardly a day has passed. Martha has gained a job at UNIT as a doctor and this makes you cheerfully punch  the air. You know Martha  has just got on with life after The Doctor and has become a hugely successful person in the process. It’s a great piece of character development which is amazing to see in the spin-off series that’s so highly regarded.

 

Back to the story, Martha is drafted in by Jack and she’s found a connection of mysterious deaths that appear to be unrelated until you look at the finer detail. It’s nice to see Martha use her medical knowledge in ways we didn’t get to see in “Doctor Who.” Owen and Martha quickly form a partnership as they’re working together to find out what’s been injected into the victims bodies to kill them. Naturally, it would turn out to be an alien threat, manipulated by humans for their own gain. In this case, it’s small bugs that appear to cure all kinds of cancers, diseases etc in the human immune system. But what doesn’t make sense is why people are being injected with bleach to hide the evidence. Just before one of the victims dies, she tells Martha and Owen about this place called The Pharm, that is using volunteers in their clinical trials to help with their medical history. Of course, where there’s a cure, there’s some kind of money making scheme behind it and that’s when we meet Professor Aaron Copley, the chairman of the whole operation.

 

Martha volunteers to spy on the medical trials to find out what is going on and to recover the missing medical records from the victims that were killed. During the process, she is quickly discovered after being chased by one of the alien creatures being used to create the miracle cure. What’s also great in the episode, is Martha is still affected by what happened to her on her travels with the Doctor - her blood cells having unique properties manipulated by the Time Vortex. This could be a theme to a whole episode in itself. Torchwood usually has its famous McGuffin’s, as Owen luckily has a device which can get the alien creature out of Martha just in the knick of time, before it bursts out of her stomach in “Alien” style. 

 

Reset delivers the very conventional Torchwood plot of the big baddy who needs to be stopped no matter what. The narrative of this episode parallels that of “Meat” where the alien meat was being chopped up to be sold on the  open market for money. What makes the difference, is Professor Aaron Copley thinks that experimenting on aliens and humans is ok if the outcome means he can save the world in the future with this new cure.

 

Just as you think the Torchwood team has just saved the day once again as they shut down the facility, Professor Aaron Copley steps out from the darkness with a gun, ready to take vengeance for destroying his life’s work. Owen, no stranger to facing a gun, steps forward to disarm the situation. As the audience, you believe he’ll come out fine as they always do in Torchwood, until he takes a fatal shot to the heart. It all doesn’t seem real until Martha confirms “He’s dead.” It’s a moment that really is shocking as we’ve just got Martha back and everything felt like it was becoming a bigger family unit; it’s all cruelly taken away in an instant. Jack immediately fires back in anger killing the Professor on the spot. The camera then appears to be flying higher and higher into the air, as if it were following Owen’s soul to heaven.

 

Knowing how Torchwood deal with scenarios, I don’t think this will be the last time we see Owen.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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23 June 2020

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

2.5: Adam

We begin with the Torchwood theme, but hang on a minute, there’s a new addition to the team, who we as the audience, have never seen before. I love that the opening has immediately smashed the 4th wall perspective by adding this new team member, Adam, to immediately create a sense of confusion, implying he had been there since the beginning of the series.

 

The whole concept of this episode is the theme of, “What If?” What if Tosh became a more confident woman; what if Owen was more of the reserved nerd. It’s an interesting twist we’ve seen a fair few times with superhero/ Sci-Fi genres, to really change the dynamic of the team and how they’re going to combat this. I love that with Rhys being more involved with the team, there’s a sense of gravitas and consequence to their actions and how they need to keep the team safe. The whole first half of this episode does leave a long trail of what does Adam want and why has he decided to become part of the Torchwood team in this way? Again as the audience, we’re treated as the people who always know more than the team and for me, I find myself shouting at the TV as soon as you know they’re being used or put in imminent danger. It’s a kind of weird,out of body experience watching the episode. 

 

Adam is an alien existing by living in other people's memories. Everything all seems fun and games as the team carry on as normal, up until Gwen fails to recognise who Rhys is. After a very intense fight between Gwen and Rhys, Jack turns the tides and there is a compromise between them both. Rhys almost has built a slight sense of trust, despite everything else.

 

In an interesting turn of events for this story, we delve into Jack’s history and where he’s come from. Adam tricks Jack into remembering his past which he has long forgotten. With Adam’s alien powers, he’s able to access Jack’s memories of losing his family when he was younger and we as an audience, start to get that understanding of why Torchwood means so much to him. The scene of Jack letting go of his little brother’s hand, is heart breaking. Jack Montgomery, who plays young Jack, puts so much into showing the pain of his mistake and the burden this places on  himself as the older Jack. Torchwood is the stable family he found enabling him to recover from his past.

 

You feel Adam is almost helping the Torchwood team until - well let’s just say Ianto is the character who takes a considerable chunk of heartbreak and emotional torment in this episode. We’ve seen up until half way through the episode, that Adam has given the team good memories, as well as exploring forgotten memories; but what happens when things don’t exactly go Adam’s way? Ianto in his dorky way, kept a diary of all the teams adventures and finds that in a not so shocking twist, Adam isn’t in any of the entries. This is where the episode becomes incredibly dark and twisted. Adam not only has the ability to provide good memories but also bad ones. In a horrific montage of images, he leads Ianto into thinking he’s a predatory murderer, making him believe all the false memories. It turns into a scene which is incredibly uncomfortable to watch but Gareth David-Lloyd really puts everything into the emotions and you can feel the pain and anguish.

 

This is the last straw for Captain Jack. He takes Ianto to a lie detector to prove he didn’t murder anyone and also convinces the team that Adam can only exist by using their memories. They realise the only way to get rid of Adam, is to retcon themselves. However, Adam is not quite done yet. He convinces Captain Jack to relive family memories and the good times they had, however, Adam tries to distort them and leaves Jack with a conflict; he either lets Adam live by remembering these memories or  he has to forget everything he’s discovered about his family. In the end, Jack makes the ultimate sacrifice for the team by forgetting the last 48 hours as if nothing happened.

 

The ending has a sombre tone as the team wake up after taking the retcon and can’t remember anything. At the end, Jack finds an open box which belonged to Adam showing the sands of Jack’s home world;  however, with Jack’s memories gone of his home world, in confusion, he places it back where it was found. It’s an ending that breaks your heart completely.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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16 June 2020

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

2.4: Meat

Meat” is an episode that guides you towards a pretty simplistic story line, well simplistic in terms of Torchwood, with an alien being chopped up and being sold to distributors to sell as cheap meat to go in all kinds of food. However, “Meat” throws the curve ball of Gwen having to finally make her choice of staying with Torchwood or choosing Rhys.

 

I always feel sorry for Rhys. He’s the boyfriend who always seems to be 5 steps behind not only the Torchwood team but the audience as well. As the series has been going on, we’re finally getting to terms with the Torchwood team and their dynamic as Gwen finally seems to be settling in, but there’s always been this niggle at the back of Gwen’s mind and that is Rhys. Coincidently, as one of his lorries has an accident, Rhys finally gets his chance to call Gwen out on her job, as he sees her investigating the accident.

 

The argument scene between Rhys and Gwen is the build up we’ve all been waiting for. The tension and the rapid cuts and zooms in the scene create the heated tension of their relationship. The one moment that makes me slightly annoyed is when Rhys asks if Gwen has been sleeping with Jack and she replies “all I ever asked, is for you to trust me.” Now this should have been the moment Gwen confesses about sleeping with Owen; it’s a moment from series 1 that seems to be completely glossed over with no consequences to her actions. However, it is finally nice that we have got over the secrecy between Gwen and Rhys, as it allows his character now to develop within the series.

 

Rhys’s plan was to find out what Gwen was up to and thereby he inadvertently becomes involved with the alien meat trade. What I think would have made this episode interesting, would have been if Rhys was directly involved with this illegal alien meat trading. It would have raised a great conflict in Gwen, deciding if her duty of working for Torchwood outweighed her love for Rhys, rather than just being coincidental involvement because  of the gang running the alien meat operation with Rhys’s distribution company.

 

With Rhys being involved, we get a kind of Scooby-Doo plot, finding out who these people are, why they’re selling the meat and trying to stop them. In true Torchwood style, it really tries to create a sense of relatable moments of humanity as again the Torchwood team face the decision of saving the poor alien whale that’s being used for the meat, or to end it and the horrific life it’s had to endure on Earth. Tosh does have what seems quite a throwaway line of ‘Its sentient,’ -  how does she know? It’s all brushed over very quickly. Unfortunately, the special effects haven’t aged too well as time has gone on, I always still believe less is more. The eye has been animated so well and you can really feel the true pain of the sentient creature as it’s being cut into. However when the camera pans back, the emotion is somewhat lost, as it gives it a cheapened look.

 

The whole episode is very quickly resolved as it turns out about only 5 amateur gang members are involved with this crime and are very quickly taken out. It leaves loads of open questions such as, how did they know this meat is edible and would grow back again and again? This is a very relationship centred story, more than anything before, and does explore how dysfunctional the Torchwood team really are at the moment, even to the point where Gwen would volunteer to be Retcond if it meant she would stay with Rhys. With all its’ flaws, it’s a great episode for the development of the characters of the team; with Rhys knowing more about Gwen’s life, what is now left in store for the both of them?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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9 June 2020

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

2.3: To The Last Man

We open this episode with an escaped, conventional ghost hunter, as we follow two people through St. Teilo’s military hospital with what looks like a GPS tracker, not something that belongs in 1918. As the two strangers run around the hospital, a shocked nurse is surprised they’re not ghosts; not a typical reaction to the situation, which makes you question for how long this has been going on? As the two strangers run around the hospital looking for these ghosts, they see a vision of a soldier with none other than Tosh!? The solider tells the strangers to take him from 1918 and the tension builds up as the strangers comply with the soldier’s orders. They rush to the bedside of the shell shocked soldier as we get the final build up to the hugely cheesy line, as the two strangers reveal themselves as “Torchwood.”

 

We then flash forward to the present time and we see a very excited Tosh getting ready for what looks like a date. However, this isn’t any normal date as we see the exact same soldier Tommy, who is in a cryogenic chamber. Gwen’s role is the perfect platform to explain why they have to defrost Tommy once a year, as one day they’re going to need him. In another plot scenario, there is a magical box, sorry temporal locked box, that can only be opened by psychic powers. There are some elements in “Torchwood” that always seem to have a convenient way to sort out of all of their problems. It’s something that closely resonates with the sonic screwdriver in episodes of “Doctor Who.”

 

There’s also a touching moment between Tosh and Owen, as Owen says “be careful”. It really resonates  as when Owen lost Diane in “Out of Time”. It’s a great moment which shows Owen is really taking responsibilities for his history. 

 

Tosh and Tommy have a little date, as they both try and make the most of the time Tommy is awake for. It’s another great insight into Tosh’s innocence and maybe answers why she hasn’t been dating in previous episodes.  In a weird time travelling way, Tosh has known Tommy for 4 years, which for him has only been 4 days. It’s a very Doctor and companion kind of relationship, as Tommy has seen many things but is still a young man. For a couple to know each other technically only for a few days, shows how close as a dynamic duo these two are.

 

Gwen and Jack go to explore the the hospital to find clues as to why Tommy is so important in this tangled web of ghosts and time. They both find the ghost sightings are becoming more and more frequent because the hospital itself is being torn down. And suddenly the box of tricks that has been time locked all this time, pops open with instructions on how to fix everything. Regrettably it feels a bit of a cop out for the episode and everything seems too easily fixed.

 

The jeopardy element in this whole story, is the two time zones merging together destroying reality, as well as the consequences of the actions by Torchwood. Tommy is a man literally condemned to death, as no sooner he returns to his own time, he is shot by his own platoon for desertion, which was brought on by shell shock. It brings up the questions of do Torchwood’s actions in saving the universe outweigh their moral?. “To The Last Man” is a great story exploring these decisions.

 

Tosh is such a stand out character in this whole story, as she takes it upon herself to help guide and bring comfort to Tommy as he makes his noble attempt to save the universe. She acts like his guardian angel, as Tommy uses the switch to close the rift in time and she watches over him. Owen claims that Tosh was strong however, she said it’s because of Tommy. They were the perfect pair to save the universe and she hopes it was worth the sacrifice. The end shot focusing on Tosh’s face says there’s hope, and she smiles as she walks away.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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2 June 2020

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

2.2: Sleeper

Oh Torchwood, it was a valiant effort but a difficult one to keep up with after a triumphant first episode. “Sleeper” is an episode that tries to combine the elements of Paul Cornell’s Virgin New Adventure “Human Nature” but with more grown up themes of violence, death and alien spies. 

 

We start the episode with a very happy couple sleeping away in their bed, when a noise disrupts them as burglars break into the house. There’s a lot of close up camera shots to create a sense of distraction and confusion, as murderous screams ring through and dissolve into the Torchwood theme. 

 

The Torchwood team once again are called in by the police as they try and investigate how the two burglars were murdered, as there were puncture wounds to chest and forehead and one was thrown from the window onto the car below. Not a typical self defence technique. This is a very true typical Torchwood style kind of story, however this is when it all starts getting a bit messy.

 

Owen and Gwen go to the hospital to interrogate the couple from the flat. This is when the plot moves at a million miles an hour. We’re introduced to Beth who was in the flat and all of a sudden we’re dragged into the Torchwood interrogation room with Jack screaming “We know you’re an alien”. We then take a trip around Torchwood and on to meet Janet the Weevil, who is scared of her. Unfortunately all of this happens in the space of about 5 minutes and it really detracts from the emotional connection we’re supposed to feel towards Beth, as we can’t slow down enough to take in everything she’s feeling. Jack again seems to be really unlikable for no reason. I know we had a lot of this through series 1, but there’s usually a reason that builds up and Gwen confronts him. This time, his attitude is almost down played as Ianto sees the interrogation and Jack as a joke. It’s all very strangely paced and again I found this really distracting to what’s going on. 

 

The direction of the story is also somewhat distracting, with quick pans and zooms in scenes that don’t appear to require it, such as a conversation between the Torchwood team as they try to work out who she is. Unfortunately this technique happens quite a few times though the story and iit really distracted me from the plot.

 

The Torchwood team think it’s a good idea to use the mind probe. What!? No, not the mind probe I hear you cry? Well I like what James Moran was trying to do, as most Doctor Who fans will know the mind probe is something you do not mess with; however, other than the shock factor, the whole design of it disappointed me a bit. I liked the archive shots  which were used to show how the mind probe digs through the subconscious and suddenly we find Beth is a sleeper agent.

 

As they discover this, suddenly all the other sleeper agents activate and go on a murderous rampage around Cardiff. I like what they were trying to do by taking out the military base and use the nuclear war heads to destroy the world to take over, however there’s not enough build up in the episode and too much exposition to take in before we even start to care about the situation.

 

What makes this episode stand up is the relationship between Beth and Gwen. It challenges the conventions of what it takes to be human, as Beth discovers she’s an alien. Beth explains she is someone who fell in love and wants to start a family and Gwen takes it upon herself to say “What is it that makes us human, anyway?” It’s not about the body, it’s about your mind and how you feel, which was a nice take on her facing this identity crisis.

 

Once Jack and the team take out the last sleeper agent, Beth knows she can’t go on. She’s seen the devastation the sleeper agents have caused and makes the ultimate sacrifice by getting herself killed, by pretending to attack Gwen before being gunned down. Beth chose to be the person she wanted to be and I think that’s the clear moral message here.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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28 April 2020

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

2.1: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

We kick series 2 off in true Torchwood fashion, with a Blowfish driving a sports car in a high speed car chase. I laugh at the fact that the Blowfish lets a little old lady cross the street before speeding off, then Gwen pulls up in the Torchwood mobile asking if she has seen a blowfish driving a sports car? The lady points in the general direction of where the car drove off towards, shouting "Bloody Torchwood” at them. Torchwood is meant to be a top secret organisation, so to then have a little old lady know who they are, If that doesn’t set the theme of what Torchwood is about, I don’t think anything will.

 

It’s all feeling like a very typical scenario, as the Blowfish holds a family hostage to try and get away from the team. This part does feel slightly clunky as the Fish recounts all the characters flaws. Without having Captain Jack with them, it’s almost like having a ‘Previously on Torchwood’ mid episode to remind the audience of who the team are. However just as the Blowfish vindictively taunts Ianto about not being able to kill him, who should pop up in the knick of time, Captain Jack himself with probably one of the most iconic lines of the show; “Hey kids. Did you miss me?”

 

We cut back to the famous Cardiff rooftop carpark, where an altercation is taking place. However at the same time, a sparkly rift appears with a very distinguished looking man appearing in a redcoat military uniform to confront the attacker. As the audience, you start thinking oh great, here we have another person who could join Torchwood, before he grabs the attacker by the throat and throws him off the top of the carpark. This mysterious anti-hero becomes more and more intriguing as the story progresses. He swiftly moves onto the local club for a celebratory drink.

 

Meanwhile back at the Torchwood hub the team are not happy with Jack’s disappearance. It’s never clearly explained for how long Jack left the team. It could be months, or even years? With time being reset in “Last Of The Time Lords”, this is another time, when we as an audience know a lot more about what happens with Jack and the world, than the Torchwood team itself. Is Jack keeping the meeting with the Doctor a secret because he doesn’t want to explain the trauma he had to go through to get back here? But there’s no time to confront this before the team zoom straight off again as Jack’s vortex manipulator beeps for the first time. Then, who should be leaving a message, but the mysterious redcoat man himself. There’s a great reference to ‘Star Wars’ before Jack shoots off again. This person seems very familiar with Jack, however maybe not the best of friends, as Jack doesn’t want the team to follow him. The Torchwood team have learnt too many times not to do this, as Ianto quickly whistles for a Taxi as soon as possible.

 

The bar scene is brilliant. It carries all the connotations of a true western movie, as Jack walks through the saloon style doors with the redcoat stranger at the other end of the club. Both of them have pure hatred in their eyes as they walk towards one another. You think this is going to be a full on fight before suddenly, they start kissing! It’s a moment that makes you think, why is Jack so familiar with such a brutal character, before they end up in an all out fist fight. It’s almost like they have a mutual level of respect, in a weird way, as they stop the fight once the guns come out. After a heavy drinking session, we see Jack’s face, hilariously showing his disgust and the Torchwood team nearly getting fired upon. The myserious man finally reveals himself as Captain John Hart (James Marsters) a Time Agent and former partner of Captain Jack. Again it’s a reference into Jack’s past. Is this something that’s going to be divulged more as the series goes on? 

 

Captain John explains the reason why he’s come to this time and place is to find three radiation cluster bombs, before they go off affecting the future of the world. Captain Jack has the look of a man who is going with this story, just to find out what’s going on, however the Torchwood team seem pretty convinced by it. I mean with everything that’s happened in the previous series, would you really dispute it?

 

The Torchwood team are still very cautious of this new stranger, especially Gwen. There’s a nice moment when Jack holds Gwen’s hand for comfort when he realises she’s got engaged. It’s a moment when you think, yes she listened to Jack about keeping some normality in life when Gwen actually says “No one else will have me.” It creates a sombre mood, as Gwen has not only been rejected by Owen but she’s lost that love she once had for Jack.

 

Jumping back straight into the action in true Torchwood fashion, they locate all three canisters for Captain John and split up to go and search for them. Now again if anyone has watched Scooby Doo, you know this is not a good idea. Surprise, surprise, Captain John quickly poisons Gwen once they found the first canister, smacks Tosh in the face and shoots Owen in the hip. Now I'm not saying it was stupid to leave Gwen on her own… but it was stupid to leave Gwen on her own. 

 

We then find Captain Jack and Ianto searching a very bland office, which Jack surprisingly treats  like a winter wonderland. There’s a lovely moment between Ianto and Jack as he finally asks Ianto on a date. Ianto agrees, but does it in a shy school boy way as he doesn’t look at Jack through embarrassment. It doesn’t take long for Captain John to find Ianto before shoving him in a lift to have Jack all to himself.

 

Captain Jack up on the roof (I mean where else would you find him), finds the last capsule. Jack having none of John’s game ,mocks him, calling the capsules “radiation cluster bombs” John in this scene, genuinely wants Jack to come back with him and there are moments that you think, oh Jack, don’t trust him, it’s a true conflict of emotions. John’s failing conviction in his speech, makes Jack throw the canister over the edge. It’s a moment you finally feel that Jack has one up on John but suddenly with a push and a “Whoops!” he shoves Jack off the roof. Now this moment is shocking, with pure dark humour, as you cut to a shot of Jack almost split in half on a concrete bench. This is the moment you know, nothing will stop John.

 

Tosh and the team use her tech to find Gwen in one of the containers and honestly this moment really shows how close and united the Torchwood team have become. They all use their skills to save Gwen before her organs shut down from the nerve toxin gloss.

 

We then go back to John in the Torchwood hub, putting all the pieces of the canister together  where it almost seems he’s won a swift victory, before the Torchwood team rock up in a bad ass fashion. It’s a moment when AC/DC Back in Black could start playing. John seeming surprised isn’t put off by this, until Jack rocks up. John really acts as if he’s just seen a ghost and in his disbelief seems to be out of his depth this time. It’s a fantastic contrast between the cocky man we saw at the start of the episode.

 

So what’s this episode about? John wants to steal one of the most precious gems in the universe, kills his lover and his lover takes revenge. It’s a moment that feels triumphant before he kidnaps Gwen, nearly killing her with a bomb. However, in true Torchwood fashion, they find a way to save her and the anti-hero gets away. It’s a feeling that this won’t be the last time we see him. 

 

It’s a brilliantly, well balanced episode and a strong starter for the second series. Welcome Torchwood series 2.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

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14 April 2020

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

1.13: End Of Days

Here we go ladies, gentleman and everyone in between. If you want a proper Russell T. Davies era finale, look no further. Written by the current Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall, we look on how the whole of series 1 is summarised into the most climatic and emotional episode we’ve had of the series. 

 

The episode starts with everything seeming quite normal. Gwen watches Rhys as he sleeps and it all seems a calm morning until Captain Jack calls Gwen to watch the news. It appears as if a weird cascade of events are occurring, as if people and aliens are falling through the cracks in time.

 

Back in Torchwood, Ianto reads apocalyptic accounts in order to find some resolution to what has happened to the world. (Quite an apt thing for Torchwood to face, as we battle our own troubles in 2020. Owen and Jack aren’t convinced by the readings as they abruptly interrupt Ianto describing a creature known as Abaddo, but that won’t appear, will it? Captain Jack brings the conversation right round to the point in hand, and that is if the splinters in time are anything to do with them? Well, yes but more to the fact, it was Owen. Owen denies any responsibility for his actions, as he proclaims he opened the rift to save Jack and Tosh. This may be partly true, however as the audience ,we know he was doing it to prove whether he could go back and see Diane again. Captain Jack can’t even respond to Owen’s claims or even thank him. The conflict between the team and Jack becomes even more visible during this episode.

 

Despite the cracks in time affecting the world, Captain Jack and the team appear to have it all under control. In Doctor Who this would be a good laugh to try and get everyone back to their own time zones, however what happens if the people who fall through the cracks, end up brining something with them? Owen and Tosh have a harrowing shock when they discover a person who has fallen from the 14th century, has infected a whole hospital with the black death. The Doctor (no not that one) in disbelief, shouts at Owen “You’re Torchwood! You’re supposed to fix all this!” However as Owen knows he’s responsible for this outbreak, all he can do is manage the situation and leaves it in the Doctor’s hands.

 

With the cracks in time becoming more and more apparent, Tosh is suddenly stopped in her path, as if she has seen a ghost and more importantly, the ghost of her mother. The shock on Tosh’s face, shows her mother had possibly died sometime in the past, as she has blood running down her forehead. Her mother claims only “It’s coming, out of the darkness.” A series arc that has followed through with people who have died seeing some thing which is too scared to describe. But what is it? What are they afraid of? Not only does Tosh have this ‘vision’ but Gwen also stumbles across Bilis Manger sitting in the cell of the police station. Gwen appearing to be hypnotised, stares at Bilis as he telepathically says “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Is this a coincidence that he appears at the same time as Tosh’s mum? It all seems to be a tangled spiders web and Bilis is in the centre, a spider waiting for his prey.

 

What raises even more questions, is while Ianto is in the cell block of Torchwood, Lisa appears in front of him. No cyber conversation, just as she was before the battle of Canary Wharf. She proclaims opening the rift will save the lives of everyone on Earth.

 

This scene hits home quite hard at the moment with what’s going on in 2020. Owen arguing with Jack, as he says they need to be more prepared for the eventualities of a new virus or plague coming through the rift, as Jack wants Owen to fix it. Jack appears to be taking a step back from the role of leader, to force Owen to come up with a solution as he was the one to cause all these problems. Owen feeling guilty wants Jack to take control, but Jack proclaims “this was never meant to happen.” He has no resolution to his problem and it’s at that moment we see Jack being vulnerable for the first time. At this moment he may have turned to the Doctor for help, however he needs to be that leader, delivering guidance. The situation quickly escalates as Jack fires Owen. The Torchwood team stand motionless as they can’t believe what they’re hearing, as their leader isn’t who they thought he was. Owen questions Jack, as they found out his secret past from the World War. How can anyone trust a leader who lies? Owen staggers away as he knows he’ll be RetConned in 24 hours and can’t face the fact he won’t remember Torchwood or being able to fix the devastation of the rift.

 

The Torchwood team need to find what Bilis is up to and quickly. They track him down to an antique clock repair shop in Cardiff. Bilis explains how he can walk through time, however it comes at a price. He claims to see the past, as well as the future and suggests to Jack and Gwen the only way to save the world is to open the rift. Jack errs on the side of suspicion but Gwen looks on slightly convinced by Bilis’s words. Bilis in what he portrays as an accident, shows Gwen a vision of Rhys, horribly murdered in their flat. ‘Cue Murray Gold running music’

 

Gwen reaches the flat, but all seems well. Rhys is cleaning the oven without a care in the world. Gwen in a state of panic tells Rhys to come along before tasering him to the floor. I do feel sorry for Rhys, first drugged, now tasered, Gwen has really changed her attitude to dealing with her home life / Torchwood situation.

 

After everything that has happened to Owen, he is now face to face with his vision of a love, long lost - Diane. She claims she is lost within the rift and begs Owen to open it. Now you’d hope by this point all the Torchwood team would have spoken to one another about seeing these visions and being highly coincidental, but the team are now too broken to fix any of their problems. 

 

Just as the team think they have some kind of control by keeping Rhys locked in a cell, a security breach opens the door and lets him out. Rhys spots Bilis and asks what’s going on, before Bilis brutally stabs him, killing him. Eve Myles plays Rhy’s death brilliantly. You can feel the pain of grief and guilt from Gwen as she knows she’s failed him. It’s a heart breaking scene that makes me cry every time I watch it.

 

Bilis’s plan all seems to be falling into place as Owen comes back to open the rift, no matter how much Jack convinces the team their visions of their loved ones are too strong for everyone to think clearly. In a last attempt to stop the team, Jack becomes almost the villain as he plays on their weaknesses. Jack takes it one step too far when he attacks Gwen “You’re so in love with Rhys you spend half your time in Owen’s bed.”Gwen in a fit of rage at losing her loved one, punches Jack in the face as Owen takes the gun from him. It’s a dramatic scene with fast cuts and close up on the team members and it really becomes claustrophobic. Jack ,in one last attempt to stop them is shot down by Owen to the horror of the team.  

 

There’s no turning back.

 

The Torchwood team open the rift with Captain with Jack reviving just as the rift opens to the shock of the team. Their whole world is turned upside down as the Torchwood hub is blown to pieces. It’s a brilliant build up as as Bilis Manger is waiting for them to unleash the evil onto the world that has been living under the rift. Abaddon. Now I know this is 2006 GFX and need to take this into consideration, however I believe there is too much happening right now. Bilis should have been the central villain or Abaddon. Abaddon does feel like the cousin of the demon in Doctor Who, The Satan Pit For me, seeing less of the monster, creates more of a sense of threat, as what you imagine can be more powerful than what is shown on screen. The shadow cascading over Cardiff killing everyone, is a brilliant and terrifying scene, as you don’t see what the beast looks like.

 

In the final battle between Jack and Abaddon, I take my hat off to John Barrowman for playing the role so well. He really makes the final sacrifice of his life so convincing and emotional, that you can feel the love he has for his team and the duty he shows in protecting them. It’s a powerful scene as Jack appears to have finally used up his remaining life force given to him by Rose.

 

Gwen doesn’t give up on Jack as he doesn’t revive as quickly as before. As the Torchwood team give up, Gwen accepts that Jack is not coming back. She kisses him on the cheek before only taking a few steps before Jack’s very weak voice says “Thank you.” It’s a complete fist bump in the air moment, which gives hope for the team and the audience. 

 

The final scene is very much silent. Tosh runs over to hug Jack.  Ianto in a comedic light goes to shake Jack’s hand before they kiss,  which makes for a sweet final moment between them. There’s one last resolution to fix as Owen steps in front of Jack. When Jack says “I forgive you,” you can feel all the pain and guilt just wash away, ready for the Torchwood team to come back stronger than ever.

 

Jack goes on one last trip with the Doctor, as we faintly hear the TARDIS landing in the distance. We as the audience know what happens, but for the Torchwood team… well they’ll just have to wait and see.

 

There’s a lot of things that need tying up in End of Days but I applaud the ambition of what it achieved with the limitations of both the budget and 2006 effects. With its flaws, it's a well paced story and filled with brilliant character development and emotion. It has to be said it’s a great conclusion for the first series.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

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7 April 2020

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

1.12: Captain Jack Harkness

After all this time, we finally take a glimpse into the life of Captain Jack.

 

The story starts with Jack and Tosh entering an old abandoned building to check out reports of music coming from inside the building. (Any eagled eyed viewer will spot the Vote Saxon posters and the Bad Wolf graffiti in the building). Jack is very much enchanted by the music of the past, as both Tosh and Jack think they’re seeing ghosts of the past. It’s been done before with the ghost machine, however this time feels different, more real. It doesn’t take long before the distressed room is filled with a grand party for the airforce, ready to take on WW2. This is when Tosh and Jack realise they haven’t just seen ghosts, they’ve time travelled.

 

The transition of the scene is done very fluidly as the camera pans around the room. Of course the Torchwood team get into a tight spot straight away, even when trying to blend in, however who should be the person helping out the fight, but the original Captain Jack Harkness (Matt Rippy). Jack finally gives the explanation about his name to Tosh and his past history of being a conman, something we all know from “The Empty Child”. However, when Tosh confronts Jack about who he was before becoming Captain Jack, he doesn’t reply. And so the mystery still lives on.

 

The Torchwood team are very much split up for this entire story, as we have Jack and Tosh stuck in the past, Owen and Ianto wanting to tear the rift apart to take them back to the future and Gwen who uses her police initiative to explore the old building. Owen’s obsession with losing Diane never seems to leave him, as he’s desperate to solve the equation of opening the rift from Tosh’s partial equations.

 

Tosh has to get her laptop data to the future. This is where the manager, Bilis Manger (Murray Melvin) comes into play. This oddly dapper, yet sinister looking gentleman strangely enough has a type of polaroid camera. You don’t have to be a Time Lord to know the technology is way advanced of anything that should be around in World War 2. What are the Manager’s motives as he sneakily takes out a folder labelled ‘Torchwood’ from his desk?

 

The plot involves a lot of going to the past and you suddenly have the Caretaker, Bilis Manager appear again, without having aged a day. Gwen uses a cover story about Torchwood exploring the building with her mates, to enable them to have a look around. But we all know Bilis Manager knows exactly what’s going on. Its that forward knowledge that makes you want to scream at the TV, Gwen get out of there!

 

Ianto suddenly realises where and to what time Captain Jack and Tosh have travelled, as he finds the polaroid photo from the dance. Owen in a blind panic, realises that Jack and Tosh are in the Cardiff Blitz and will do everything to get them out of there, or is this just to prove a theory of time travelling to see Diane again? They make it their duty to find the key to the equation to using the Rift Machine.

 

In complete juxtaposition, Jack seems so relaxed and at home with his memories of the past. He’s having a good few drinks with the real Captain. There’s a huge sense of guilt in this moment, as the real Captain kisses his girlfriend with a lack of passion on the cheek as a goodbye. Our Jack, knowing this will be the last time he sees her, pleads with the Captain to give her a proper goodbye. It’s the fact that Jack and the Captain have only just met which shows how much trust and love there is between them; something straight out of Disney, is what Owen might say, aye?

 

Jack and the Captain share a heart to heart as they confront their fears of the conflict they’ve seen during the war. Jack mentions about his friend getting tortured and killed however, was this during WW2 or was this a fight that took place many years in the future? We never find out, but it’s the conflict connection which brings both Jack and the Captain even closer. Indeed, Murray Gold’s music strikes again in my heart for this scene.

 

As the bombs fall in the past, the team in the present day are desperately trying to find the missing piece to fix the rift machine. Owen turning Mangers’ office upside down, suddenly realises this is a mystery of time. It was quite apt for Manger to hide the missing piece in a clock. Gwen also manages to find the rest of Tosh’s equation written in Tosh’s blood, however Bilis has got there first and scribbled out the last few numbers. Why didn’t he destroy the whole thing? Is this a trick the Torchwood team are not seeing? The heart breaking message from Tosh, “Tell my family I love them,” makes the team even more determined to get them back. 

 

Jack tells the Captain to spend one last night with his girlfriend but this doesn’t last long, as the Captain returns to face his true self. The moment they sit together and hold each others hands is the moment of acceptance between both of them. This is the last night they’re both going to have together and Jack wants the Captain to be true to who he is.

 

In contrast we have Ianto and Owen beating each other up in a desperate show of loyalty, love and anger to try and get Jack and Tosh back from 1941. The conflict between Ianto and Owen becomes very clear as Ianto raises his gun. Their friendship is truly tested as hateful words are thrown about their past mistakes. Owen goes to open the rift but in a moment of loyalty to Jack, Ianto takes the shot. The close up shows the desperation in Owen’s and Ianto’s eyes, as Owen finally uses the key to open the rift. 

 

Now the moment that makes my heart flutter. The Captain finally accepting who he is, grabs Jack’s hand and takes him on the dance floor. The 1940’s music blends in with Murray Gold’s masterpiece, a unity between the past and the present. The rift opens for Tosh and Jack to escape, but just as Tosh calls, Jack in a moment of love runs towards the Captain for his true goodbye kiss. In a moment, the Captain fades away in one last salute, before he fights his last battle.

 

Jack and Tosh make it back to the present day. In a true send off, they both have a glass of scotch and toast his name. Tosh said the Captain would have been proud of him for taking his name, something I believe is a consolation to Jack after all these years.

 

However, what happened to Bilis?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 

 

 

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31 March 2020

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

1.11: Combat

We kick this episode off with a fast cat and mouse chase, between Captain Jack and a Weevil through the streets of Cardiff. Captain Jack getting a little ahead of himself, thinks he’s trapped the Weevil, until it evades his capture. I love Jack’s response of  how bad things always happen when he gives the Torchwood team time off.

 

Gwen and Rhys are on what is supposed to be a romantic date, well, Rhys wants it to be a romantic date. Gwen is heavily distracted by the world of Torchwood and you can see in her face the normality of  how Rhys doesn’t interest her anymore. Gwen doesn’t exactly cover this up very well, as Jack comes racing along, chasing the Weevil down the street. Captain Jack trying to apologise for ruining the dinner, isn’t convincing Rhys at all that this is worthwhile interrupting. Rhys. In a brutish manner, he orders Gwen to sit down. I think Gwen responds in the only way she could in this situation by telling him “Don’t ever speak to me that way again.” It’s the pinnacle moment, showing how difficult life is to balance with the world of Torchwood.

 

This episode is very much about Owens’ suffering from his first real love that we’ve seen. We see the mental impacts which time travel has on someone and the lengths people will go to if they’re desperate to get back to their own time. This is something which Owen has difficulty grasping, as we find him getting into a bar fight after a jealous boyfriend sees him being comforted by the bar worker. However, even taking down the guys in the bar doesn’t improve his mood as he quickly hangs up on a phone call from Torchwood.

 

Gwen tries to reconcile her problematic relationship, by calling Rhys and leaving a few messages. It’s a sombre moment as he nearly goes to grab the phone, seemingly to forgive her as he’s always done, only to grab it and delete her messages. Captain Jack asks Gwen not to let her life drift apart, as it’s the quality he likes in her. This scene suggests that Jack is still feeling the loss of Estelle from ‘Small Worlds’ and his connection to life and death from being immortal. But does Jack have the right to suggest this?

 

Gwen’s normality in Torchwood itself comes crashing down as Owen in his very charming and unique way tells her she’s boring and doesn’t want to continue this affair. His manner still suits him, but his approach to relationships and love has vastly changed over the few stories we’ve got to know Owen. Quite rightly so, Gwen calls him a wanker before driving off. Owen’s face is one of despair and loss as to what he wants in life.

 

However, this is something we’re forgetting. Oh yes, a Weevil that’s been captured by random people with a white van. The Torchwood team go to investigate the problem as a huge amount of people seem to be turning up to hospital with Weevil wounds. Tosh and Jack investigate an old warehouse in search of the missing one, when a ringtone sends me straight back to 2006 (Crazy Frog if anyone sadly remembers that) informing Jack to not continue in his pursuit. Of course, he doesn’t pay attention to this and threatens them in the true Liam Neeson style of Taken.

 

In true Torchwood style, you need a gimmicky cover story to track down these criminals by making Owen a jellied eel salesman. With the cover story in place, they send out Owen to meet Mark Lynch, the man who owns the warehouse where the Weevil was last sighted. This is when the whole narrative becomes a loose plot based around ‘Fight Club’.

 

Mark takes quite a liking to Owen after they go to the same bar at the beginning of the episode and have another fight all over again. You’d think having a fight in front of a businessman that he would be put off from letting anyone near your business, however this seems to do the opposite. Mark invites Owen back to his house, which you think is going to end up as a one night stand, however with Mark’s interrogating approach, you realise he’s seeing how much rage there is in Owen and wanting him to find what Mark believes is his true self. Or is it we find Marks’ true self? 

 

There’s a real class divide with the rich feeling they’ve accomplished everything in life but feeling nothing for it. And that’s where the Weevils come in. Owen breaks into one of the locked rooms in Mark’s apartment, with a Weevil chained up. Mark trying to establish some kind of twisted dominance, punches the Weevil as if a punch bag, to the huge disgust of Owen. Mark claims the Weevils are the future of the human race and this is where just a glimmer of hope seems to come back to Owen, as you can see this is not what he thinks the future will be like.

 

Meanwhile Gwen and Rhys are in a middle of standoff in a very tense atmosphere, as Gwen finally confesses, she’s been having an affair with Owen. It’s a hard scene to watch as you can see in Rhys’s face the complete betrayal of someone he thought he knew and loved, but Torchwood has changed all of that.  It also shows how much Gwen has changed as a person, as she now drugs Rhys into forgetting about the whole confession, something previously Gwen would never have dreamt doing.

 

The final conflict is Owen facing the weevil in the cage. Owen lets the tension of his life envelope him as he closes his eyes and exhales, all the thought and loss he’s had. He is one with the weevil for that moment, as he knows he’s going to lose his life. It’s a brutal scene, as Gwen and Jack try to save Owen from being ripped apart. In this moment, Jack knows he’s losing the unity of his team.

 

Combat, is a downright decent and solid “Torchwood” story. It’s got some brilliant character development from Owen, showing his more emotional side. This is alongside Captain Jack’s almost heartless approach to the aliens he encounters, as he faces conflict with his team over respecting the Weevils in a surprising twist, in a story written by none other than, Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from “Doctor Who”. 


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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17 March 2020

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

1.10: Out Of Time

What would you do if you suddenly went on an airplane to find yourself in a completely different timezone? Well three very unlikely time travellers didn’t have to imagine for very long.

 

We start with the Torchwood team waiting for an airplane to land however, it’s not a modern aircraft, but the Sky Gypsy plane which appears to be a vintage twin-engined aircraft, landing on the runway. Three passengers, John (Mark Lewis Jones), Emma (Olivia Hallinan) and pilot - Diane (Louise Delamere) appear to be very confused when Captain Jack asks what year it is. When they answer the year is1953, the whole team know something is seriously wrong.

 

What is really interesting about ‘Out of Time’ is that the episode is very much split up into 3 subplots which come to their separate and very different outcomes for our newly discovered time travellers. The episode really focuses on the mental health aspect of being stuck in a completely different timezone, something Captain Jack knows all too well. However, this is a theme that has never been explored in ‘Doctor Who’ before, dealing with the idea of how people would cope with the thought of never being able to return to their own time. It’s again what ‘Torchwood’ is best at, exploring mental health aspects as it has more adult themes in comparison to ‘Doctor Who’. It tackles them by dealing with the grief of losing their parents, families, friends and even their pets, which makes for thought provoking and upsetting moments.

 

The first thing the Torchwood team needs to do is help the time refugees in their new lives. Each person is set up with a member of the team to help them deal with missing 50 wish years of time. Their attitudes and the way they deal with John, Emma and Diane, speaks volumes about the Torchwood Team characters.

 

John is your stereotypical 1950’s dad, who seems to be the breadwinner of his family, working as a shopkeeper and demonstrates very protective qualities over Emma as if she was his daughter. Emma is an18 year old girl, with only one ambition of settling down with a husband and having her own family, as she’s been told that’s what girls of her age do. Whereas, in stark contrast, we also have Diane, a pilot who has strong ambitions in life and doesn’t want to be tied down or limited by other people, something which will definitely be divulged later in this episode.

 

The Torchwood team take the time refugees into a safe house to help them establish their lives again. It seemed like a good idea for about two seconds, then John has a very heated argument with Emma after finding her getting drunk with two more girls in the house. Who are the other girls? Who knows? It’s never explained apart from being a plot device to move the story onto Gwen and Emma moving in together. This does however really delve into what happens when Gwen takes her work home?

 

Gwen who has a softer approach than Jack or Owen to situations, takes on a motherly/older sister attitude towards Emma, as she has to lie to Rhys about Emma being a semi-distantly related cousin, in order for him to feel comfortable having a stranger in the house. Gwen really comes into her own by showing Emma there’s more to life than just settling down with a husband, as time has moved on and there are more possibilities for women in life. What works for Emma, is being a younger more adaptable person; this allows her to accept and come to terms with how times have changed e.g. from getting her own career to being able to have sex before marriage. It becomes quite a comedic moment when Gwen delves into the lovers she’s had in the past, before Emma asks if it’s ok for her to do it. Gwen’s attitude immediately turns as she suggests the first time sleeping with someone should be special, but realises her rational behind this is a bit lame, as Emma asks if having sex with Rhys is the best, to which Gwen says ‘Well…’. It’s the moment Gwen knows she isn’t the most convincing person to tell someone to settle down with just one man. However, Emma ultimately wants to wait for “Mr Right.” Emma takes the final option of moving to London to pursue a career in fashion design. It’s a lovely send off scene, as Gwen looks on tearfully as she’s sending her almost daughter away into the big wide world after a week. It’s a bold move, however it shows how strong and independent Emma is, even after the 1950s wanted her to stay in that stereotypical bubble. It’s such brilliant character development in just a 50 minute story.

 

We then move swiftly over to Owen, who has taken it upon himself to look after Diane. He fancies the pants off of her, of course. I think this is the first time as a character I’ve liked Owen. His love and devotion to Diane in just a week is quite impressive. The moments of the past and the present mixing, is something that really shines on their relationship, from their attitudes of going out to dinner together and Owen pulling Diane’s chair out, to Diane’s attitude towards sleeping with Owen, suggesting that sex should never be casual. There’s a moment when Owen suddenly has an epiphany that he doesn’t want to sleep around with loads of women anymore which is somewhat sudden, but a real character development after sleeping with not one but two Torchwood employees. Is Owen finally finding some stability in his life? The relationship between Diane and Owen does work so well, as Diane can really swap the gender roles. The prime example for this is when Diane takes the decision to leave Owen, something that really breaks his heart for the first time. It’s a moment that really echoes the film “Casablanca" as Diane hands her scarf over to him, she decides she can’t live in a time in which she doesn’t belong. There’s an adventure out there in the sky which she loves and it calls upon her to go and find the rift to get home. The final shot of the plane in the sky, is a true homage to the films of the 40s and 50s but with a slight 2006 twist of the pilot being Diane.

 

For John, life doesn’t adapt to 2006 quite so easily. The troubled moments start as soon as Captain Jack forges new passports for all of them and changes their names, something John immediately calls Jack out on and quite rightly so. For someone who has lost everything, his family and his own time, having his own name is the only thing that establishes his identity and self worth. John and Captain Jack have some emotional bonding moments, as they both reminisce over their lives in the 50s and how Jack came to terms with being stuck in one time. John trying to act like the father figure, finds it hard to maintain that persona. John finds out his son is still alive and goes to see him in a care home in Cardiff. Time travel can be a cruel and wicked thing to use, as John’s son is much older than him and has Alzheimer's disease. You can really see in John’s face this is when he loses all hope for the world and this sparks a very controversial scene in my eyes. John takes it upon himself to try and commit suicide in his car at his original home address. Captain Jack races to his aid and stops him. Jack with all his good will and intentions, tries to convince John he can live a new life, start a new family, see another day; however Jack’s words seem so empty to John. John says “Don’t condemn me to live” which is a sentence that really impacts on me. For me, I wished Jack became the figure of hope and actually showed John what life could have been like. A moment of weakness is only brief and will pass, but it’s the people around you who make the difference. The moment however is played out really well, as Captain Jack looks on in shock and despair as John slowly lets go of Jacks hand as he passes away. 

 

At the end of this whole episode, I admired what Jack, Owen and Gwen were trying to do. The casting and themes of the episode, is how I remember Torchwood from watching it the first time around. From the moment where they’re running around Asda buying everything they can set their eyes on, brings the comedic light hearted moments to Gwen finally being discovered having lied to Rhys (Kai Owen) about her job. It’s the juxtaposing position that Torchwood as a series is good at, and really leaves a cliffhanger between Gwen’s predicament of being part of the team, while trying to maintain a stable relationship. The series itself, is finally finding its feet and I can’t wait to see what kind of resolution takes place at the end.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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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) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

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