“I can’t help but notice that this is not my bed.”
Sorry for the lack of an episode last week! We’re jumping right back in, though. Random Shoes! This is one of those “Love & Monsters”/”Blink” episodes of the Doctor Who universe where we bench the main team for most of the episode and let some random person take the reins. This time, it’s Eugene Jones (Paul Chequer), an adorable, hapless geek whose voice over we should get comfortable with for the next fifty minutes.
The coolest team since those kids who played D&D in the cafeteria in middle school.
To a sting of theme music, Torchwood pulls up to a crime scene while Detective Inspector Kathy Swanson gives them a deeply unimpressed look. They pile out and walk in dramatic slow-motion to the police tape, extra cool in their sun glasses, except that Jack will never be cool. Introductions are passed around; Kathy’s team complains about them all the time, and now she knows why. “Tell me something, are you always this dressy for a murder investigation?” “Would you rather me naked?” Jack asks. “God help me,” Kathy says. “The stories are true.” She explains that there have now been three murders: yesterday, Alex Arwyn, and today Mark and Sarah Briscoe. There are a few smears of blood in the crime scene photos of Alex Arwyn; they look like writing, and Kathy invites them inside to look at the finished product. Inside, they’re shocked by the scene: two dead bodies in a bed, throats slit, and above them, written on the wall over their heads in their blood: TORCHWOOD.
Torchwood: Decidedly not a period romance.
Welcome back to Torchwood! We begin in Cardiff, 1812, where a prostitute named Mary (Daniela Denby-Ashe) leads a British soldier out into the forest with every intention of happily deflowering him. She asks whether it’s his first time, and if the other boys in his regiment are making fun of him, and he slaps her once, and then again. Because Mary is a cool, self-respecting prostitute, she tells him that she isn’t his hound and hits him right back, leaving scratches in his cheek. He looks at her with murder in his eyes, so she runs. She only stops when she hears a terrible metallic sound, and sees a huge, pulsing light through the trees. She runs towards it, with him right on her tail. He stops, pulls his gun, and then follows her towards the light, which disappears when he gets closer. He finds her with her back to him, and when she turns around, he asks, “Do whores have prayers?” She smiles like she has a secret, and he pulls the trigger.
“Who, me? Suspicious?” the decoy seems to say.
The Welsh countryside is kind of terrifying, as we open on an artsy shot of a car speeding down a lonely single lane road through the hills, with the clouds rolling by fast in the dark overhead. The driver answers her ringing phone and shouts over her very loud music that she’ll be there in an hour and a half, tops, and then loses reception, so she tosses her phone into the passenger seat, annoyed, only to look up and see someone sprawled in the middle of the road.
Fairies: evil harbingers of death, or adorable sprites of happiness? (Hint: It’s the first one.)
We open the episode on a sweet-looking old lady, Estelle, wandering through the woods at night, speaking into a tape recorder about not wanting to frighten “them.” When she gets within sight of a small ring of standing stones, we figure out who “they” are: fairies! Cute little glowing winged things. She’s very excited, and snaps pictures of them for a moment before leaving. When she turns around, the fairies morph from their cute little sprite forms to these human-sized, grotesque monsters. Torchwood! Making us remember that fairies are actually evil since 2007.
Definitely the face of someone with nothing at all to hide.
We open with a close-up on an anxious-looking Ianto straightening his tie and taking a steadying breath. This is the first time we can really see him up close, how pale and gaunt he is. He steps out of the lift and through the cogwheel door into the Hub, where Tosh, Owen, Gwen and Jack are playing a two-on-two game of basketball, with Myfanwy shrieking in the background. (Myfanwy, in case you’ve forgotten, is the pteranodon.) Everyone’s happy and laughing, and Gwen steals the ball from Jack and throws it up to Owen on the second level for him to drop through the hoop. It’s totally an illegal move, but whatever, they win! So the first round is on Jack, and they all cheerfully argue about it as they leave, passing Ianto without a glance, even Jack, who throws the basketball at him as they go. He catches it, and when they’re gone, he drops it and runs down into the Hub. He is definitely up to something secret, and he’s terrified about it.
CCTV: helping police to capture dark blobs since whenever they installed it.
We open on a chase! Gwen and Owen are running through Cardiff, chasing a fleeing suspect through the streets and into a shopping center. Tosh is in the Hub, tracking the rift energy coming off of the suspect and directing Gwen, Owen, and Jack, who is in the SUV. Just as Tosh gets a good visual on the suspect – young, male, wearing a hoodie – Jack arrives and jumps out of the SUV to join the hunt. In the shopping center, someone is bringing the gate down on the exit, and the suspect slips through. Gwen only just manages to roll underneath of it and keep running, while Owen and Jack crash into it and yell for it to be raised again. The suspect jumps a gate and runs into a train station, and Gwen follows, and finally grabs the suspect’s jacket, but he slips out and gets away. Tosh is ecstatic. “You did it!” But Gwen says she didn’t; he got away. Tosh is sure that whatever the rift energy was, she is definitely holding it. Confused, Gwen looks through the pockets of the jacket she’s still holding. There is a little alien device, with its lights bright and flashing. As if she’s being willed to do so, Gwen thumbs the button at the top of the device.
Gwen and Rhys act as though things don’t constantly fall out of the sky over Cardiff when they’re out to dinner.
As the episode opens, Gwen and Rhys are out on a date. Bowling! Dinner! Discussions of how Gwen starts her new “special ops” job tomorrow! Gwen’s just said that they should “have an early night” (wink) when a giant flaming ball of something shoots across the sky and crashes outside of Cardiff. Her mobile goes off with a text. Torchwood. She turns to Rhys. “I’ve got to go to work!”
Torchwood is Doctor Who’s post-watershed younger sister. It goes out and parties at night while Doctor Who reads books about space adventures to orphans. It brings strange men and women home with it and has loud, awkward sex in the next room. It giggles during church services while Doctor Who tries halfheartedly to shush it. It’s camp, it’s racy, it’s hilarious, it’s ridiculous, and it’s occasionally heartbreaking. It’s the best. And we’re going to watch it.
As Janey’s recaps of Doctor Who would have you assume, Torchwood picks up after Season 2 of DW, after the Battle of Canary Wharf in “Doomsday.” There are definite spoilers for Doctor Who seasons 1 and 2 in this season of Torchwood, so be warned! It’s a very well-tied-in spinoff, so it helps to already be familiar with what’s happened in the first two seasons of Doctor Who, as well as the third season, with which it runs parallel. But it isn’t strictly necessary. Where Doctor Who’s sweet, childish themes might not appeal to some people, Torchwood picks up the slack and runs off into the sunset with massive explosions and a few scenes you do not want to experience while sitting next to your elderly aunt. Or maybe you do! Maybe you’re into that! What I’m saying is, there were lots of viewers who forewent Doctor Who and dove right into Torchwood for its Shakespearean levels of blood and death and its lack of kid-friendly moral fiber.
So with all of that in mind, why don’t we start this thing off?