“A Man is the Sum of his Memories�

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Thanks to a bit of schedule changing by the BBC, this week we got a double bill of new Torchwood episodes, as BBC3 take over showing the first run of the new episode every week.

First up we have Adam. Gwen returns after some time away with her fiancee Rhys to find a stranger called Adam working at Torchwood even more strangely everybody else seems to know him, and indeed to think that he has been working there for three years. However, then Adam comes and touches her on the shoulder, and suddenly she has the same memories as everybody else. Things get really odd though when she goes home and summons the rest of the team because there is a stalker in her flat – the stalker being Rhys who she now totally fails to remember.

As with so many episodes, this was a rehash of a common sci-fi staple, using a loss of memory, and an external character to play with the dynamics in the main cast – the Next Generation episode Conundrum being another example that sprung immediately to mind. With the Torchwood episode, unlike Conundrum it is not quite clear whether Adam has any kind of wider ulterior motive, aside from wanting to survive – although he seems to thrive off allowing Jack to recover his childhood memories – but equally he starts to destroy these by the end of the episode.

Adam is eventually discovered when Ianto reads back in his diary and discovered that Adam is never mentioned. At this point Adam tries to keep Ianto quiet by creating memories of committing three gruesome murders in his memory, and then creating the memory of himself helping Ianto to hide the evidence. This causes such a dramatic change in personality for Ianto that Jack checks back in the CCTV logs and sees what has happened. Jack then helps his team, and finally himself to remember who they were, and to forget the last forty-eight hours, thereby erasing Adam from existence.

As a vehicle for exploring the characters, Adam works pretty well. Adam has manipulated Owen and Toshiko into almost diametrically opposite personalities, and even planted the memory of an affair in Toshiko such that she is willing to go up against Jack in Adam’s defence. It also gives an opportunity to add a bit of backstory to Gwen and Rhys as they try to rediscover Gwen’s memories. Last but not least we get to see Jack’s childhood memories (although notice nobody ever uses his name – so that secret is still kept) on the Boeshane Peninsula.

On a more general level, it also explores how much people are defined by what they remember, good and bad – indeed to take them back, Jack gets the team to each focus on key memories that define who they are.

Talking memories though – memories of quite how bad the first series of Torchwood actually was seem to be fading fast – another good episode – quite how long they can keep this up I don’t know…

P.S. Bonus points for anyone who can use their Bradley Branning levels of obscure Doctor Who knowledge to identify the source of the quote I used as the title for the post…

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