Tag Archives: Torchwood

“A Man is the Sum of his Memories�

275px-torchwood_adam.jpg

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…

Step Back in Time

tw_downloads_s2_ep03_toshiko_tommy_800.jpg

I’m probably tempting fate, but after a wobbly start, Torchwood series two seems to be shaping up quite well.

True, episode three was a bit of a sci-fi staple in terms of plot, with your classic temporal paradox, and there was one point where we were getting all the stereotypical ghost story clichés (didn’t you just know when Gwen turned on the light that the fluorescent tube would be faulty and flicker… 😀 ) however much as with last weeks episode, To The Last Man was just generally pretty well executed.

Again at the heart of the story was a character piece, this time focusing in on Toshiko, aside from Jack the only character to have crossed over from Doctor Who, and who quite often doesn’t seem to do much except come out with techno-babble to move the plot forward.

Here she is the main focus of the episode as she looks after a World War One solider that Torchwood has had in suspended animation for ninety years. Every year they wake him up to make sure he is still healthy, as files from the Torchwood team at the time say that he will be needed. Here though is the paradox in that they only know to take him as a result of his future self telling them to do so – something he knows because he’s been told to say that as a result of files left by the past Torchwood team for their future colleagues!

However, having spent time with Tommy, the solider, Toshiko falls for him – only to find out that in order to save the world he must go back in time to his death. In this respect it explores similar themes to Out of Time, the episode in the previous season where Owen falls for Diane a pilot whose plane appears through the rift, but who ultimately decides to leave. The big difference here is that Toshiko ends up having to persuade Tommy to go through with what has to be done.

Being a temporal paradox it seems as though the story is being told in flashback, as it opens with Tommy and Tosh appearing to the 1918 Torchwood team, and then you see how they get to that point during the rest of the story.

Much as with last weeks episode, without flashy guest stars, the episode seems to work pretty well. Alongside this things seem to be moving along with Jack and Ianto, and it does seem that in 1918 at least, Torchwood recruited all their operatives from public schools…

The Sleeper Awakes

tw_downloads_s2_ep02_gwen_beth_jack1_800.jpg

After the somewhat disappointing start to the new series of Torchwood last week, where I thought the plot somewhat took a back seat to the high profile guest star, episode two, Sleeper, was a distinct improvement.

Of course the plot – an alien sleeper cell where the sleeper agents don’t know who they really are is a plot that has been done before a number of times. However, what parent show Doctor Who has always been quite good at is taking an existing story and reworking it into it’s own format, so over the years most sci-fi staples, and numerous well known stories have appeared in a reworked form as Doctor Who episodes, and this Torchwood episode is no different.

What lifted this episode, and certainly set it apart from last week, was having a central character with whom the audience can empathise. The episode begins with a couple being awoken by a burglary taking place in their flat. The husband goes to investigate, but is knocked unconscious, leaving the wife, Beth, to face the burglars alone. We don’t see what happens, but both burglars end up dead – one stabbed by some sort of sword, and the other thrown out the window. Beth remembers nothing about what has happened, but before he dies, one of the burglars says that it was her.

Torchwood investigate, and discover that she has a hidden implant in her arm, and deeply buried in her subconscious another personality. Their attempts to stop her being a further danger inadvertently activate the remaining alien sleeper agents who start to carry out their plan.

However, what this episode is at it’s heart is a character piece, as Beth struggles to come to terms with who she really is – her husband of course knows nothing of her true identity. Essentially it explores similar concepts to Human Nature in the last season of Doctor Who where the artificial personality has real feelings and a real existence, and essentially is innocent, but has to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. In the case of Human Nature, John Smith has to choose to sacrifice his future life, in Sleeper, Beth realises that despite Gwen’s repeated promises that the team will try and find a way to save her, the only thing that can be done is to sacrifice herself to get rid of the alien agent.

Mixed in with the character story, we also got a bit of action, as the other sleeper agents start to execute their plan, and the oft mentioned new humorous elements, which on a couple of occasions during the episode raised a laugh from us – again an improvement on last week.

So all in all it seems to bode well for what is to come…

Torchwood Take 2

tw_downloads_s2_ep01_jack_john1_800.jpg

So tonight we had the first episode of series two of Torchwood. I have to say, on first watching, it still didn’t exactly blow me away, although it was certainly better than it was in series one.

James Marsters as Captain John Hart was good in the guest star role, but to be honest it felt a bit light on plot – once Marsters had appeared and his relationship to Jack had been established, it was basically a run around Cardiff looking for the mysterious canisters that Captain John was looking for.

Captain John double-crossed the Torchwood team, and then discovers he’s been double-crossed as well and the canisters only contain a trap – a trap into which he also sucks Gwen.

Having said that, perhaps the plot wasn’t really the point of this episode. As Captain John disappears he tells Jack that he’s found somebody. Jack dismisses it, but based on the trailer before the credits for the rest of the series, which again includes Marsters I’m thinking the purpose of this one was to re-establish the characters, set the slightly changed team dynamics (there is a definite feeling that they’ve been doing very well without Jack), and introduce Captain John as part of an ongoing plot arc across the series, something that has been hinted at in some of the pre-publicity.

One final little comment to consider if you watch the repeat showing of the episode though, in this months SFX James Marsters claims that John Barrowman is a better kisser than Sarah Michelle Gellar

“Excuse me, have you seen a Blowfish driving a sports car?”

There have been a couple of sequences from the first episode of the new series of Torchwood, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, floating around the internet, which do seem to show the changes to the programme for the new series, and perhaps much more of a humorous spin than we’ve been used to. Obviously there are going to be spoilers watching the clips – the second one especially, so be warned before you hit play!

The first clip is the opening sequence, featuring the whole team and a Blowfish in a sports car…

The second clip comes from later on in the episode, and features the main guest star for the episode, James Marsters, and be warned again, a bit of a spoiler…

For those in the UK, the full episode can be seen this coming Wednesday, January 16th, at 9pm on BBC2. It looks like those wanting the pre-watershed repeat will have to wait a whole week, although apparently the usual slot for those will be 7pm on the day after the full version, also on BBC2.