Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Torchwood 'Random Shoes': Rating B+

Meet Eugene. Eugene is an armchair philosopher so we start the episode with his musings on the meaning of life. He’s not speaking into a video camera so the episode is already better than the Doctor Who episode from which it drew its inspiration (see, I’m avoiding the word ‘rip off’ this week; that’s maturity, that is).

Oh, Eugene is also dead. As the camera comes into focus and zooms down on Eugene in a lovely crane shot, he finishes his speech about the speed of the universe. “As for life,” he says as we move in on his body lying prone in the middle of a long, straight road, “that just bloody whizzes by.”

Eugene opens his eyes, blinks a few time and moves his head to the side. “This is me,” says Eugene’s voiceover as he lifts his head off the road and looks confused. We hear the sounds of traffic and of sheep in the background as he slowly raises himself off the road.

He gets up and as the camera twists and pulls back he moves over to a police cordon. The police officer lifts the cordon as he moves through; but is she letting him in or letting the other police officer out?

“Hey Gwen, Jack,” says Eugene as he moves through the crime scene. “Tosh,” he says as he comes across the whole team gathered around a body lying on the embankment by the side of the road. As though he’s apologising, Eugene says the guys on the rope just let him through. So dead Eugene knows them all but isn’t accepted by them . Jack explains that the victim was hit and killed by a car.

Eugene looks down and stammers that the guy lying dead and bloody in the grass looks like him.
“Couldn’t even cross the road without messing it up,” says Tosh. That’s too mean a comment for Tosh. It sounds like an Owen statement. Not that Torchwood would ever write a script and then substitute another character instead. Never. If they did that their characterisations would sometimes not make sense and we can't have that. Gwen asks what he was doing here and Jack gives her a look like he actually doesn’t care. Gwen says it’s possible he was hit deliberately.

“Maybe he really did have something important,” she asks, “he was always trying to talk to us, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so…”
Tosh interrupts and says she thinks it’s just an ordinary RTA. Jack interrupts her interruption, sounding incredibly excited about the fact the car was red. Eugene has red paint under his fingernails.

“Am I dead?” asks Eugene, suddenly twigging that the body on the side of the road is his. He tries to touch Tosh’s shoulder but his hand goes right through it. He backs away slowly. “Am I dead?” he’s still asking as he scans the police and paramedics and everyone gathered around, realising for the first time that they can’t hear him so there’s no one to ask.

“Am I dead?”

Flick, flick, flick, Torchwood.

Eugene’s phone rings in the grass. Man, that’s the worst. Like that train wreck a journalist friend of mind told me they saw a few years ago. All the bodies were apparently still strewn across the ground when the broadcast went out that the accident had happened. They said that all of a sudden all the mobiles started to ring. The living still desperately trying to phone the dead. Bloody tragic.

Tosh picks it up, looks uncertain but then answers it. It’s Eugene’s Mum wanting to know some ordinary everyday thing. Tosh panics and hands the phone off to Gwen who simply states that something’s happened and they need to talk to her.

Pan back to Eugene who’s still having trouble with the whole being dead thing. He wonders how he ended up there so his memory must be playing up.

“Am I a ghost,” he asks, as he follows Gwen back to the car, “or a zombie,” he thinks thereby establishing that Eugene’s not the brightest star in the sky. He leaps into the car with the rest of the team, seemingly thrilled to be there.
“This is Torchwood,” he thinks, “it’s going to be ok. Then he looks in the rearview mirror and realises he has no reflection. He’s a bit freaked out by this and looks around a bit wildly as Gwen takes out his phone and looks through it. Jack asks her if there’s anything on it from today and she says, “just some pictures of random shoes.”

As Gwen looks pensively toward invisible Eugene as though perhaps she too can hear his internal monologue, Eugene tells us that regardless of everything that’s happened, he’s somewhere he’s also wanted to be.

As the VOC screeches off, Eugene tells us to back up a bit because every story’s got a beginning. Man, this is such a…a…a…homage…to Love and Monsters it isn’t funny. Love and Monsters also um, ah…drew on elements from…a Buffy episode called Storyteller. Luckily for Random Shoes, Love and Monsters was god awful so in the overall scheme of things this episode is much much better.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the plot.

So we fade into the white mist of events recalled from memory and we see Eugene being humiliated in an inter-school maths competition. Apparently he was a maths whiz but panicked in the heat of battle and everyone blamed him for the loss. His Dad was in the audience, filming his son’s humiliation and it’s that, more than anything, that Eugene remembers. His father’s brutal, honest, open scorn and disappointment.

We cut to a classroom where a really nice science teacher tries to cheer him up by showing him a marble-like eye that allegedly fell from the sky while he was playing golf. Eugene is instantly diverted as nice science teacher notes how amazing it was that something could fall from the sky like that. Seeing Eugene’s hooked, and more importantly not worrying about his loss, nice science teacher gives him the eye as a present and Eugene stares at is in wonder.

“Where the bloody hell have you been?” asks the voice of Eugene’s Dad who we already can’t stand. Nice science teacher tells him to correct his attitude, just not in so many words, and they leave.

At home, Eugene is still pondering the eye while his parents brawl in the background. As they scream and his father slams the front door on his way out of his life forever, Eugene decides an obsession is something that should distract him nicely and we see his room with a poster of the solar system on it as he decides the eye has to belong to an alien. It’s ok his Dad’s left because one day he’ll meet the alien.

“God I wanted that alien to come back and claim the eye more than I wanted anything in my whole life,” says voice-over Eugene as young Eugene looks through a telescope at the moon, imagining a Universe of possibilities, waiting for his real life to begin.

As voiceover Eugene explains how he increasingly got interested in extra-terrestrial things, we see an older version of himself hanging out at crime scenes trying to get Torchwood, or more particularly Gwen, to notice him.

Back from the white mist of events recalled from memory, Gwen is in Eugene’s home breaking the new of his death to his mother. As Gwen tells her they’re sure he’s dead, she starts crying and points to a plate saying, “but that’s his tea there.” I don’t know who this actress is but she absolutely breaks my heart in this episode.

In Eugene’s room, Owen is half-heartedly looking around and making a mess, while Eugene is watching. He picks up a flyer to a lecture about ‘Black Holes and the Uncertainty Principle’ at Aberystwyth University's Science and Natural History Museum and asks Ianto what they’re doing here. Ianto finds a shrine to all things alien and we cut back to the loungeroom where Gwen is asking Eugene’s brother if he understands what’s happened to his brother. Eugene’s brother is a teenager so he’s pretending he doesn’t care. He tells Gwen their Dad works for some big corporation in America.

Owen calls Gwen up to Eugene’s room where they’re going through Eugene’s ‘collection’, all of which turns out to be fake. Gwen notices there’s something missing and asks Eugene’s Mum if she knew what it was. Mum can’t answer such trivia at the moment, she just shakes and asks why the car didn’t stop after it hit her son. They realise this is not the best time for questioning so they pack up some of Eugene’s stuff and leave. As he leaves with them, Eugene stops to try and tell his mother that the best team is working on it and she shouldn’t worry. He thinks there’s been some kind of mistake but she’s just standing in the hallway looking out the front door and sobbing.

Later, the gang walk into the Hub. Gwen is saying she wants to find out everything about Eugene’s last movements and Eugene is in awe to finally see the secret underground base. I must admit, the Hub is pretty cool, water feature notwithstanding. Eugene’s all ‘christ almighty’ as he comes across some of the artefacts. He sees the Doctor’s hand and he thinks “wow, a…hand…in a…jar” as though it’s a bit strange but must be cool because it’s Torchwood’s. Hee. Man I hope they explain the hand thing soon, getting tired of it just sitting there.

“What was he doing out in that road?” asks Gwen as she puts down some of Eugene’s things. “Oh, fuck knows,” says Owen who already sounds as though he’s sick of her going on about it. He puts down more of Eugene’s things and says that Eugene was a geek so he was probably categorising Chevrons.

Gwen moves down into the autopsy room and Owen follows her saying that Eugene had a bit of a thing for her and now she’s feeling guilty because she always blew him off. Very true.

You know, the fact that the autopsy room is incapable of becoming a sterile environment has always really annoyed me. Owen regularly pokes around alien remains without a mask on as well. Oh well, better not start one of my Torchwood and professionalism rants. We’ll be here all week.

Gwen tells Owen to sod off because no one is allowed to tell people uncomfortable truths except her. They have a small tiff that results in Gwen agreeing to do the autopsy. And…what?? You can’t just start doing autopsies. She’s a former Cardiff beat cop who mysteriously only just learnt to fire a gun but I’m supposed to believe she’s suddenly gained medical qualifications? Oh sorry, there’s that rant. My apologies.

Anyway, Owen’s off to do paperwork while Gwen saws pieces off a human body and as he pan back to Eugene looking around the Hub in wonder he says “I’m in heaven”. Then, and this is kind of sad, he starts to wonder if maybe he is in heaven. That is until he walks down into the autopsy room to find Gwen unzipping him from a body bag. He braces himself to watch her cut him up but faints instead (How can a ghost faint?) Before she can mutilate the remains of a innocent road victim, Ianto walks in and says they’ve found their perp. A drunk driver has just admitted hitting someone fitting Eugene’s description. Owen says it’s very sad and can they get on with some proper work now?

The autopsy is postponed and they move on to other work.

"Hope There’s Someone" by Antony and the Johnsons plays as Eugene wakes up looking down on his own corpse in the autopsy room. He leaves Torchwood and goes to see his Mum who’s still crying for him, wandering around her home, uncertain what to do. I tell ya, I’d be very surprised if I ever cracked a tear at a Torchwood episode but this woman’s got me the closest.

“Do you think Eugene committed suicide?” asks Gwen, back at the Hub. The gang try to convince her that it was just an accident but she says something seems really odd about it. She says she just has a feeling that something else is going on and Owen thanks her for the ‘Disney moment’ and asks her to please make the tea. She says maybe Eugene’s a bit too ordinary for the great Owen to be interested and Owen makes a really great point about Gwen always acting as though she’s the only one in the team with a heart. The bloom is really off the rose in this relationship, although I know there’s mutterings in the forums about this episode ignoring their affair.
Jack tells them to can it and Gwen says it’s forgotten, in a way that lets you know it isn’t.

Millennium Centre the next morning. Owen is watching one of Eugene’s DVDs, which incidentally is the original A for Andromeda. Gwen walks in and she’s all pissed that Owen went through Eugene’s stuff. Owen says the DVD’s on loan from the video store and Gwen offers to return it. Owen’s too self-absorbed to question her motives as Gwen takes Eugene’s mobile goes off to lunch.

In a cafe somewhere, Gwen asks the owner when the video store around the corner opens and the owner says the guy’s a law unto himself. Eugene walks in and he’s all surprised and pleased to see Gwen there. He starts babbling that this is his café. Gwen asks the owner if he knows Eugene and the owner says no, even though Eugene’s saying that he goes there everyday.

“But I come in here everyday, two eggs, ham and chips everyday,” says Eugene disbelievingly and Gwen immediately orders two eggs, ham and chips as though she’d somehow heard him. Got to love that English diet.

As they sit down at a table, Eugene notes how strange it is that he used to follow Gwen and now Gwen is following him. She pulls out the mobile and is looking at the photos of shoes on the mobile. Eugene notes that he doesn’t remember who the shoes belong to and that he can’t remember anything from before his death. He tells her to ring Gary because he may be able to help. We hear the words ‘phone Gary’ echo in Gwen’s head as she moves down the contact list on the phone to the name ‘Gary’ and dials. She gets his voicemail and leaves a message as she looks somewhat dubiously at the festival of cholesterol the caf owner has just put down in front her. Ummm chips.

Video store. Gwen walks in and stands at the empty counter before a guy suddenly appears in front of her with a mobile stuck to this ear. He turns it off as she sees him. It’s amazing; he actually has ‘tosser’ written across his forehead.

“Hello,” says Gwen brightly, as tosser calls her ‘gorgeous’ and gives her what I think is supposed to be an appreciative look that just comes out as a leer. She says she wants to return some DVDs on behalf of someone who’s deceased.
“Deceased, no shit, that’s pretty final,” says tosser and then totally proceeds to charge her the fine. Who charges a fine for a DVD that hasn’t been returned because the renter is dead? He even says he can’t bend the rules just ‘cause he’s dead.

Anyway, she asks about Eugene and he says Eugene used to come in all the time with another guy and that he was a bit ordinary and a bit of a dreamer.

Gwen goes to pay and tosser asks if Eugene…he makes a choking sound and mimics a noose around someone neck. He asks, complete with air quote marks if Eugene ‘walked into oncoming traffic’. He says people come into video shops wanting a bit of fantasy in their lives but that he’s off to London in a few months. He says that Eugene was a loser who maybe just couldn’t live with his failure. Eugene seems pensive and Gwen looks as though she’d like to throw tosser into oncoming traffic.

“Failure, is that right?” asks Eugene rhetorically as they enter an office building somewhere in Cardiff and get into a lift. “Has my life just been one big failure? I know I didn’t live up to my early promise as a math genius but that’s because I was waiting for the alien to collect his eye and change my life.” The lift comes out into an open plan office and Eugene says that while he was waiting he did telesales. He sold ‘life’ apparently: barbeques and kitchens and home insurance. Insurance over the phone? That’s unlikely, it’s highly regulated.

Eugene’s recognising all the people he used to work but Gwen is trying to see if anyone owes the shoes on the phone. She’s looking for a piece of red Converse trainers which (a) are very common shoes and (b) what the Doctor wears.

As she tracks down the trainers to a large man with untidy hair at the water cooler, Eugene is wondering how he can remember so many details of his day to day life when the last few days before his death are a complete mystery.

“Are you Gary,” asks Gwen of the large man with untidy hair and he says yes. She introduces herself and asks if he talked to Eugene the day he died. Gary says no (he’s lying) but that they’re getting a card together. Someone hands it to him and he notices they’ve written ‘good luck in your new job’.
“He’s dead”, says Gary angrily and the guy who handed him the card questions how they can get it to him. “It’s for his Mum, you idiot,” says Gary and nameless guy looks sheepish as Gary storms off.

A woman with long auburn hair stops Gwen and asks if it’s true that Eugene got run over. The girl introduces herself as Linda and seems genuinely upset by Eugene’s death. Gwen asks her to lunch so they can chat. Ok, what time is it supposed to be because Gwen went out ‘for lunch’ about what, two hours ago now? Ah, damn you Torchwood timelines. Anyway, as Gwen sits at Gary’s desk Owen calls and asks her where the hell she is. She says she’ll be back soon but also finds a flyer for the Black Holes lecture. The plot thickens.

Still lunchtime in the temporally-challenged world of Torchwood. Gwen and Linda are having a chat. In a nutshell, Linda says that both she and Eugene were a bit depressed and that she had said she wanted to go to Australia. Eugene told her he’d get the money by selling his ‘alien artefact’. Gwen asks if Eugene was in love with her and Linda says no, that he loved someone who was unobtainable. Gwen seems as though she kind of suspects who that someone could be. Linda says Eugene was just trying to look out for her.
“He said, don’t stay here and waste your life waiting for something that may never happen.”

During this conversation, Gwen phone rings but she ignores it.

Linda says Eugene brought the eye into work and told everyone he was going to sell it on ebay but that some people laughed at him and said it was just plastic. But the eye sat on ebay for a while before finally starting to get some bids, cumulating in a bid of £15,005.50. Gwen asks if she knows who bought it and Linda says she has no idea.

Gwen’s phone rings again and this time she can’t ignore it. It’s Eugene’s Mum and she wants to show her something. Gwen leaps up and leaves Linda looking sad and very lonely.

In the house of loneliness and despair, Gwen is watching Eugene’s moment of humiliation at the maths competition while his Mum sobs beside her. Mrs Jones says the science teacher gave him the eye as a kind of consolation prize and that Eugene treasured it. “That was the night Dad left,” says Eugene’s younger brother who has just entered the room. He starts saying some horrible stuff about his older brother and Mum tells him to please stop. Little brother says Dad left because he found out Eugene was a failure, at least that’s what Eugene always said. Mum says that’s not true and that their father left because of his big important job in the States.

“Stop giving us that shit,” interrupts shitty teenage brother. He says that Eugene found their Dad about two weeks ago working nights as a cashier in a garage on Filey Road.

Eugene thinks ‘oh God, now I remember why I sold the eye.”

Night over Cardiff. Gwen is pulling up outside the garage and Eugene is pondering all those years he blamed himself for his father leaving. Finding him made him feel that everything about his life was a lie and a pile of rubbish so why not sell the eye?

Gwen goes to get out of the car and Eugene yells at her to stop and not go in. Gwen stops as though she heard him and climbs back inside. Eugene says he doesn’t want anything to do with him. He apologises and Gwen says it’s ok. Then she drives off.

Back in the Hub, Jack tells Gwen off for turning her phone off and she admits she’s still working on Eugene’s case. She rather stupidly starts to tell Jack that Eugene never under why his father left and needs a bit of help. Jack points out the very obvious fact that Eugene’s dead.
Jack says he’s got work to do and starts walking off. Eugene says she can’t just stop and brings up the £15,000.

“Ok, listen to this,” says Gwen, “Eugene had an alien eye in his collection and he sold it online.” Jack is finally interested and asks if it was a Dogon sixth eye, which apparently allows people to see back into their life, to give them some perspective.
“It’s useful, fun, slightly terrifying,” he says, which is why there’s been quite a market in them.

Kind of sounds like what Eugene’s been doing, hey? Hey?

Gwen says she thinks it might be a Dogon sixth eye and that she’s close to tracking it down if Jack will just give her some more time. Jack gives her the weekend and tells her to keep her phone on.

Eugene’s all excited and only further convinced that Gwen is the most wonderful person who’s ever lived. Gwen opens up the flyer and Eugene remembers that he and Gary were going to go to the lecture together in Aberystwyth. My Welsh geography isn’t the best because I don’t know where this is but it apparently requires a road trip. Eugene’s about to get a weekend away with Gwen and he’s never been happier.

In the University in Aberystwyth (which is apparently 100 miles from Cardiff and is a historical market town on the sea – the wonder of Wikipedia be thanked), Gwen is looking around and spots Gary who proves he’s not the brightest spot in the heavens by running. But then he comes back and says he’s not proud of what he’s done. Turns out Gary hiked up the bidding because he felt sorry for Eugene but then the price took off on its own and Eugene thought it was his alien come to claim his property. Gary says he was sceptical but then the bid jumped to £15,000 and he wasn’t so sure.

“I thought it was £15,005.50,” asks Gwen and Gary looks a bit shifty as he confirms that yes, that’s right. I remember, says Eugene’s voiceover saying that he waited a couple of days before getting an email asking him to come to a restaurant.

Gwen pulls out the phone and the photo of Gary’s shoes and tells Gary that he saw Eugene the day he died. Gary admits that yeah, he did, they had a cup of coffee before Eugene went off to meet the alien because Eugene was scared.

Gary for some reason is trying to pretend that the exchange for the eye could have been anywhere and not necessarily near where Eugene died. “Eugene was very secretive,” says Gary, “it could have been in Splott.”

Gwen shows Gary the photos on the phone and asks (a) who was with him when he met up with Eugene and (b) why would Eugene take a photo of his shoes. “Whose are the other shoes,” asks Gwen and Gary says he thinks they’re just random shoes.
“I miss him,” he says suddenly and this sudden burst of honesty tells us more than anything that so far he’s been hiding something.

Night in her hotel room, Gwen is looking at the shoes on the phone while Eugene is remembering calling for a taxi to take him to the rendezvous. He’s raving again and Gwen is going through his things, finally finding a wrapper with a rooster on it from a café.

“I don’t want you to find out what happened,” says Eugene suddenly, as he looks at her on the bed. “I don’t want this to end. I love you.” As the words once again reverberate inside her head (oh no, I can’t, it’s too easy) she comes right up to him to look out the window. She then closes the blinds and goes to bed with him lying beside her. You know, this trip to the coast is a very clever way for them to avoid both Rhys and Owen for this scene.

Next morning, Gwen is woken by her phone and sets off back to Cardiff. As they’re driving along, Eugene is suddenly remembering as they see a sign for a café called the ‘Happy Cook’ up an off ramp by the side of the motorway. It has a rooster on it like the wrapper in Eugene’s things so Gwen takes the exit and pulls up in the car park. She and Eugene enter the café while Eugene has one of his excited rambles about how he can’t wait to find out what happened.

Inside the Happy Cook, Eugene is remembering himself doing everything that they’re doing now – opening the door, walking in and then…seeing Gary and video-store tosser in a booth. He’s telling them that they have to leave because he’s meeting the alien and they say that actually they’re the buyer. Eugene orders a banana milkshake off the waitress who has the black shoes seen in the photos on the mobile. Euegene sits down in the booth, all confused while Gary and tosser explain.

The next bit is so nasty I have to paraphrase. Gary was pushing up Eugene’s bidding but then they got the real bid for £15,000, apparently from some eccentric rich guy collector. But tosser got greedy and decided to push it up even further, bidding an extra £5.50. But reclusive rich guy didn’t bid again. Now tosser still wants the eye but doesn’t have the thousands. He’ll just take it off Gary’s hands for a song in the hope he can resell it.

As the waitress comes back with the milkshake, Eugene grabs his phone and takes photos of their shoes under the table.

As tosser makes a grab for the eye and it rolls out of Eugene’s hand, we cut back to the present day where the waitress is telling Gwen about the fight. Back in the past, waitress picks up the eye and looks a bit freaked out. Tosser grabs it and Eugene tackles him to the floor.

“I didn’t really know what the eye was anymore,” says Eugene as the fight continues with Gary looking on, “but I was damned if I was going to let it go for £34 and a banana milkshake.”

In possession of the eye now, Eugene stands up, looks at tosser and swallows it down. Tosser actually grabs him and yells “Heimlich” as he tries to get Eugene to regurgitate it. Gary looks horrified but, and this is the worst bit, he grabs the milkshake and tries to pour it down Eugene’s throat to make him throw up. And this, people, is supposed to be his best friend.

Eugene finally breaks free and runs from the café, with Gary and tosser in hot pursuit.

Back in the now, waitress has finished telling her story just as Gary and tosser come through the door. Eugene moves forward saying they’re dead. He says tosser’s a dickhead (apparently tosser’s name is Josh) but that Gary was supposed to be his friend.

Meanwhile, Tosser has approached the waitress and is busy asking her not to tell anyone anything about them being there the week before. As he’s speaking, Gwen comes out from where she apparently went and hid. Tosser sees Gwen and tries to run but Gary slips him, finally if somewhat belatedly trying to do the semblance of the right thing.

“I miss him,” yells Gary and as they tell the whole story to Gwen, Eugene is staring out the window. They say they chased Eugene but lost him.
“Ok,” says Gwen, looking upset, “Ok.” She gets back, calls directory assistance and asks for the number of the garage where Eugene’s dad works.

As Gwen’s breaking the news of Eugene’s death to his father, Eugene says that he remembers. We see him pelting across a field as he voiceovers.
“Apart from a buzzing in my ear where Josh whacked me, I felt good. I was running across a field on a Saturday morning, the smell of exhaust and banana milkshake, a slight nausea, heart beating too fast ‘cause I wasn’t that fit.”
He stumbles onto the road and says, “the stuff that tells you you’re alive,” as a red car hits him and drives on.

“By rights I should be well pissed of,” he says as he close in on his dead, bloody body, “my mates had cheated on me and I didn’t get to meet any aliens.”
Now we see Eugene at his own funeral.
“I realised that when I swallowed the eye at the Happy Cook I was given the chance to look back on my life and see it for what it was.”
We see Gary singing in the pews and Eugene thinks that he’s going to miss him.
“God Gwen,” he thinks as we see her at the service, “I wish I could thank you.”

Now we see Eugene’s dad, Linda and his Mum who’s still crying so much she can’t speak. As Eugene reflects that it wasn’t his fault his Dad left, and his Mum has to leave the podium because she can’t speak, his Dad gets up and sings Danny Boy.
An ordinary bloke who made a mess of things and never got to know his son.

Cemetery now and Gwen is walking through, looking at the graves while Eugene is doing his verbal diarrhoea thing. He’s musing about how 28 is a perfect number and he’s 28 and he thinks he’s going to have to go soon. A door opens in the building behind her and a man hands her the eye in a plastic bag, obviously removed from Eugene’s stomach.

Now at the wake, Eugene is musing as to why he’s still around if it’s the eye that’s been keeping him there. I’m wondering the same thing too.

“Eugene, says Gwen, standing in the street outside the house while the other mourners enter the house, “the eye is in the bag now. Are you…?”
The VOC pulls up and out get the rest of the gang. Jack asks her if she got it and she shows him the eye and he’s all impressed. They say they’ve got to jet but Gwen asks if they can give her five. She heads across the road but stops as Eugene’s Dad pulls up and holds his hand out to his youngest son. As Gwen stands in the road, pondering the wonder that is familial reconciliation, a black SUV that seriously looks like the VOC comes flying and screeching (maybe it is the VOC?) down the road toward her.

“Gwen,” says Eugene as he realises she’s going to be hit and he runs and tackles her out of the way. Bit confused here but I think a different version of the eye pops out of him as he does so and he becomes visible to all the people at the wake.

Gwen looks up and sees him and she’s all stunned and happy to see him. “They can see me,” he says as he smiles at his Mum and Dad. He thanks Gwen who thanks him back and then kisses him. He hands her the eye, says goodbye and then a bright white light appears and he ascends.

“The average life is full of near misses and absolute hits,” says Eugene, “of great love and small disasters, it’s made up of banana milkshakes, insulation and random shoes.” He moves away from the Earth, spinning into space as he continues that life is, “dead ordinary and truly truly amazing. What you’ve got to realise is that it’s here, now so breathe deep and swallow it whole because take it from me, life just whizzes by and then all of a sudden it’s…”

The Earth disappears and the screen goes black.

Torchwood 'They Keep Killing Suzie': Rating A

Torchwood episode 8 – They Keep Killing Suzie
Gen’s rating – A

Irony Defn 1. the first episode of Torchwood that’s actually quite good is the first one they play in the new timeslot of 12am Wednesday morning so nobody actually got to see it.

Yes, Torchwood has been dumped by Ten and so I should probably can the recaps. But I’ve gone this far and there’s only five more episodes to go so what the hell: it’s not as if I have a life. Plus, this episode actually has an original storyline and that’s worth a recap if anything is.

First up this evening, we have a ‘previously’ and it’s the events of ‘Everything Changes’, the first episode. Suzie reminds us about the glove and how it brings people back to life, temporarily, but that she thinks it could resurrect. Then we see her shooting herself and the body and glove being put into storage at Torchwood. Oh, and can I shout out to a certain other recapper who has already dubbed this the Glove of Myneghon. Wish I'd gotten there first.

Setting is a nice middle-class street in Cardiff. There’s a police cordon and a rather beautiful detective is briefing a crime scene investigator. I shall call her Jabe. She suddenly looks annoyed and as we pan in the direction of her gaze we see the VOC coming up the street toward the crime scene. It’s careening madly down the street, as usual, before pulling up and giving us the obligatory shot of ‘Torchwood’ written on the side of the vehicle. Jack jumps out with the rest of the team and we unfortunately have a slow-mo ‘we’re so cool, look how cool we are, you can tell we’re cool by our cool walk’ shot. I will remind my readers that I said this episode was quite good so they know I’m not going to slam the show this week. But this walk is so naff and they insist on showing it.

“At last: you must be Torchwood,” says Jabe, and I promise that from now on I’ll just accept the writers’ definitions of ‘top secret’ and ‘covert’. When you see a scene like this, just hear my voice in your mind.

Oh no, Jabe has a name and it’s Detective Swanson so I’d better call her that, particularly when she has ‘new recurring character’ written all over her. Swanson says Torchwood’s the people her team bitch about all the time at the office.

The Cap’n introduces himself and Detective Swanson looks at his retro suit and trademarked long coat and asks him if he’s always this dressy for a murder investigation. Jack removes his sunglasses in a really cool way and makes one of his usual painful remarks.

Oh, you want to know what it was? Alright. I supposed that’s my job. It was, “would you rather me naked?”

Detective Swanson manages to achieve a facial expression that says both ‘God no’ and ‘ewww’ but says “God help me, the stories are true.”
I like Detective Swanson already. She might even replace Ianto as my favourite character.

“Who’s the victim,” asks Gwen.
“That’s victims, plural,” Swanson corrects her and says that a man was murdered the day before. He was Alex Arwyn, single, 28, an estate agent and he lived alone. She hands the gang some photos from the crime scene and they see a man who’s been rather brutally stabbed to death.

Swanson continues with her briefing, saying that today they have two more victims, Mark and Sarah Briscoe, both 33, married, he’s a surveyor, she works in education.
Jack, still looking at the photos, asks if the blood on the wall is writing. Swanson says it was a work in progress but if he comes inside he can see the finished product.

In they go, Jack is wearing his usual silver Torchwood earpiece but for some reason Owen’s opted instead for a slug behind his ear. Maybe it’s an alien. Maybe it’s trying to go in through his ear and penetrate his brain.

Inside the house, a crime scene photographer is taking shots as Gwen walks in with the gang behind her. “Oh my God,” says Gwen and we see that the Briscoes are dead on the bed covered in their own blood from multiple stab wounds and slit throats.

“It looks like somebody wants your attention,” says Swanson and we pan over to the wall where ‘Torchwood’ is written in blood. Close up on Jack as he says “they’ve got it”.

Flick flick flick, Torchwood.

Back at the scene of the crime, Swanson is telling Jack they found a few of the killer’s hairs at the scene of the last murder and they should have the lab results soon. Jack thanks her and then kicks her out as some of their equipment is ‘need to know’.

Swanson looks displeased and lets her professional façade slip for a moment as she tells Jack that it was only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened.
“Torchwood walks all over this city like you own it,” she says angrily, “now these people are paying the price. From where I’m standing…you did it.” She walks out.

Owen closes the door behind her and says that at least Torchwood can narrow the killer down to the 4 or 5 million people they’ve pissed off. “And that’s just the humans,” adds Jack.

Though his earpiece, Jack talks to Tosh who’s doing her computer thing in the car and asks if she’s had any luck finding out something about the victims. Tosh has run all three victims through the database and hasn’t found out anything. She says there’s no link between the three victims at all. The words ‘DNA Results’ display on her screen and she tells Jack that the police have the results on the hairs found at the scene of Alex’s murder.

Back on the street, the gang are preparing to leave and Detective Swanson is back in professional mode. She gives him the results of the DNA tests. She says the killer’s male, Caucasian, early forties, smokes and drinks tequila but that the DNA doesn’t match any of the police’s DNA profiles.

“The only thing of interest is a compound we haven’t seen before,” she says. Owen looks over her shoulder at the report and then grabs it out of her hands.
“Oh oh, we’re in trouble,” says Owen (would he really say that in front of Detective Swanson?). He says the compound in the killer’s blood is B67 and as Jack asks if he’s please kidding, Owen calls the compound ‘Retcon’. Retcon? Really? I wonder if this is some intelligent comment by the show on the show or if they’re just being a bit silly. Well, since this episode is about them going back and updating or amending Suzie’s history in a show that is at the same time updating and amending Jack’s, I’m going to have to go for intelligent, although it’s just a bit obvious to be truly clever. Never thought you’d see the words ‘intelligent’ in a Torchwood recap, did ya?

Back at the Hub, the gang is in the briefing room and Owen is expositing about B67, otherwise known as Retcon, which is the ‘magic ingredient’ of the amnesia pill. Why is he looking at DNA spirals when he’s explaining this? They said it was in his blood, not that it had changed his DNA. Gwen says whoever the killer is, it’s someone they gave the amnesia pill to.

Owen asks if the guy is now remembering that he’s a serial killer or if the drug made him into a serial killer. Ianto enters the room and we get a close up of his very concerned face as he takes a seat. Gwen notes that she’s taken the drug and seems concerned that she’s going to go psycho as well and Jack smirks that she should stay away from sharp objects. They ask Ianto how many people they’ve given the amnesia drug to and he says 2,008.

“Hey,” says Owen, bouncing up and down with excitement, “what if they all become psychotic?”
“Do you have to sound so happy?” asks Tosh, reasonably. They’ve given her a much nicer haircut. Big improvement.
“I’m just saying,” says Owen.

Jack tells Tosh to narrow down the suspects and start checking them out as fast as possible. He says they need to find the link between the victims. “Find the link, find the killer,” he says and they all jump up to get to work.

“Jack,” starts Gwen, as they’re leaving the room, “if there is a link, why don’t we just ask the victims ourselves?” Jack says it’s not the right time for a séance but Gwen points out that the first time she met Torchwood they were using the glove to bring people back to life for 2 minutes and question them.

“No way,” says Jack and Owen agrees, citing what it did to Suzie as proof they should leave it alone. “She was one of us,” says Owen, “we trusted her and now she’s dead because of that thing.” Jack agrees and says the glove is staying in the vault where it belongs.
Gwen gets more forceful and as a consequence much more Welsh as she says that Torchwood is responsible for the murders and therefore Torchwood has to do something about them.

She must have convinced them because in the next scene they’re getting the glove out of the vault. “This fell through the rift about 40 years ago,” explains Jack, “it lay at the bottom of the bay until we dredged it up. I always figured this wasn’t just lost: whoever made it wanted [to get] rid of it.”

“We never gave it a cool name,” says Owen reflectively. He’s always so on topic, isn’t he? Tosh suggests the ‘Resurrection Gauntlet’ and Owen clarifies that he was after a cool name. Ianto, who is still looking as though his heart’s no longer in his chest, suggests the ‘Rissen Mitten’, which doesn’t rhyme. Everyone stares at him as though he’s lost his mind and he deadpans, “I think it’s catchy.” He gets a hee for delivery.

In the autopsy room, Jack is preparing to use the glove on victim number 1. He reminds us that the maximum resurrection time they’ve seen so far is 2 minutes and that’s only because Suzie had practice. He says he’s expecting something more like 30 seconds. Tosh is monitoring and recording and Ianto is standing by. Jack puts his glove to Alex’s head and tries to bring him back. He fails and the glove makes a buzzing noise and he takes it off, shaking his hand as though he’s been burned.

He offers the glove to Owen instead and Owen declines, saying that everyone in the team tried last time and the glove only responded to Suzie.
“Well, I never had a go,” notes Gwen. Owen and Jack look concerned but hand it over.

Gwen moves to the back of Alex and puts on the glove, saying it’s cold. Jack tells her that it warms up. He says the glove relies on some sort of empathy, maybe compassion. “Just be yourself,” says Jack.

Gwen slowly puts her hand on the back of Alex’s head and almost instantaneously feels a reaction, arching her back and taking a deep breath. Alex wakes up and Ianto starts a stop watch to time her. Like the murder victims in the first episode, Alex is all confused and scared and Jack tries to talk him down and get him to tell them who attacked him. He’s too confused and keeps yelling at them to help him and to let him see his mother. Then he dies again. Owen tells Gwen he’s dead but Gwen insists on trying again.

“The glove only works once,” says Jack and Gwen says that she can do it if they’ll just let her try. “He’s gone,” says Jack and Gwen looks upset but finally disengages the glove.

“She’s a natural,” says Ianto, “34 seconds.” Owen makes some facetious remark about Ianto being happy with his stopwatch and Ianto actually smiles and gravely says “it’s the button on the top.” Huh? I don’t get it.

Jack asks Gwen if she wants to stop and we cut to Tosh starting to record again, this time with Mark Briscoe on the slab. Gwen puts her head on Mark’s head and says she can feel it, like a rope from her heart to the glove. Mark wakes up and he’s calmer than Alex. Jack tells him to keep looking at him and when Mark asks where he is, Jack says that he’s been hurt.

“We don’t have long,” says Jack, “we need to know who attacked you.” Mark asks about his wife and Jack rather vaguely says that they’re looking after her. “Who was it?” he asks again and Mark says, “it was that man, he belonged to Pilgrim.”
Jack asks what Pilgrim is but Mark’s remembering the attack now and says, “oh my God, he had a knife”.

Jack tries to focus him by asking him what the guy’s name was, as Ianto says it’s been 35 seconds. “Max,” says Mark but says he never knew his surname. Tosh starts cross-referencing ‘Max’ and ‘Pilgrim’ while Jack tries to get Mark to give them more details. Owen says they’re losing him and Max drops the bombshell we’ve been waiting for. He says that there was someone who knew him better and her name was Suzie.

He passes away and Ianto looks slightly astonished as he says it was 1 minute and 5 seconds.

Tosh asks if her hearing is impaired because she could swear Mark said the name Suzie. “It could be anyone,” says Owen as though he’s trying to convince himself of the fact. He says lots of people are called Suzie and Jack notes that there’s not a lot of Suzie’s who are also connected to the case, “We’ve been talking to the wrong corpse.”

Hub briefing room: Tosh is handing out a flyer for a religious support group called ‘Pilgrim’, that acts as a kind of debating society for questions such as whether God exists and what meaning life has. She says it was a small concern, like a hobby, and it was run by Sarah Briscoe. She says information on the society was in their house but everything was handwritten and photocopied and that’s why there was no information available online.

Jack asks if there was any mention of Suzie and Tosh says that Sarah didn’t keep a proper register of participants. Owen says he doesn’t believe Suzie would be involved because she would never buy into all that support group bollocks and Gwen goes totally jealous on his ass, asking how well he knew her and if they were friends. He has all of five co-workers, Gwen; I think he probably knew her quite well.

Then she realises she sounds like a psycho and so backs away from the implication, asking the whole team if any of them knew her well and who her best friend in the place was. Owen says she kept herself to herself. He’s so lying; guess he must have been sleeping with her after all.

Anyway, Gwen falls for it and says that if she needed to talk maybe a support group was exactly where she’d go. Again with the Torchwood = lonely theme. Bit tired of that. Jack says Gwen’s got a point and that it’s time they got to know Suzie a bit better.

It’s night and rain is coming down outside a locker. Gwen asks if that’s what’s going to happen when she dies, that all her things are going to be the property of Torchwood. Again, Gwen, with the asking of questions before you take a job. ‘Nough said. “Rules and regulations,” says Jack as if that’s an answer to the question. “What if I want to leave all my stuff to Rhys?” asks Gwen. Rhys who?

The team open the roller door and Jack tells them to treat Suzie’s things with respect. They have torches so I guess the locker doesn’t have lighting. Why didn’t they wait till morning?

Tosh makes a rather depressing comment about how in the end they’re all just a pile of boxes and Gwen finds a photo of Suzie and her Dad. She asks if her Dad’s still alive and Tosh says she doesn’t know as Suzie wiped all her records at Torchwood before she tried to run. Tosh says Suzie was good at computers, in fact she was good at everything and Owen notes that one of the things she was good at was murder.

Gwen asks Jack what he has and shines her torch on the book he’s holding, which is an anthology of Emily Dickinson poems. The glove, Pilgrim, the pile of boxes, Emily Dickinson and murder. Life and death, meaning and purpose, the questions of existence. Do we live life in preparation for death or is death our reminder that life ends and is therefore its own purpose?

Tosh finds the Pilgrim flyer and they decide to revive her.

Back at the Hub, Jack pulls Suzie out of the cryo chamber and just before I’m about to ask myself why they kept the body, we cut to Gwen in the autopsy room asking Jack if they keep all the Torchwood staff on ice after they die. “Rules and regulations,” says Jack again, this time as though he knows it’s a crap answer. Gwen asks how long they keep the bodies and Jack says, forever.

They gather around the body on the slab as Gwen prepares to revive her. Owen rather snidely asks Ianto if he has his stopwatch and Ianto calmly says, ‘always’. Tosh says she’s going to record from the other room because she can’t look Suzie in the eye. Jack asks if anyone else feels the same way and no one says anything but they all keep their gaze firmly on the monitors instead of looking at Suzie’s body.

Gwen asks Jack if he has any advice and as he opens his mouth she says, “yeah I know, empathy, even though she did try to kill me.”
“You and me both,” notes Jack, omitting the part where she didn’t try so much as succeed.

As Gwen touches Suzie with the glove she gets memories of the moments before Suzie died: Jack being shot in the head, Suzie threatening her with the gun, Gwen cowering like the little sissy she is.

Owen looks at the monitor, which shows some response, but Gwen gets a shock and pulls the glove away. Jack caresses her hair back from her face, rather intimately, and Gwen says Suzie is too far gone and all she got were memories. Tosh asks what they’re going to do and Jack says there’s nothing they can do as they’re out of options.

Owen disagrees; he notes that when Suzie killed those people she always used the knife that’s made out of the same metal as the glove. Tosh says the glove seems to work better if the knife’s part of the process, like it closes a circuit. Jack notes the small detail that the knife was used to kill people but that Suzie’s already dead. “Alright”, says Gwen, “so we kill her again.” And since she says this so matter-of-factly, I’m not going to ask how they kill someone who’s already dead. I choose to accept it was a figure of speech.

Jack doesn’t look happy with the plan but he gets the knife out of storage anyway. As he pulls it out and displays it, Owen inquiringly says, “Ianto?” and Ianto takes a deep breath before saying ‘Life Knife’. That sucks too, but at least it rhymes and this time the others seem impressed.

Back in the autopsy room, Gwen has her gloved hand on Suzie’s head and Jack is rather grossly slicing into Suzie’s body with the knife. He asks Gwen if she felt anything and Gwen says that she felt a spark when the knife went in but then it was gone and that Jack is going to have to do it properly.

Owen nods and Jack hesitates for a minute before plunging the knife into her chest. Gwen gasps in shock as Suzie comes totally and completely alive, drawing air into her lungs and panicking. Ianto presses his stopwatch and the camera spins above the slab as Jack tries to get Suzie to calm down and remember.

“Jack,” she says in disbelief, “there’s a knife in my chest. Did you kill me?”
“You killed yourself,” explains Jack and Suzie suddenly remembers. “Oh my God, I shot myself,” she says in incredulously. Jack raises the subject of Pilgrim and Suzie says, “wait a minute, didn’t I kill you?”

“Never mind that,” says Jack, although Owen looks a bit interested in this information, “we need names and details.”
“Who’s using the glove?” asks Suzie and as Gwen says she’s sorry Suzie says she knows and it’s ‘Gwen-bloody-Cooper’. Talk about retconning; where does that enmity come from? They barely met.

Jack asks about Pilgrim, the amnesia pill and Max, and Suzie asks if they brought her all the way back just for Max. As she starts to say that Max was just some loser, Owen says they’re losing her. Jack tells Gwen to disconnect and Gwen refuses, saying she’s not letting Suzie get away this time. Gwen is finally thrown off the body by the glove and Owen runs to her side. He says she’s alright but he needs to get her out of there. Jack’s waving the glove around all like, I told you so and Owen tells him to shove it.

Jack and Owen grab Gwen to take her upstairs and Ianto very politely says Suzie’s not actually dead but just unconscious.

Owen runs back to the monitor and confirms that she’s still breathing. Jack pulls the knife out of her chest and Owen says she’s still alive. “There’s no stopping her,” he says, “she won’t die.” Ianto says she’s been alive for 1 minute 30 seconds. Shot of Suzie with her eyes moving beneath her eyelids and….ads. One thing I’ll say for this timeslot, with less ads to jam in, they’ve started cutting the show properly.

The Hub: Jack is in an interrogation room with Suzie and Gwen. The rest of the team are watching over the monitors. Suzie’s in a wheelchair and looks as though she’s barely conscious. Jack tells her she’s been dead three months and Suzie asks them why they can’t just leave her alone and let her die.

“You seem to be stuck,” says Jack and Suzie looks straight at them and asks if she’s going to stay like that and for how long. Gwen says she doesn’t know. “Can I see my father?” asks Suzie and Jack says no. Gwen explains that they don’t know where her father is and Suzie asks if that means he doesn’t know that she’s dead. Gwen rather insensitively notes that Suzie isn’t actually dead anymore. Suzie looks as about impressed with the statement as I am.

“This is sick,” she says and Jack says that she started it. Jesus Jack, what are you, twelve? Jack hands her the police file and says there’s an investigation underway about Pilgrim. He spreads photos of Pilgrim members across the table and says that they know she went to Pilgrim meetings and gave the amnesia pill to someone named Max. Jack says they need to find him and Suzie asks why they would want to as he was just an ordinary bloke.

Jack says they think the retcon has triggered a psychosis (I’ve had the same problem after watching episodes of Charmed) andd that he’s started killing. Suzie asks how many people he killed and Gwen says it was three; the same number Suzie killed. Owen’s disembodied voice comes over the speaker asking how much retcon Suzie gave him.

“Owen,” says Suzie, “scared to face me?”
“You frighten the shit out of me,” says Owen, matter-of-factly. Kudos to Owen for being honest about his feelings for once. Suzie asks if Toshiko is still around and Owen is the one who answers in the affirmative.
“All the gang, happy days,” says Owen ironically and then brings the subject back to the amnesia pill.

“One a week, every week, for two years,” answers Suzie and Owen says, “Christ, no wonder.”
“What the hell did you do that for?” asks Jack and Suzie says she just needed someone to talk to as working for Torchwood was driving her mad. At the mention of the word ‘crazy’, Gwen’s expression is ‘no shit’. Suzie says he listened to her, that’s all, and that as soon as she’s finished talking she’d give him the pill. Jack says she overdosed him and Suzie says she didn’t know that.

“I keep getting it wrong, don’t I?” she says, trying for the sympathy card. I don’t think using and abusing another person for two years just to make yourself feel better counts as ‘getting it wrong’, dear. It counts as bloody selfish.

Jack asks what Max’s surname is and Suzie says all she did was talk about her and that it’s all her fault and never stops being her fault. I’m no expert, but that could be a side effect of it all being your fault, dear, and why are you trying to paint yourself the victim here?

“Can’t you just let me die?” asks Suzie and Jack says she doesn’t get off that easy. “You did warn me right at the beginning,” says Suzie to Jack. She looks at Gwen and pointedly says, “he said this is the one job you can never quit.”

Jack asks her to play ball and to look at the photos and see if there’s anything. I don’t know where he got these photos from but Suzie says that there’s a Pilgrim member missing. She says this girl came every week, a student named Lucy McKenzie. She says that Lucy worked in a club but becomes all lethargic when Jack tries to get her to tell them. She finally says the club’s name is the ‘Wolf Bar’ or something like that.

In the club, Torchwood is fanning out trying to find Lucy. Tosh and Suzie are monitoring them from the hub. Gwen has a headache and Suzie says it’s the glove and that it gets inside your mind. They walk around the club for a while and Suzie notes that Tosh can’t even look at her. Suzie says it’s not like Tosh to be judgemental and Tosh says it’s not like Suzie to go on a murder spree.

“So, it drives us mad this job,” continues Tosh, “god knows I’ve done stupid stuff. But now I’ve got to go on working every day in a job that has a bit less honour…because of you.”

In the club, Torchwood accidentally takes down the wrong guy and as they restrain him the real bad guy sneaks up on Gwen with a knife. Suzie yells “Gwen, behind you!” and the guys take him down.
Gwen notes that Suzie saved her life and Suzie says maybe she came back for a reason.

Still night at the Millennium Centre. Max is in a cell, unresponsive. Owen says the word ‘Torchwood’ and Max goes crazy for exactly 10 seconds before becoming unresponsive again. Owen says that if it’s a drug-induced psychosis it’s a very specific one. Jack says Torchwood again because apparently torturing the poor guy one of his team members brutalised for two years is funny. It’s like the writers feel they have to swap the prat role between Jack and Owen and if Owen’s being serious Jack’s got to act the part instead.

Jack apologises like he really doesn’t mean it and notes that if retcon caused that behaviour then they have a million more problems on the way. On his way out, he asks Owen to keep him informed and Owen asks about Suzie. Jack says he doesn’t know what he’s going to do with her and he wants to know what Owen thinks. Owen thinks Jack’s the boss. Jack nods and actually says ‘Torchwood’ on his way out. Oh, hah hah! Not.

Back in the interrogation room, Suzie, who has a scarf wrapped around her head presumably to hit the hole in her chin and head from the gunshot, is asking Gwen if it’s possible to see her father. Gwen says Suzie should tell her where he is and Suzie says she’s not letting Torchwood anywhere near him. That is, if he’s even still alive. She says her father has cancer.

Suzie then tries to bond with Gwen by asking her how she’s enjoying the work and Gwen admits that Torchwood’s a crazy place to work. Suzie says that when you die you like to think that people will miss you at work. I would have thought you’d be more concerned about being missed by your friends and family myself but I supposed these people are workaholics. She says you hope you’re indispensable and it’s quite sobering for her to see how quickly they replaced her with Gwen.

Then she starts in on the victim riff again and I’m not sure if she’s just feeling sad and sorry for herself or if she’s trying to manipulate Gwen. If the latter, I can’t see a reason as yet.

Anyway, she says that Gwen’s better than her and the others prefer her and she got the glove working better than Suzie ever could. She says that she got her job, almost as if she planned it, and Gwen says she has her own function at Torchwood and is more than just a replacement. Suzie asks if she’s slept with Owen and can tell by Gwen’s expression that she has. She says that in that case Gwen replaced her completely.

In his office, Jack is reviewing the case when Gwen bursts in. Jack tells another of his painful stories and Gwen starts lashing out about how Jack put Suzie in charge of the glove when he should have known that Suzie’s father was dying of cancer.
“And what do you do,” she asks rhetorically, “you give his daughter the one device that can bring him back to life. No wonder she got obsessed.”
“Oh, so this is all my fault,” asks Jack and Gwen hooks in to him about how he never looked at Suzie and asked himself what the glove would do to her.

“Right from the start,” counters Jack, “you thought Suzie’s death was because of you, because it happened when you arrived. Then you brought her back to life, all the way because you wanted it so much. We’re both responsible. Now what the hell are we going to do with her,” he concludes and Gwen says she doesn’t know and turns her back on him to think.

When she turns around again she’s calmer and asks him what they’ll do if she never dies. “Have you thought of that?” she asks, “undying forever, just you and her.”
“No way,” replies Jack, “I wouldn’t wish that on her. I’d kill her first.”
Jack knows as the others never could that there is no purpose to life without death to give it meaning.

Gwen asks if Jack could kill Suzie if he had to and Jack says, “oh yeah” with such certainty that you know he’s telling the truth. They stare at each other for a while, each lost in their own thoughts when Owen comes in over the intercom to ask Jack to come to the conference room. As he leaves, Gwen stares ahead, with a determined look on her face.

In the conference room, Owen, Jack, Ianto and Tosh are reviewing tapes of Gwen’s resurrections. There’s some technobabble that boils down to the fact that when Gwen used the knife and gauntlet together on Suzie it tapped into her lifeforce; something that’s still being drained away. In essence, Suzie is slowly draining Gwen’s lifeforce. For Suzie to live, Gwen has to die.

As they’re talking, Gwen takes coffee and biscuits down to Suzie. It’s all a ruse, however, to pass her a note asking if she wants to go on a road trip. Gwen is taking Suzie to see her father.

“The wearer of the glove can bring somebody back but loses their own life in the process,” says Jack as we switch back to the conference room. Tosh asks how they stop it from happening and Jack says they have to kill Suzie. Again. Owen asks who’s going to do it and Jack pulls out his gun and says that he’s the boss. Of course, when he gets down to the interrogation room Suzie and Gwen are already gone.

Outside, Gwen is wheeling Tosh toward her car as Tosh scans for them but finds nothing on the internal scanner. The VOC is untouched so they try exteriors and see Gwen and Suzie getting in Gwen’s car.

“What’s she doing,” asks Owen and Jack says she’s trying to get herself fired. Owen actually asks how Gwen could be so stupid to think she could just drive off (I’m enjoying this episode so won’t touch that) and he and Jack head off to stop her. At that point, the base powers down and they’re stuck inside.

Jack yells for Ianto and Ianto says he thought Jack must have done it because it’s nothing to do with him. Ianto says the doors are sealed and there’s nothing he can do to reverse it. You’d think after that whole Cyberwoman incident they’d have realised that a manual override system was probably a good idea. Guess not.

As Gwen and Suzie drive off, Gwen’s saying she must be insane as Jack is bound to catch them. Suzie says, “you never know, you might get lucky,” and I have to admit this is the first twig for me that she was behind all this. She was definitely the one who shut down the base.

The team are huddled in the Hub with the torches and the confusion and Jack asks Owen how long they have before Gwen died. Owen says a maximum of two hours. They ask how Suzie could have locked down the base and Tosh says she couldn’t have: she's officially dead so the computer would never have given her access. Tosh is trying to reason it through. She says that Suzie could never have started the lockdown and there’s no one else. Jack twigs that in fact there is someone else in the base. Poor Max is still in the cells.

In the cells, lit with the red lighting of lockdown, Max is sitting reciting Emily Dickinson poems over and over again. Jack says it’s a verbal trigger that Suzie must have programmed into the system so if someone repeats the poem a number of times the Hub shuts down. They realise it would have to have been installed when she was alive and that Suzie’s been planning this all along. Yes, this is all a little too neat and her plan was reliant on so many things she could never have known would come about but, what the hell. At least it’s not just another rip off from the Buffyverse.

Jack and Owen run out leaving Max sitting naked in the cells chanting.

In the main Hub, the team realise that the whole thing has been a hoax to get them to resurrect Suzie if she ever died. Max was programmed so that if he didn’t hear from Suzie for a certain period of time (3 months) his orders would kick in. This triggered the whole sequence of events leading up to this point.

Tosh points out that if Suzie programmed the Hub to shut down she must have set up something to reverse the process if she needed to.

On the road, Gwen is starting to feel the effects of the link between herself and Suzie but dismisses it. She’s starting to look a bit wan and comments that Suzie is getting some more colour in her cheeks.

“It’s all thanks to you,” says Suzie, knowing that Gwen won’t get what she actually means. She’s been so incredibly manipulative for this whole episode.
Suzie asks Gwen about the events before she shot herself. She wants to know if she remembers correctly; if she really shot Jack in the head but he didn’t die.

“Am I right, did that happen?” she asks and Gwen says that it did. Suzie asks how he can survive a bullet through the head and Gwen says she doesn’t know because Jack won’t explain it properly.
“He says he can’t die, not ever,” says Gwen and Suzie is contemptuous that someone like that would make decisions about whether she’s allowed to live. “It’s all very easy for Captain Jack, isn’t it,” she says and asks if Gwen ever wonders who he is. Gwen admits she wonders that all the time.

You know, what I also like about this episode is that it explores these themes - of life and death and meaning and hope and how hard we should hold on to life and how easily we should accept death - with only the odd anvil crashing down upon us.

In the darkened Hub, Ianto yells out to Jack that he’s managed to get reception on the phone by using the water tower as a relay. Oh, that is a water tower. I was wondering about that episode where there was water coming down the walls. Hang on, why is there a water tower underground? Forget it, not important.

“Nice work, Ianto,” says Jack in his ‘I’ve suddenly realised how attractive you are, would you like a shag?’ voice that we know so well. Jack and Ianto, hey? Um, something to ‘look forward’ to.

Armed with a phone, Jack realises he doesn’t actually have anybody to call. He thinks and then we cut to the police department where Detective Swanson’s phone is ringing.

“Better not be wasting my time,” she says into the phone and Jack asks if she could do them a favour. “Humble police helping the mighty Torchwood,” she says, sarcastically, while looking at the crime scene photos with the word ‘Torchwood’ written in blood.

“Why don’t you just help yourselves like you normally do?” she asks and Jack says that he can’t because…are you ready…because they’re locked into their own top-secret subterranean base and can’t get out. Hah!

Detective Swanson also thinks this is hysterical and as she waves her team over she asks how she’s supposed to help. Jack actually has to say, “we need a book of poetry and it’s not funny.” She laughs and so do I.

Gwen is still driving and thinks she feels tired because she’s driving at night. She turns on the radio and some old song comes out. Suzie sadly says her Mum used to sing it. Suzie starts crying and Gwen looks concerned.

In the police department, Detective Swanson has called everyone over so Jack can repeat into the speaker phone that he’s locked into his own base. Everyone laughs and Jack says that she’s had her fun but that one of their team is in danger. Back to her usual professional self, Swanson tells everyone to go back to work and picks up a copy of the same Emily Dickinson anthology from Suzie’s locker. She asks Jack what she’s supposed to do and he asks her to find the poem Max was reciting, appropriately called ‘I Could Not Stop for Death’. He asks Swanson to read out the next verse and if that doesn’t work she’s going to have to read out the whole book. She hands her coffee cup to someone for a refill and notes that it’s going to be a long night.

Car again and Suzie’s gone all subtly maniacal. She asks if Gwen’s tired and Gwen says she’ll be fine. Gwen asks her about what happens after death and Suzie wants to know if she’s religious. Gwen says she’s not, really, but outlines her vision of life after death, which Suzie mocks for being the kind of faith they feed you in primary school. White light, seeing your Gran again, the smell of carbolic.

Gwen asks what’s up there and Suzie says there’s nothing, just darkness. “But if there’s nothing, what’s the point of it all,” says Gwen. Once again, I understand but can’t accept Gwen’s determination that life or anything has to have a conscious point behind it. Neither can Suzie, who says the point of life is life itself.

“We’re just animals howling in the night ‘cause it’s better than silence,” she says. “I used to think about Torchwood, all those aliens coming to Earth, what the hell for? But it’s just instinct. They come here ‘cause there’s life, that’s all. Moths around a flame. Creatures clinging together in the cold.”

Suzie says when you die it’s darkness and Gwen says that what, you’re all alone, there’s no one else. Suzie says she didn’t say that and why does Gwen think she was so desperate to come back. This statement seems to be saying she set up this elaborate plan from beyond the grave. Or maybe she saw what she believed beforehand and that belief was the reason she set up the plan? Maybe the afterlife is a self-fulfilling prophecy, like in a Discworld novel.

The camera moves across so Suzie is framed as though she’s alone in the night. She says there’s something in that darkness, moving.

Hubwards and Jack is citing poetry at the ceiling while Swanson feeds him Emily Dickinson from the other side of the phone. Anyone who’s read Emily Dickinson will know Swanson's not exaggerating when she sarcastically says she was a bundle of laughs.

Suddenly Tosh has a strange idea that I’m going to class as brilliant, rather than convenient because the writers need all the encouragement they can get. She thinks they should try reading out the ISBN number on the back of the book. Swanson reads it, Jack relays it and Tosh types it into a dead keyboard that she says might still recognise the numbers. (?)

Anyway, it works and the Hub comes back online. Jack thanks Swanson, whose first name is apparently Kathy, and she says ‘pleasure’: one part sincere and three parts bemused.

In a hospital, Gwen is pushing Suzie’s wheelchair through the hall toward her father’s room.

Hub again and Tosh says she has a tracker on Gwen’s car and she’s apparently at Greenleaves Hospital. She feeds the coordinates through to the VOC. Owen says Gwen has maybe 40 minutes to live and Jack asks Kathy to keep the motorway clear because he’s going to have to exceed the speed limit. She does, which is nice of her really.

In her father’s hospital room, Gwen shuts the door and then collapses against the wall saying that she doesn’t feel well and her head feels like a spike has gone through it. She touches the back of her head and realises she’s bleeding. She asks what’s happening to her and Suzie tells Gwen that she’s dying slowly of a gunshot wound to the head. She unwinds her scarf and reveals that her wounds are healed.

Gwen’s moaning and crying in the back of the room and Suzie approaches her father’s bed and asks him to wake up and see her. He opens his eyes and she grabs the respirator out of his mouth and tells him he’s a bastard who deserves to go into that blackness. We will never know what he did to her.

Suzie hauls Gwen into the wheelchair and takes her back through the hospital and into the car. As they drive off, Tosh reports to Jack that they’re moving and Jack tells her to keep feeding him the coordinates.

The phone rings and it’s Suzie in gloat mode, asking him if he liked the poem. He asks her to stop and she wonders why on Earth she’d do that. Jack says she should do it for Gwen’s sake and Suzie says Gwen replaced her and now she’s doing the same thing.

Jack tells her they have a tracker on the car and they’re going to catch up. Um, Jack, you just basically told her to ditch the car so you won’t be able to find them. Anyway, Suzie asks what happens when Jack catches up and Jack says he’s going to kill her.

“I’m going to kill you, Suzie Costello,” he says, “I’m going to kill you for the last and final time.” Suzie wants to know if he could really do that when there’s a part of [Gwen] that’s now in [Suzie]; if it’s the only thing left of her.

“Why are you doing this?” asks Jack, and she says it’s because life is all, something that he’s very well aware of. “I’d do anything to stay.” She starts in on the crazy about how Gwen is a real find because she’s better than her. Well, you’re a zombie homicidal maniac dear, I think most people are.

She says she was never any good and you wonder why someone who hates themselves so much would cling to life in this way. But I guess that’s the duality many people live with. She apologises to Jack and hangs up. Jack yells, “Suzie!” at the dead phone and for once doesn’t go OTT. The VOC streams through the night.

Tosh says she’s worked out where Suzie is going and it’s a Hedley Point where she can take a ferry to the islands.

Ok, I must admit I have been wondering how long this night could possibly be but have avoided saying anything. Now I have to because as the VOC drives down toward the point it’s suddenly totally broad daylight. Not dawn but like 10am. How’d that happen?

Continuity error aside, Suzie is at the Quay. She’s getting Gwen out of the car and toward the ferry. She’s saying they’ll take the ferry as far as they can and keep running and that Jack won’t hurt ‘them’. The VOC pulls up behind Gwen’s car and Jack and Owen run out onto the quay. Gwen has collapsed and Suzie’s over her all commiseration on her untimely death. Crazy crazy with a double side of crazy.

As she sees Jack and Owen approach, Suzie kisses Gwen on the forehead and runs towards the ferry. Owen stops to see if Gwen’s ok and Jack pulls his gun on Suzie and tells her to let Gwen go. Suzie says she can’t. Owen says he thinks he’s too late. Jack says killing Suzie is the only way to cure Gwen and Suzie says he can’t because she’s the only thing left of Gwen Cooper.

“Just the smallest bit of her,” she says, and Jack says, “not one bit,” and shoots her. Owen, looking at Gwen, says nothing happened and Jack realises Suzie’s still alive. He shoots her, over and over, until she rolls onto her back and says it’s all Jack’s fault because he recruited her.

Jack suddenly realises the glove is keeping Gwen and Suzie linked and tells Tosh to destroy it. “Captain, my Captain,” crazies Suzie as Ianto runs into the armoury to get a gun, “do you want to know a secret?” she says. Ianto tosses the gun to Toshiko who aims it at the glove.

“There’s something moving in the dark,” she says, “and it’s coming, Jack Harkness, it’s coming for you.”

Tosh fires at the glove and as Suzie dies, Gwen regains consciousness. Gwen’s breathing, but traumatised, blood caked on her head. Owen holds her head as she gasps and we pan out over the bay.

The mid-afternoon after the lunchtime before. Gwen is back in the Hub, looking a bit overwhelmed but quietly glad to be alive. Jack walks in, they have a meaningful look and then he leaves the room.

Down in the cryo-chamber, Ianto is preparing Suzie’s body for storage again. Jack sadly thanks him and notes that he’s the one he should be doing it…but. He looks around at the storage chambers, sighs and says, with the voice of someone who’s just realised that everyone around him is going to die while he’ll be forced to live on, that one day they’re going to run out of room.

Then Ianto says something so bizarre that I barely know how to recap it. He looks up, pauses for a minute and says, “If you’re interested, I’ve still got a stopwatch.” A what? A stopwatch?
Jack looks as confused as I am and asks, “So?”
“Well, think about it,” Ianto adds, “lots of things you can do with a stopwatch.”

A Stopwatch. A watch that stops. A. Stop. Watch.

Jack thinks for a minute, gets his ‘I’m getting laid face on’, smiles and says, “Oh yeah, I could think of a few.” Really? Could you tell me, ‘cause the most I’ve got is sprint training and that experiment my sister and I conducted when I was in highschool to find out whether water boiled faster with the lid off or on. Maybe they’re going to time who can make tea faster?

Jack says he’s going to send the others home early, presumably so they won’t have to share the tea, and for Ianto to meet him in his office in ten. Ianto gets this…look…on his face that I can only describe as knowing and says “that’s 10 minutes, and counting” and Jack walks off quickly.

A stopwatch?

“Oh Jack”, says Ianto to his back (no, not like that…I don’t think they’re going to do that with the stopwatch. Dirty minds). He’s suddenly serious as he asks what he should put on the death certificate because Suzie had a lot of deaths in the end. Jack thinks and says, “Death by Torchwood”.

A stopwatch.

Ianto says he’ll put a lock on the door in case she goes wandering again and Jack says there’s no chance of that because Torchwood’s resurrection days are over. “I wouldn’t be too sure,” says Ianto. “The thing about gloves, Sir, they come in pairs.”

Jack looks pensive and then leaves the room. And there you have it, the best episode of the season so far. Let’s hope it just gets better from here on in. Adieu. May all your sexual conquests know what to do with a timepiece.

Torchwood 'Greeks Bearing Gifts':Rating B

Before I begin, I would first like to offer my heartfelt apologies to all fans of the brothers Winchester who were furious at my insinuation that Supernatural is anywhere near as bad as Torchwood. I meant only that it is not the greatest show ever made and would certainly never imply that it’s not superior. In fact, after watching an episode of Torchwood I’d almost go so far as to say that SuperHotties is Shakespearian in comparison. That is, if any of Shakespeare’s characters had tight jeans and puppy-dog eyes.

So, on to episode 7. After I accused Torchwood of being derivative last week, the writers were determined to prove me wrong by coming up with a truly original storyline. Unfortunately, Buffy already did it and it was called Earshot. But if you don’t have a copy of Earshot, this’ll do as a recapper for you.

It’s night in the woods around Cardiff, 1812, and a blonde prostitute is leading an officer of the British army to a nice secluded spot for a tête-à-tête. She’s prattling on about how business has improved since they’ve been billeted in the area. She says her name’s Mary. A name in the first 10 seconds of the show. Thank you writers.

Anyway, Mary’s all down to business but Mr Officer proves he’s not an officer and a gentleman by promptly smacking her one. She looks for a second like she’s enjoying it (and I wouldn’t put Torchwood past that, let me tell you) but it’s all an act to distract him so she can scrape her nails down his face and then run off into the forest. I think Mary’s seen a bit too much violence in her life and isn’t up for any more.

He chases her and she runs into a clearing where there’s a sudden bright pulsating light. She runs toward it and he stops and grabs his gun. The light goes out and he moves forward, pistol cocked, and finds her standing there looking a bit confused. This scene is redolent of a historical flashback in Angel and Daniela Denby-Ashe is very Darla in this scene.

“Do whores have prayers,” asks Officer but not a Gentleman and we get a close up of her face, smiling and vacuously sinister (I think she was cast for this look alone) before we cut in a flash of light.

Daylight in the modern day. The VOC screeches into a quarry in its usual covert way and the gang pile out. It’s obviously a crime scene, covered with police cars, crime scene investigators, yellow tape and tents. The gang (sans Ianto who I guess has decided that last week was enough field work, thank you very much, and if he’s going to be eaten by something he’ll be happy with the pterodactyl) enter one of the tents. We pan over and behind the yellow tape we see a blonde woman in modern dress. As we close in on her face we see it’s Mary from the previous scene. And…flick flick flick. Torchwood.

That whole scene was done in a single shot btw, which is unusual for Torchwood and really looks good. I know that short sharp flick flick flick is supposed to build tension but single shots make a scene more realistic because it contextualises it.

Inside the tent Jack is saying something pointless, on par with his ‘contraceptive rain’ speech from the pilot. This episode was written by Toby Whithouse who can write a cracker episode of television (see School Reunion). Mind you, Chris Chibnall wrote the highly-acclaimed Life on Mars and Russell himself wrote The Second Coming. Maybe there’s just something going wrong with the Torchwood formula.

So the gang are gathered round a skeleton and a device that is apparently alien. Jack uses his wrist device to scan the artefact, which looks like a rusty anchor, and he says he can pick up ‘ilminite pyroxine and even dark matter’. He doesn’t use his sonic screwdriver anymore. It’s very sad.
Gwen asks if he knows what it is and he says it “could be a weapon or a really big stapler”.

Jack asks Owen about the skeleton and Owen says she’s dead. Oh, prat Owen again. Yay. Owen says that judging by the size of the skull, the skeleton is female. Jack asks Tosh how long the body has been there and she says that based on the depth at which they were buried “196 years, 11 to 11 and a half months”. She deadpans that the earth has been disturbed so she can’t be more accurate.
Oh my God, was that a joke? A Torchwood joke? Fantastic! More humour, people.

Owen says his preliminary analysis is that she was shot and Jack says they need to get her back to the Hub. Owen and Gwen flirt, something that Tosh sees quite clearly.

In the Hub, Owen and Gwen are still flirting like crazy. Owen tells Tosh that in the all the playfullness, he accidentally kicked out one of Tosh’s power chords and now her computer’s dead. Tosh is rightfully pissed and says she was running a translation program she’d written that took all the information they have on alien languages and was breaking them down into binary code to see if they had a common derivation. And can I just say, that that sounds absolutely fascinating. I wish the program had run and we could see the results. I wonder if the Daleks are actually like related to the Slitheen or something? They could have a common ancestor. Or we could find out that Timelords seeded life on Earth and shaped our evolution, kind of like the Ancients in Stargate. Sorry, sorry, enough of my inner geek. Onward and upward.

Owen turns to Gwen and says that Tosh’s technobabble was a ‘bit of a mouthful’. Gwen giggles and then says it’s a private joke. Oh, ergh. I hope that joke isn’t what I think that joke is. If it is, it really isn’t funny. Gwen quickly exits stage right as Tosh says that they’re supposed to be professionals and that they have a job to do. Oh Tosh, never a truer word was spoken on heaven or Earth.

Gwen apologises and, to her credit, seems genuinely chastened, but Owen, who truly is in prat mode this evening, says that sometimes he thinks the stick up Tosh’s ass has a stick up its ass. I’d take her, stick and all, over your nasty little ass any day Owen. He storms off and Gwen looks guilty but leaves as well, taking her down to his level in the process. Tosh is left to reboot her computer and try not to cry.

It’s later and Tosh is in a bar having a drink. Why do TV people go to bars by themselves when they’re depressed? Wouldn’t sitting in a bar all alone make you feel worse, not to mention making your lonely miserable life humiliatingly public?

As she’s sitting there, head in hand, a blonde girl approaches her and starts to ramble on about how a guy is staring at her and if she doesn’t distract herself soon she’s going to punch him and get barred. It’s Mary from 1812 (the year, not the overture) so we know she’s evil. However, just in case we hadn’t worked it out, she starts smoking like a chimney. Only evil people smoke, and chain smokers are demons from the pits of hell. Just ask Buffy.

For some reason, Mary then totally proves she’s evil, and a stalker, by letting slip that she knows who Tosh is. She gives us Tosh’s personal history: born in London, 1975 (if this is 2007, this makes her 32); lived in Osaka for a while and then moved back to England in 1986; parents in the RAF; “University blah blah”, Grandfather worked at Bletchley Park, snapped up to a Government think tank when she was 20 and recruited to Torchwood 3 years ago. Actually, the ‘blah blah’ was the bit I was interested in. What degree does Tosh have? It’d have to be an advanced one. Is she a doctor as was implied in Doctor Who or a technical specialist; because in Torchwood she seems to be both.

Mary says she saw Tosh at the building site this morning, and at this point I would be edging away quietly, not making any sudden moves. Tosh is wary but she’s too vulnerable at the moment and her guard is down.

“How do you know about Torchwood?” asks Tosh (insert joke about secret organisation with their name written on their car here) and Mary says there’s loads of information on the internet if you know where to look. She says she’s one of many scavengers; collectors of alien artefacts. Tosh asks who they are and Mary says they’re just a disparate bunch of IT guys who live with their mothers. Tosh rather unconvincingly says she shouldn’t talk to Mary and Mary totally calls her bluff and tells her to go. Ooh, Tosh is hooked. I guess Mary picked her victim well.

Hee, I just stopped the tape for a moment and I got the Simpson’s rendition of the Betty Ford Clinic musical. Bloody hysterical. Apropos of absolutely nothing, did anyone see the Ugly Betty season finale? That was exceptional. I cried.

So we’re still in the bar: Tosh and Mary have moved to a booth and Tosh is outlining her philosophy of alien life. You know, this storyline about isolation and loneliness is far more effective when it’s based on Tosh rather than Gwen. Three years with Torchwood and she now has no other life. No wonder she has a crush on Owen; he’s the only eligible male she sees on a regular basis. As this scene unfolds we see how desperate she is to have somebody to talk to and confide in. Basically all that stuff that Gwen said last week but coming from someone for whom it actually applies. For this reason, I’m going to forgive her for not seeing through Mary’s rather obvious lies and manipulation.

“What’s most amazing is the similarities with our own culture,” says Tosh. “We find lots of weapons and it just makes you think, my God, everyone wages war. It’s not a trait of ours but a trait of existence. It makes you feel so hopeless.” This dialogue is positively gushing out of her, as though a dam she didn’t even know existed has finally burst. “But then there are times…” she begins and she excitedly tells a story about an object she found that she spent three months deciphering before realising it was a letter from someone to their family. “It just made me cry because I thought, even across these unimaginable distances there are fundamentals that stay exactly the same and there’s no one to talk to about this.” She says the rest of the team don’t see things the way she does. She sounds like Suzie and let’s all remember that Suzie was crazy. She also hasn’t noticed that Mary has spent this entire monologue staring at her appraisingly, obviously waiting to make her move.

“I could be fired,” says Tosh, putting her drink down and turning away. Mary sees her opportunity. She leans forward and grabs a small case. “I want to show you something,” she says and she pulls out a kind of pendant, gives it to Tosh and asks her to put it on. And Tosh just…does.

As Tosh puts the pendant round her neck, she is suddenly deluged by sensations, overwhelmed by sensory input as she begins to hear the thoughts of the people around her. Again with the flick flick flick of the quick camera shots and all the time Mary is watching her reaction with amusement more than anything else.

“They’re people’s thoughts,” says Mary, “they’re people’s thoughts, Toshiko”. Toshiko is still overwhelmed as Mary tries to talk her down. Toshiko doesn’t seem to notice that in all of this she can’t hear Mary’s thoughts.

Mary tells Tosh to hone in on her voice and to shut everything else out. She starts speaking to her telepathically and Tosh nods that she can hear her. Mary continues to tell her to hone in on Mary’s voice only and that it takes practice but that Tosh can learn to control it. “What am I thinking…” she mind speaks to her and, as Tosh finally blocks out the other minds, “…that I want to kiss you”. Tosh, freaked out now, pulls the pendant off her neck and throws it onto the table.

Mary apologises and says that sometimes you can’t control your thoughts. Tosh says she understands.
“Where did you get it?” she asks and Mary says that it’s been in her family a long time. Tosh picks it up again and says it’s incredible and that she’s never seen anything like it.
“It’s more than incredible,” says Mary, “with this you can read people’s minds, you can level the pitch between Man and God.”
Man and God? Wha…never mind.
Then Mary says she wants Tosh to keep it. Really odd behaviour all round, but Tosh still hasn’t twigged that she has an agenda. Mary says she’s had the device too long and that after a while you don’t want to use it anymore because you hear too much.

Tosh says she’ll have to show it to the others and Mary says that she won’t. Tosh disagrees and Mary sticks to her guns. She says she knows the pendant and that Tosh won’t tell.

It’s the next day and Tosh is arriving at work as Ianto is coming up for his stint in the tourist information office. He very politely but kind of sadly says good morning and she waits for him to go in before putting the pendant on.

As she walks in the door, she’s confronted straight away with everyone’s thoughts. Owen is thinking about his autopsy and wondering what caused such a perfect hole in the victim’s chest. Tosh opens her mouth to tell them about the pendant but she keeps getting distracted by their thoughts. Owen is thinking she’s boring and Gwen is criticising her outfit. Then Buffy finds out that her mother slept with Giles, on the hood of a police car. Twice. I mean, Tosh finds out that Gwen and Owen are having an affair. Tosh is shocked by this, although I don’t know why. These two have been running around with ‘we’re shagging’ tattooed on their foreheads all episode.

As Gwen wonders if she could get Owen to come down to the vault, but that she couldn’t do it in front of a Weevil (thank God for that) Tosh decides not to tell.

Later, as Tosh is sitting at her desk, Ianto walks in and begins cleaning up. He thinks “Pain’s so constant, like my stomach’s full of rats. Feels like this is all I am now. There isn’t an inch of me that doesn’t hurt.” But when he opens his mouth he says as if he’s trying so hard to be happy “I’m about to brew some of Jack’s industrial-strength coffee. Would you like a cup?”
“I’m fine,” says Tosh. She thanks him and pulls off the pendant, having seen too much.

As she walks home, Tosh finds Mary smoking in an evil, stalker way outside her house. How does Mary not freak Tosh out? This is not too much of a criticism, see previous. Mary asks Tosh if she told them about the pendant and Tosh, still upset by the experience, says “No, I didn’t” and clumps off inside. Mary follows her in.
“What made you change your mind?” asks Mary and then expresses surprise that Tosh listened to her co-workers using the pendant. Ooh, this girl’s manipulative.
“See I told you,” she says, “isn’t it incredible, some of the stuff you hear?”
Tosh holds up the pendant and throws it on the ground, asking Mary why she gave it to her. Good question, Tosh.

“The things I heard,” says Tosh, “what they thought of me.” She says they’re supposed to be her friends, they’re supposed to like her. Mary says they do like her. “People are complicated,” she explains and says that the pendant picks up people’s deepest thoughts, stuff they’re not even aware they’re thinking. As she’s saying this, she’s doing a quick scan of Tosh’s photographs and life, noting the photo of Owen on the fridge. Tosh says you think you know somebody but inside they’re just bastard little kids. So true; aren’t we all just little kids kicking and screaming at the world?

Mary goes into seduction mode and brings the pendant over to Tosh telling her that not everyone is that way. “They pity me,” says Tosh and she’s almost crying. “You don’t pity me.”

“Why would I?” asks Mary. There’s some very odd dialogue here about whose thoughts are whose and that Mary wants to have sex with her. For some reason, Tosh decides she feels the same way. Actually, I might decide to buy this as an abusive relationship in a microcosm. Mary has systematically created a world that only Tosh and she can share and has undermined her relationship with her friends so that she seems to be the only one Tosh can rely on. It just would have been more effective over several weeks rather than 20 minutes.

Later, Tosh lies in bed, covered in only a sheet, feeling lost and confused at where her life has gone in just one day. Mary comes back into the room and says Tosh has no ashtrays and that she’s using an egg cup instead. Tosh turns away from her and Mary quite patronisingly asks her if she’s ok; if she’s freaking out a little.

Mary sees a birthday card from Owen, still on Tosh’s dresser despite the fact that her birthday was apparently months ago. She connects the card with Owen from work and the photo and thinks she’s a rebound shag. Tosh says she’s not, there’s nothing between her and Owen and she now knows there never will be thanks to the “bloody pendant”. Tosh gets into a robe and hops back into bed, pulling the covers over her head like a little girl.

Mary gets out of bed and grabs the pendant. There’s some really annoying camerawork in this episode. They keep slowing down and then speeding up bits of the film, interspersed with white flashes. She holds the pendant up and tells Tosh that truly extraordinary things can come of using it. Tosh is sceptical so Mary tells her to wear it in a crowded, public place.

We see Tosh walking into just such a place but then cut back to Tosh’s place where she’s moved on to angry. “I’m sick of these riddles, what’s going on,” asks Tosh. “I told you,” says Mary and Tosh asks her why she’s really there and if Mary is even her real name. Man I like Tosh’s character way more than Gwen. She has some brains and some natural scepticism.

“Here’s another name,” says Mary. Philoctetes. She laughs. I’m Philoctetes.

In a square somewhere in Cardiff, Tosh is putting on the pendant and bearing the brunt of the emotional onslaught. This scene is straight out of Earshot, you know, when Buffy’s in the cafeteria? It has the same confused babble of voices, the physical affect on our hero from the assault of other people’s thoughts and, finally, the lone voice of hate and rage bursting through. “I’m gonna kill ‘em, I’m gonna kill ‘em, I’m gonna kill em” over and over.

In this case though, Tosh knows where the voice came from. It’s a man and Tosh follows him through the streets to his house. He’s there to kill his ex-wife and his son but before he can do it, Tosh bursts in and stops him by whacking him over the head with a golf club.

Back at the Hub, Tosh walks in to find Gwen and Owen running around yelling “we’re having sex, we’re having sex.” Well, not really. But seriously, these two are so painful in this episode.

Anyway, it turns out that Owen’s initial analysis of the skeleton found at the building site was incorrect. Instead of being a woman killed by a single gunshot, it’s actually a man killed by a large object moving into his chest at high velocity. The only thing they know is that it wasn’t a gunshot wound.
“Was there in fact any part of (your) prognosis that was right?” asks Gwen in tease mode and Owen says he was right that it was a skeleton and doesn’t correct her on the incorrect use of the word prognosis.
Then they go back to having a pillow fight and tickling each other in their pyjamas.

Jack moves into the other room and starts making a call on his phone to the Prime Minister. I thought that Torchwood was ‘outside the Government’. Tosh follows him in and asks him about Philoctetes. He says Philoctetes was an archer recruited to fight in the Trojan War who got into an argument and was marooned on the island of Lemnos for ten years.

“Hey,” Jack calls after her as she turns to leave, “what’s happening with that list for UNIT?” Oh, UNIT, we miss you!
Tosh says she’s getting to it and Jack very subtlety points out that sooner would be better than later. He then gets back to his call and starts asking the Prime Minister why Torchwood operations has started to be included in security briefings to the Opposition Leader. Who’s Prime Minister at this point? Harriet Jones or ? Just nearly gave away a Doctor Who spoiler. Sorry!

Having coffee, Tosh tells Mary about how she used the pendant to save the family’s life and that she can see now how it can be used for good. Mary embarrasses her by saying that she’s done something very brave and sexy and now she has to kiss her. They do. Mary asks Tosh about what she told everyone at work and Tosh says she didn’t tell them anything. This seems to fit into Mary’s plan because she says she thinks it’s wise and looks pleased. Then she asks about the technology found at the building site. Ah ha! That’s what she’s after. Tosh says Jack is dealing with it and Mary nearly gives the game away by saying “but I thought you did all the technological stuff?”

Tosh says she’s doing an admin task at the moment and that Jack hasn’t said anything about what the artefact is. Mary then makes it seem as though Tosh isn’t getting any respect at work by saying that “if he’s keeping stuff from you I’m sure there’s a reason”. Tosh looks pensive and we know she’s going back to Torchwood with the pendant to find out what Jack knows. What was that quote from that show? “Flatter ‘em, doubt ‘em, challenge ‘em. Works every time.” I think Mary watches Press Gang.

Back in the Hub, Owen is still examining the skeleton and Gwen is thankfully nowhere to be seen. Tosh asks why he’s still working on it and Owen says he thinks it might be a ritualistic killing. Tosh hands him a coffee and he tells her she’s gorgeous. Sans pendant, she takes his words at face value, which is how they were intended. Owen says he’s investigated satanic rituals of the time and found nothing about cutting out people’s hearts.

“They ate eyeballs, they drank blood, they had sex with animals, but they did not pluck out each other’s hearts ‘cause obviously that would have been weird,” he says. Hee.

Tosh asks why he’s worried since whatever did this can’t hurt anyone anymore and Owen asks her if the chest wound reminds her of anything. She says it looks like Alien, when the creature bursts out of John Hurt’s chest.

“I’m sorry, I should have been more specific,” he says, “Does that remind you of anything helpful.” They laugh and Tosh apologises.
“Go over there and do your computer stuff and think about shoes, will you?” says Owen. This is a nice little scene. Human relationships as they’re meant to be.

Tosh goes to leave but stops and asks about the artefact that was found with the skeleton. Owen says Jack hasn’t said anything to him about it. Looking thoughtful, Tosh gets the pendant out of her bag and puts it on. As she does, Gwen enters and their thoughts inevitably turn to sex and insecurity. Owen’s determined not to look at her and Gwen varies between thinking that’s a good thing and being hurt that he won’t. Tosh has had enough, as have all of us really, and she storms off, presumably to find Jack.

Tosh walks into the room where the device is lying on the table, still looking like an intergalactic rusty anchor. Jack comes down the stairs and says he’s just had an interesting conversation with a DI Henderson who has enormous hands and who told Jack about Tosh saving the child and his mother from being murdered.

“I was going to tell you about that,” says Tosh and Jack asks why she didn’t. They’re circling each other in this scene and it seems as though Tosh is trying to read his mind but can’t.
“Stuff happens all the time that’s not pertinent to here,” notes Tosh and Jack asks if she goes around randomly saving people’s lives all the time.

“You secretly fight crime, is that it Tosh,” asks Jack and Tosh says she just didn’t want to seem as though she was showing off. Jack questions her about the details; it seems Tosh told the police he was muttering to himself as he was walking along and that’s what tipped her off. Jack says it’s a bit strange as when he’s planning to murder somebody he doesn’t talk to himself about it in the street. See, if I was Tosh at this point I’d ask how often he’d done this murdering people thing.

While they’re having this conversation, Jack starts cuddling the device having obviously already bought it dinner and a movie. Tosh asks him if he’s found out anything about the artefact. Jack looks at her suspiciously and says his analysis is ongoing.

Buffy turns away and as she tries to probe Angel 's mindshe realises she can’t hear any of his thoughts. Angel says Buffy can’t read his thoughts because he’s a vampire and can never die and the thoughts create no reflection in her. Or perhaps it’s Tosh trying to probe Jack and he stands up quickly and looks at her as though he could tell she was trying to read his thoughts. As she leaves he tells her that it was a good save, referring once again to the family.

Back home again, Mary is unpacking groceries that apparently contain wine and coffee, and Tosh is once again turned away and looking pensive. She’s got a lovely red shirt on in this scene and looks really pretty. Not that that has anything to do with the plot. So anyhoo, Tosh says she’s giving Torchwood the pendant. “You’re right,” she says, “it’s not like reading someone’s diary, it’s so much worse, and it makes me feel dirty and ashamed and now I’ve been spying on my friends.”
“Some friends,” says Mary, “they pity you, they exclude you, they’ve got you doing bloody admin.” Tosh says “so what” and I really hope she’s realised that Mary has totally changed her tune from earlier.

Tosh says Torchwood will just want to ask Mary a few questions and Mary starts pacing around the room as she says that if she goes into Torchwood she won’t come out again. “What are you talking about,” asks Tosh, “they’re not the Stasi.”
Tosh says she’s going to call Jack and Mary goes all psycho alien voice on her as she tells her to put the phone down. With a voice like that, do you think she’s a Goa'uld? Mary closes her eyes and transforms into an alien. She’s tall and slim and emits a blue light and has tentacles coming out of her face and head. She floats above the ground toward Tosh, who is fascinated.

“This is why you can’t tell them,” says Mary. Tosh asks who she is and Mary non-answers her by saying she’s still the person Tosh kissed and caressed. Then she morphs back into her human form. She looks at Tosh and asks her to say something. Tosh says she’s shagging both a woman and an alien and Mary asks her which is worse. “I know what my parents would say,” says Tosh. Deadpanned. Hee. Another joke.

Tosh twigs that she read Mary’s thoughts and never saw this in them. Mary starts to give Tosh her sob story about being a political dissident from a planet of enforced worship and execution squads. She was exiled to Earth for her beliefs. Mary says the pendant is how her people communicate. She says that speaking orally is so archaic.
She lights up a cigarette of evilness and manipulation and tells Tosh that the machine they found with the body is a transporter. She says it can send her back home and that she needs to use it before it’s dismantled. Tosh asks how she can return home and Mary says 200 years have passed and there’ll be a new government in power.

“Then why hasn’t someone come back for you,” asks Tosh and Mary says she’s been forgotten, like Philoctetes on Lemnos. Tosh asks Mary to come to Torchwood so they can help her. Mary says if she goes to Torchwood they’ll examine her and then lock her in a cell. She says humans aren’t interested in discovering alien cultures and she’s glad we haven’t been able to reach other planets yet as we are a culture of invasion. “Do you really think I’m going to walk, hands raised in surrender into that?” asks Mary.

Tosh goes for a walk around Cardiff Bay with the pendant on, hearing everyone’s little secrets until she finally pulls the pendant off.

Back in the Hub, Owen is still mystified by the skeleton with the hole in its chest. He starts searching hospital records. Tosh is lying on her bed at home talking about how using the pendant has changed her, that she can’t forget the things she’s heard. Jack is standing on another bloody roof. We flick back and forth between the three of them as Owen finds similar cases in the archives about bodies being found with their hearts removed and Tosh saying the pendant must have been sent to drive people mad.

Mary is smoking in one of Tosh’s armchairs listening to her slowly going crazy and Owen keeps going back through unsolved murders where the heart was removed..

Should I mention at this point that Buffy also took to her bed because she was going crazy and heart removal (albeit of a demon) was a part of Earshot? No? Ok then.

“This is completely impossible,” says Owen and as Tosh says that Mary was right with everything she said about humans, Owen rings Jack and tells him to come to the Hub.

Tosh says she can’t be a part of it any longer and as the crazy crazy camera zooms in on her and she asks Mary to tell her what to do, Mary says “Get me into Torchwood.” Which is the exact opposite of what she was saying 10 minutes ago but I think we’re supposed to buy that Tosh is so far gone now that she’s not thinking straight. It’s all a bit sudden really.

Mary walks into the Hub and she’s all crazy evil alien, while Tosh notices that the transportation device is gone. “So where is it, lover?” Mary asks Tosh and Tosh goes to find it. Mary says she should be quick as she has a long journey ahead and “might need something to eat before she goes.”

“Is this what you’re looking for?” asks Jack, appearing at the upstairs landing with the device in his hand. As he slowly comes downstairs, he starts telling one of his painful stories, about a friend called Vincent who disappeared for a few months and came back Vanessa. He says that ever since then he starts to get a bit worried when a friend acts out of character.

He introduces himself to Mary and says he’s guessing she’s “not from around these parts”. He holds up the device and says it’s incredible. Tosh says it’s a transporter and that Mary is a political exile. And at this point my tape runs out. Damn you Channel 10! I mean, ‘Seriously’ how could Big Brother run over by an HOUR. However, thanks to the wonder that is my work’s geek network, I now know how this episode ends. Thanks guys!

Anyway, Tosh is still buying this whole innocent political exile act but Jack interrupts to say that the transporter is made for two, a prisoner and a guard. He says, hee, that for all he knows Mary’s people are squids and it’s a “two squid transporter”. Once again, not exactly ‘Champagne Comedy’ but at least this episode is trying to inject a little irony.

So, Jack asks Mary about the guard and Mary smirks and says she killed him but was disturbed by the real Mary. We flash back to the woods from the beginning and see her take over Mary’s body. Back in the present, the door of the hub rolls back and Gwen walks in, then we’re back in the forest where the soldier is coming to shoot Mary. He fires but Mary rams her arm into his chest and pulls out his heart. Then we have a very silly shot of her maniacally bringing the bloodied heart to her mouth.

Owen is there too now, where’d he come from? Anyway, Owen says she’s been plucking out people’s hearts for a long time now and Mary says “this form needs to be fed”. Since people don't usually survive on raw offal alone, this statement also makes no sense but since it's not as ludicrous as 'Day One' or 'Cyberwoman' we'll just accept and move on.

Owen says she’s killed lots of people and she starts on in about how much she loves the human form. Ianto’s there now too. What is there, a secret passage into the Hub? Anyway, Mary says she knew the device was buried under the city and that she was safe. But when it was unearthed she could feel it. Tosh puts the pendant on (why?) and as she listens to everyone thinking that it’ll all be ok if they just keep Mary talking, Mary suddenly moves swiftly across the Hub floor, grabs Tosh and puts a knife to her throat.

Mary says she wants the transporter and she’ll swap Tosh for it. Ianto is thinking “God, not again, not again.” Mary decides to really turn the knife in Tosh by telling Owen that she’ll swap Tosh for Gwen. Owen of course thinks “No, not Gwen” and Mary says that Tosh can see what her so-called friends really think of her.
“She read my thoughts,” thinks Owen, “she actually read my thoughts.”

“It’s not true, Tosh,” says Owen but Mary’s saying that whatever she’s done it doesn’t change the way she feels about Tosh. Which would be more convincing if she didn’t have a great big knife to her throat.

“Toshiko,” Jack thinks at her, “don’t do anything until I say.” Out loud he says that he thinks the transporter for Toshiko is a good swap. Mary lets go of Tosh and moves toward the transporter. As she puts her hands in each side of the transporter she says that Jack smells different and asks him what he is. “I don’t know,” says Jack.

As they’re flirting or threatening each other or something, the transport activates and Jack says he reprogrammed it. As they watch open-mouthed, Mary is transported away. Jack tells Tosh he reset the co-ordinates and Mary has been sent to the centre of the sun.

Tosh is a bit upset and asks Jack if he killed her. “Yes,” says Jack emphatically and walks away.

Night in the Hub and Owen and Gwen are having a pow wow about how they need to talk to Tosh. Tosh, still upset, leaves the briefing room and walks toward them. Owen abuses her for eavesdropping on their private thoughts and storms away. God he’s a prat. Gwen stays behind and tells Tosh that she and Owen can’t really take the moral high ground. Glad she realises that. Tosh says that what she did was an invasion and that she has to live now with what she heard and what she did to Gwen.

Gwen says she knows she should stop sleeping with Owen but that she’s not going to. She asks what that says about her and Tosh says she’s hardly in a position to make judgements. “That what I’m saying, Tosh,” says Gwen, “neither am I.” Nice. Then she says that in the last couple of days Tosh has had a ‘look about her’ and that ‘love suited her’. Really? ‘Cause all I saw was her mooning about the place looking sad and overwhelmed. Nice thing for Gwen to say though. I’ve never liked her so much.

Tosh leaves and Gwen looks sad.

Night over Cardiff, Jack and Tosh are standing in the Roald Dahl Plass, having a loud conversation about a piece of alien technology. I hope their confidentiality agreement doesn’t have penalties that are too harsh or else these people are going down. Anyway, Tosh holds up the pendant and says it could be the most powerful thing on Earth, capable of bringing down government and armies. She then smashes it under her feet. I like her boots.

Tosh then asks Jack why she couldn’t read his mind and Jack says that he doesn’t know but that he could feel her ‘scrabbling around in there’. Tosh says it was like he was dead. Jack smiles and then tells Tosh he wants the list for UNIT on his desk tomorrow.

“What do regular bosses get to do in situations like these?” asks Jack and there’s some nice banter.

“Something Mary said,” starts Tosh, "probably the only honest thing she ever did say, when I asked her why she gave it to me, she said that after a while it gets to you, it changes how you see people. How can I live with it?”

Jack takes her hand and tells her that there are some things we’re not supposed to know.
“You got a snapshot, nothing more,” he says. Jack wipes her tears and walks away. I’ve never liked him so much either. We pan over a silent Cardiff at night to finish.

Well done Toby Whithouse, if only the producers didn’t insist on inserting a lesbian sex scene into everything it would have been good. Oh well. See you next week at the civilised time of 12am Wednesday morning.