Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Torchwood 'Countrycide' - Rating C-

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Motel Hell, Delicatessen, Soylent Green, Doctor WhoThe Two Doctors’, X-FilesOur Town’, and The Hills Have Eyes. If you thought Torchwood was juvenile, unfunny and derivative, then feast your eyes on ‘Countrycide’, where the only thing original and witty is the name.

For tonight’s viewing pleasure we have: an isolated village (check); people disappearing (check); heroes under siege (check); a conspiracy (check), sex (check); and cannibalism (check). Seen this before? You should have, it’s horror staple without the horror. I even caught glimpses of Jeepers Creepers, Shaun of the Dead and of course Supernatural.

Actually, if you have some Supernatural still on video or DVD somewhere, watch that instead. It doesn’t have much in the way of plotting or dialogue either, but at least it has the enormous one’s shoulders and the bandy-legged one’s much-vaunted backside. Better yet, rent Shaun of the Dead because it is a cracker.

So, on to tonight’s ‘homage’, which is the polite way I’m sure the show’s producers are trying to sell it, and we start on the obligatory dark, lonely, winding road where a vulnerable blonde girl is driving by herself. She’s listening to a song called ‘Monster’ by The Automatic very loudly and chatting to her friend when her mobile suddenly cuts out.

She slows down as she comes across something that looks like a body lying in the road. As she gets out of the car to check, she grabs a baseball bat, but leaves the car wide open and the keys in the ignition.

No, seriously.

As she approaches the body, the music is still blaring out of her sound system. She asks the body in the road if it’s alright and starts to tap it with the bat. Behind her, we see ‘something’ move across the screen quickly in front of her car. Already-so-very-very-dead girl rolls the body over and it’s just a hoodie with a soccer ball inside it.

The music from her car suddenly stops and, realising it’s a trap, she runs back to the car in time to see her tyre deflate. She jumps into the car anyway and locks the door but realises her keys are gone from the ignition. The phone of course won’t work and she hears something walking on the roof of her car. You know, this should be scary but for some reason it isn’t. I guess it’s trying too hard. Also, the keys and the tyre are very human things to do so less than 2 minutes in I already suspect the villain of the piece isn’t supernatural.

Suddenly the door locks remote activate and someone pulls her out, screaming.

Flick, flick, flick and we’re on New Earth. Apple grass! You know, they probably shouldn’t film a Doctor Who spinoff in the same locations they film Doctor Who, particularly if that location was previously supposed to be an alien planet. For the first half of this episode I kept expecting to see Cassandra and the Face of Bo.

As the words ‘Countrycide’ by Chris Chibnall (he also wrote Day One) appear on the screen, a car zooms down a country road and Owen’s voice says “I hate the countryside”. And I hate Chris Chibnall so now we’re both in sync with the credits.

Inside the VOC, Jack is looking pensive while Owen, the craggy-faced arrogant one, whinges about the countryside: it’s unhygienic and the grass smells. Considering 90% of Britain is cultivated and Cardiff is hardly what I’d call a thriving metropolis…what was my point…oh yeah, shut up Owen.

As they stop for a bite to eat from a van in the middle of nowhere, Jack expositions that 17 people have disappeared from this patch of road within a 20-mile radius.
“Police are clueless,” says Jack and Owen says, “now there’s a surprise.”
(Do you think these people are deluded or just in denial about their effectiveness?)

“No offence, PC Cooper,” says the craggy-faced one and ew, is he flirting? Gwen Incopetent Cooper smiles as though she thinks his playful, if continual, abuse is cute. I guess she’s getting used to it.

Gwen asks if anything links the victims and Jack says that none of the bodies have ever been found. He says they just disappeared and that there’re no patterns in terms of age, race or sex. Ah, that would be another of Russell’s serial killers then. For some reason, this random nothingness has attracted Torchwood’s attention.

Gwen asks if the rift spreads out this far and Jack says he doesn’t know. He says it’s increasing in activity all the time and you already know what I think about that statement. Owen says aliens aren’t going to bother with the country and it’s probably some kind of suicide club and then gives us another rendition of “City Boys don’t like the country” with a very nice dance routine as well.

Meanwhile, Ianto is fulfilling his main function by buying food, burgers to be precise. What is Ianto doing on a field trip? Is he a member of the team now? He tells them to be careful ‘cause the burgers are ‘ot. Tosh refuses to eat it because her friend once got hepatitis from eating one. The others decide they don’t want to eat their food either. Considering what the locals eat around here, that was probably a wise choice for their future health and happiness. Oops, spoiler!

Jack tells the team that ‘Ellie Johnson’ was the last victim and her mobile phone signal was last detected nearby. Oh, poor Ellie Johnson. Like all Torchwood victims, you were only granted a name after you died. Jack points to Ellie’s last known location on his big big map and says it’s as good a place as any to set up camp. Oh no, what will Owen say about having to stay overnight in the wilderness of Wales? Maybe there’ll be hijinks.
“Did you say camp?” says Owen disbelievingly.

Owen is asking why they couldn’t stay in a hotel as he and Jack unpack three ‘covert’ gigantic military-issue tents. I hope they got a camping permit ‘cause Brecon Beacons is a national park. Jack asks if Owen wants to stay somewhere where they might be locked in with the murderers and Owen makes an excellent point about murderers and the safety of sleeping in the middle of nowhere by themselves. Unless that’s Jack’s plan? Yeah, make them into targets and then they’ll know who the bad guys are about the same time as they get tortured and killed. Excellent plan!

Jack says that no other race in the Universe goes camping and that Owen should celebrate the uniqueness of humanity. I’m just leaving that one alone. Owen looks at his tent lying, um, flaccid on the ground and Tosh asks if he “needs a hand getting it up?” He says that if he did he wouldn’t ask her. And, burn. What did Tosh ever do to deserve that? Tosh seems a bit upset about it too as she walks off, kind of like she has a crush on the craggy-faced one. Since when?

Gwen looks appraisingly at Owen, like, what for are you being a tosser? As they continue getting prepared, we see they are being watched from the bushes by monster cam. It’s like fairy cam but a different colour. There’s one very nice shot of a hill in the national park with the shadow of the clouds racing across it and we’re back in the campsite with a wind blowing up.

Owen’s having no luck with his tent and Gwen has decided to ‘lighten the mood’ by asking everyone who they last snogged. Considering the last person I saw her snog was Owen, I’m not sure that’s the topic I would be raising. Unless she wants to find out if Owen’s probed anyone else’s innards since then. Or perhaps she wants to find out if she’s got some competition in regards to Jack? She wouldn’t ask if she didn’t think there’d been some intra-team snogging going on or who’d care about the answer?

“You even sound like an 8-year-old; who the hell says snog,” remarks Owen, not at all realising the irony of accusing somebody else of immaturity. Gwen says the last person she checked for tonsillitis was boring boyfriend, no surprises there, and Tosh tries to avoid the question. Pressed, she admits the last person she locked luscious lips with was Owen. Oh no, a love triangle.

Owen makes it worse by denying it. I can’t criticise him too much, I once completely forgot I’d asked a certain someone to the formal and only remembered 5 years later. Anyway, apparently there was some lip action at 3am on Christmas Eve. Owen then goes further down in our estimation by mocking Tosh for not getting any smoochies since Christmas. Poor Tosh seems to have been holding on to this scant evidence of regard for a long time and she’s a little crushed by Owen’s forgetfulness.

“So who was yours,” asks Tosh, pushing the bruise, and Owen thinks for all of 2.5 seconds before blurting out that it was Gwen. Gwen’s pissed at him, but if she didn’t want anyone to know why bring up the subject? Jack looks a bit taken aback that someone else has been stroking his loveable but thick pet puppy (no, not like that! Bloody Torchwood-watching perverts). Now I guess it’s actually a love quadrangle.

To Jack’s credit, he comes over so when Owen asks him he can deflect attention from Gwen. “Are we including non-human lifeforms?” asks Jack. This lightens the mood for all of ten seconds before Ianto tells them his last kiss was Lisa, dredging up some unpleasant memories for all of them. Actually, if I remember that episode correctly, Ianto’s last oesophageal probe was Jack. So I guess it’s a love pentagon. Welcome to Torchwood.

Owen suggests they get some firewood and Gwen accepts with such alacrity that it’s not clear if she’s avoiding Ianto or trying to get Owen alone. I pray for the former but then remember what show I’m watching. As they trudge through the woods, Gwen is angrily telling Owen that he should have kept that piece of information to himself. She calls him an arrogant shit (spot on) and he tells her it was a good kiss. I’ve only just realised that they’ve dressed Gwen in the most unflattering pale-green jacket with no bra on underneath.

Anyway, Owen tells Gwen that he can tell she’s sexually unsatisfied because Rhys no longer rocks her boat or something and that because she and Owen don’t like each other the sex would be fantastic. This being a television show, she throws him against a tree so that he can spin her around and throw her against the tree. Yawn.

He says, oh God I can’t. Don’t make me! He says…stuff… about her unsatisfying sex life and it actually seems like she’s buying into this whole thing. I guess she didn’t buy that dictionary as I asked. Oh well, at least Owen isn’t Jack: pet puppy and the long-coated one have zero sexual tension.

Anyway, just as she’s about to give in to Owen’s very romantic “how about a shag?” proposition, Gwen spies someone watching them through the trees. There is a moment when they look like they’re just going to do it up against the tree anyway but instead they grab their guns and run after their friendly neighbourhood voyeur.

Lots of running through the woods action, as Gwen once again proves she’s the most poorly-trained police officer in British history. Eschewing anything like a formal search pattern, she runs around in circles, terrified by shadows, jabbing her weapon into the air in front of her as she spins. Also, she’s scared silly even though nothing bad has actually happened to her, it’s still daylight and all she saw was some guy watching them. And this ladies and gentlemen is supposed to be a professional.

She and Owen finish their lesson in search and destroy tactics and expert weapons handling techniques by nearly shooting each other. Unfortunately for all of us they didn’t succeed, so we can all look forward to them investigating the intricacies of inappropriate office relationships at a later time.

As they’re standing there wandering if they should shoot each other or just have at it on the forest floor, Gwen spots something behind them and jabs her gun in its direction. Owen spins round with his weapon as well and we have a close up of their terrified faces before we see that it’s a body, or rather a jacket hiding something that looks like a body.

Gwen gestures to Owen with her gun, once again nearly shooting him in the process, and Owen moves to the blood-stained jacket and prepares to unveil what’s underneath. The music in this scene is all like ‘oh my God, this is scary, very scary, be prepared to be scared’ but it’s like, not. Maybe if it was night and there’d already been a murder or something but this? Nup.

Owen flicks the jacket off and he and Gwen jump back in shock. It’s a science lab skeleton painted red!! Oh my God, someone’s stealing from schools!! Gwen’s all freaked out, that being her one usual emotion, and Owen looks like he’s about to be sick. Flies buzz on the soundtrack so there must be some flesh left and…ad break.

Back from the ads, the team are gathered around the body while Owen examines it. I thought Tosh was the medical pathologist? Wasn't she the one examining the body in last week's episode? God I'd kill for some decent characterisation from this show, not to mention continuity.

Ianto is taping off the crime scene and Owen is telling us the body belongs to a 40-year-old male, so it’s not Ellie Johnson. He says the person was killed somewhere else and dumped there later. Gwen asks why they would do that (dumb, dumb, she’s so dumb) and Ianto says it might be a warning. Oh Ianto, you’re the only one with brains. Jack asks Owen about the cause of death and Owen says it’s impossible to say.

In the distance, we hear the sound of the VOC starting up and the team leap up and run back toward the campsite. As they pelt into the clearing, they see the SUV destroying the campsite before driving off. So, they were camping in the middle of nowhere investigating what they suspect is a supernatural or alien serial killer and they left their car unlocked and the keys in the ignition? As I’ve said before, these people deserve to die.

Jack says he thinks the body was a decoy to distract them while they stole the truck. Jack asks Tosh if she can get a tracking signal and Ianto says it’s already done. Ianto: two, the rest of the team combined: nil. And, as they keep pointing out in the forums, Gareth David-Lloyd looks pretty good in jeans so I’m gonna give him an extra point for that.

Owen says whoever stole the car is probably going 90 and is over the border by now. Oh sorry, that’s right, we’re on an island that is 90% developed, yet apparently there’s a village so isolated that no one gets asked questions when 17 people disappear.

Anyway, Owen says that whoever stole the car is so out of here and Ianto says that actually they’re only 3 miles away and probably parked. He gets an extra point for his pompous delivery of the line; Owen needs to be taken down a peg or two.

Gwen says there’s a small village in that area and nothing else for 30 miles. Lucky no one ever investigated these disappearances then, hey? “This has all the hallmarks of a trap,” says Tosh and Jack agrees. Well, they could call for back-up but, since there’s only five of them and they’re all already here, that won’t work. Jack asks if they fancy a walk.

The gang meander through the park shadowed by ominous thunder clouds in the sky. Piano tinkling across the score tells us that they’re alone and walking into danger. As they crest the hill and look down upon the village, Owen asks why anyone would want to live there and Jack asks if the SUV has moved. Ianto says it’s been stationary for an hour. Tinkle tinkle says the piano as they walk down into the ‘village’, which appears to consist of one pub.

As they walk towards the creepy, abandoned building, we see the incompetent one has…are you ready…her gun in the back pocket of her jeans. I know it’s no longer fashionable to have an ass Gwen, but I think blowing it off is a bit extreme, don’t you? Plus, the handle’s sticking out and it looks as though it’s about to fall onto the ground at any moment.

Monster cam from the pub shows us there’s someone in the building as the gang walk all unwittingly toward their doom. Or something. Jack orders them to all to split up into pairs so it will be easier for the bad guys to kill them. Tosh and Ianto go to find the SUV, Owen and Gwen join Jack in the bar.

It’s dark and musty inside and, since this is a quasi horror film, no one bothers to turn on the lights. The flashlights make it easier for someone to sneak up on you and they’re also good for pinpointing your location to the psychotic killer.

Gwen walks behind the bar and Owen makes a joke about her pouring him a pint. Mate, I’m glad your “we should shag despite the fact we hate each other because it’d be good’ line works because your flirting is atrocious. I keep waiting for him to jam a protractor into the back of her hand. There’s money in the till and Gwen asks where everybody is. That’s a really good question Gwen, but I’m afraid you’re going to your grave with it unanswered.

Jack gestures at Gwen to join him upstairs. Or are they in the kitchen? Either way, Gwen finds a mutilated body and starts gagging. Jack runs out of the pub with Gwen behind him but I don’t know what he’s looking for. That body had been dead for a while. Gwen recovers from another bout of gagging to start waving her weapon around wildly again, this time nearly shooting Jack.

Something is watching from the trees. They search a house next to the pub and Gwen finds another body.
“What did this, Jack?” asks Gwen, “’cause whatever it is it can’t be human. How far is this going to spread?”
I hate to disagree with you, Gwen, but so far you’ve got three dead bodies and that’s very human. Lucky you never saw an actual murder when you were, you know, a bloody police officer.

Then she proceeds to have a total panic attack about how she should be at home with Rhys having dinner and not in the middle of the Welsh countryside with dead bodies. Strange time for Miss YoYo Knickers 2006 to remember Rhys’ existence. Oh and yeah, shut up Gwen.

She asks Jack if he ever gets scared and instead of saying ‘yes, but not every minute of every day in every case we’re ever involved in like somebody else I work with’, he instead opts for laying down a plan to investigate the next two houses. There’s only three houses in this ‘village’?

Out on the moors, or something, Tosh and Ianto are following the tracking signal to the VOC. They come upon another house and we see they’re being watched. Tinkle tinkle, the front door is locked and they decide to investigate out the back. To do this, they split up. Thankfully Gwen’s not here: she might accidentally shoot one of them. This would be bad as they’re my favourite characters at the moment, mostly by a process of elimination.

Oh, I spoke too soon. Ianto comes round the side of the house and Tosh nearly shoots him. So, Ianto is my favourite character mostly by a process of elimination. Damn, he looks fine in those jeans.

Ianto walks a bit further from the house and yells that they should head over the hill. When he turns around, Tosh has disappeared. That was too quick and silent. Maybe the perps are supernatural in origin.
“Tosh!” yells Ianto and he pulls out his gun, handling it like he’s actually used a weapon before. Another point for Ianto, I think he’s up to about 5?

Someone (something?) whizzes behind his glorious behind and he whirls around and moves toward the back of the house. Someone, and this time it is very obviously someone, pushes him and as he falls over we…cut to the ad. How do these people move so fast? Maybe they’re alien/human hybrids? Maybe the human flesh they consume gives them super-human strength and speed. Oh no, another spoiler! Btw, I nearly said super-human prowess instead of speed but since this is a Torchwood episode it could be misconstrued. Tell the Torchwood team eating people gives them super-human prowess and they’d stop fighting and just tuck in with the rest of the village.

Back to Jack and Gwen. Could they just hire someone to give Eve Myles a lesson in how a professional would handle a weapon? Please? It won’t cost that much. At the moment, it looks like she thinks a gun’s most effective when you use the butt to take out people’s eyes.

She and Jack move to the second house and it’s locked. Gwen tests the door a couple of times and then pulls it hard to break the chain. The door opens and she stands, unarmed, in the doorway for 10 minutes to give whoever might be in there time enough to get a good shot.

Astonishingly, a bullet flies out of the house and into her stomach. She goes down like a lead balloon and the ‘Gwen Must Die’ lobby group, membership 5 million in the UK and 20 million worldwide, punch the air and pour the champagne. Actually, I think I have a bottle in the fridge…

Ahh, that’s better, I say as I take a sip of the sweet sweet wine and glory in Gwen’s pain. Oooh, there’s blood. Nothing like that last slip into permanent unconsciousness. Bloodthirsty? Me? Please, whoever’s in that house just did the western world a favour. Even if she lives she won’t be able to whine for the next few scenes.

Jack bursts back into the house and sees a young guy, maybe in his late teens, with a shotgun. He points his skinny little gun (is that a vintage Colt of some kind? Someone who knows guns could tell me) at the guy and tells him to put down the gun. The kid’s scared, he throws down the gun and says “I fort you come back for me”. Isn’t that a London accent?

Jack wants to know who he’s talking about but at this point Owen discovers Gwen and he’s all like “a gunshot wound, how am I going to get laid now?”. Owen and Jack grab Gwen, run into one of the houses and place her on a table. Jack goes to check upstairs and Owen injects Gwen with some happy drugs before examining her wound.

He says it could have been much worse as the bullets are lodged near the surface. He then pulls the pellets out and they have a short discussion about him no longer practising medicine and bond or something. Actually, they do seem to be clicking in this scene, although it should be noted for future reference that craggy-face had to drug her for it to happen.

Jack comes back with a shotgun and the kid in tow and the kid says that everyone’s dead and that whatever did it wasn’t human. It appears that the kid is not a local, which explains the accent. The kid says that Jack can’t do anything to help as ‘they’ are too strong. He says the only thing they can do is barricade the door. Jack vetoes this idea and says he saw a great spoof zombie film once and they made base at a pub so he thinks this is a good idea too.

“What about Tosh and Ianto?” asks Owen, “should we go after them?” Jack says they should wait to find out what they’re dealing with first and Owen is worried that they’re dead. Jack is the only one behaving vaguely like a professional in this episode. It’s unnerving. I guess I’d better give him a point.

Anyway, Jack moves forward to grab Gwen and Owen tells him that he’ll carry her. Jack is all, ‘but she’s supposed to be my pet puppy’, but then remembers that this is not the time, what with all the dead people, and backs off.

Elsewhere, Tosh and Ianto wake up in a basement or cellar of some kind.
“You know,” says Ianto, “I never liked camping.” For some reason that made me giggle. He tells Tosh that ‘they’ took the guns and Tosh pulls out a flashlight to have a look around. Ianto says that because of the ‘sound vibrations’ and ‘air quality’ he thinks they’re pretty deep underground.

Ianto asks if there’s any chance of rescue but Tosh is confident she can get out of the room herself.
“What were they?” asks Ianto and Tosh says she doesn’t know because it all happened too quickly. I thought Ianto got a good look? Maybe the face was covered. Ianto admits he’s worried as Tosh puts her hand in a pool of blood.

“That body we saw in the forest,” starts Ianto but never finishes his sentence as Tosh tells him not to think about it. She asks him to try and get the light to work. He stops to have a panic attack before asking her if she’s used to this sort of thing. He says she’s always so calm when things get out of control and he gets the feeling that she enjoys it, that she gets a buzz from the danger.

“Do you want me to apologise for that?” asks Tosh, confirming his assessment. This, like her crush on Owen, is all news to me. Did they just decide this aspect of her personality now or have they realised they haven’t devoted enough time to develop her character and are now resorting to telling us rather than showing us. Repeat after me the mantra of good television writing: show don’t tell, show don’t tell, show don’t tell. Got it? Good.

As they look around the basement, Tosh finds shoes and shoes and loads of shoes.
“How many people have been down here,” she asks and Ianto follows her thought with “and what happened to them?” They look around a bit more and find a fridge, stuffed full of intestinal goodness, the prime cuts of people no cannibalistic monster can do without.
“We’re food,” concludes Tosh.

As Shaun and his mates ineffectually barricade themselves into the pub, Owen is still going on about Tosh and Ianto. Jack asks why they’re still talking about it and I wonder the same thing. Jack says Tosh and Ianto can look after themselves and that the kid they found is their first priority. (2 points now, Jack, you’re catching up. Forgot to mention it too, but Ianto lost a point for his panic attack in the cellar. Sorry Gareth, but being very very hot doesn’t save you from my impatience with Torchwood’s tendency to panic in the face of danger. I mean, you’re supposed to be professionals not teenagers in a slasher film).

Gwen asks if Jack has ever heard of a species that strips human bodies of all flesh and organs, even though none of the bodies they’ve found so far in the village had looked like this and so there’s no way she could know this. Owen cuts her off to start being all alpha male and protective about her being injured. I think I preferred him arrogant and uncaring.

Gwen has found a blackboard so she can start her new ‘Gwen’s very special wall of humanity’ in the pub of imminent death and she starts to jot stuff down. Jack says he thinks there’s been at least 17 deaths and I ask over what period? Do we really believe that if 17 people had disappeared in only a few days or weeks in the vicinity of one single village that the police wouldn’t be crawling all over this place by now? And if it’s 17 over many many years, what drew Torchwood’s attention? Now see, I’m guessing from your expression that you don’t care and are just hoping for more blood, guts and gore? Ok then…

Owen is doing something that involves him displaying his um, firearm, in front of Gwen, while he exposits that the rift has spread and is now dumping aliens all over Wales. Or…is it? Gwen sees a shadow by the window and gasps loudly. I’m surprised she didn’t wet her pants. The lights go out and there’s noises, as though someone is trying to get in through the front door. Gwen is full on panicking. Dear God Gwen, SHUT UP!

The whole team start to back away from the door, so you know something is now going to come from behind them. Oh I stand corrected, it’s beside them, where an insubstantial padlock is rattling on the cellar door. Jack notes that they didn’t check the cellar (seriously?) and as it flies open he fires straight into whoever’s coming up from the other side. The kid, whose name is apparently Kieran, is panicking and shooting wildly as the front door bursts open. As the team watch in shock he’s dragged away by his ankles.

Gwen, being the brains of the outfit and also wounded, wants to go after Kieran, and Owen’s penis wants to follow Gwen, so the two go off into the dark night alone and unarmed to find the mysterious creatures they believe have slaughtered every member of this village. Jack gets a third point for staying to check what it was he shot in the cellar, since that way he’ll know what it is they’re actually dealing with.

In the dark, scary basement of shoes, body parts and doom, Tosh is still trying to find a way out. For determination, brains and not having a panic attack, Tosh is awarded a point. Yay Tosh. In fact, these two are fast becoming the Torchwood brains trust.

As Ianto tries brute force to break down the cellar door, he hears someone on the other side. He and Tosh flank the door and, as it flies open, they tackle who comes through. She turns out to be a woman with a bad haircut and a shotgun and she totally manages to take Ianto down. Hee, what a woosie. Lose another point.

Woman with a bad haircut and shotgun tries to convince them that she’s not going to hurt them. She says she’s a nurse and asks if they’re injured. They’re slightly suspicious about this, as they should be.
“Does anyone else know you’re here, did you manage to call for help,” asks Helen and instead of saying oh, yes, everybody, the police and all our families and the entire population of Cardiff over the age of 15, the brains trust lose their so-recently acquired title by saying no, but that there’s three more of them in what is laughably called the ‘village’.

Lady with bad haircut and shotgun apologises to them and says she can’t help them.
“I’ve been sent to collect you,” she says, “I’ve got to take you to them.”
Tosh says they can help (there’s optimism for you) and lady with bad haircut and shotgun says that ‘no one is safe’.
“Every ten years, it takes us again,” she says, “the Harvest”. And now we have a Buffy reference as well. Chris Chibnall, you suck.

Back at Jack, he’s in the cellar trying to find whatever or whomever he shot. Following a blood trail, he comes across a man in a hooded raincoat and mask. Jack’s all like, talk or I’ll torture you and the man thinks it’s hysterically funny that Jack doesn’t know the big secret the village has been keeping secret for the last god knows how many years in secret.

Jack gets all serious and scary on his ass, or at least as scary as John Barrowman can pull off which is, you know, not very, and the guy starts blabbing. Outside, Gwen and Owen are heading towards the road (I thought they were going after Kieran?) and Gwen is supporting Owen, even though she’s the one that got shot.

A police car comes down the road, sirens are blaring, even though it’s in the middle of nowhere and a cop gets out. Gwen gives a very unconvincing ‘we’re with special ops’ speech and is dismayed when he hasn’t heard about the top-secret organisation of which she and only four other people are members.

Policeman says there’s a town meeting tonight in the town hall nearby and at this point anyone would twig that he’s evil. Unless he’s a police officer who hasn’t noticed the supposed disappearance of an entire village.

Out of the cellar now, Tosh and Ianto are shepherded into a kitchen replete with plastic-wrapped bodies hanging from hooks and a cornucopia of other bodily parts. They’re still convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there’s an extraterrestrial element to this. Tosh asks if these ‘creatures’ look like people and a man steps forward and says “How else are we gonna look?”

Lady with bad haircut and shotgun starts laughing in the usual maniacal serial-killer way and she’s soon joined by the man, who’s probably her husband. Oh, they’re snogging, so yeah I’ll go with husband. Ianto and Tosh are like, no way and the creepy in-bred Welsh cannibals are like, way.

Ianto throws himself at maniacal cannibal husband and is bitch-slapped down, once again. Ha! Maniacal cannibal husband handcuffs them as lady with bad haircut, shotgun and a need for braaaaaaiiiiinnnnnssss, tells him there three more in the village. They agree that Ianto and Tosh are the ‘best they’ve ever had’. Maniacal husband says he ‘caught the boy’ and he pulls up Kieran from the floor and displays him.

Then Mr Chibnall, our esteemed writer, decides that the worst Doctor Who episode ever made should be recycled into the next scene. Mate, the Two Doctors was painful enough the first time.
“Who is he?” yells Tosh, referring to Kieran, and maniacal cannibal says he’s meat, in fact, they’re all just meat. Maniacal cannibal pulls out a bat and tells Tosh he’s going to ‘tenderise her’ and licks his lips. In fact, this scene was such a rip off that some Torchwood ‘fans’ believe these Welsh villagers were actually Androgums and that this episode is a sequel.

Instead of bashing them with the bat, maniacal cannibal pauses to gloat a bit and Ianto headbutts him. He and Tosh run. Tosh escapes and maniacal cannibal runs after her, but not before he punches out Ianto. Ianto, Ianto, down for the third time in the last 20 minutes. At least this time it was by the large fist of the manly man (or the first of the crazy man-eating inbred Welsh villager but you know, same thing).

Running through the woods action again, as maniacal cannibal pursues the expressionless one with a torch and a machete. Hiding, chasing, hiding, running, hiding, kicking him in the balls (point!) and running, hiding, running. Caught! You know, I’ve just worked out what makes this not scary. There’s only five employees of Torchwood, total, so we know no one’s going to die. It’s hard to be worried for people’s lives when they’re all contracted for the whole season.

As maniacal cannibal reaches down to choke her, Gwen, Owen and the evil policemen of evil run in and Owen kicks maniacal cannibal away. Tosh manages to say that he was cannibalising the villagers and ‘Gwen the simple’ demands that the officers arrest him.
“Are you going to arrest me,” asks maniacal cannibal and starts laughing.
“That’d be a laugh,” says evil policeman.

There’s a short Mexican standoff before Owen and Gwen surrender their guns. Back in the home of maniacal cannibal, Gwen, Owen and Tosh are brought back in. Gwen still hasn’t figured it out and declares that ‘all the villagers are dead!’. Tosh is slightly quicker on the uptake and declares that they’re all in on it. All three of them. By the looks of it. It seems this village is about as large as Torchwood. How do they support a pub?

“Only in the countryside,” says Owen, “you sick fuckers.” The villagers seem a bit put out by Owen’s assessment.

The gang are herded into the kitchen and maniacal cannibal starts crazifying about how they’re going to be bled slowly because it makes the meat taste better. Just as Ianto is about to get the chop, there’s the dull roar of an engine and Jack bursts through riding on a tractor. In an hysterically bad scene of slow motion and fast camera cuts, Jack shoots all the villagers. Oh, he’s such a hero! We get several seriously long close-ups of his spent shells. Why? I don’t know.

As Jack pulls maniacal cannibal up by his shirt and prepares to blow his inbred, people-eating, meat tenderisin’ head off, Gwen leaps up and says “No Jack”. I was actually waiting for a speech about how if he kills them he’s just as bad as they are but instead she says “Let me question him”. What?

She says she has to understand, she wants to know why, otherwise it’s all too much. This sentiment would have been more effective if somewhere along the line someone had said it could be people eating other people and she had said it couldn’t be because people wouldn’t do this. Somewhat like Buffy’s understated “are you telling me people with souls did this?” from that episode that I can’t remember but that dealt way better with this issue.

Back in the pub (why did they move him?) Gwen is questioning maniacal cannibal. He says that cannibalism is a tradition that’s passed down through the generations and once every decade they target people passing through and butcher them. He never explains why this tradition was started in the first place, unlike the X Files episode this also rips off, where the townspeople believed it gave them long life.

“I have seen things you could never believe and this is the only thing I don’t understand,” says Gwen. In the end, he simply whispers in her ear that he enjoyed it. Sick, but not worth the look of pure revulsion on Gwen’s face.

Gwen stumbles out of the pub and through the police cordon, her wound finally catching up with her. Owen and Jack look longingly after her. These guys need to get some taste.

As we come back from the ads, we hear Gwen’s voice superimposed over a night shot of Cardiff; her watching TV with Rhys and ignoring him as usual and her wearing only a man’s shirt in an apartment somewhere. As I transcribe this, bear in mind she’s been working with Torchwood for a whole, what, six weeks. This girl should have asked for a job description before she applied.

“I had a good job before this. I thought in a year or two perhaps a baby and Rhys would be a good Dad. I could try for Desk Sergeant and, well it was all sorting into place and then I met you lot. All these things, all these things they’re changing me, changing how I see the world and I can’t share them with anyone.”

Owen, craggy-faced and shirtless (not a pretty sight), appears behind her and says “You can now”. They kiss and start to take each other’s clothes off. The end.

Not buying it Gwen. Sounds like a bunch of sophistry to convince yourself it’s ok to shag somebody else. Blurgh.

Next week: Tosh can read minds and questions her purpose in life. After Gwen’s crisis of ‘conscience’ I don’t know if I can handle that.

1 comment:

Winchestnut said...

"the Bandy Legged One" ???

I've taken your recommendations to heart and watched Supernatural. I enjoyed that almost as much as I enjoyed reading your recap.