Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Torchwood 'Day One' - Rating D

“Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on Earth and arming the human race. The 21st century is when everything changes and you’ve got to be ready“. The Cap’n speaks the dialogue we already hate and we get flashbacks of last week’s episode, including the time when Jack inexplicably stood on a building. That was important, I’m glad we were reminded of it.

The synopsis for this episode is “Gwen's first day on the job sees Cardiff's nightlife at the mercy of a sexually-driven alien whose final victim will be its host, unless Torchwood can find her first”. If this wasn’t enough to encourage me not to watch ‘Day One’, then the ads promising a lesbian kiss should have been This is the worst episode of television I’ve seen since I last had the misfortune to watch Smallville. But promises have been made so I plough on.

First thing’s first: bowling. Eve and very very nice, solid boyfriend are enjoying a night of normality that I suspect will be shattered fairly soon. Bowling, followed by a movie and then dinner, interspersed with silent shots of Cardiff. The city and the reality of Gwen’s job are all waiting out there but she’s just having a night of fun. As they exit the movie theatre, she calls her boyfriend ‘Rhys’ and I realise this is the first time we actually have a name for him. So Rhys he is from now on. At dinner, Rhys is asking Gwen about her new job with special ops and she tries to end the topic of conversation by saying it will mostly involve filing. The next day is apparently her first day. She wants to talk about something else but of course very nice boyfriend is proud as punch about her new job and wants to know the details. Gwen can’t tell him anything. He says she’ll be brilliant on her first day, which is tomorrow. She gives him a kiss and suggests an “early night”. While this is all very clichéd, it does create a nice contrast between Gwen’s public life and the gritty reality of her job, which is of course the point.

Rhys looks up (I think they’re in one of those nice, glass restaurants round the bay) and says “Bloody hell, there’s a plane on fire”. A fireball moves across the sky and Gwen notes that it’s not a plane. They run out of the restaurant without paying (actually, this happens in so many shows that I was kind of glad to hear nice boyfriend mention it before they ran out the door) to follow the fireball, which makes a bang as it lands somewhere near Cardiff. Gwen’s mobile bleeps and the words ‘Torchwood’ appear. Do you think Torchwood hires a consultant to advise them on how to be extra extra mysterious? I wonder if I could get that job? Do you think it pays well?

“I’ve got to go to work” says Gwen and then the credits, flash flash flash, and we’re into the action.

Feet jump into a van and the black VOC is on the road and on the job and it’s Gwen’s first day. Jack explains the mission is a simple “locate and clean-up” operation. He says they have to “find the meteorite before anyone else gets their hands on it”. Which is highly unlikely, considering the loud bang it made when it hit the ground means the entire population of Cardiff will be gathered around it carving off chunks to show their grandkids.

Jack says it’s good to see Gwen, who gives a nervous smile back. She’s finally realising she doesn’t know what the smeg is going on and doesn’t have any special skills or training. Kind of what the entire Western hemisphere already knew after her performance last week. As Gwen retains her lost little lamb look, so overwhelmed on her first day, the car suddenly turns into a remote surveillance unit a la James Bond.

“Have you got enough kit?” says Gwen and Toshiko plays it cool for the new girl. “Basic tracking and surveillance,” she says and points out the stationery crash site on the screen. Glad they’re tracking that. She says they can hack into the CCTV network and Gwen gets a little peeved that they’ve hacked into the police computer system. “You want to stop saying you and start saying we”, says Jack. Gwen looks chastened, remembering that this is…her first day.

Overhead shot of the road as the VOC powers on toward the crash site and I ponder the serious question: how many helicopter shots does one show need? Ummm, I’ll never get to the bottom of that stumper.

Crash site! Torchwood unbuckles their seatbelts and Owen says the “amateurs” got there first; which isn’t true because the Army is there and Torchwood seems to be last on the scene. The military mills around being all kind of, well, military and setting up military kind of military things. Angel and the gang get out of the car and survey the scene. The Torchwood team minces through the barricade in their “usual formation”. Jack says their usual formation varies to Gwen’s confusion (is this supposed to be a joke or another ‘Gwen’s first day’ anvil? Either way it fell on my head and now I need pain killers). Anyway people, WE GET IT, it’s her FIRST DAY and she doesn’t know what she’s DOING. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t hear me because Gwen turns around to grab her bag of secret cool Torchwood gear and loses the rest of the team. Oh no!

She stumbles into a military tent and really cute army guy says “Who the hell are you?”. They try to kick her out as this is a restricted area and she says, timorously, that she’s Torchwood and she’s all unsure of herself and did we mention that this is her FIRST DAY.

“Don’t mess with me, little girl”, says the hard-nosed military man, “you’re not with Torchwood and even if you were…” “You would have put out the welcome banners,” says the Cap’n as he strolls in. Then he reminds me how painful his dialogue can be by saying that she’s not a little girl. In fact, from where he’s standing she’s got all the right curves in all the right places. It’s hard to tell what Gwen thinks of this grossly inappropriate comment as she’s being enigmatic, or appraising, or chastened or hungry or something, as Jack lays down the law to the army guys about how Torchwood is there to get the ‘real work’ done and they should stay out of their way.

The Cap’n and Gwen make their way to the asteroid, which seriously looks like a lump of painted polystyrene. I guess they spent all their props money on the helicopter shots and safety equipment to film Jack on that bloody roof. The asteroid is mostly intact, cool enough to walk up to and there doesn’t seem to be an impact crater. But hey, I’ve never actually seen an asteroid so what do I know? I bet they come down flat and cold in huge unbroken lumps of rock all the time.

Owen and Tosh are already doing Torchwoody things, walking around the polystyrene and looking serious. I think these two are supposed to be Wesley and Fred. Jack’s Angel and Gwen is Cordelia. I guess that makes Ianto Gunn. Isn’t it amazing that the team of Torchwood comprises exactly the same number of characters as Angel? Isn’t it? Tremendous. Now that I think about it, does that make the Doctor Buffy?

“Standard space debris,” says Owen, thus proving he’s probably more Gunn than Wesley. Wesley after all has brains. “That’s the technical term,” he says, mostly to annoy Gwen ‘cause it’s her FIRST DAY. “Thanks,” says Gwen, humourlessly. She’s already sick of getting schtick.

Gwen moves down into the asteroid pit as Jack tells his team to get the readings and get out. The team whack out their science equipment and Jack, Owen and Tosh start throwing things to each other as the music builds up to the ‘something bad is going to happen’ crescendo that we all know and love. All this equipment throwing and patronising quips from Owen is making poor useless Gwen feel poor and useless. He calls her ‘new girl’ because we didn’t know. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She doesn’t have a science background. Everything’s confusing and is moving too fast and did anybody happen to mention that this is her…well, you know.

Owen actually listened to the rock with a stethoscope. A big rock. With a teeny stethoscope. Speechless. I’m just, speechless.

Gwen, in a desperate bid to be considered a part of the team, picks up a spanner, makes a penis joke and throws it at him. Of course she misses, being only a trained police officer with a gun license who practically has to undertake target practice for a living. She hits the polystyrene instead and the surprisingly sharp spanner lodges in it as blue-lit gas starts to pour out of it. Jack looks…well, kind of vaguely interested. Gwen has what I suspect is her usual ‘oh my God I screwed up again’ look, Owen looks constipated and Toshika looks like she’s arrived at a party early and is trying to look inconspicuous until her friends arrive. All valid acting choices under the circumstances.

Jack hands out gas masks as a pink and blue cloud of gas emanates from the asteroid and shoots up into the Cardiff sky. Jack and Owen give Gwen the look that says ‘well done’. She’s embarrassed and humiliated. Toshika has obviously found her friends and moved on to a nearby pub as she’s nowhere to be seen.

Aerial shot, alien p.o.v., looks kind of like Father’s Day. Nightlife of Cardiff town. People are having a good time moving from club to club. In an alley next to a club, a woman is crying into her phone as alien p.o.v. moves up behind her. I won’t repeat the tedium of the conversation between ‘club woman’ and what is obviously the bad boyfriend’s answering machine. I will also refrain from a comment about poorly-written supernaturally-themed television programmes and alleys. Suffice it to say, the woman is taken over by the alien cloud. This being Torchwood, suffice it to say that alien possession in alleys is also apparently kind of enjoyable.

Back from the alley, the woman tries to get back into the club and the bouncer doesn’t want to let her. Which universe is this bouncer from? Bouncers have like instructions to let as many women in as possible, particularly if they’re not wearing very much. Anyway, tedium on tedium as she kisses the bouncer and the alien influence makes him malleable or something. He lets her in.

Everyone’s dancing away in the club and the camera follows a guy to the bar. He’s very young and very cute and must therefore die. I’m sorry: I didn’t make these rules. Possessed girl spies him from across the room and stares at him. He thinks she must be staring at someone else and looks behind him and it’s all very very boring. Blah blah blah, she pulls him into the lady’s room and all the other women just walk out and leave them to it, which is what I do every time someone bursts into the toilets and wants to have sex. That’s just me though. Other people tell them to wait in the bloody queue because their bladders are about to burst on account of waiting for 45 minutes while 200 women attempt to use 2 stalls. Come to think of it, in a crowded club, these two wouldn’t even fit into the toilets.

Aaaannnyway, they’re at it in the toilets. “I don’t even know your name,” says nearly-dead dude. “They’re overrated, names,” he says, and I now wonder if he’s elucidating the writing philosophy for the show. Could it be the lack of names for major characters is deliberate? Is this some post-post-post modern writing style?

Back to pointless sex scene: the 14-year-olds will be pleased. He says he can’t hold on much longer, and I really really sympathise. I wish I’d waited till Friday to write this. At least that way I could be fortified with a marguerita. He comes and, oh god, the things you have to write when recapping this show. I can’t. I just can’t. I’ll need a bath afterwards. Well, I guess it’s just like a bandaid. He comes and, as he does, he kind of dissolves into a golden spray that falls onto her face as she pants happily. If you actually pause it in the middle of this scene, it looks like she’s in a shampoo ad. That’s better. Think ‘shampoo ad’. She’s taking a shower and it’s not golden at all.

I’m thinking I might need a scrubbing brush and medicated soap for my shower. Be back in a sec.

Back again, sad sex scene is over but I do now have wine so hopefully I will manage to get through this. Anyway, orgasm alien has finished shampooing her hair and definitely-dead boy is a pile of dust on the floor. Um, not that I want to hammer home the very very obvious Angel parallels, but didn’t Angel already do this episode. In that one I think the monster waited until climax and then possessed the other body, leaving a husk? That was based in a nightclub as well.

Back in the very very secret Torchwood, Gwen is continually apologising. Owen asks her if she learnt any safety procedures in the police force and, while I hate to agree with someone who’s already been well established as an arrogant dick, it is a really good question under the circumstances. She says everyone was throwing things at each other and she so wanted to fit in. Gwen says that whatever the consequences of her silliness she’ll deal with it. I don’t even have to say anything about that comment; you already know.

Jack opens a box to reveal a piece of polystyrene that in no way resembles that of which it is allegedly a piece. He says the good news is that they got a lot of good data. Owen notes that the bad news is that there’s an alien on the loose and they don’t know what it is, where it is or what it’s going to do. Owen’s two for two in this scene. Toshiko has had, what, one line in the whole show so far? If I were her, I’d talk to her union. Oh, I spoke too soon as Toshiko delivers an entire line. “Give her a break,” she says to Owen. And Gwen says; wait for it, “This has been the worst FIRST DAY ever”.

The Cap’n says that everyone makes mistakes, no doubt thinking of that time he nearly wiped out the entire human race, and that now they need to find and recover whatever came out of the meteorite. Anachronistic Ianto is now revealed to be conveniently close and he delivers the news that there has been a suspicious nightclub death. He says the death is a little unusual and might be connected to the polystyrene. He doesn’t tell us about it, however, because his contract has been fulfilled for this episode and so it’s next scene.

Oooh, it’s PC Partner, the cute one. He’s walking out of the nightclub as the Torchwood team pull up in the VOC. Jack runs past him, patronisingly yelling “Torchwood” in his general direction but Gwen stops when Constable Cutie recognises her. Apparently they weren’t aware she was special ops (isn’t he supposed to be her partner, didn’t he notice she was gone? Well, I guess he was just told she was re-assigned or something) and she says it was all a whirlwind and she hasn’t had time to call.

The Cap’n comes out of the nightclub again and calls her in. She tries to pretend she’s still a friend of the common man by telling them they can go home as they’re probably freezing their asses off. Constable Cutie becomes slightly less cute as he deliberately misunderstands her and snottily says “Boss of me now, are you?” She looks like she doesn’t know how to react to this unexpected attack, but then asks him to say hi to everyone for her. You can tell he’s not happy about her sudden polystyrene rise. Oh no, the cracks between her public life and the gritty life of Torchwood are already starting to show, and it’s only her FIRST DAY.

Surveying the scene with the still zombie-like bouncer from the evening before, Gwen notes the pile of dust on the floor and asks, unbelievingly if that’s all that’s left. Jack asks the bouncer how he knew it used to be a body and we get a flashback to…oh my God...yuck. Suffice it to say there’s CCTV in the toilets and sleazy bouncer took the tape and watched it for his own, um, personal reasons.

Torchwood watches the tape, which means that unfortunately we do as well. Considering we’ve already seen this scene in detail, there is absolutely no reason for this except that it gives the Cap’n and Own the opportunity for some bad puns on the word ‘come’ and ‘hard’ that they snigger at, much like a 10-year-old does when someone says ‘bum’.

Gwen asks the bouncer some slightly more pertinent questions, such as whether they know her name and if she and the guy arrived together or if they met in the club. Jack wants to put an end to this line of questioning for some reason that will hopefully soon become apparent and he ushers the bouncer out the door saying that they have all the information they need.

Gwen naturally thinks they need way more information, but Jack is off being Torchwood man. He says they should get a body from the cryo chamber that looks like the guy, disfigure the face, dump it somewhere and, I quote, “make it look like a suicide attempt”. “Attempt”, people, that’s what he said, “attempt”. Considering the guy will be seriously dead, I’d hope they’d make it look like a suicide, period.

“You have a stash of bodies,” says Gwen, horrified. Jack rightly ignores this question as not needing attention right now but Gwen follows him out of the club and keeps up the barrage of questions. “What about his family,” says Gwen, “you can’t just fake his death.” And that’s a pretty valid question. Regardless of how horrible the death of someone we love may be, we all at least believe we want to know the truth.

“Do you want his family to know he died screwing an alien,” says Jack. Valid counterpoint. Jack has his um, equipment, out (sorry, this stuff is contagious – just don’t say ‘poo’ around me while I’m doing a recap) and he’s apparently been scanning the area. Jack says the scanner has picked up the same elements at the club that they found at the crash but that the trace ends in the alley.

He looks up at the CCTV camera and we cut to Gwen and the Cap’n viewing this tape. Much more effective scene as we just see the girl standing in the alley while the music is sad piano. Gwen notes quite accurately that it’s all her fault and Jack says that kind of thinking won’t get you anywhere. He also explains to the blind and possibly brain-dead in the audience that the alien’s taken on a host body. Gwen follows up this re-iteration of things we’ve already seen with the statement of blindingly obviousness that is “we can’t let her kill again”. No, really? You don’t say. Well, I thought they were going to go home and get a cuppa but apparently they’re going to stop the murdering alien. Well, there’s a shock.

Morning after, the girl is sitting at the host’s kitchen table having breakfast while her Dad witters on about the evils of minimum wage and how he can exploit and underpay foreign workers. Perhaps he works for Zefirelli’s? Anyway, it turns out the girl’s name is Carys and she’s a bit confused about the events of last night. If you’re not already aware of how much this show has warped my brain, I was desperately scared this scene was going to involve her having sex with her father. After everything so far, I really wouldn’t put it past them. Thankfully he leaves the room to go to work. Close-up on her looking blank as we leave the scene.

Back in the Torchwood basement, Jack technobabbles a lot that basically boils down to him tracking the asteroid back to its source. This involves shining a green light on a Perspex chart. Oh, a short web search and apparently this is a sonic screwdriver. You learn something new every day. “So this is like a route planner,” says Gwen. Apparently Rhys is a transport manager and does this kind of stuff on a slightly smaller scale. Toshiko has her fourth line of the episode when she says “You have a boyfriend?” with a suitable note of shock and surprise in her voice.

Toshiko says she doesn’t have a boyfriend because she doesn’t have time with this job. Chink – another hole in the armour of Gwen’s doomed relationship. Please, writers, do this for me. Deal with a major character having a normal relationship. Prove you’re different. Redeem yourself for this pile of stinking rubbish I’m watching. Please.

Anyway, back to the actual show I’m trying to recap. Gwen asks Owen if he’s seeing anyone and he says he’s got all the grief he needs at work. Gwen asks how they all unwind from the job if they don’t have a private life and it’s obvious that they simply don’t. For these people, their jobs are their lives.

Cut to Carys who’s crying in the shower, thus proving that the girl who is possessed by the alien is still in there and still has some control over her body. There’s some subtext in here about women’s sexuality but I choose to ignore it. There’s enough going wrong with this train wreck to start commenting on the bad food in the dining car.

Back to Torchwood and Ianto is bringing the team coffee while Toshiko cross-references the CCTV footage with the photographic records of the UK population. Cue another tedious spiel from Gwen about how they “can’t do that”…yawn yawn. Although I think this serves as a great argument against our current Government’s ‘access card’.

Jack notes that Gwen is still doing that “you instead of we thing” and I so agree. You took the job, Gwen. You should have found out what it involved first. If you don’t like it, quit or something. The software Toshiko’s using throws up 119 possible matches because the CCTV was too low-res. Considering CSI regularly takes photos off people’s phones and zooms in 400%, I’m quite impressed with this small lake of realism in a sea of confusion.

Ianto offers to check through the results for them. Gwen asks about the fingerprints she took off the alley wall and my lake of realism dwindles to a small pond. You can’t get good fingerprints off brick as you need a flat surface.

No match is found, which makes sense because Carys is unlikely to have a criminal record. Owen makes a narky comment and Gwen says that at least she’s doing something. “No, you’re trying to do anything,” says Owen. I don’t know what he means but he’s starting to annoy both myself and Gwen.

Jack suggests they use the CCTV network to track back the girl’s movement to see where she started the evening. Toshiko says this will take a long time. Gwen says they should cross-reference this search with the addresses of the 119 face matches, except with her accent the first time around it sounded like “face munchers” and I was wondering if we were dealing with yet another type of alien. This suggestion gets approval from Owen.

In her boudoir, Carys is undertaking her toilette when the alien, who I will from now on call the Orgasmalien strikes. I guess it must have been resting, or something, after its ‘feed’ and has now woken up. She writhes around in pain for a while before looking at herself in the mirror. Carys is gone and the Orgasmalien is in the house. The buzzer rings and it’s the mailman. She grabs him, takes his pants off and throws him on the ground. He knows the family well and is slightly confused at her sudden amorous attentions.

Before he becomes another notch on the toilet bowl of the Orgasmalien, however, Torchwood bursts in with masks over their faces and overpowers her. I guess that unlikely cross-referencing thing must have worked.

“Put your trousers on and get out,” yells Jack and as poor postman runs out the door Jack mumbles something about how cool it was to say those words. Toshiko says it’s safe and this cues Gwen to turn her back on the alien and put her fingers in her ears and hum loudly while she takes her mask off. Oh no, the alien is getting past her!

The Orgasmalien runs into the hallway and Owen, on the stairs, throws a piece of metal on the floor that envelopes her in some kind of forcefield. It’s apparently an alien prison cell or something. Owen thinks he’s pretty cool for catching her but Jack is unhappy because he didn’t have permission to take the alien artefact out of the basement. This, after last week’s debacle…you have a grand total of four staff, Cap’n, one of whom’s entire job is to wear a suit and make coffee. If you can’t control that many people, I don’t think management is your thing.

Back from the ads, more aerial shots of Cardiff. They really should stick to filming the city at night. During the day it looks kind of industrial.

Torchwood: The team is back and Gwen has hold of the prisoner. Jack wanders off saying “See what you can find out,” and Gwen says (I'm not joking, she actually says this in front of the prisoner), “Aren’t you going to help me, I don’t know what I’m doing”. “You don’t usually say that in front of the prisoner,” notes Jack quite wisely. Off she goes to the cells and I get the feeling they’re setting her up or something. If they’re not, they’re behaving kind of strangely. I mean, she's been there two seconds and they've sent her off to interrogate someone. I guess Torchwood don't have a well-developed induction programme.

Gwen locks the Orgasmalien in the basement cells (are those actual breathing holes in the door??) and the girl is looking remarkably girl-like and not a little bit confused. “Are you MI5,” she asks. Oh to be watching Spooks instead. You know the end of the first season where that MI5 agent fortifies his house and his girlfriend and her daughter get stuck inside with the IRA bomb and the season ends and you don’t know whether they’re alive or dead? That is tension.

Carys (or the Orgasmalien) asks “what do you want,” and Gwen says, “I think you know, Carys”. “How do you know my name,” Carys says, “I’ve never been in trouble.” “I know there’s something living inside you,” says Gwen, “I know what it made you do.” I’m assuming she’s talking about the guy’s death because if she’s also talking about the sex then that subtext I mentioned I wasn’t going to mention is getting very disturbing.

“His name was Matt Stevens,” says Gwen, “his parents lost their only child at 3:07 this morning.” At this news, the Orgasmalien takes over and says to Gwen, “you broke my ship.” And then Gwen says, with a straight face (this girl is so dumb), “Where are you from and why are you trying to invade Earth because you can forget about enslaving us.” The alien notes that enslaving was not exactly mentioned and Gwen says “Well, that’s what you lot do, aliens, isn’t it?”

Yes, and they factored into their plan a really dumb, poorly-trained ex-police officer trying to fit into a new team on her first day of work with a top-secret organisation. Those diabolical aliens, they think of everything. And they breed too, you know. They’ll outnumber us soon and take all our jobs.

“I just want the energy,” notes the alien, “The climax, I live off that energy”. Gwen does my job by recapping that the alien travelled to Earth to feed off orgasmic energy. So, do you think orgasmic energy is kinetic or potential? I don’t remember studying it in science at school but then again science was never exactly my forte.

Anyway, this scene, which started off just explaining to the audience what’s going on, now starts degenerating into the ‘promised’ lesbian kiss. Should I just skip? Yes? Excellent.

Cut to the rest of the Torchwood team: they’ve been watching the whole time. Jack runs down to save her, but not before Toshiko says she thought Gwen had a boyfriend and Jack says “you people and your quaint little categories”.

Anyway, Gwen and the alien are kissing, but the Orgasmalien (or maybe I should call her Orgasmo Girl?) says it’s not the same and she needs a man. What is this? Some sort of god-awful Playboy right-off-passage film where a girl experiments with her friends in the dorm room of the girl’s boarding school before finally moving on to the ‘real thing’. Aagh.

Orgasmo Girl recedes and we have plain old Carys again. She begs Gwen to help her and as Gwen leaves the cell, Rhys calls to see how she’s going and says he’s a special ops widow. Oh, he has no idea.

INTERMISSION: This break is brought to you by this suffering soul in order for her to make a martini. Alcohol, under these circumstances, is a necessity. In fact, I think there’s a law.

Ahhh, the poor recapper is now well-fortified as Gwen walks back upstairs and Owen makes some remark about her undertaking a “methodical investigation”. Gwen is pissed at him and rather ineffectually grabs him by the shirt and throws him against the wall. She’s trying to be a badass but Eve Myles is not pulling it off very well. The Welsh accent doesn’t help.

Gwen says that the poor girl’s body has been possessed by God knows what and he shouldn’t treat it as a joke. “We should be helping her,” she says, “she’s not some lab rat.” Despite the fact Eve Myles doesn’t pull off this scene that well, I’ve never liked Gwen so much.

“She’s a murderer,” says Owen, “you were the one who wanted her caught, how come suddenly she’s your best friend.” I’m not quite sure what Owen’s point was here. That someone being a criminal and also needing help is mutually exclusive? That’s certainly a popular, if somewhat questionable, moral position.

Jack intervenes, saying that throttling the staff is his job and Ianto arrives with food. I’m sure some people on first glance will say that Ianto’s position as Boy Friday is somewhat refreshing, since women usually play this role in television shows. I’d usually agree, but since we’re watching a show about a WOMAN’S SEXUALITY GONE MAD I’m not sure I’m jumping on the equality bandwagon just yet.

Later, they’re sitting around a table eating Chinese and having a laugh. They’re swapping old alien tales and Jack gets up to pee. The gang takes this opportunity to grill Gwen on whether Jack’s told her anything about himself. They were banking on the new girl asking questions, but Gwen refuses to slip that she knows Jack can’t die.

They have quite a long conversation that basically establishes they don’t know anything about him except that no Jack Harness has been born in the United States in the last 50 years. Owen thinks he’s gay, Toshiko already has him pegged as someone who’ll shag anything as long as it’s moving and Ianto reads my mind when he says that he doesn’t care. Go Ianto, you speak for us all.

Gwen thinks his identity’s been classified and Ianto says he thinks he must have been in the CIA. That could work, actually. Well done, Ianto. Why are you getting coffee and Chinese while these people are doing the investigatory work? You’ve got twice their brains.

As they’re speaking, Gwen notices a sobbing sound and we realise the video is still on poor Carys in the cells. Owen turns up the volume as Jack comes back. Gwen gets up and looks at the screen and realises she’s been having a good time while the Orgasmalien is still possessing Carys.

Jack says while they’ve been eating the computer has been analysing the impact the alien is having on her body, as well as the air in the cell so they can see how it’s affecting the environment around her. Jack asks if that’s enough or if Gwen needs more.

Gwen, oddly enough, looks adoringly at Jack while she tells him that he’s been stuck underground so long with aliens he’s forgotten what it means to be human. “So remind us,” says Jack, “tell me what it means to be human in the 21st century.”

Alright, says Gwen, and we cut to a scene of her downloading all the details of Carys’ life and preparing a display on Jack’s Perspex board. Gwen wants to remind Jack of the fact that they have a human being in the cell and they need to help her fight the alien within her. Maybe it’s because I’m comparing this scene to so many horrifically-bad ones that have come before it, but I like this one. Jack seems genuinely impressed that Gwen sees the person, rather than the alien, the science and the cool technology. I don’t know if I’d call it “brilliant”, as he does, but still a nice scene.

Gwen ruins the mood by insisting they bring Carys’ father in to give her something to hold onto. Jack refuses and asks if she’s always this awkward. Toshiko calls them up on the intercom saying she has news. Apparently the alien is excreting an ultra-powerful blend of airborne pheromones, which explains the effect it has on people. “She’s a walking aphrodisiac,” says Jack and Gwen clicks that this was why she kissed her.

Boring sidenote: this whole pheromone thing doesn’t actually work on humans. While smell is important, we mostly have other ways of attracting a sex partner. Ok, so for some people this consists of walking up to someone in a club and saying “fancy a shag love” but I didn’t say our method was perfect. Just different. Boring sidenote over.

Jack’s mind goes where I knew it would and he suggests that putting her father in the cell is not the best idea. They suddenly realise that Owen is down there with the Orgasmalien, which is quite a shock to me. Gwen and Tosh race down to the cells and Owen is standing there stark naked and handcuffed with only his hands covering the pertinent bits. The Orgasmalien is gone. Shame she didn’t kill Owen before she left. Just saying.

Gwen gets her own back by asking if he’s alright, or if he’s “still feeling a bit of a cock”. See, he’s an idiot, but his hands are also still holding…oh, you did get it? Ok.

Up in Torchwood proper, Carys is trying to find a way out but runs into Jack. They have a really really lame fightscene and she grabs…the hand!! Oh no, the Doctor’s hand!! What will the Doctor do without his…third hand!! “Put it down,” yells Jack, “that’s worthless to anyone but me.” He pulls a gun and threatens to shoot her but she calls his bluff and moves behind some sort of blast door or ?elevator?. It must be an elevator because Jack hits the stairs and runs up to the sewer/corridor level.

Carys runs into the tourist information bureau and comes face-to-face with anachronistic Ianto. “Do you need any attacking, Sir,” asks Ianto. Ianto is officially my favourite character of the episode. Jack says no and asks Ianto to open the door. Oh, he’s giving the Orgasmalien freedom in exchange for the hand. Instead, Carys throws the hand to the ground and runs out as Jack yells “no” and dives after it.

Gwen and Tosh run into the office to find Jack cradling the hand, while sad music plays. Unfortunately, they do a close-up on the hand and it’s really really fake and covered for some reason in Vaseline. He’s caressing it lovingly like a father checking baby still has all its toes.

Gwen and Tosh race after the Orgasmalien but can’t find her. She’s gone. So, just to recap (that being my job): we’re 40 minutes in and Torchwood doesn’t know what this alien is called, where it came from, whether there are more or only one, what impact it has on its host long-term or if there’s any chance of removing it. Oh, and they’ve lost it. Well done, Torchwood. Now I know why they think Gwen is so fantastic.

The moment after the minute before and Gwen is asking Jack why a severed hand is more important than Carys’ life. He does what all arrogant people do when they’re in the wrong: he puts the emphasis back on her. He says if she wants to prove herself, use her police contacts and find the Orgasmalien. She says she’ll call them and they’ll put out an APB on “woman possessed by gas nobbing fellas to death”. Hee. I can’t help it. Hee.

Owen runs in and tells them he has something. He’s been analysing the data from the bioscan and blah blah blah, technobabble, torture of small animals, blah blah, if they can’t get the alien out of Carys she’s going to die. In fact, she’s going to explode. No one ever accused Torchwood of subtlety. And they’re not going to start now.

In the High Street, Carys is in some sort of personal lust world, as she gets off on people getting it on and our terribly-degrading Western-world advertising that uses sex to sell. The camera work they use here is used in a lot of films to portray people getting high. So sex is a drug. I’m increasingly worried about Mr Davies, I really am.

“We have to think like her, put ourselves in her place,” says Gwen as we cut back to Torchwood, “it’s the only way to find her.” Jack counterpoints that the last thing he saw was a woman fighting for control of her own body and that they don’t know what the prevailing emotion is for her right now. Tosh says the ‘survival instinct’ means sex will be on her mind either way. Gwen actually delivers the line “ok, you’re Carys, you’re desperate for sex, but you know you’re going to kill,” with a straight face and Owen makes the most inappropriate comment possible.

Tosh says she knows what she’d do and we cut to Carys who’s with bad boyfriend from the beginning. Oh, he’s married. Well, if he’s unfaithful he deserves to die. And he does. By the time Torchwood bursts in, he’s toast. Or rather a little pile of dust.

It’s night and the Torchwood gang is in the VOC wondering where Orgasmo Girl will go next. Tosh postulates that the alien may have chosen Carys for a reason. A quick search and it turns out she works at a fertility clinic, full of sperm donors. How did the alien know this, btw? Is it telepathic? I mean, it would have known once it took over Carys’ body, but before? It travelled quite a long way to choose her. Did it regularly possess people along the way and reject them? Do you care or are you just waiting for the next Carys sex scene? Oh, I see. Well, I’d better move along then as we’re finally coming to the exciting, if nonsensical, conclusion.

Anyway, Carys and hence the Orgasmalien enter the fertility clinic, which is apparently open at night. I find this quite surprising, particularly as the show seems to be filmed in summer and this would make it well after 11pm. Maybe it’s winter and everyone’s just really really cold.

The Orgasmalien takes control of Carys as she walks in the door and the receptionist on duty expresses surprise at seeing her on her ?day off?. Maybe it is winter and it’s just early. I’m all confused. Carys starts ranting and then punches the receptionist out.

She then waits in a room for her victim and you hear him scream behind the door. Does this mean because he was gearing himself up for the ah, task at hand, she didn’t need to seduce him first? If she needs orgasmic energy, wouldn’t she need to wait until he actually orgasmed? If so, why did he scream? I don’t know why I ask these questions when no one, especially myself, expects the show to make sense.

Back to the VOC, Owen hands Gwen a gun and she says she doesn’t know how to use one. Really? I know that British beat cops don’t usually carry guns, a policy of which I am all in favour I might add, but do they actually receive no training in them at all? Well, that does explain why she was such a suck shot at the beginning of the show.

The clinic of victims again, and this time the Orgasmalien is having no luck as her intended victim is gay. Oh God, should I bother? No? Can I just type ‘ultra-pheromones’, ‘cute little categories’, and ‘Gwen’. Or are they saying that everyone’s gay and straight people are just in denial. I’m sorry, but I find this as offensive as when straight people say that being gay is a ‘choice’ and gay people should just stop and be hetero like a ‘normal person’.

VOC again (I didn’t think Cardiff was that big. Carys is on foot and they’re not that far behind her ,apparently, so do you think they’re driving round in circles to get all the dialogue out) and Gwen wants to know how they can get the alien out of Carys. She’s still concerned about saving the girl’s life, which is admirable. Tosh says their tests have shown the gas needs a host to survive. So if they can coax the gas out of Carys, it will eventually die.

The gang pull up outside the clinic and run inside. They move from room to room searching, but find only a succession of little piles of dust. Owen has found her, however, and he calls out. They run into a run and surround her and Carys says: “All this sex, all we see, all we think, so much beauty and so much fear. Something something.” Ah, an attempt to make it seem as though the episode has a moral point. Don’t know what it is, but I’m sure there are lots of people who think that’s very profound. They would be wrong, and very very stupid.

The pain overcomes her and Carys collapses. Owen notes she’s about ready to explode and Gwen comes close and holds her. Carys is saying that each time she kills, the need is less and all she needs is one more victim. She asks Gwen to ‘make her feel alive’ and Gwen says she can’t.

Then Jack kisses her. I don’t know why. Because it was in the script? As he does, the energy from the time vortex streams out of him, leaving Carys apparently breathless and wanting more.
“That was just a kiss, imagine the buzz you’d get from the rest,” he says. Then she faints.

Owen says her body won’t last much longer and Gwen offers himself as an alternative host. The Orgasmalien agrees and the gas swirls out of Carys’ body and moves towards Gwen. At the last moment, Gwen throws the alien energy prison thing from the beginning, trapping the gas inside it. Divorced from a human host, the entity dies and turns into a big pile of dust. Considering this took approximately 30 seconds and at the beginning of the episode the gas floated above Cardiff for about an hour before taking a host, I find this a little improbable but at least I can look forward to the fact that this episode is nearly over. Are celebrations in the town square appropriate, do you think? There could be a brass band and a parade.

Jack picks up some of the dust and says “You come halfway across the universe for the greatest sex and you still end up dying alone.” Oh, whatever. Then Gwen kisses him and says thank you. Why? I don’t know. Wouldn’t a handshake suffice? Even a hug? Anyway, Jack touches his lips and looks reflective. Oh dear God, if they start a ‘will they/won’t they’ romance between these two, I will literally be sick.

Cardiff; the morning after the night, or evening, or possibly morning, before. Gwen has brought Carys home to her father who looks worried but happy to see her. She hugs him and cries. Gwen and Jack look pleased.

Back in Torchwood, which a further web search tells me is called ‘The Hub’, Gwen is taking down the Carys board and Jack asks why she’s still there when the others have gone home. She says she wanted to finish off. Jack asks her not to let the job consume her. He says the team needs the perspective of someone who still lives in the world. She looks at him appraisingly.

“Who are you, Jack,” she asks. “You can’t die, you tell me the 21st century is when it all changes and we have to be prepared. How do you know?” He tells her to go home, eat lasagne, kiss her boyfriend and be normal. And that’s exactly what she’s doing in the next scene, wheres she is once again ignoring everything poor Rhys says. Man, this girl can be self-absorbed.
“Am I boring you?” he asks and she apologises. They have a snog and go to bed.

Next week: Ghosts. No sex. We can only hope.

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