Friday, 31 October 2008

Torchwood 'To The Last Man': Rating B+

How long has it been since I recapped a Torchwood episode? Three months? I feel like it’s been for freakin’ ever. I can’t even quite remember what I last wrote. Dark City? A noble sacrifice for humanity? Torchwood running around achieving little but exposition in someone else’s story? Oh hang on, that’s this episode. The early episodes of the X-Files I’ve been watching as my “reward” for finishing up my assignment don’t help either, except as a constant reminder of a time when television shows were actually good. Damn you Mulder and Scully and your intelligent monologues and simmering UST. Damn your exceptional continuity, plot-driven drama, believable dialogue and sterling acting. Damn you all to HELL. Speaking of hell...Torchwood.

Previously on Torchwood, I decided to ignore the gaping plot holes covered with staples and plastic wrapping and concluded that the faux sci fi was not the point. Then came “To the Last Man” and I declared with arms raised to the sky in supplication that I had crested the peak of my forbearance and was tumbling down the mountainside of mercy toward the valley of intolerance. You know, metaphorically. There’s no literal mountain here. Darwin is quite flat. After the hideous Daleks in Manhattan followed by the even worse Evolution of the Daleks, Helen Raynor wrote this emotionally-searing portrayal of the valiant sacrifice of a brave young man we’ve never met before and couldn’t give a crap about. And I’m officially an alcoholic. With toothpicks in my eyes.

So: Torchwood, beyond the government, beyond the police, beyond credibility. It’s the 21st century and everything changes and Torchwood, all evidence to the contrary, is apparently ready.

We begin our tale of emotion over substance in a hospital in 1918 where “Gerald” and a young blonde woman, currently nameless, are tracking ghosts using a “tracking-ghosts-a-nomitor”. Hey, like Leonard of Quirm I may be a genius but not so much at the naming of stuff. Thus, I dub Gerald and co “Scully and Mulder” more out of familiarity than similarity. That means they’re S&M. Hee. Didn’t take me long to get back into the groove of this show, hey? I will now work the words “auto-erotic asphyxiation” into the recap. Just watch me go.

Hang on, I forgot to pour myself some fortification. So it’s 3:30 in the afternoon, what’s your point? Martinis: not just for breakfast anymore.

So Scully’s tracking spectres on the “tracking-ghosts-a-nomitor” and Mulder’s flirting with the nurses and asking about ghosts and I already like 1918 Torchwood way way better than two-thousand-and-we’re-not-sure-because-that-would-require-some-sense-of-continuity Torchwood. Torchwood 1918, set in London with a starched-shirt Gerald and a snarky emancipated scientific “blonde girl who does not yet have a name”? Now I would watch that show.

1918 nurse tells Mulder she’s seen three ghosts already that day and he declares her very brave. She simpers at his charm and Scully rolls her eyes and directs him back to the job at hand and...hang on, they are Scully and Mulder, albeit without the hotness. Just to confuse me even more, a date stamp comes on the screen to tell me this is St Teilo’s Military Hospital, 1918. S&M enter a ward filled with wounded soldiers and as the “tracking-ghosts-a-nomitor” crackles they discuss how the “poor chaps” in the ward will be sent straight back to the front as soon as they’re better. Field Marshall Haig has ordered them to hold every position “to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end,” which was on 11 April 1918 and hardly ranks as one of the most inspirational speeches in history but places this episode soon after.

The walls start shaking and the “tracking-ghosts-a-nomitor” goes wild. As S&M (tee hee) run from the room, a clean-cut young man in one of the beds looks up concerned. At the climax (tee hee) of the disturbance, Scully declares they’re “right on top if it” (tee...oh you get it) and a bright light flares up as she and Mulder fall into each other’s arms...dear God I feel like I’m writing shipper fan fiction...and Tosh appears in the room clutching onto the young man we’ve just seen in the ward.

“Hello?” yells Mulder in the “distorted voice of disturbances to the space-time continuum” and Tosh begs “Tommy” to tell S&M what to do but Tom is all shellshocked.

“You’re the only one who can stop this!” emotes Tosh in the worst case of over-acting I think I’ve ever seen from her, “íf you don’t it’ll be the end. The end! Of everything!! Everything, I tell you, everything!!! At this, Tommy leaps forward with some device in his hand, all dressed in his pyjamas with the top of his uniform on and a Satsuma in his pocket, and tells them to take the 1918 version of him in the ward so that he can be back from the future now. Or something. I still can’t get my time paradox tenses right.

Dun, dun, dun, says the Torchwood theme as S&M head straight back to the ward and bustle Tommy out of the room. “Who are you?” asks Tommy. Mulder looks smarmily back at Scully and declares, “We’re Torchwood”.

Flick flick that beginning. Can’t wait till Torchwood 1918 get their own show and Gerald gets exposed to these rubbings from an alien spacecraft and goes crazy and ends up screaming Harriet’s name in some mental hospital somewhere where he has an hallucination that mysteriously coincides with the last three seasons of the X-Files, otherwise known as “those seasons that never happened” and then she finally rescues him and they laugh about how strangely real his dreams were and how relieved he is that her “Jesus Christ or possibly Clark Kent” alien baby from a barren women’s barren womb and the super soldiers and Moronica “there’s no evidence but I just have a feeling” Reyes and his death, burial and resurrection made possible because for some reason his best friend and love of his life who’s a medical doctor and forensic pathologist never did a freakin’ autopsy, and that ridiculous prophecy about his “Alien but possibly still my baby, why didn’t his mother get a simple DNA test she’s supposed to be a Doctor for Christ’s sake”, never actually happened and he never abandoned her and her telekinetic baby to go on the lam for no particular reason and they defeat the alien invaders and explain the bees and the corn and the clones and the black oil and the multiple viruses and the medical experiments and have hot Special Agent lovin’ that we actually get to witness and...hold on, what am I supposed to be doing? Sorry, I’m back.

Back to the show at hand... in Tosh’s apartment, which has been radically refurbished (either that or she’s just moved), where she’s running around to "One Of These Mornings" by Moby (Tosh listens to Moby?) drinking coffee and eating toast right out of the toaster and carefully doing her makeup. She’s making herself up to impress somebody and gives an excited anticipatory look at the mirror before skipping out of the apartment. As she leaves, the camera pans down on a calendar with the date circled in red. Personally, I think Tosh is far more excited than I would be about the fact her period’s due but that’s just me.

So, it’s Friday 20th of something or other in that century known as the 21st and Gwen is holding up a photo of Tommy in full military regalia and asking Jack who he is. Because no one mentioned him before despite the fact that he’s such an important part of Tosh’s life and they presumably defrosted him last year. Hang on, Gwen the self-absorbed not noticing something like that? Ok, that I buy.

Jack exposits to the audience a.k.a “Gwen” that “Thomas Reginald Brockless” (“Tommy” interjects Ianto) is 24 years old (“Sort of” interjects Ianto) and can I just note how much confidence Ianto has now that he’s getting laid? That might explain the comfy belly he’s growing. Oh hell, I’m the last person to criticise someone for chubby. But at least all my fat gives my body somewhere to store my alcohol. Ok, re-reading that sentence, it’s kind of gross. Forget I said it. No, really.

So, Tommy is 24 or 114 because he was born in 1894 and he’s been cryogenically-frozen since 1918 (a technology that Torchwood never bothered to share apparently) and they have to wake him up every year to give him a medical check-up and considering the number of people frozen successfully in the Torchwood alien cryo chambers for much longer than that that makes no sense but what the hell and oops, spoiler. It’s taken me so long to write these recaps it’s possible I’ve already seen the entire season.

In the “autopsy” “room”, Owen is preparing to revive the PopsicleCutie and teasing Tosh because she’s wearing a dress (except it’s not a dress but just a long shirt), Ianto is taking photographs and everyone’s explaining that the annual medical check up is a transparent plot device to forge an emotional attachment between Tommy and one of the characters so that we supposedly care when...I mean, they have to “make sure he still works because they’re going to need him someday”. Then the writer totally undermines this premise by having Tommy go into cardiac arrest on being revived and having to be shot with adrenalin and hit with the Packer Whackers. If it’s that traumatic coming out of stasis and they really do “need him someday”, as if they’d take that kind of risk every 12 months for the last 90 years.

Still, he looks good with his shirt off, punches Owen and only calms down when he recognises Tosh so, hell, he’s my favourite character already. “I could murder a cup of tea,” says Tommy and, while Tosh is looking at him somewhat adoringly, everyone swivels round to look at Ianto whose face falls as he finally gets the hint and trudges off to the more domestic part of his duties.
In the Briefing Room of Watery Walls...or is it? I don’t know, it’s so hard to tell these days. Either the set designer’s getting bored and re-arranging things or the Hub really is built using Tardis technology, in which case for all we know they’re simultaneously sitting both in Wales and Raxacoricofallapatorius. No, they just must have turned the water feature off or something ‘cause I see the nicely-lined up glasses. You really don’t care, do you? You just want to see Tosh and Tommy getting it on, don’t you? Bloody Torchwood voyeurs. Fine.

So, Tommy is hooking into one of Ianto’s breakfast feasts and he actually takes the time to compliment Tosh on her dress (oh ok, so he’s sweet, fine, I’ll admit he’s sweet) but notes that she’s wearing her slacks underneath to which Ianto says, “that’s the fashion this year”. It is? What year? I think I remember doing that in like 1992 at a school dance. Not my school dance of course. My school was co-ed and it’s difficult to get excited about dancing with the geeks you take science with.

Anyway, 1960s and mini-skirts and a medical exam to “make sure he’s alright ‘cause one day we’re gonna need him” and Tosh tests his memory and all the time she has this adorable look on her face: the one you get when you really like someone and you so desperately want to interact with them and you’re trying so hard to make it seem like you’re not trying so hard. Why oh why is Naoko Mori condemned by these writers to do stories like this and Greeks Bearing Gifts. Urgh.

We cut to Jack’s office where he’s explaining to the audience a.k.a “Gwen” that at the hospital in 1918 “two slices of time were erupting into each other”, and at some point in time bits of 1918 are going to start appearing in the hospital but they don’t know when and unless they stop it when it happens time shifts will keep appearing and it will be dun dun dun the aforementioned end of everything. You know, even Buffy only battled one apocalypse a season. Why does Torchwood have to be so self-aggrandising all the time? The death of just one person can be powerful enough: constantly imperilling everyone is just poor writing.

Just to make this all the more convoluted, Torchwood 1918 have instructions in a temporally-locked box keyed, and I quote “to the Rift[mouth] frequencies at the hospital” and when the Rift[mouth] “nears completion” it will open and all will be revealed. This, despite having a conversation with Tommy who could have just said, “it’s 20 February 2009” or whatever. So, it’s not going to happen until that box opens whenever that might be. And the box never opens, and Tommy and Tosh have a lovely day out and then he gets frozen again. The End.

So, Tosh and Tommy are leaving on their date, good-natured banter banter banter. As they leave the Hub, Gwen makes what I think is supposed to be a joke about “whether there’s (sic) any more pretty boys in the freezer” and Jack once again directs Miss YoYo Knickers 2010 to the dictionary for a definition of the word “fidelity”. Seriously, someone who is engaged to one person and spent half of last year shagging someone else, while simultaneously eyeing off person number 3 should not make jokes like that. There is, however, a nice little moment between Owen and Tosh where Burn “criminally-underused actor number #2” Gorman manages to convey in only three words and downcast eyes both happiness in Tosh’s happiness, concern for her wellbeing, and a slight tinge of jealously.

So, they waltz out the door for their date and Gwen deadpans, “he’s a frozen soldier from 1918” and Jack, who’s being his old charming self in this episode, grins and says, “nobody’s perfect”.

First stop on Tommy’s one day a year is the statue of Captain Robert Scott who travelled to the Antarctic and promptly died. Tommy asks about the things Tosh said she would in the last year, like playing the piano and learning Spanish but she admits that all she does is work, work, work. “You talk about your life like you have no control over it,” and remarks that Tosh has a choice about working for Torchwood. Unlike Tommy, who has been a victim of other people’s agendas his entire life.

Back in the Hub, Ianto and Gwen are looking at old Torchwood photos of Mulder and Scully and remarking that he’s a bit of an alright but someone really needs to do something about her wardrobe. Ok, I made that last bit up. As Ianto remarks that Scully died a year after Tommy was taken at only 26 (of auto-erotic asphyxiation!), he picks up a different photo and looks a bit melancholy. From behind the shot, we can see this one has 5 people in it (like Torchwood today, see the parallels, they were so young when they died and can you see the parallels). I know we’re supposed to think Scully is like Gwen but from what we saw about Scully in the first scene she’s as much like Gwen as, well, Scully is. Confident, intelligent and forthright versus well, you know, Gwen. From here it looks like man number 3 on the bench is actually our own Jack. Was he working for Torchwood in 1918? I thought he took over Torchwood after Canary Wharf to recreate it in the Doctor’s image (which is why it’s so lean and slightly insane). And if he was working for them in 1918, why doesn’t he know what’ll happen to Tommy?

Anyway, Gwen decides that far too much attention has been paid to Tosh today and so she heads off to St Teilo’s to do some investigating, despite the fact the box hasn’t opened. She tells Ianto to cheer up and he sadly nods his assent, sadly. My boyfriend’s lived for like 200 years and will keep on living long after I’m gone. All this time talk is just a reminder.

Tommy and Tosh, the cutest awkward people this century, shoot pool, banter banter banter, quiet flirting. Oh alright, they do have a really nice dynamic even if he is a Longbottom. They establish they’re both single and he reminds us that war changed him.

At “that set we use every week” a.k.a. an abandoned St Teilo’s hospital, Gwen is poking around when she sees a man on crutches. Lights flicker, violins kick in, the music of mystical happenings stirs on the soundtrack and the man starts silently coming towards her. Gwen back away, seemingly terrified (Gwen, terrified, nah, I don’t believe it) before the man disappears. She runs down the corridor, presumably looking for a cupboard to cower in until some men can come and rescue her. Instead she finds yet another abandoned room with flickering lights and a bunch of construction workers. Seriously, that scene was creepy but the terrified whimpering backed up against a wall? Dear God give this woman a backbone, stat.

Anyway, she’s obviously called Jack because he’s in the hospital letting us know it’s being knocked down (Hi Jack, it’s Gwen, I just had a panic attack because an unarmed man with only one leg came toward me slowly and unthreateningly and then screamed because a construction worker spoke to me. Can you get down here, I’m terrified).

Gwen asks if knocking down the hospital could have triggered the time shift and Jack says that “the psychic trauma of the rift energy charges it up like a battery”. WHAT? See, now you get why my “I choose not to care because the fact that the story makes no sense is not the point” riff is just not working for me anymore. Honestly, week after week of explanations that basically boil down to “because”. Oh, and despite Gwen’s bloodcurdling little vision, the box hasn’t even opened yet so how do they know the time bleeding through thing has even started?

So anyway, the trauma of all that pointless death has passed down through time to affect us today (yes yes, we get it!). Tonight on Torchwood: war is bad. And by the way kids, don’t do drugs.

Jack calls Owen who says there was a Rift[mouth]spike but now everything seems fine. He says the whole Rift[mouth] monitoring thing is Tosh’s department but Jack says they should let her have her day, at least until they can be sure the time for Tommy to do whatever Tommy has to do has come.

Over in the dodgy pub, Tommy is ordering drinks and watching the Iraqi insurgency on TV. “Seems like there’s always a war somewhere,” says Tommy sadly. Word, Tommy. It never freakin’ ends. Tosh notes that it’s not exactly a war, which is technically correct, but Tommy basically says that people are dying anyway so what’s the difference.

“First year they woke me up, 1919, told me it was all over, we won, the war to end all wars they said. Then three weeks later you had the second World War. After all that,” he looks round disgustedly to pay for his drinks and Tosh looks pensive and a bit sad. “Do you ever wonder if we’re worth saving?” asks Tommy and Tosh doesn’t even hesitate before declaring humanity worth it, despite the wars. Tommy smiles. That’s it? We’re finally going to have a vaguely intelligent philosophical discussion about war and the nature of humanity and it’s already over?

Anyway, Tommy smiles and says that he would do anything for Tosh. “All you’d have to say is, ‘Tommy you’re my brave handsome hero and I need you’ and whatever it is, I’d do it”. Ok, I know I’m supposed to snark but both Tosh and I are melted on the floor right now. Dear God, that guy’s eyes are amazing; if only “soulful eyes” weren’t such a cliché because hon, he has the best example of them I think I’ve ever seen. I want a PopsicleCutie with deep brown eyes and a romantic streak. I think he should join the spinoff “Torchwood 1918” and he can vie with Mulder for Scully’s affections and she can be torn between Mulder’s intellectualism and raw sensuality and Tommy’s soulful romanticism and turn-of-the-century morality.

So, Tosh melted, me sliding off my chair and as Tommy gets some sort of “Rift[mouth] vision” we cut back to Gwen and Jack at the hospital where demolition has begun. Jack, hearing voices heads off down a corridor with a torch, where he sees the ghost of a soldier in a wheelchair singing while the nurse from the beginning pushes him down the hallway. Owen phones in that there’s Rift[mouth] activity and we cut to Gwen who’s walking into a darkened room in a haunted hospital by herself, despite the fact she recently had a nervous breakdown over nothing.

And one of the ghosts jumps up behind her and kills her and we all laugh and laugh and laugh.

Sorry, that was just my fantasy version of this episode. Actually, as Gwen looks down a hallway at a soldier waiting for his physical, “Nurse from the beginning” walks past Gwen and down another corridor and as Gwen looks away she peers back round the corner and chills up my spine. She walks toward Gwen as though she can see her and Gwen’s all WTF and then she says, “I see you!” and Gwen jumps about a mile, as do I. “Nurse from the beginning” starts yelling that she shouldn’t be there and Gwen starts backing away, trying to reassure her that they don’t want to harm her. “Nurse from the beginning’ disappears and man, that was creepy. Also, 1918 Nurse kicks way more butt than Gwen.

On a dock somewhere, Tommy and Tosh are engaging in urban “running through a field” flirting a la 14 years olds circa 1932. There’s some awkwardness, but incredibly cute awkwardness, where she notes that she’s older than him and he tells her she’s daft. They kiss and decide to go back to her place, (“I’d ask you back to mine but there’s only room for one and it’s bloody freezing” hah!). This guy is charm with a capital mmmm so hopefully we can now all forget the ludicrous lesbian episode last year.

As they head off, Tosh’s phone rings and they get called back to the Hub. Soulful looks of soulfulness abound. Poor Tosh, can’t she catch at least one break? Back in the “Briefing Room that previously had watery walls” Jack’s explaining that the demolition of the hospital causes the time shift and then he gives the standard explanation (“because”) with a screwed up piece of paper, blah blah, linear time blah blah. Someone wasn’t paying attention in physics. However annoying infantile wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey was, at least it more accurately represented the relativity of time instead of this rubbish. It’s the end, the end of everything!!! Or something.

Tommy uses those eyes again (fan me down) as he and Tosh silently communicate their extreme disappointment on not spending the afternoon in bed with champagne and chocolate icecream. It’s possible that particular fantasy came from me. So, the world is ending and Jack, in an unusually-insensitive moment, sends Tosh off to the hospital with Owen to plant Rift[mouth]-monitors (I thought they could monitor the Rift[mouth] from the Hub??). The bloody box is still not open.

At the hospital, Owen warns Tosh about the emotional danger of falling for someone who’s inevitably going to leave, forgetting the part where he’s a moron who’s jealous because he’s used to being the object of her attention. Oh, and pilot woman? Hardly compares. Gwen interrupts, sending Owen down to radiology after a clue she found in the field reports 1918 torchwood filed (They’re field reports? Why aren’t they in the box? Why the box at all? Why...oh, I give up). Anyway, the field reports mention a future “heroine of the empire” or something and Gwen believes that maybe this is proof that the time shift won’t happen for years. Owen finds an ad for car insurance with a woman in armour and they conclude the time shift is happening right now.

Rift[mouth] monitors go wild and back in the Hub the box opens and the “breath of God” a.k.a. the “time vortex” comes out. Is this Timelord technology or something? How did 1918 Torchwood have Timelord technology? Why, after two years and 16 episodes do I still insist on asking these questions? You’d think I’d have learnt my bloody lesson by now.

Jack grabs the box and pulls out a letter written on Torchwood stationery (ROFL once again: a top-secret organisation that puts in a monthly order for personalised stationery, hahahaha!) Jack reads. Ianto enters the room to deliver line number 3 of the entire episode (Instructions?) otherwise known as “being in the room so Jack can have someone to whom he can deliver his lines”. Instructions for Tommy and Toshiko.

In the newly-dubbed “Briefing Room of Formerly Watery Walls Used Mainly for Exposition” (BROFWWUMFE) Jack explains that, the next morning, two times are going to co-exist in the hospital and Tommy has to walk through back to 1918 and use a Rift[mouth] manipulator to stitch time back together and he hands over the Rift[mouth] manipulator key. (a? Rift[mouth] manipulator? I thought there was only one and it was like an entire big machine and what he just handed over was only a key to the Rift[mouth] manipulator and...what did I just say like two paragraphs ago?).

Anyhoo, Tommy will then be stuck in 1918. Jack takes Tosh aside and explains that when Tommy goes back he’s going to revert to his old shell-shocked self and be shot for cowardice. Why is he going to revert to his old self? You guessed it, “because”. Tosh says they can’t do it to him and Jack says she has to because she’s mentioned in the box as being there and that he believes she’s strong enough to get the job done.

BROFWWUMFE: Ianto gives Tommy the pyjamas and uniform he was wearing when he was taken. Tommy makes a joke about saving the world in his pyjamas. Are we supposed to make Doctor parallels here because I really don’t get it. The Time War maybe? What the hell. Tommy hot. Tosh sad. On with the show.

Tommy asks the gang what he should do until he goes “over the top” to fight “to the last man”, sorry I just had to get out of the way of a falling anvil. Long story short (too late!) Tosh declares she’s taking him back to her place. Go Tosh.

Jack looks sad. Tosh looks resolute. Owen looks jealous. Gwen looks as blank as ever.
Beautiful scene in Tosh’s sparse apartment as they say goodbye. He says he won’t even be able to write to her and she admits the irony that she always worried about him watching her grow old. The clock ticks forward toward the inevitable dawn as they fall into each other’s arms. Wow, for Torchwood that was positively tasteful. And *sigh*.

Back in the Hub, Jack is shuffling papers when Ianto comes in with the same pensive expression he’s been wearing all episode. “This time tomorrow he’ll be back in 1918,” says Jack and Ianto asks if Jack ever considered going back to his own time. Jack tries his usual flippant approach to defusing emotional situations, “would you miss me if I did?” he asks, flirtatiously, but Ianto isn’t drawn and simply says yes.

Jack takes the deep breath of “fine, serious it is” and says he left home a long time ago and never knew where he really belonged. Ianto asks if he ever gets lonely and that is such a mature question for Torchwood, particularly from someone to his lover. This and the scene before are what almost, almost, redeem this episode for me. Suddenly we’re dealing with adults, not pre-pubescents who giggle at bum jokes and spend their time obsessing about sex.

Jack tells Ianto he loves him, in almost as many words, and Ianto kisses him passionately. Wow, one thing I’ll say for John Barrowman, he gets all the best TV kisses. That was smokin’. Between vicarious Tommy and vicarious Ianto kisses, I may need a moment...excuse me...

I come back to Tosh and Tommy in the flat, unable to sleep at 2am. Tommy asks Tosh what will happen to him after he gets sent back and Tosh insinuates that he gets sent back to France and dies in the war. Tommy asks if they find his body and Tosh says yes but fails to explicate that’s because it’s his own side that kills him.

Morning in Cardiff and Torchwood deposits Tommy and Tosh in the hospital as Rift[mouth] monitors blare. Bing bing binga binga says the Torchwood theme as they walk through the hospital. Tommy sees kick-ass nurse from 1918 and follows her into what used to be the ward. He remembers Torchwood taking him in 1918 (were we ever told he’d lost his memory, where did that come from?) and runs off with Tosh and Jack after him.

He runs into the room we saw from the beginning of the episode and tells Tosh he won’t do it, that they’re going to send him back to the front and he won’t go. He throws down the Rift[mouth] manipulator key and asks, “Why me?” And the entire audience holds his breath in anticipation. Yes Jack, why him? Please Jack, let us know. Jack is silent (“because” he mutters in his own head). “You’re no better than the Generals,” spits Tommy, “sitting safely behind the lines, sending us over the top. Anyone of you lot could go but you’re not, are you, you’re sending me.” Jack says they belong in that time but Tommy doesn’t. And you know the only thing that would make that statement sensible? If it was Tommy being out of time that caused the time shift, otherwise this is just another way of saying “because”.

“I’ve been shoved from pillar to post all my life, by the Army, by Torchwood. All this time I’ve had, it means nothing.” Tommy slides down a wall onto the floor and as Jack tries to get him to stand up, Tosh tells him to bugger off. She picks up the Rift[mouth] manipulator key and takes it over to him. She tells him he’s a hero because he’s going to have the lives of everyone. She says, “Tommy you’re my brave handsome hero and I need you” except for some reason, she doesn’t. What? Surely this is the time. You spent so long setting us up for it. But she doesn’t say it. I don’t know why.

“I don’t want to be a hero,” says Tommy with tears in his eyes, “I want to stay here with you.” Tosh ponders that for a moment as the bright light of space-time discontinuum flares up around them and they intersect 1918. We’re in the scene from the beginning, this time from Tommy and Tosh’s perspective, watching Scully & Mulder in the past. Tosh once again explains that Tommy has to do this or it’s the end of everything but she obviously reshot her lines because this time it’s poignant and delivered perfectly.

Tommy takes one last look then leaps upon his feet and tells them to take him. The light flares up and...Tommy is still in the future? Wasn’t that the time shift? I’m so confused. Oh, emotion is more important than plot. Apparently. They kiss each other goodbye and she sends him off to his bed with the key. There’s a wind blowing and he’s back in 1918 in a storage room. Kick-ass nurse kicks him out and we...

...cut back to “two thousand and now” where Tosh tells Torchwood to RUN. Why? I don’t know. But they run anyway as we...

...cut back to 1918 where Torchwood has bustled Tommy1 out of bed while Tommy2 is escorted by kick-ass nurse. He gets back in his bed, turns the rift key and his noble sacrifice echoes down through the ages to the woman he loves, staring at a photo of him in the future and remembering the one perfect night they spent together.

Actually, that’s just what should have happened. Instead, we get this.

Tommy is back in bed but for some reason he seems confused. Hubwards, the gang are back and alarms tell them that the Rift[mouth] isn’t closed! It’s the end of everything! Time is erupting all over the place and Tosh theorises that Tommy hasn’t used the key because he’s gone back 90 years and is shellshocked.

And this is why this whole thing is ridiculous. If Tommy reverted back to 1918 Tommy, as though he had never been gone, then why take him at all? What did taking him achieve? He’s not the cause of the time shift; he doesn’t fix the time shift. Why not just walk into the ward in 1918, hand him the Key and go “turn this”. Hell, why not give the Key to any wounded soldier and go “turn this”. Hell, why not go back and turn it themselves? If the two times are colliding then what makes 1918 any more special than “two thousand and now”. Why can’t they stand on this side and turn the key? For that matter, Tommy just passed into 1918 without taking Tosh with him. Is that because he belonged in that time and she didn’t? If that’s the case, surely Torchwood can stand in the breach and turn the key now? Basically, I’ve just been told that everything I spent the last 45 minutes watching is meaningless.


This short interval is to allow the Recapper to bang her head up against a wall. One moment caller


“One of us will have to go back,” says Jack (see last paragraph for relevant rant) but Owen says he can’t ‘cause he’ll get stuck in 1918 (see last paragraph for relevant rant). There’s lots of running around and getting of blood samples that essentially boil down to the absolutely ridiculous plan for Owen to use Tommy’s blood to send a psychic vision of Tosh through the Rift[mouth] to tell Tommy to use the Key (1...2...3...just calming down as I don’t think my head can take more abuse from the wall...or from this episode come to think of it).

You know what I really miss in science fiction television? Writers who know anything about science. This is the most ludicrous plot contrivance; it makes your standard Deus ex machina seem credible. So, Owen hooks Tosh up to a bizarre metal helmet and tells her she’s only got one shot and they have minutes before the end and then he injects her with Tommy’s blood and this is the second time Helen Raynor has written a “DNA as magic” ending to her stories and this one is as unbelievable as the other (DNA transmitted through a lightning strike that made Daleks act like Timelords OMG!).

So, she’s miraculously appearing in Tommy’s head as a vision and telling him he has to use the Key and oh, here’s the brave handsome hero line. The music is swelling and this is supposed to be meaningful or something but we’ve been there and done that and this episode should be over. Blah blah I’m a coward, no you’re not. He uses the key and it kind of looks Timelord too. What’s with that?

The bright light of poor narrative shines over us and we’re back in the now and the world has been saved!! Saved, I tell you, saved! Tosh packs up Tommy’s things and Owen looks sad (“I never realised how much I liked her until some other man found her attractive,” he thinks). Jack walks in and says thank you.

Oh God, a Tosh and Owen scene. More Moby. Owen says Tosh saved the world. Tosh says it was Tommy. “Let’s hope we’re worth it,” she says and walks off crying. You know what would have made that ending work? Losing the last 5 minutes.

Next week: alien meat.

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