Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Torchwood: Adam

“I’m going to marry this bloody mad woman even if it kills me!”

The opening titles start, and there’s a new character in them- yep, this is Torchwood’s version of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Jonathan”, right down to the titles and, indeed, the title. Revealingly, it’s still Gwen who acts as the audience’s proxy and initially realises that Adam hasn’t already been there.

In fact, given the irony inherent in Gwen’s forgetting Rhys completely, given the way the last episode ended, this is the perfect placing in the season for this episode; we’re able to successfully gloss over Jack’s failure to carry out his threat as events take over. Still, the Gwen and Rhys element of this episode, where they almost fall in love over again, is fab. Eve Myles and Kai Owen are again great.

Also interesting and revealing are the changes to Tosh and Owen. Tosh is happy, confident and apparently free of her insecurities in her relationship with “Adam”, although this is at the same time pretty much literally rape. Owen, meanwhile, has become shy and nerdish, and it’s a testament to what a bloody good actor Burn Gorman is that you accept him as the same character. Fascinatingly, Owen here apparently has unrequited feelings for the unattainable Tosh, which seems to indicate he secretly likes her in reality, whatever he may say at the end of the episode. Perhaps most worryingly, both of them exhibit a disturbing fondness for horrible bottled lager.

It’s nice to slow down for a character-based episode here, and a good way of doing it, but when we turn to Jack things start getting arc-heavy. We get a flashback to the Boeshane Peninsula (so he wasn’t completely lying to the Doctor and Martha in The Sound of Drums), complete with the obligatory CGI city, where Jack’s entire family and community are under attack from an unnamed and unseen alien race which apparently howls a lot. It’s revealed that the mysterious Gray, as mentioned by “Captain John”, is Jack’s younger brother, and that Jack blamed himself for his death. Heavy stuff, and the revelation of all this also offers us our first clue into who Adam is and what he’s up to.

It is Ianto who works out, via his own diary, that Adam is a fake, and the price he pays is horrible. His sheer horror and despair at the false memories, his basically decent behaviour in insisting he must be locked up, and his later composure in front of Adam- who spitefully tells him he “could murder a cup of coffee”- says a lot about Ianto’s character. Jack, of course, knows perfectly well that Ianto is no murderer; Adam is now exposed.

The conclusion is simple but logical; everyone blots out the last 48 hours with amnesia and Adam ceases to exist. It’s rather jarring to think that Adam has only been alive for the 48 hours since the box was opened, and interesting to hear of his speaking of nonexistence as “darkness and the stench of fear”; once again in Torchwood it is implied that nonexistence is a state in which events can happen and be experienced, a very odd and singular philosophy. And Adam’s revenge, depriving Jack of his last good memory of his father, is devastating.

Very good, if again falling just short of excellence: 4/5.

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