Thursday, 3 June 2010

Torchwood: Meat

“If we could find out how it worked, we could feed the world!”

“We could release a single…”

We start with Rhys at work; at last he gets something of a hinterland. But then he finds himself involved in goings-on of a mysterious nature, and watches as Torchwood emerge from the, er, Torchwoodmobile, including his fiancée…

Just as with Alan in the last series of SJA, Rhys had to find out the truth sooner or later and this feels about the right point for it to happen. Both Eve Myles (great lying acting!) and Kai Owen are fantastic here. And it’s nice that they get one big shouty row scene as had to happen but it doesn’t go on too long; instead of getting loads of tiresome scenes of characters refusing to believe the truth from other characters (my least favourite thing in all of drama), instead we get Rhys doing a pretty cool job investigating the threat and reacting well to his introduction to Torchwood. It has to be said, mind, that Rhys seems to be the only person in Cardiff who’s never heard of them. And Jack seems bizarrely lenient about Gwen’s blatant conflict of interest here; in any real organisation she would be stood down from the case, no question.

I also notice that both Gwen and a female workmate give him the same food because they know what he’s like on an empty stomach- Rhys may be jealous of Jack but he seems to have his own Jack equivalent. Even so, I like Rhys’ confession to Jack that “It’s a bit bigger than mine.” And his entire reaction to the hub is a joy.

As for the episode’s threat, well, as vegetarian propaganda it largely works well, not overdoing it like, say, The Two Doctors, but sadly there are a couple of moments towards the end where things get overly didactic (“It’s just meat, that’s all.”) that said, though, all this is secondary and there largely as a framework on which the characters’ relationships can play out. Rhys getting them into the warehouse, Gwen’s reaction, and Rhys getting shot, are of course the heart of the episode.

Still, other characters get stuff to do too; Owen carries on affecting not to notice that Tosh is coming on to him, and Ianto’s witticisms ascend to a higher plane.

Inevitably, Jack warns Gwen that Rhys will have to be retconned but we, the audience, just couldn’t accept that. Pushing the reset button now would be a massive cop-out; it’s just not going to happen. So Gwen threatens to resign, and Jack seems to accept her resignation, saying he’ll see her in the morning. Ooh…

It’s nice to reflect that Gwen is now going to tell an excited Rhys everything. Possibly except the sleeping with Own stuff.

Some nice character stuff here, but nothing particularly deep or funny. Plus the didacticism steps over the line at times. And it’s a pity they had to throw away the idea of a marooned space whale in the B plot; such a thing will clearly never appear in the Whoniverse again. 3/5.

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