Monday, 5 July 2010
“Do you know what’s happened to you, Gwen? You’ve become hard.”
Back to traditional Torchwood values now; a Gwen episode, and the return of Sinister Torchwood. It feels odd after our varied diet of recent episodes, but then this is our first Chris Chibnall script for ages, which might be a factor.
We begin with a disappearance of a redshirt civilian, which symbolically happens on a bridge. This seems like the sort of thing which should really be some sort of trope, but I can’t think of any actual examples so it probably isn’t. Anyway, this leads us to the rest of the first two thirds of the episode, which plotwise consists of Gwen investigating a load of mysterious disappearances caused by the Rift alongside hints of a dirty Torchwood cover-up. There’s some nice character stuff to hang upon this, too; I like the development of Gwen and Andy here. They’re exes; that explains a lot. Also well done is the row between Gwen and Rhys (and their making up at the end- aaah!) and our first hint that a baby may eventually be on the cards.
Aside from a nicely light-hearted bit of shagging between Jack and Ianto (popular with many, I’m sure!), the regulars take a bit of a back seat to Gwen, who gets some good development in this episode. Once again we see how damn good she is as an investigator, and she’s been in Torchwood long enough for Andy’s accusations to hit home. Andy knows what he’s doing, of course; Gwen can see the truth of this and throws herself into the investigation to reconnect with her human side. Interestingly, as things turn out, this is the wrong thing to do. The conclusion, interestingly, seems to vindicate Jack’s cover-up, a nice reversal of what usually happens in such situations in TV science fiction. It’s not very X-Files at all.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of niggles with the plot; how come people taken by the Rift are eventually returned? How does that work then? And I somehow suspect that screaming for twenty hours out of every twenty-four is not a recognised psychiatric symptom. But the emotional beats feel right, and this is a nice little character piece for Gwen, and her personal supporting cast of Rhys and Andy. A decent 3/5.