Thursday, 8 July 2010

Torchwood: Exit Wounds

“I’m gonna rage my way to oblivion! Why? Give me one good bloody reason why I shouldn’t. One good reason why I shouldn’t keep screaming.”

“Because you’re breaking my heart.”

Yes, that line up there made even stony hearted old me cry. And that takes some doing, I can tell you. The deaths of Tosh and Owen are brilliantly done, brilliantly acted and a real tribute to the characters. It’s just a shame that the season finale as a whole is just so…meh. See? I’m the sort of hip young thing who says “meh” all the time, I am.

The first few minutes, with John apparently wreaking havoc, are such fun. I love “their” song. What’s happened to James Marsters’ British accent though? He seems to be struggling with the vowels here. Still, he oozes charisma and is great so it’s not a huge problem. These scenes are enormous fun.

Unfortunately, things start to go wrong once Jack gets sent back to 27AD, and that, given the generally assumed birth date of you-know-who, is a particularly groan-inducing year in which to set a load of pretentious Christ symbolism in which Jack willingly undergoes some severe physical punishment. In fact, as soon as the caption with the year on it came up I groaned. For a caption just saying what the year is to provoke that reaction is quite an achievement.

Yes, as much hinted, Gray is back. And being played very badly. I had to raise an eyebrow during the burial scene, mind: we had a British actor doing an unconvincing American accent and an American actor doing an unconvincing British accent to carry the scene between them.

Aside from the pretentious Christ symbolism and the bad acting from Lachlan Nieboer, though, things are quite good. The stakes are fairly high and everyone gets something to do, even if it is a little convenient that there should be an emergency at the police station for Gwen, one at the hospital (with a Hoix!) for Owen and one at the Server Centre for Tosh. There are some nice touches throughout all this: Gwen once again showing what a great leader she is, Rhys’ pep talk (“You’re a bloody hero, Gwen!”), the dynamic between Rhys and PC Andy, which is particularly fun to see after what we learned in Adrift.

But then the shocks start coming. Tosh is shot! Captain Jack does a Tennant and says “I forgive you”. I think this is the point where I seriously started wondering whether this episode should be in the Guinness Book of Records for the most blatant example of the viewer being bludgeoned over the head with pretentious Christian allegories known to humanity. Even Bad Lieutenant wasn’t this bad.

Still, we get some nice scenes of Torchwood 1901, including a glimpse of one of our friends from last episode. Plus, Tosh is shot. And proceeds to be a hero, calmly guiding Owen through his own brave tasks even though she’s slowly bleeding to death. And the moments after they both realise Owen is definitely going to die are… wow. All their words are so loaded with multiple meanings, especially Owen’s “I’m really sorry”. And he even tells Tosh that “We missed each other. It was my fault. I didn’t… I didn’t notice until it was too late.” In the end, he dies calmly. Tosh dies in Jack’s arms, Gwen starts to cry and so do I, dammit.

And then Jack goes and spoils it all with his “It was my penance.” Aaargh!

Very good in parts, then, especially towards the end. But the Christ stuff and a badly acted villain drag it down to a 3/5.

As for the season as a whole, it averages exactly 4/5 from me, an improvement from the first.

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