Because I forget stuff. Part of

Note: It appears you must have reached this page by a deep level URL. In general this site is currently down and unmaintained. See here

About This Post

Originally posted December 4 2006 at 21:12 under General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

They Keep Killing Torchwood

Another Torchwood review (Episode 8, They Keep Killing Suzie). That means all the content of this post gets hidden below; spoilers alert!


It was almost so good. Plot, even semi-intricate plot (what passes for convoluted beyond reason for Torchwood). We had reference to something earlier in the series (complete with helpful reminder at the start because the watcher is assumed to have a goldfish memory). No living in isolation here. It was at times even quite clever (and one must admire Suzie for having such an audacious contingency plan). Yet still, still, they couldn’t get away from all those things which just break it.

We start with Torchwood arriving at yet another crime scene. At least the bog standard police have the grace to moan about the, uhum, secret organisation riding rough shod through the valleys. It becomes clear that in this instance there might be some justification however, given the blood scrawled Torchwood on the wall. As a beginning it’s something which has been done a thousand times before, and will be done a thousand again, but hey, at least it’s not a glowing cloud of alien gas. There’s a serial killer on the rampage, with a grudge against the alien hunters it would seem. He’s not a very careful killer though, because he’s left behind evidence; some hair. That goes off for DNA analysis which must really be “get what you can” because as well as DNA (no match) it comes back with an “unknown” compound that just so happens to have a code Torchwood recognise (do all unknown compounds get a code? Is there a big list somewhere so secret alien hunting organisations can cross check the codes? No, I don’t know how that works either). No doubt now, the compound is the magic ingredient in the amnesia pills; Torchwood most certainly have met this killer before.

It’s so far a pretty good set-up. Is the amnesia pill responsible for producing a murderer (not good given the number of people, including Gwen, who have taken it)? And how do you catch the murderer? There are of course a number of options, given the technology available. One would assume these include just finding all the people who have taken the amnesia drug (given the capabilities of Torchwood that wouldn’t be too far fetched) but of course the most obvious is to get the extremely dangerous glove from episode one and put it to use on the corpses. Yes, that was sarcastic scepticism. Whatever, the glove is brought out and inevitably Gwen is the only one able to use the damn thing. And the little interrogations lead us to…well Suzie (which given the title—actual homage to The Avengers or coincidence?—and the presence of the glove isn’t that surprising). Suzie, who after a bit of typical Gwen humanising and a trip to her stored away life’s possessions, has to be resurrected. Except this time she really is resurrected, for keeps. For a little while from this point the episode actually flirts with being quite good, not least thanks to Suzie managing to have more depth of character and out act the rest of the cast in a few short minutes… Whilst Gwen and Suzie bond, typical science fiction device #5343, the life energy exchange gizmo, is introduced. As Suzie lives, Gwen dies. Pity they’ve run off together and Suzie has locked the rest of the team in Torchwood. In what must count as an amazingly monumental twist in Torchwood terms, it turns out the entire sequence of murders is just Suzie’s clever backup plan in case of death.

With the ever so gullible and forgiving Gwen racing Suzie to see her dying father (and therefore of course) away from Torchwood some quick tachnowhatsit gives the remainder of Torchwood a phone signal out of the locked down base. And things start to go all DNA on us again. Jack can’t think of who to call. He’s the commander of a top secret alien hunting organisation with carte blanch over emergency services and armed forces, there is at least one other Torchwood base in existence (admittedly in Scotland but still), he presumably knows people in UNIT, and he has the prime minister’s phone number. The only person he can think to call is a random murder detective he’s barely met…

Call Detective Whatever he does though and after the obligatory humorous interlude sets to work trying to get Torchwood out, based on Emily Dickinson poems (well, that was the lock down trigger). Of course Gwen and Suzie are somewhere in or near Cardiff in Gwen’s car, so surely not that hard to find, but never mind that, we’ve poetry to read. If that’s just standard Torchwood bumph though the next bit is just sheer yell out loud in frustration. Toshio suddenly decides that maybe the the thing to try would be the ISBN, perhaps, even though the “keyboards” aren’t working (no, the entire fucking computer and associated peripherals and systems aren’t…) maybe the “membrane will pick it up”. Come on, you’ve set this neat little thing up and the best way out of it you can come up with is this!?! Isn’t it lucky the police picked up the same book (and hence same ISBN) of Dickinson poetry that Suzie did (like there isn’t a choice. Not to mention (well, all right, I am) that I’m not as clever as Suzie supposedly is and I wouldn’t have had the unlock code have anything at all to do with the lock code, when I had the whole world to choose from (and I’d make sure I could enter it from outside too). Anyway, up pops the power and away we go…

Away we go in the Torchmobile. Now tracking Gwen (come on Suzie, change cars…) they have the police clear the roads. Of course, they could just have the police pull them over… So, rushing through the night, sodium reflections flashing off the Torchwood decals they do their best to build the tension as they tumble closer and closer, never close enough. Suzie grows stronger, Gwen is fading like the road behind them. Owen looks worried, “minutes remaining”; the night draws them on until, yes, finally they catch Suzie in, urm, well, broad daylight actually. Not even dawn, but sort of real, proper daylight. So, either minutes in Welsh means hours, they accidentally fell through a passing TARDIS again or, most likely, nobody in the production team actually fucking bothers to watch these episodes through. As continuity errors go it’s not a car in the background of Ben Hur, it’s Ben Hur borrowing the keys to some bloke’s tank to give himself a better chance.

In the bright sunshine Gwen is rescued, Suzie finally killed by destroying the glove which has, for reasons best known to themselves, been left behind at base. It turns out to be remarkably fragile when confronted with gun fire but at least somebody finally bothered to shoot something. All done and dusted then, and we’re left tidying everything neatly away again, along with some frankly strange talk of stopwatches. I did like the line about gloves coming as a pair though.

So, another episode of Torchwood which could have been quite good, and even clever, is allowed to fail under its typical problems. If you’re going to do something like Torchwood, where so much is “unreal” on first principles, where we are asked to believe in aliens and fairies and possessing gases, then what we in general do understand has to be right, has to be believable in the context of the everyday, and it all has to hang together with something which at least fleetingly seems like logic. You can throw up a load of disconnected and silly ideas, crazy get out of jail free dei ex machinis, madly complex ways of achieving a simple end, but it doesn’t make you clever. What makes you clever is weaving the unusual, the crazy, into a encapsulating fabric of the mundane. Too often the mundane in Torchwood is replaced by the surreal, or a sequence of unlikely events, or just something stupid like a few minutes from the dead of night being the dead of day. You can’t have suspension of disbelief if everything is unbelievable, right down to whether or not Gwen has a boyfriend hanging round outside.

It’s an episode which could have offered so much too. It had the trappings of a clever and intricate little plot, with the potential for an interesting discussion on life and death. Yet it ruined the former with the sheer logical and belief failures of the parts which weren’t actually part of the former, and kept running from the later. This last point is particularly sad. It would be easier to forgive it losing its way at times if there were more substance but whenever it looked like getting more than superficially deep the episode backed off. If there is nothing but darkness how is something moving in it (coming for Jack as Suzie claims—though one suspects we may find out more about that). There seems to be a disconnection of the soul and physical brain (it is difficult to believe Suzie’s head wound left her brain anything like intact), so is the body even necessary; is it just something to reanimate. Could, for instance, Ianto have used the glove on the cyberwoman he has lost? Would it work on Jack? These questions, which aren’t even the deepest, could have been asked but the whole idea, not just of this episode but of Torchwood itself, leaps away form asking anything to complicated. Too busy trying to “entertain” with things which don’t make sense.

Comments (0):

Post a comment

Name and email address are required. Email address is never shown. If you enter a URL your name will be linked to it (this and other links will have the rel attribute set to contain nofollow). Markup allowed: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <em> <strong> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <p> <br />. Anything else is stripped; please be valid. Single linebreaks automatically convert to <br />, double to <p>'s. Additionally anything that looks like a bare URL should get automagically linked. Many acronyms and abbreviations are also automagically handled.

Please note this blog's comment policy

Trackbacks (0):

Trackback URL:


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

More about me [Disclaimer]

You may subscribe to IMS_Blog using the RSS Feed, the Atom Feed or by email.

Creative Commons License

From December 04 Other Years

© Ian Scott. Powered by Movable Type 3.2. This blog uses valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS. All times are local UK time. For further details see the IMS_Blog about page.. All my feeds in one.