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(Please note – vague elements of the Season 1 plot of the ongoing 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica are discussed in the following review.)
“Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on earth and arming the human race against the future. The 21st century is when everything changes, and you’ve got to be ready.”
Season 1 voiceover introduction to episodes.
“Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police. Fighting the future on behalf of the human race. The 21st century is when everything changes… and Torchwood: is ready.”
Season 2, episode 2, voiceover introduction.
Surprisingly, the voiceover that many, including me, had assumed (from watching episode 2.1) had gone from the show is back – with small tweaks. “Tracking down alien life” is gone. In Season 1, there wasn’t that much alien life about – alien tech sure – but curiously Season 2 seems to have many more Aliens despite the voiceover change.
The best Science Fiction has something to say about the times in which it was made – for example, the ongoing 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica (“BSG”), which often uses the central human-versus-machine conflict of the show as a metaphor for different aspects of our post-9/11 world. This episode seems to have been inspired by BSG, as the Aliens of this episode are used here as commentary on similar topics, with Torchwood shown here having their very own mini-Guantanamo. (Similar stories were told in Torchwood’s They Keep Killing Susie and Doctor Who’s episode Dalek, but BSG is the obvious influence for this story.)
It’s risky for Torchwood to invite comparisons to the adult-Sci-Fi show par excellence BSG, but this episode succeeds, partly through adding other influences into the mix (the body horror of Cronenberg – the film eXistenZ specifically), partly through building upon the world of Torchwood already established: the cells (which actually are from Silence of the Lambs via Ultraviolet), the Weevils, the wall of freezer compartments.
Probably the goriest episode since Countrycide, but unlike that story, the gore is used as part of an effective episode with something to say. The production design is great, and other highlights of the episode include several moments of supreme comic timing from Ianto.