To the Last Man
Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):
“…tiny amount should do it…”
(Owen describing his plans this episode to use Tommy’s blood for a DNA-time-travel-psychic-projection-plot-resolution.)
Season 1 of Torchwood had much Angst. The team over the course of the Season became quite antagonistic towards each other, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Part of the “re-imagining” of Torchwood for 2008 and Season 2, is less conflict within the Torchwood team, the production team have implied in pre-broadcast interviews. (For example, Owen is now Mr. Sensitive rather than a Mr. Sarcastic, but he did go on an “emotional journey” last Season.)
Perhaps the Angst has been toned down too, partly as a result of the newer, happier team, as this episode in which Toshiko was ordered by Jack to manipulate her boyfriend to ensure his demise seemed curiously bland, with Toshiko seeming only slightly more miffed than if she’d been asked to put together some paperwork for UNIT.
For any Angst or emotional turmoil to be effective drama in Torchwood, it has to be played against a fantastical fictional world that has some sort of internal logic and consistency. With this episode, there were some great sparkling science-fictional ideas that were dulled by unexplained elements (why exactly did Tommy have to be removed then returned to the same bed after 90 years? If the idea was Torchwood created the Tommy problem and thus the Time-shift in the first place, that wasn’t explored. Also, why would he lose his memory and become shell-shocked again?) The part of the plot that really jarred though was the the DNA-time-travel-psychic-projection-plot-resolution. At least two episodes ago with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang when Owen whipped out his blood-samples from his fridge it made some sort of sense. DNA as magic is now sadly a tradition in the world of Doctor Who, though writer Helen Raynor doesn’t quite match the lows of her Doctor Who: Evolution of the Daleks – at least there wasn’t magic lightning too.
Possibly the greatest Torchwood pre-credits teaser ever, the thrill of Steampunk Torchwood-1918 (with their clockwork PKE meter) is dissipated by the blandness of the rest of the episode.